Walking : An UNDERRATED Activity!!

Just like drinking water, walking is one of those activities that we never appreciate, mostly because it doesn’t seem too strenuous or doesn’t get your heart rate up. Just to grab your attention, let me start by saying,

“Walking is one of the best exercise for burning fat and one your body will appreciate the most”.

To understand this, it is good to understand your ideal Fat Burning Zone.

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The body does rely on different substrates during exercise according to the exercise intensity. At a lower intensity level, the body relies more on fat as a fuel source as it takes more time to breakdown fat and convert it to energy (a longer process). During high intensity efforts, the body begins to metabolize carbohydrates instead, preferring their speed of breakdown to fuel higher levels of exertion.

The preference for fat at lower levels of intensity has created the fat-burning zone – an intensity at which the highest percentage of calories burned come from fat. However, it is better to focus the majority of your efforts on generating a calorie deficit.

“You may burn a little more fat during exercise, but if a calorie deficit isn’t present, it will all even out in the end you won’t lose much fat at all.”

In lower intensity programs, the overall calorie burn during a workout will be lower than a high intensity workout – regardless of whether those calories come from fat or carbohydrates.

Although steady-state cardio at lower intensities may not necessarily lead to higher levels of fat loss, it can provide a much-needed break from HIIT workouts. Steady state cardio is useful when aiming to create a caloric deficit because it offers an opportunity to burn more calories without increasing intensity, and delaying recovery from heavy weight training workouts. Incorporate lower intensity cardio following hard days to improve circulation while encouraging recovery or during deload weeks when exercise intensity should naturally decrease.

How to find your ideal Fat Burning Zone:

Figure out your max heart rate (Max Heart Rate = 220 – your age). And then determine your fat-burning range, which is 60% to 70% of your max heart rate. Use a fitness app or a smart watch/fitness band to calculate your 5 heart rate zones. (This is an average estimate based on a larger consensus of people, but may not be applicable to everybody. If you have any heart conditions, please talk to your physician before any kind of exercise).

The benefits can be listed as under:

1. It Doesn’t Add Training Stress.

Unlike metabolic conditioning or HIIT, walking adds very little training stress to the body. Combine intense cardio with several days of weight lifting each week and the body may simply overtrain and burnout. Rest is important!!

I like to call walking as an active rest activity and the best part is that it is hard to overtrain with walking. It doesn’t accumulate much stress and you could walk a ton. Shin splints might be your biggest worry, but as long as you watch the incline, don’t go crazy with the volume and wear decent shoes, you should be fine.

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2. Walking is restorative and assists with training recovery.

You feel better after you finish a walk, not worse, and the effects are immediate. It increases blood flow, which will help you recover from injuries and even training.

Some say walking also has a small spinal-flossing effect that helps the nerves align optimally and thus conduct their electrical impulses in an ideal way. Ever hear someone say that a walk helps their stiff and sore muscles feel better? Now you know why.

3. It burns a lot of fat and almost no muscle.

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Walking is a low intensity exercise, which means it burns a higher percentage of fat. True, walking for 10 minutes doesn’t burn a lot of fat or calories in general, but walk briskly at an incline for 4-8 hours a week and you’ll burn a significant amount of fat.

The fact that it doesn’t harm your muscles is probably the biggest aesthetic benefit. High intensity exercise, particularly cardio, uses glucose for fuel. Normally that isn’t a concern as the body will break down its glycogen storage (stored carbs) for glucose.

If on a diet and lifting weights, glycogen stores are more easily depleted. If you add intense cardio on top of this, the body will release cortisol to help convert amino acids into glucose to be used as fuel. Those amino acids can come from your hard-earned muscle tissue.

Clearly, this is a problem for a lifter because whatever form of energy storage you have, you’ll burn more of that particular energy store. Most people have considerable body fat, and the body is quick to burn that off once they get moving.

But a muscular and moderately lean individual will have more muscle than fat. The body will see the muscle as “excess” and will preferentially burn that muscle to meet the caloric demand of the exercise.

