My tryst with running

I haven’t ran many miles yet. But this looks like an endeavour I am beginning to enjoy. I am not at an athletic person, neither enjoyed playing any sport nor watching them. I don’t even remember playing hopscotch when I was a kid. Completely stayed away from anything that needed physical exertion. Why run when you can walk, why stand when you can sit. Adding to this, my family’s inheritance of being lean helped reaffirm this very notion in my head.

Its not until recently that I began to feel a lot older than I ought to feel. I live in a building with no elevators. Stairs started to seem steeper every time I climb. I would take a break and pretend to tie my shoe laces in the middle of the landing. I would insist my child walks or we were not going out.

For the sake of well being, I started walking in my neighbourhood. I got to have inspired by all the senior folks who walk zealously. But this only worked for two days, on the third day I hit the snooze button. Next I tried walking on the treadmill. It seemed ok at first so I went again. Then I tried running on it l couldn’t even sustain for 2 mins. Ego hurt I went again. Not this time too. It took me few times to finally clock in just above 2 mins. Mysteriously, the workings of time also felt weird, seconds felt like minutes and minutes took hours to move on the treadmill.

So I did some research. What does it take to run? Even though the jury is still out whether the human body is fit for running. I found some interesting facts. Our apparently excellent cooling system is worthy of envy among the animal species. Most animals cool themselves by panting, whereas we just sweat. A paper in the Journal of Sports Medicine, two scientists mention that our numerous sweat glands and less body hair works like an inherent cooling machine. Dr. Lieberman, a Harvard biologist said,  “There are so many features in our bodies from our heads to our toes that make us good at running.” Muscles like gluteus maximus, largest in our body and those on our butt only get used when we run. Given that most mammals with four legs have an added advantage but they say on a given hot day a human can out run a horse in 26.2 mile marathon. Interesting but 90% of the marathoners end up having injuries after a run. So what’s catch?

In the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, talks about the Tarahumara Indians, a tribe from Mexico who are known for their extraordinary running capabilities  in nothing but thin-soled sandals. He mentions that running alone can not injure one’s body. But thats only when you train yourself easier, slower and longer. Did I mention he is an avid runner himself? He actually criticises the marketing and commercialisation of running itself which promotes high tech shoes and running gears. Most of the runners don’t start training until way in their adulthood, also we run on artificial surfaces and in high tech shoes, these were not the ideal conditions where our body began to adapt to long distance running about 2 million years ago.

So let me summarise for you…

  1. Keep it simple with less cushioned shoes
  2. Try running on natural surfaces and
  3. Train easier and longer thats the key

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fauja_Singh

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