Most people think running is simple and that they know everything about it. Here are some running tips and things you may not know
By Chia Hui Jun
Running 150 minutes with moderate intensity in a day reaps almost the same health benefits as running 30 to 45 minutes five times a week, research shows. This defies the myth that running has to be frequent in order to reap health benefits.
What does moderate intensity mean? Being able to speak short sentences comfortably while exercising indicates moderate intensity, says Dr Ong Joo Haw from the Sports Medicine, Orthopaedic Surgery Department in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
Types of Running
One can choose from a few different types of running – recovery runs, base runs, long runs, and progressive runs.
A recovery run, also known as jogging, is a relatively short run performed at an easy pace, while a base run is a relatively short to moderate-length run done at a runner’s natural pace.
Triathlete Mok Ying Ren recommends that joggers keep it easy and allow their bodies to determine the pace. “Leave your watch behind and look around at your surroundings,” he says.
Progressive runs, or tempo runs, are slightly faster than a runner’s natural pace. For example, select a loop course such as at Bedok Reservoir, warm up for 15 minutes, and then run two to three laps around the loop, going faster with each lap.
On the other hand, a long run increases raw endurance and lasts long enough to leave a runner moderately to severely fatigued. Those who are training for races can vary their distance and duration accordingly.
If you are training for a marathon, run for two to three hours comfortably at an easy pace; for a 10km race, runs of up to 60 to 90 minutes would suffice.
“Vary the distance and duration of the runs, running speed, frequency of sessions and the terrain’s incline, as these build running speed, endurance and tolerance for hilly conditions,” says Dr Ong.
Ying Ren says that treadmill running removes the wind factor, and less effort is needed as the road moves under your feet.
There are advantages to training outdoors. The training environment is harsher and more varied, increasing one’s fitness level and allowing one to adapt to different weather conditions.
Routine and Technique
If you want to start a recreational running routine, Hollie Avil, a coach at MetaSport, recommends starting with 15-minute base runs to get used to the feel of running before building it up slowly over time. After that, you can begin progression or other types of runs.
There are several elements of a good running technique – run tall, lean forward slightly, engage your core, move your arms in a forward motion, keep shoulders relaxed, look ahead to the horizon, and land mid-foot. Try to run three to four times a week, and do stretching exercises before.
Experts encourage a mix of runs each week, with easy jogs after days of long runs. The cardiovascular system develops faster than the muscular system so, while the heart and lungs may feel good, the muscles lag.
If you feel any aches or discomfort, take a few days off or do easy runs to allow your muscles to adapt and to get stronger. Rest periods allow the body to make adjustments for increased levels of fitness.
To get the full benefits of exercise, one should maintain a balanced diet, get sufficient sleep, and avoid alcohol and smoking, as the former is a diuretic and the latter affects lung function, Dr Ong advises.
If you are above 35 years old or lead a sedentary lifestyle, or have known medical problems or musculoskeletal concerns, seek medical advice. Dr Ong cautions against over-training as it can result in injuries and decreased immunity.
For cardiovascular health and other benefits, head out for a jog today.