Training for Long Distance Running: My Experience at the SBI Green Marathon New Delhi

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A lazy girl at heart, my recent foray into fitness has been life-changing. My fitness journey has been largely influenced by my personal trainer and fitness guru, Tushar Bhatia (check him out here). Encouraged by Tushar, I recently completed my first 5k run. I’m the girl who shied away from 5 minute jogs on the treadmill, so jogging continuously for long distances had seemed an impossible task.

I signed up for the SBI Green Marathon that took place at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on September 30, 2018. At the time, I wasn’t sure I’d do the run, but decided to train for it anyway. This blog post is a compilation of my training method, equipment I used to train and tips I picked up along the way.

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I trained at home on my treadmill and outdoors in my neighborhood

HOW TO TRAIN FOR YOUR FIRST 5K RUN:

  1. SYSTEMATIC PROGRESSIVE CARDIOVASCULAR TRAINING:

The best way to train for any race is by slowly and progressively increasing the running pace and distance, over a period of time. For example, start with a 5 minute walking warm-up followed by 2 minutes jog + 1 minute walk intervals for a total of 25 minutes. The number of minutes you jog and the intervals will increase day-by-day, till you’re comfortably jogging for long periods of time without stopping to walk. This progressive cardio should begin a month before your race, and you should aim to do it 4-5 times a week.

  1. ENDURANCE TRAINING:

Marathoners will tell you that cardio training is never enough for long distance runs. You need to combine it with some form of body strength exercise. It’s best to train under supervision, so join a gym if possible or hire a personal trainer. If all else fails, look online for strength training posts (this doesn’t necessarily mean lifting weights, though that also works). You should aim for 2-3 strength workouts in a week in the month leading up to the run.

  1. STRETCHING:

I can’t stress the importance of stretching enough. While running we engage the leg, core and arm muscles and if we don’t warm up and stretch after each run, our muscles will get tense and sore. I recommend quick leg stretches before running, and at least 10 minutes of full body stretching, where you hold each posture, after the run. If you have the luxury of time, attempt yoga 1-2 times a week in addition to your training. As I stretched and trained properly, I have no body pain after the 5k run three days ago!

  1. WEAR THE CORRECT SHOES:

As with any sport, using the correct equipment is of utmost importance. Invest in high quality, comfortable running shoes. They can make your run easier and increase your speed. Make sure you buy the shoes well before your race, so you don’t have any issues with new shoes on the day of the race. Try every shoe in many different shops till you find a pair that feels just right. Don’t compromise on quality for a cheaper price (you can do that with workout clothes!).

  1. DOWNLOAD A GPS BASED FITNESS TRAINING APP:

For practice runs, I heavily relied on a GPS based training app that showed me accurate distances and timing. This allowed me to work on increasing my speed slowly. Other features such as the average pace and calories burnt were added benefits.

  1. CHECK OUT THE TRACK AND DEVISE STRATEGY IF NEEDED:

Though my running track was a straight road, I learnt this tip from a marathoner friend. When you’re running in new cities or in different terrains, it’s wise to practice accordingly. For example, if you’re running over flyovers, include some low hill jogging in your training.

  1. GIVE YOURSELF REST DAYS:

You mustn’t overdo the training. Take one full day of rest every week, and two days of rest before the day of the run. Your body needs to fully recover from training to perform its best.

  1. BE AWARE OF THE ORGANISATION DETAILS:

Bibs that have numbers on them are essential for your timing to be recorded and for the medals and certificates you’ll receive after your run. Unfortunately, the SBI run was so badly organized that I, along with many other runners, never received my bib. Two days before the run we were told to attend an expo in a hotel in Pusa Road, but there was no mention of what that expo was for. I emailed to find out and received no reply. As a first time runner, I was unaware that I wouldn’t receive my bib on the race day itself. This turned out to be a huge disappointment for people who ran 10k and 21k as they couldn’t receive their accurate time (my 5k run was untimed). Avoid such confusion by choosing the right organizers and following up constantly for details.

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All set to run!

