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The best time to start running is now

Running is great for burning calories, for weight management, cholesterol, BP and blood sugar management, for reducin incidence of cough, cold, flu, sinusitis, asthma and many more ailments. And people of all ages can, and do run. Now, let’s get past a few excuses.

health and fitness Updated: Aug 20, 2011 20:33 IST
Rahul S Verghese

You know running is good. You have read all about it. But if you think it’s too wet and muggy to start, it’s time to do a rain check.

Running is great for burning calories, for weight management, cholesterol, BP and blood sugar management, and has also been found to reduce the incidence of cough, cold, flu, sinusitis, asthma and many more ailments. Running has not been found to be detrimental to the joints, and people of all ages can, and do run. Let’s get past a few excuses.

It’s too wet and muggy

I know that’s what’s rushing through your mind as you read the headline – but starting to run is like starting a diet, or eating a chocolate for that matter – you can do it any time of the year, and the best time to start that, like most things, is now.



This is a time when appetites are still a bit suppressed, and if we start exercising a bit more (like adding a bit of running into our walking) the impact would be visible sooner. Here are a few quick lines on the benefits of running, just to perhaps tilt the balance in favour of now, rather than later.



"All this is fine but I have no time and I feel that it is bad for the knees, especially at my age"

Anil Ambani, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, N Chandrasekaran and others run. Running a conglomerate, a huge IT behemoth or a country, must be a time-consuming task. How do these folks make the time? They have at various times stated that running is the only ‘my time’ that they get in their day, sometimes it is used as a time to focus on the issues of the day and to go over a plan for a critical meeting. When I started running at 40, I would focus on the priorities for the day or a sticky meeting and therefore it did not eat into my work time – it actually helped me manage some of my time and meetings more efficiently. You can make the time. This is the time for you to invest in yourself – to feel and look better.



RunningIn a long-term study conducted at Stanford University, researchers tracked nearly 1,000 runners and healthy non-runners for 21 years. It found that the runners’ knees were no more or less healthy than the non-runners’ knees. And it didn’t seem to matter how much the runners ran. The study also found that runners experienced less physical disability and had a 39 per cent lower mortality rate than the non-runners. There goes the myth that running is bad for the knees.

“I am too old to run”
At the runs we organise across seven States/UTs in the country, we have people from 5 to 80 years finishing a 5 km run, with some running and walking as and when required. Fauja Singh started running in his late 80s and at 89 ran his first marathon (ie 42.2 km), and now at 100, he still maintains a running regimen – and when he was checked by doctors in the UK they said his bones were like that of a 40 year old.

“I am not an early morning person”
This is getting to be uncomfortable reading as you are probably sweating and thinking of the next good reason. And there you have found it – “Aha! and my work hours are crazy.” I started running in the evenings over my first Chicago winter when posted there, as I was definitely not a morning person. But then I started finding that I could not sleep early as I was energised after those short runs in the evening. I tried sleeping a half hour earlier and getting up 45 minutes earlier and running a short while in the mornings. That was a fantastic change for me, as it kept me charged through the day and got me a good night’s sound sleep.

I could go on and on but I guess the main myths or worries or blocks regarding running are covered.

Get ready for the run

Running has been found to keep you younger and fitter, with an improved memory and longer life. Need I say more? I hope you’re now chomping at the bit, and maybe wondering what’s the best way to start, and writing out a long list of what you need to buy and kit yourself out for day 1.
Actually you don’t need anything for day 1 – just your attitude. That’s all. No matter which part of the country and which part of the city you live in, you can make your start tomorrow, from your house. No need to look for the best park, or that elusive jogging track or join a group – just get out early morning tomorrow, and while the rest of the house is asleep, as would be most of the neighborhood, go out and run and walk from your doorstep for 15 minutes.

Now is the time to check out a schedule: one for walkers is listed below

Week
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday

1

Rest
Easy walk 30 mins
Walk +1x100 m runs
Easy walk 30 mins
Rest
Brisk walk 45 mins
1 hr walk + 2x200m jog
2
Rest
Easy walk 30 mins
Walk +2x100 m runs
Easy walk 30 mins
Rest
Brisk walk 45 mins
1 hr walk + 3x200m jog
3
Rest
Easy walk 30 mins
Walk +3x100 m runs
Easy walk 30 mins
Rest
Brisk walk 45 mins
1 hr jog/walk
4
Rest
Easy walk 40 mins
Walk +3x100 m runs
Easy walk 30 mins
Rest
Brisk walk 45 mins
45 mins jog/walk
5
Rest
Easy walk 30 mins
Walk +1x100 m runs
Easy walk 30 mins
Rest
Brisk walk 45 mins
45 mins jog/walk
6
Rest
Easy walk 30 mins
Walk +2x100 m runs
Easy walk 30 mins
Rest
Brisk walk 45 mins
1 hr jog/walk
7
Rest
Easy walk 30 mins
Walk +3x100 m runs
Easy walk 30 mins
Rest
Brisk walk 45 mins
30 mins jog

For your start tomorrow

Resist the urge to turn over and put off the alarm – you owe this to yourself.
Carry a small bottle of water with you.
Run on the pavement or the side of the road facing incoming traffic.
Run on a side road where there is less traffic.
If it’s raining or it’s wet, shorter steps reduce the chances of slipping.
When you get out of breath – walk, when you feel normal again – run.
Do a bit of gentle stretching when you finish.
At the end of the run, come back home, have your chai, read the headlines and tell everyone at home about your run.
Tell your friends and colleagues about your run. Ask some neighbours to join you.
Definitely do the same the next day – this is critical.
And then feel proud of the start you have made.
Buy a non-cotton quick dry T-shirt, get yourself a pair of running shoes.
Find a running group next to you or a park which is not too far from where you stay – so that you can go there a few times a week.
Sleep another 15 minutes earlier and get up 15 minutes earlier. Make gradual changes – nothing sudden or extreme.
You are now hooked.
Come and run in one of our 5 km runs that we do across multiple cities, and target to train for a 5 km run over 3 months.
You are now a runner!
Enjoy the ride! And keep a diary for the first three months. Then look back and congratulate yourself on your achievement, as what you have been able to accomplish is what millions of others have not yet been able to start. But then perhaps, you will find yourself an evangelist and a role model for some, and spread the running bug.
Look forward to running into you soon.

The writer switched gears from a 25-year corporate career with Unilever, Nestle and Motorola post IIMA to start a venture – Running And Living Infotainment – which focuses on making running into a brand activation platform


From HT Brunch, August 21

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