Running

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Six months ago, I started training for the San Francisco Half Marathon (thank you LinkedIn for the sponsorship). Just to give you a quick information about my running history — I’ve tried running for the 800 meters (0.5 miles) in High School and quit before the half way mark and I’ve tried running for 10 minutes on a treadmill a couple years ago and failed again. I’ve always wanted to set the record straight here. When I started to train for the half marathon, I knew this would be one of the hardest thing I’d be doing — moving out of my comfort zone and trying to achieve something that I’m not good at. However, six months later I’ve completed my first half marathon and it is one of the things that I love doing now — something that I hope to continue for a long time.

Running

Some things that I’ve learned or enjoyed in the last 6 months -

Getting Started

  1. Run with an (e) Group — Run with a group that is approximately 7% better than you — that way you’re constantly pushing yourself and also believing that the target is within reach. However, not all of us could find a running group nearby. When I started running, I was competing for the number of steps in a day on a fitness tracking device (Jawbone Up) with a couple of my friends —it even pushed me to come back from work at 10 in the evening (night) and go for a 3 mile run. If you hate losing, use it to your advantage.

  2. Get Distracted — Anything that can distract you (focus your attention away from the fact that you’re running) helps — music, conversation with your friend, audio books or abstract problems and ideas.

  3. Buy good gear — Running shoes help a lot in adding more support and stability to your feet. If you live in the Bay Area, do checkout Zombie Runner in Palo Alto or Road Runner Sports in San Carlos. Have a tracking device (smartphone, GPS watch, Fitbit, Jawbone etc) to accurately track your distance and pace. If you’re running longer than 6 miles, get a water bottle — check this or this.

  4. Run outside — I can’t stress this enough as it feels great (the fresh air if you run in the morning), it’s more difficult to quit midway through your run as you’ve to go back to where you started (compared to treadmill), you’ll find new places and it is easy to focus your attention away from running.

  5. Make it a habit — Create a schedule every week (that you’re comfortable with) and try running around the same time. After a while, this gets into your system and you start to think about running involuntarily.

  6. Enroll in a Race — This gives you a goal in mind something you can aim at. If you’re in the United States, this could be a starting guide — http://www.halfmarathons.net/usa-half-marathons/ .

Running All

Running Your First Half Marathon

  1. Know your Limits — It took me a while getting used to the fact that I’m not going to be anywhere near the best and completing the half marathon was itself a success. Despite a few months of practicing, realistically I was looking at somewhere around the 2 hour and 30 minute mark — whereas my friends were looking good for the 2 hour mark.

  2. Strengthen your Core — One thing I wish I knew before the race — while my legs were strong and willing to go another few miles, my back and body gave up at around the 11 mile (~18 km) mark.

  3. Be tough mentally — Even when your body gives up, your mind can help you finish the last few miles. Have your inspirational speech ready (to tell yourself) to motivate you and keep moving when your body and your legs are begging you to quit.

  4. Take Enough Rest — Your longest practice run (13 miles) must be 3 to 4 weeks before the actual run. After that, give your muscles a rest and run shorter distances (4–6 miles).

  5. Enjoy the race — Now that I’ve scared you enough, this is the fun part — the race. The half marathon is a wonderful experience — the jittery feeling in your stomach, thousands of people running along with you, hundreds of strangers holding banners, cheering and encouraging, people playing music to keep you going, roads and traffic blocked with you being the center of attraction and the medal at the end of it all — doesn’t get better than this!

2013 San Francisco Half Marathon

The Post Marathon

After you settle down and have gotten into a rhythm, some things I’ve found -

  1. Stress Buster — I’ve found running to be a great way to relieve stress as not only do I use it to forget the problems but sometimes I’ve got wonderful ideas while running. Instead of TV-series binging, eating high calorie foods or drinking to relieve stress, running seems a much better alternate option — it is healthy and scalable (more stress equals a longer run).

  2. No Music — Quit listening to music and have a conversation with a running partner — Running/Jogging/Walking is a great way to catch up with friends or have a good conversation. Or if you’re running alone, it is a good time to think about a problem in your mind — either your next startup idea or your plan for the weekend. (Note — I’ve found it easier to think about an abstract idea rather than a concrete problem).

Start Running!

Kaushik Rangadurai

Code. Learn. Explore

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