WHAT I USED FOR MY TRAINING:

  1. My runs and strength training workouts were designed by Tushar Bhatia, who is an American Council on Exercise (ACE)certified instructor and the creator of ‘Crush Combat’. He’s also in-charge of the personal training wing of Crush Fitness India. You can get in touch with him on 9999978361.
  2. Sometimes I used an app on my phone called AAPTIV, that gives you access to 100s of workouts where a skilled trainer guides you. They have separate modules for 5k, 10k, and 21k training. Along with pre-designed workouts, they give important tips for race day. I also used this app extensively for post-run stretching workouts. The app costs INR 650 per month and can be downloaded on iOS and Android systems. They offer a month’s free trial.
  3. I was running with cheap shoes till I invested in my NIKE ZOOM WINFLO 5’s three weeks before the run. I immediately noticed a huge difference in my speed and agility. Three weeks was a good time for me to break into them.
  4. Though many apps can record distance and speed, I downloaded RUNTASTIC. It was free and did a good job. It stored all my workouts so I could compare my progress.
  5. Follow the Marathon organizers on their social media pages. This was a huge mistake I made. I only checked their Facebook page on the night before the race and it was the only place they had mentioned collection of bibs at the expo.
  6. Though music isn’t essential, it helped me through my training and on the day of the run. I also watched Youtube videos while running. I own a phone case that can be attached to the arm, but I preferred using my POPSOCKET. This device allows you to rest your phone between two knuckles, and doesn’t cause any stress to your hand. I bought mine on Amazon. My SONY MDR-EX150 in-ear headphones, stayed in place throughout the run.

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TIPS FOR THE DAY OF THE RUN:

  1. Go in with an open mind. The run is not a competition among people, it’s a meditative process. You are only in competition with yourself. Don’t get apprehensive about people running ahead of you at any point. Be at one with your goal.
  2. Begin with a slow pace, increasing it as you go along. Though most of my fellow runners in the 5k category stopped to walk at some (or various) points, I didn’t stop once, even jogging on my spot at the water station while drinking. As long as you identify a pace that works for you, you won’t feel the need to stop and walk.
  3. Wear sunscreen! Most runs happen early morning and it’s essential to preserve your skin from sun damage.
  4. Do a quick stretchy warmup before the run. SBI had organized a PILOXING session for the 5k runners with Master Trainer Parikshit Chavan from Pune. The fast pace of this choreographed pilates + kickboxing hybrid, really got our heartbeats up before the run. I appreciated the extra endorphins!
  5. Remember to hydrate well and eat a king’s breakfast after the run- you deserve it!

It’s hard to describe the feeling of running on a vehicle-free road to my favorite songs, and the incredible sense of achievement I had on completing it. My timing for 5k was 39 minutes and 35 seconds. I took a wrong turn and jogged 500 m extra to the finish line, completing 5.5k in 43 minutes (the timing was recorded on my runtastic app). I can’t wait to recreate that incredible feeling on my next run of 10k!

This post is not sponsored. These are my honest thoughts and experiences of products I have bought myself. Share your experiences in the comments below, and do share this post with anyone that would benefit. Happy running!

If you liked this post, you may enjoy these posts too:

Kriya Yoga with Diya

HIIT Workout at Home

Home Workout vs. Gym Workout

Electric Muscle Stimulation with EazyGym

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27 Thoughts

  1. I’ve always wanted to run marathons but unfortunately my shins give me trouble and I cannot run too far. I am currently focusing on strengthening my shins so that maybe next year I can do my first ever marathon. Kudos to you on completing your first marathon and I love how you have spoken about progressive development.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, worth accolades. You did an amazing training and quite a lot of workout for the Marathon. I remembered my last Marathon some 8 years back when we did it for a social cause and I ran 5kms. Need to move towards better goals now!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow.. I love reading your training post. It is such a motivation for everyone. I love to participate in marathon but I always have this doubt whether I would be able to do it. This informative post has surely motivated me

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow girl you are so fit. Taking regular part in marathons definitely keeps one motivated. Thanks for sharing your fitness regimen and training details. Look forward to incorporating some fitness routine in my life too.

    Liked by 1 person

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