4. It can build aerobic fitness and work capacity.

Brisk walking won’t turn you into a marathoner, but it does build up the VO2 Max.

Going fast on a high incline –without holding onto the handles (in case of a treadmill) –isn’t as easy as it seems. Regularly doing so can often take a more muscular male’s VO2 Max to the 50+ range, which is usually ideal for them to complete challenging weight training workouts.

As for work capacity, a fit person should be able to exercise at a moderate pace for a long time. Walking helps build this ability. A criticism of “meatheads” is that they train their phosphagen (short duration, high intensity) energy system well but nothing else. In other words, if they have to work continuously for any length of time, they can’t handle it. Walking takes care of that.

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5 – Stress Relief, Functional and Productive

If you’re on a treadmill, there’s a great chance that it already has cable tv and is connected to news. If you’re walking outdoors, you can simply put some headphones on and listen to your daily podcast. Suddenly, you’ve made your workout a lot more productive and effective!

Walking can also be a great way to have some quiet time, collect your thoughts, ponder your troubles (or escape them), or talk with your loved ones. Truth is, once you complete the walk, you usually feel better and life looks better because of it.

“Functional” might have taken on different meanings, but one meaning is that it’s something which mimics or improves activities of daily living. It may be the single most functional activity a person can do since the need to get around is crucial for human survival.

6. It is low impact and hard to screw up.

Walking is easy and low impact, so even if you have sensitive knees or a bad back, walking shouldn’t affect it. It might even help improve those conditions. The biggest mistake for those who use treadmills is holding onto the handles, particularly if the treadmill is at an incline.

If you hold onto the handles and lean back you effectively eliminate the incline, as now your body is essentially perpendicular to the treadmill –which is what happens when you walk on flat ground.

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7. It is better for strength athletes than running.

Running or jogging has benefits, but strength athletes are better off avoiding it. Many lifters notice their lifts and explosiveness go down when they jog regularly. And the heavier you are, the harder running is on your body.

Weight (and not fat %) will always play an important factor if you’re running longer distances. It doesn’t matter if you’re at 4% body fat. If you’re heavy, it will have an impact on your knees.

Note that I’m not talking about sprints.

8. It works fasted.

The theory behind fasted cardio is that if the body is low on carbs, it will turn to fat for energy. I agree with this premise and walking is the perfect form of exercise for it.

Where everybody seems to screw up is by trying to perform HIIT cardio while fasted, which isn’t smart because you’ll burn a lot of muscle –assuming you have a decent amount of muscle to begin with.

9. It is for all age groups

It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 or 70. Every person in every age group can benefit from this activity and it requires no training whatsoever. It is literally one of the first things we lee earn to do in life!

The Only Disadvantage

Walking is time consuming. To burn fat I’d suggest three hours of walking a week at a minimum, but 4-5 hours is ideal.

You won’t be able to read at the pace I suggest. Don’t try. But watching TV, chatting, listening to music, books, lectures, or podcasts is a great way to pass the time.

The vast majority of people spend more than 3-6 hours a week watching TV. On a treadmill you could still watch that amount of TV and get lean at the same time. Although, I prefer a walk in the open, thanks to fresher air, and the fact that treadmill might not be good for your knees in the long run, especially for heavy people.

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Workout Essentials – Recovery!!

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I know you’ve been hitting the gym hard and busting it in your training at home or ever since the lockdowns were lifted and gyms started opening up! You went to depth on every squat rep and pushed your reverse lunges to failure. Your quads are beat and your hamstrings burn. Your workout was tough. But let me tell you this, IT DID NOT BUILD AND OUNCE OF MUSCLE!!!

What if I tell you spending hours lifting, day in and day out, might actually stall your progress?

The answer to this lies in your post-gym regime. The opportunity for muscle growth begins the moment you STOP lifting, and that growth can’t happen without proper recovery protocol. Recovery and rest are essential parts of any strength and conditioning program—and most coaches and trainers would argue it’s just as or more important than the lifting itself.

