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Running regularly became more important than running fast as I grew older: Virat Kohli before one8 run

Virat Kohli talks about realising the importance of running in 2016, how much he runs on a normal day and which of his teammates could beat him over 100m and 42km.

Running regularly became more important than running fast as I grew older: Virat Kohli before one8 run

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 24 March 2023 10:24 AM GMT

The year 2016 was a significant one in Virat Kohli’s career. Leading India to Test series wins against West Indies, New Zealand and England; scoring an unprecedented 973 runs in one IPL season; scoring 7 hundreds across ODIs and Tests - seldom has a batsman dominated world cricket in such a way.

One of the things the then-28-year-old did differently that year was to look at the activity of running in a different light. Ahead of Virat Kohli's first-of-a-kind running initiative one8 Run, the cricketer shared his thoughts on why running has played an important role in his career.

“It was in 2016 when I figured out the benefits of running regularly. I just felt like my whole system worked much better when running was a major part of my training, along with lifting weights. By itself, running takes care of your whole physique and mentally makes you feel great when you finish that run,” Virat Kohli said.

It was not as if Virat Kohli had not run before 2016, but he used to do it with a different purpose earlier. In his earlier frame of mind, speed would have been the focus. In the new version of himself which he discovered in 2016, running regularly was more important than his pace.

“I used to feel earlier that running fast was more important for me, but what I figured out over a period of time is that running consistently, say a 4-km run or more, develops your cardiovascular system in a more rigid way than just doing speed work,” he said.

The older he grew, the more essential it became to incorporate a regular run into his day to maintain his fitness standards on the cricket field, he said.

“Speed work is important for my sport, but I’ve also realised that I need to continue to be in touch with running because that is one thing that always keeps my fitness levels where they should be, so that I can perform at an elite level. As soon as I slacked off on running, my movements on the field were way slower - even when I was doing weights. Because my body wasn't used to the miles that are required for all your muscles to be ready and primed,” he said.

Virat Kohli also laid out how he feels his body responding positively to running and how it struggles when he does not run for a few days.

“Just weight training wasn't enough for me after a point, especially when I was getting older. Running became even more important because when I ran after a long period of time, I was gasping for air, and that is the time that you understand the effects of not running for a while. But when you do three weeks of it, then in the fourth week you're literally gliding on the field because the body is ready, it can take that much load and has the understanding of how much oxygen to take in and the muscles are responding the same way your system reacting to it,” he explained.

Having trained under strength and performance coach Basu Shanker for more than a decade now, Virat’s regular day includes a 4-km run. But he covers three-four times that distance on the field during a cricket match.

“I like to move a lot on the field, so my personal average would be around 12-14 km in one day of being on the field. But the distance I usually do as a marker for maintaining fitness standards is a run of 4km,” he said.

Virat Kohli might be one of the fastest runners in the Indian cricket team, but he said some of his teammates are faster than him, both over a 100m dash and a 42-km marathon.

“As for 42 km, Mayank Agarwal will win by miles. I haven't seen him run long distances, but I know for a fact that he runs 4-6 kms very regularly and his (mental) space is brilliant to run (long distances),” he said.

He does keep himself in the contention for the podium places in the hypothetical 100-m race, but still feels Ravindra Jadeja would come out on top.

“I would be fast, but the only two people who can beat me if they’re fresh and ready on the day are Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya. They are very fast across short distances. The three of us would be the fastest,” said Virat Kohli.

Catch Virat Kohli as he flags on the first edition of the NEB one8 Run on 26th March at Nice Road, Bengaluru.

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