For all those out there who hate running and want to push through this mental block, I hear you! I feel you! There was a time not long ago (precisely eight months) from today when I struggled to hold my pace or my energy for more than five minutes. It’s not that I have not been active, since the time I was a student, I have always pursued fitness or any form of workout, but there always been this block when it came to running. I could never in my life at that point imagined I would run my first 10k run, leading to a full marathon someday. I tried running on the treadmill, with good music, out in the open, in the morning, in the evening, with people, without people, but the outcome never changed. I barely made it ten minutes before giving up. This was when I took to Yoga and I literally took it up as a challenge!
Today, eight months after I took up this challenge, I ran my first 10k run. It took me 60 minutes, at a speed of 10kmph and a pace of 9.59 per mile.
I did it on of the most beautiful places with ample greenery and the sunshine. The beauty around just inspired me to run more and I did it without any music. Since I am a goal oriented person, I set a target for myself. Then, I divided that target into smaller ones, such as your first 5k, first 10k, first 15k etc. This not only helps you get a realistic roadmap but also keep you motivated. Everyone knows the feeling when you hit a milestone, so I cashed in on that.
The first step towards running is getting your mindset and to start liking the process (or at least not hate it as much). In the beginning, I started running on the treadmill for ten minutes at a speed of 8km with some really good music. If there isn’t any music, think about your day and make a to-do list in your mind. The next goal for me was to develop a good stamina. I started cross training in the gym along with yoga, combining squats, lunges, planks, and emphasizing majorly on the correct posture and techniques.
Yoga as a whole worked wonder for me. Yoga brings balance and symmetry to the body which complements running. It improves flexibility and improves mental focus which is a prime necessity for someone like me. The kind of patience that you need for a correct posture helps you understand the importance of small things in life. As the muscles grew stronger, I started increasing my time duration. Every week I dedicated one day completely to running a 5k. The idea was to complete the distance combining running and walking. You can also use this same idea to complete your first 10k.
Once I start enjoying the process, it became very easy. For long distance running, it is very important to focus on breathing. So, my next step was to learn to Synchronise my breath with my steps. Here again, it was yoga and the breathing techniques that it incorporates that helped me learn better. It helps you maintain your pace speed and stamina. The technique used to achieve my first 10k in terms of breathing was: in the beginning of any run, I walked for a bit, taking a few deep breath and then start running. I inhaled for every two steps and exhaled for the next two. After ten such repetitions, I exhaled for 4 steps to remove the excess carbon dioxide developed in the lungs. The last fifty to one hundred meters of my run, I did a sprint.
One of the biggest mistakes that we make is not cooling down and stretch in the proper manner, especially after a long distance such as a first 10k run. The workout is for today, but stretching is for tomorrow. This is where all the yoga can come into good use. Try and spend a good fifteen to twenty minutes in this. It is extremely vital to get the heartbeat back to normal. And close the workout with the good old Shavasana.
I had promised myself a good reward after achieving my first 10k run milestone, and so I treated myself to a nice spa session. From despising the whole act to looking forward to it, I have come a long way. My first 10k has made me fall in love with running and the after effects of it. There are hours of clear headedness that follow a good run along with yoga, and that is addictive. The amount of energy you miraculously get and that glow on your skin, it sure makes the whole effort worth it. Believe me when I say this, If I can do it, anybody can do it. All you need is to keep moving forward.
Interested in knowing the yoga poses that Saachi swears by? Read: Five Yoga Poses that Helped Me Become A Better Runner!
Saachi Saraogi, Guest blogger at Livingit.in
A Darjeeling native with roots in Bhutan, she loves the hills, enjoys baking and cooking, and dreams of being a teacher and traveller. You can follow her here