Recovery must occur before progress can be made.

It is important for staying injury free, long-term consistent training and hitting new highs from time to time. Muscles don’t grow in the gym; they grow after. When you lift heavy, your muscles suffer micro-tears and are actually broken down via a process called Catabolism. Immediately after you lift, your body begins repairs, but it needs your help.

If you want to get the most from each and every workout, you need to prioritise post-workout recovery. Heed these tips to maximise recovery, stay on top of your game and ensure maximum gains.

1. Push The Barrier, Don’t Annihilate It

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“No pain, no gain!” has probably been spat in your face as you struggled to rack a one-rep max bench press. Pushing beyond your limits is a good thing, but just how far should you push? It is important to hit the muscle just enough to create that needed stimulus for muscle growth, but not in completely destroying it to the point where your muscle hurts for days.

If you obliterate your body with every workout, your body will revert its energy to repairing the downstream effects of the damage rather than building muscle.

“The focus shouldn’t be on how fast you recover, but instead on how productive your recovery is”. If you constantly obliterate your body to complete and utter exhaustion with every workout, this damage accumulates over time and your body will revert its energy to repairing the downstream effects of the damage rather than building new muscle.

The trick is to “work out hard enough to push yourself past your comfort zones—trying to do more than you did the workout before, for example. Just don’t destroy yourself entirely.” By following this sage advice, you’ll make solid and steady progress rather than taking one step forward and two steps back.

2. Get Serious About Pre-Workout Nutrition

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By now, most people understand that the foods they eat after their workout and throughout the day factor into the quality of their recovery. The foods you eat before a workout can also play an important role in pre-empting the tissue-rebuilding process once the workout is over.

Digestion is a lengthy process; proteins and carbs that you ingest prior to the workout will still be circulating in the body afterward. For this reason, choose your foods wisely. Make sure you get high-quality, lean protein along with some complex carbohydrates, especially if you plan on an intense workout. I personally have a small 200 calorie meal with some carbs and proteins, 45 minutes prior to heading to the gym. It may include a banana, or a couple slices of bread with cheese or peanut butter, or some almonds and an apple.

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In addition to eating near your workouts, there have been substantial reported benefits of taking BCAAs before and during a workout, as well. BCAAs have been designed to encourage efficient absorption by the muscle cells. Having said that, I would like to add that I am not an advocate of supplements, and it is always down to your personal preferences. However, I do consume 1 serving of BCAA during my workout.

3. Don’t Skip The Stretching

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Stretching probably doesn’t sound sexy (or even necessary) when all you want is size, but it might be the most underrated player in muscle growth. By not having the necessary flexibility and muscle pliability, you might short yourself on muscular gains in many compound lifts. For example, if your ankles are too tight, you can’t go deep enough in a squat to reap maximum benefits.

Barbara Bolotte, IFBB pro, stresses, “Make sure you allot at least 20 minutes after a workout to cool down and stretch. If you don’t plan for it, you are more likely to skip it.”

Stretching is a great way to relieve muscular tension and potentially downplay the soreness you experience later. “Prolonged stretching with moderate exercise and diet control will reduce cholesterol and significantly reverse hardening of the arteries,” notes Barbara. Knowing these things, more people should be taking stretching more seriously!

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4. Perfect Your Post-Workout Protein

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Go ahead and giggle at the burly types chugging their post-workout shake. While you chortle ’til you choke, they’re feeding their muscles the necessary fuel to grow and improve. Post-workout protein is vital, especially if you haven’t eaten anything for hours. Aim for 20-50 grams of protein after each workout depending on your bodyweight.

Whey protein is the most popular protein supplement, and for good reason: It is convenient, easy to mix, and it offers a rapid absorption rate that’s perfect after a tough training session. Don’t merely go for taste or cost. Invest in quality whey isolate to see a difference. Casein can also be on your route to the top. If your goal is to build size, you can prefer this type of protein, since it takes a significantly longer amount of time to absorb. There are many bodybuilders I have come across, who consume Whey proteins right after a workout, and Casein right before they go to bed.

