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Back on Track — Running

Back on Track — Running

Suraj Iyer

Published: 24 Jun 2020 11:12 AM GMT

Back on Track is a series that focuses on physical activity resumption post lockdown and how one must take care while beginning their fitness journey again.

People seeking to keep fit or endurance athletes faced quite the hiatus during lockdown where they couldn’t exercise for the period of 2-3 months. Runners and Cyclists still have possible home alternatives like treadmill and cycling machines but swimmers still don’t have an idea when will pools reopen. With fairly eased restrictions, the government has permitted outdoor activities such as running and cycling.

After 3 months of confinement, it is definitely a breath of fresh air for people to go outside and perform their favourite activity. However there are a couple things that should be kept in mind before restarting any form of cardiovascular exercises.

#1 Being a shadow of your former self

If you were previously capable of running long distances or sprinting very fast, chances are you are back to square one and should not attempt the last run, swim or distance that you cycled. Irrespective of cardiovascular activity maintained during lockdown (especially those who trained with machines), committing to the same activity outdoor is very different. Remember to start small and get back to the level of fitness that was previously achievable and get past that as well, but start from the bottom. Cardiovascular muscle memory is an anecdotal concept as not many studies have been conducted, but experience will help you avoid the mistakes you first made when you started running, cycling or swimming which will eventually lead to faster progress than before.

Fitness and wellness Running representational image (Source: Forbes)

#2 Machine training is a lot different than natural conditions

For the prepared ones who purchased treadmills and stationary bikes pre lockdown, they wouldn’t have noticed a reduction in physical activity. However running on a treadmill or stationary bikes does not replicate the outdoors in any way. After 3 months on a treadmill, runners might face some difficulty outdoors as the leg muscles work harder to push the ground behind, and you might encounter natural air resistance which was otherwise not possible while running indoors. Cyclists will have to adapt to the inclines and declines of nature which will provide them a challenge.

#3 Nutrition and other factors

Nutrition is the key component that will aid in recovery of the muscles and help you push farther than last time. Lockdown may have bought the old junk eating habit among some who once abolished it and it is essential to stick to nutritional rich foods that will propel your progress faster. Work from home saw an influx among many industries who shifted to going digital, and this may have caused higher levels of stress or poor habits like eating packaged food. Coupled with other factors such as sleep, level of stress and motivation, a person is likely to achieve results faster than before.

#4 Train with bodyweight exercises

It is well known that more developed muscles help reduce time for endurance athletes. Resistance training isn’t necessary but for those who have the option, it will greatly help in developing primary and secondary muscles utilized for the activity. For those who don’t have access to free weights, bodyweight exercises and advanced calisthenics routines might help develop the strength needed and coupled with cardio, will reduce the overall body fat to help you get into better running shape.

It is understandable for those who want to jump right back into their favorite endurance sports but safety and proper progression will yield faster results and better performance. Frustration is common among people who struggle to reach a goal they previously could with ease. Setting small goals and achievements, following a structured exercise regimen and supplementing the body with all necessary factors like sleep, lower stress and good food will bring you back and help you shoot farther than the previous goals that were achieved.

Also read: When will gyms be open in India?

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