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Focus on the journey, not the destination

health and fitness Updated: Oct 24, 2009 18:45 IST
Heath Matthews
Heath Matthews
Hindustan Times
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I have started training for the Mumbai Marathon and am following a schedule downloaded from Hal Highdon's website. Four weeks into the training, I am able to complete the distances prescribed without really being out of breath. The trouble is that I run 10 per cent and walk the remaining 90 per cent. The moment I start running, my legs ache. What could be the reason? I run with proper shoes bought recently. I have been reasonably active otherwise, playing tennis on weekends. I’m 43 years old, 5 ft 11 inches tall and weigh 84 kg. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Is the current rate of preparation enough to get me ready for the day?
- Suresh Rajagopal, Mumbai

I haven’t studied Hal’s programme in depth, but I am confident it is a good one and will help you achieve your target. The problem might be in your preparation or in your technique. I would suggest trying the following things to help break through the walking barrier.

1) Warm up with dynamic stretching and joint mobilisation for ten minutes. I wrote a piece on this a few weeks back and you will be able to read it on the Rush website. (

Mobilisation is designed to loosen up the joints that you need for running. A good warm-up will also increase your heart rate and body temperature, which in turn increases blood flow.

One of the most common reasons for aching muscles during exercise is a build up of lactic acid. This happens because the blood flow to the muscles is not sufficient. The body falls short of oxygen needed for aerobic exercise, so it shifts to anaerobic exercise and produces lactic acid; this creates the sensation of fatigue. A proper warm up is important to prepare your body for the running.

2) Try to use fartlek training to increase your running percentage. This means using regular intervals of running and walking to increase your running time. An example of a good fartlek technique is to count street light posts.

Start by jogging the distance from one light post to another. Walk the distance to the next and then jog again. As you get fitter, you can increase the jogging by running two consecutive lengths between light posts. In no time at all, you will be running between nine light posts and walking one, and will be right back on top of your marathon programme.

Please don’t be discouraged at this stage. Concentrate on increasing your running and don’t worry about whether you’re going to be ready for the marathon or not. The beauty of running is not getting to the destination but enjoying the journey. This journey is not easy, but stick to it. You will get there. Good luck!

Matthews is physiotherapist with the Mittal Champions Trust.