One trick that I use to optimize my recovery is to drink about 30 grams of whey protein followed by lots of water and some carbs. “You need immediate, fast-acting carbohydrates during your post-workout window to replenish glycogen levels, restore energy, and bump up insulin levels”. “Insulin can be extremely anabolic at the right time, helping the restoration of muscle proteins by inhibiting protein breakdown and stimulating protein synthesis.”

5. Eat Potassium-Rich Foods

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While we’re on the subject of post-workout nutrition, you should consider including a source of potassium in your post-workout cocktail. Your potassium reserves will inevitably be sapped from an intense workout session. Potassium, among other nutrients like sodium and calcium, is a key mineral which plays a role in muscular energy. Bananas or potatoes are good potassium sources. Bananas go with nearly everything, but mashed potatoes in your first meal following the workout are also winners.

6. Focus On Quality Sleep

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Source : Michael A. Grandner, National Sleep Association.

Catching quality Zs seems like a no-brainer, but it’s still all to common to hear how many people get less than six hours of sleep.

“Sleep is not just for relaxing. This is the necessary downtime that your body needs to restore itself”. Sacrificing hours of sleep over a long period of time can even make you mentally weaker and negatively impact your drive in training sessions.

At least seven hours is the ideal target to hit, although many people, including athletes, may need up to nine hours. Find ways to make changes in your day that will allow you to get to bed earlier.

It has been shown that lack of adequate sleep can decrease and reduce tolerance to training, alter mood, increase perception of fatigue and negatively affect the physiological mechanisms responsible for adaptation from the stresses of training. Hormonal secretion during sleep is one of the most important factors influencing recovery; after all, the purpose of sleep is to induce a state of recovery in the body. Anabolic (muscle-building) hormone concentrations and activity increase during sleep while catabolic (muscle-wasting) hormone concentrations and activity decrease. Disrupted or shortened sleep will negatively influence the effects of these anabolic hormones.

Try to develop a regular sleeping routine where you go to bed at a similar time each night of the week. Remove distractions like light, smartphones, and TVs. If possible, try for 8 hours of sleep per night and/or fit in an afternoon power nap for 30 minutes to rejuvenate the body.

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The Importance of Drinking Adequate Water

We’ve always known that hydration and drinking water is important. But have you ever considered ‘why?’ or just how many important functions water plays a crucial role in?

One of the most important, and easiest things to keep in mind to stay fit and healthy is to have an adequate intake of water. We constantly underestimate, or are not even aware of the benefits and effects it can have, if we just drink an adequate amount of water.

Having said that, there is no measure as to how much water consumption is adequate. It depends on various factors like gender, weight, lifestyle, metabolism, anatomy, etc etc. One can find various measures on different websites saying “x” amount of water should be consumed for “y” amount of weight, or a website which has calculations based on weight and height and maybe considering various other factors. It is important to note that these are just recommendations, and none of them are perfect or 100% effective.

You know better than anyone about how much water you should be, or are capable of drinking. There are also people who will tell you that our body is smart, and we should drink water only when thirsty. Although this is true, our body can be thrown off balance due to various other factors.

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For example, consumption of alcohol initially tricks the body into thinking there is an intake of fluids, however it eventually leads to dehydration. Another example is excessive eating, or overeating. Always having a full stomach will not make you excessively thirsty, and will make you not want to consume water, cause there is basically no place for it.

Hence it is okay to follow these recommendations, but you should always listen to your body, and reduce/increase intake based on your comfort.

Where on one hand, how much water to drink is subjective, drinking inadequate water can be very easy to spot. A simple indicator regarding drinking inadequate water is the color of your urine. If the color of your urine is like water or upto light/pale yellow, your water intake is adequate. However, the darker the shade of urine, the more water you need to consume.

