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Make sure your training is balanced

health-and-fitness Updated: Oct 07, 2010 17:05 IST
Heath Matthews
Heath Matthews
Hindustan Times
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I heard about the Delhi half marathon in 2006 and wanted to participate. When I started, I could run about 23 km in nine days. I ran regularly for more than a year and participated in the 2007 half marathon and completed it in 88 minutes. Then I had a problem with both my legs, and couldn't run the distance. I consulted a physiotherapist who said it could have been due to bad footwear and running on hard surfaces. I went in for a bone scan, but no problem was detected. He treated me for three months but nothing changed. I want to start running again. Please tell me how, and also suggest a diet regimen.

Pawan Yadav

Hi Pawan, congratulations on such an amazing achievement! To improve from 23 km in nine days to 21 km in 88 minutes is great. I would have liked a bit more information with regard to the specific leg problem you had so I could be more precise in my advice, but I’m going to assume it was some sort of repetitive strain injury.

The reason I say this is because you mention that you ran regularly for over a year. In order to go from 23 km in nine days to 21 km in 88 minutes you must have been training hard. You said that according to the physio, it was probably the result of poor foot mechanics, poor quality shoes and hard surfaces. These problems very often result in a repetitive strain injury. In your case, it could be a foot problem like plantar fasciitis or shin splints in the lower leg.

Whatever the injury, it’s important to balance running with other forms of training. Running is a high impact sport. For non-competitive athletes, I would suggest a maximum of four runs a week.

The distance will depend upon you but most people have enough time to run for a good 45 to 60 minutes. The remaining three days a week, you can practice other exercises like yoga for flexibility and balance, Pilates for core strength and weight training for complete muscle strength.

Get back to your running slowly. Go back to a 3-km run 3 to 4 times a week and build it back up to a level where you are running about 40-50 km per week max!

You may want to look at certain nutritional supplements such as Glucosamine Chondroitin, which help joints, ligaments and cartilage endure the rigours of daily stresses we put them through. Amino acids are another supplement used by athletes to help muscle tissue repair quickly. Speak to a nutritionist about these supplements, especially when your training load starts to pick up again.

I practice yoga along with weight training routine on alternate days and my muscles often ache. Can I use hot and cold-water shower as a therapy, since ice baths are not feasible in a house?

Tushar Oak

Yes, you can use hot and cold showers for contrast therapy. I usually prefer a nice warm shower and a really good stretch afterwards. The combination of warming the muscles up in the shower and then giving them a good stretch when they are warm seems to work well in my personal experience.

Heath is a physiotherapist with the Mittal Champions Trust.