Be realistic & start small, you may suddenly run 10 km in a day due to an impulse, but you will give it up soon. Train for 3 days a week & start small distances. There are a slew of apps & web pages that tell you how to steadily progress to your goal.
Do a proper warm up, stretching & cool down (in that order) routine to prevent injuries.
Maintain a journal to chart your progress or better still, do it digitally on any of the several apps available free online.
Try to have a small peer group of similar level fitness people to egg you on. Running alone can be one of the most boring things to do.
Maintain a good balanced diet. Common diet plans for long distance running are easily available as free information on Google. One needs to transition gradually from a carbohydrate rich diet to a protein rich one towards the race day.i
Drink lots of water & carry water with you on your daily runs. In this changing weather drinking water can be easily overlooked.
Wear running shorts & a proper running t shirt/ a well fitting sports bra. Cotton fabric is a strict no as it absorbs sweat & chafes skin. A wide variety of synthetic fabrics are available that wick away moisture & keep you cool. Wear clothes with reflective strips which make you noticeable to rest of traffic.
Music helps, you can get custom playlists off the net for various running distances, but the best is to load stuff that is music to your ears. It pays to invest time & effort to do this.
Read, novels or blogs by fellow first time runners to maintain the mental tempo. In long distance running it’s your mind rather than your body takes you through the full distance.
Do not be disappointed if you are not able to run a half marathon in your first attempt. Any attempt at running & thereby garnering fitness is laudable & you can always improve upon it next year. The more important thing is to have the correct intent & stay away from injuries.
Dos & don’ts for Senior citizens
Listen to your body. The commonest problem is dodgy knees due to arthritis. Strengthening the knees through specific exercise helps. You may need to take some pain medications & spend more time on stretching before the race.
Get a screening done by an orthopaedic surgeon & a cardiologist before deciding to run, especially if you are a first time runner or if you have never got a preventive health check up done.
Do not run if you have knee/ hip replacement implants or cardiac pacemakers. There are safer ways of staying fit for people with these.
Consider a visco-supplement (lubricant) injection in the knees 2-3 months before the race. These injections are given under local anaesthesia in the OPD & are very useful for seniors with early to moderate arthritis. Your orthopaedic surgeon is the best judge whether you’ll benefit from these.
It is safe for seniors with back pain to run, even if you have a mild to moderate disc prolapse. Severe pain in any portion of the body should be interpreted as a red flag & one should consult an Orthopaedician before deciding to run.
In most chronic illnesses it is safe to run. You need a clearance from the appropriate specialist before deciding to run.
Keep a small laminated card with you at all times detailing any medical illnesses that you may have & all the medications that you are taking along with one phone number of a close relative. This information may save your life if communicated to a medical professional in case of an emergency.
Running is so tedious, painful and exhausting, so why do we run at all? People run for many reasons- to lose weight or to achieve an ideal body weight, for better health, to stay fit and the list goes on…