Advantages of drinking adequate water

1. Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids.

Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.

When you’re low on fluids, the brain triggers the body’s thirst mechanism. And you should listen to those cues and get yourself a drink of water, juice, milk, coffee — anything but alcohol. Alcohol interferes with the brain and kidney communication and causes excess excretion of fluids which can then lead to dehydration.

2. Water Can Help Control Calories.

For years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy. While water doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help. What works with weight loss is if you choose water or a non-caloric beverage over a caloric beverage and/or eat a diet higher in water-rich foods that are healthier, more filling, and help you trim calorie intake.

Food with high water content tends to look larger, its higher volume requires more chewing, and it is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.

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3. Water Helps Energize Muscles.

Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes contract, which can result in muscle fatigue. When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer. Drinking enough fluids is important when exercising.

4. Water Helps Keep Skin Looking Good.

Your skin contains plenty of water, and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. But don’t expect over-hydration to erase wrinkles or fine lines, says Atlanta dermatologist Kenneth Ellner, MD.

“Dehydration makes your skin look more dry and wrinkled, which can be improved with proper hydration,” he says. “But once you are adequately hydrated, the kidneys take over and excrete excess fluids.”

5. Water Helps Your Kidneys.

Body fluids transport waste products in and out of cells. The main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that is able to pass through the kidneys to be excreted in the urine. The kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is adequate.

When you’re getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions. If you chronically drink too little, you may be at higher risk for kidney stones, especially in warm climates.

6. Water Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function.

Adequate hydration keeps things flowing along your gastrointestinal tract and prevents constipation. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools to maintain hydration — and the result is constipation.

“Adequate fluid and fiber is the perfect combination, because the fluid pumps up the fiber and acts like a broom to keep your bowel functioning properly.

Health vs. Fitness And Why Running A Marathon Doesn’t Mean You Are Healthy

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Photo Courtesy : http://www.optimizeottawa.com

Most of the confusion comes from how we use the terms Fitness and Health interchangeably. We think that just because we are fit enough to run a marathon that we must also be healthy. However, these two terms have very little in common and the fact that most of us don’t know the difference leads to a lot of problems.

This issue first came to my attention when I started noticing various runners in my group. A lot of them had various injuries or knee related problems, and battled various problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. They were fit enough to be able to run a marathon, but not healthy enough to live peacefully and effortlessly.

Fitness is simply the ability to do a task. Runners are fit for running, mountain bikers are fit for mountain biking, climbers are fit for climbing and so on and so forth. Being fit for one activity doesn’t mean you will be fit for another and it often requires that you take a few physical qualities to an extreme level.

Health is your ability to easily function on a daily basis without pain or disease. It is measured in things like blood tests and lack of “bad health”. It is also the ability to perform basic movements and tasks like easily getting up and down off the ground, touching your toes or hanging from a bar for 30 seconds. True health requires that you have a well rounded approach to things.

The problem is that most of us have been taught to look at everything through the lens of “fitness” and very few recognize the “health” side of things as well. We glorify the top runners, cyclists, CrossFit competitors or athletes in different sports and call them the “fittest” people on earth. What we don’t see are the “health” problems they have as they suffer from joint pain, muscle strains and metabolic pressures that push the body to – and past – their limits.

And this leads to a lot of people who don’t recognize the dangers in destroying their body in training today instead of protecting it for future use. They equate the “fittest” person in a sport with someone who is also “healthy” and then follow the wrong path based on that mistake.

Now please don’t miss my point – I am not saying there isn’t something admirable about the sacrifices that top athletes make to achieve the levels of performance that they do. This isn’t about them, its about everyone else that doesn’t pay their bills based on their performance or has a chance to represent their country in some way.

It is common knowledge that athletes, actors, body builders, etc. use all sorts of supplements and compounds, sometimes steroids (that are legally accepted, and not abused) and haywire diets to get the results that they do. It is not only harmful, but also requires top level professionals for guidance and care. And not to forget it is damn expensive, usually paid for by sponsors or producers; and their livelihood depends on it.

