Sunday, November 7, 2021

My Basic Guidelines For Running

Screenshot from the talk
Thank you to those of you who took time to attend the talk on running we had 3 days ago. From the 'live' questions and those I received via email, it seems like many Singaporeans did take up running last year during the circuit breaker/ lockdown. Good to know that many have continued running since then.

Many of these runners are not aspiring to complete a marathon (not yet anyway). However, they all seem to want to run faster. Well, as runners, we all want to run faster and longer for some reason. 

Over the years, I've put together a set of guidelines for runners, my patients or anyone who wants to keep running for health, fitness or performance.

Some runners swear by their heart rate monitors (HRM). Those who know me know that I do not like training with a heart rate monitor (HRM) even though I was sponsored by Polar Heart Rate Monitors when I was still competing. I just used their HRM as watches. (FYI - Polar was the market leader for HRM before Garmin came along and disrupted that market). 

I am not against anyone training with HRM's. My take is that our bodies do not work in physiological zones where exceeding aerobic zones is a crime. When feeling good, your easy runs can be a little faster, But if you're tired or not recovering quickly, then I'd say your easy run can be at a snail's pace. Better still take a rest day. No doing planks, core exercises etc, just total rest. 

The next few suggestions are specially for those who run ultras. Please don't feel obligated to follow anybody's training, especially if they're pro or semi-pro. This means trying to clock 100 km a week, running twice a day etc. All of these tips/ suggestions on training have too many cofounding factors and variables so do not even venture there. Plus in sunny and super humid Singapore, it takes a lot more to recover from all that mileage.

Don't keep chasing mileage and vertical (climbs) totals. They are variables for stress, but they are not the actual stress experienced by your body. A 20 km run is just a 20 km run. Or it may act like a 30 km run if you have been up at night with a sick child or rushing a dateline at work. Our bodies know the distance we've covered, but stress from other non physical factors mentioned above is interpreted as stress by the body too. More stress is not always better. Our bodies can adapt to lower or higher volume as long as the stress is appropriate for you.

I have patients who deliberately fast before training to improve performance. Perhaps it MAY improve energy efficiency in some (very few) athletes, but I rather they eat and find their 'strong' to train harder instead of messing with their sensitive metabolic pathways.

Those of you who listened to my talk will know that I'm not recommending minimalist nor maximalist shoes for everyone. Wear shoes that are comfortable for you and not anyone else. Different shoes work for different people.

Do stay active and engaged in activities and groups you find meaningful and care about you, as they help increase both quality and quantity of life. Social interaction is critical for mental and physical health.

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