For the rest of us, once you reach a certain age and your chances at athletic glory have passed – for most this is around 22 years of age – it is important to keep your goals in perspective. You only get one body and making sure that you can still play hard at 50+ years is important. It may not be worth it to suffer from joint pains or other problems and having to sit on the sidelines as you get older because you thought that being fit enough to run real fast was the same thing as being healthy.

Now look, the point of this is not to discourage anyone from running or riding bikes or trying to take their running to the next level. In fact, it is just the opposite.

I want to make sure that people enjoy running and can do it as long as they want to. A big part of getting better is logging a lot of running time and miles and it is hard to run if you are hurt. I also hate hearing about someone who quit running because they kept getting hurt or have an overuse injury that got so bad they had to have surgery.

Having your body break down and start to dictate how long and fast you can run really simply SUCKS!

My goal is to help people avoid the pitfalls that come with developing a few fitness qualities to a high level while ignoring others. Most of the runners I train with have issues in some way because they ignored their overall health for too long. After learning this lesson the hard way I often hear them tell him that they wish they had known all of this before they got hurt.

You get plenty of great things from running but there are things that you don’t get, like mobility and strength. There are also some hidden dangers that most people never even consider.

For example…

You don’t get the same movement from running like you do on the bike. When on a bike, you are holding onto the handlebars and your upper body doesn’t sway. Unless you do some things to combat that, spending hours and hours on a bike can actually start to cause some core strength issues that will affect while you’re off the bike. This swaying motion in the upper body is important for core function and overall movement health.

On the contrary, a constant movement in biking will activate your hips and increase hip mobility, that traditional running or walking won’t focus much on.

Again, unless you understand the difference between Health and Fitness you might not appreciate why you need to keep these things in mind. Sure, getting an extra run each week would be more fun but at some point you have to act like an adult and do what you need to do.

How would your waistline look if you took that same attitude of “I only want to eat what’s fun” with your diet? Probably not so good. Oh wait, that is a problem with a lot of people today anyway. But that is getting off subject…

Anyway, this brings me to my last point. You don’t have to spend a lot of time to plug some of the gaps that running leaves. Spending as little as 15 minutes a day doing some mobility work and doing some push-ups or swings and Goblet Squats 2-3 times a week can work wonders. Making small changes that you can sustain and build upon is the key to success and makes time much less of an issue.

So remember that you need to keep the dual lenses of Health and Fitness in mind when setting your goals. It is important to devise a plan or a regime, based on your current shortfalls, as well as current and past injuries. Sometimes measuring the success of a program based on how you have less pain, can move better or can function better in your work or daily life can mean more.

Funny thing is though, a lot of times focusing on Health goals also improves your running fitness as well, which only means you also become a better runner.

Until next time…

Run Strong,

The Travellothoner

The Run

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Take a thousand steps and maybe a thousand more,

And ever so often you’ll want to take a thousand more.

In the mornings, evenings or late at night,

A therapeutic activity to test your fight.


Every step taken is a step closer to your goal,

A step towards making your achievement whole.

And when your muscles ache and your face is red,

Remember your determination that got you out of bed.


Push through your limits and dig into your grit,

Recognize your potential and find new targets to hit.

Inspire the people around you including your peers,

Encourage them to fight and face their fears.


Run like a hare or as steady as a tortoise,

Ignore all the noise and listen to your voice.

Remember all the hard work and all the times you bled,

Once a runner, always a runner they said.


-The Travellothoner

Workout Myths – Squat Edition

Back squats are unquestionably one of the single most productive exercises that can be performed in the weight room to increase overall strength and power. Together with bench presses and deadlifts, this trio in my opinion are the most effective at gaining overall strength and gaining muscle.

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There’s no reason there should be blanket cues that encompass everyone—especially where exercise is concerned. When it comes to squats sure, everyone knows there are basic tips to follow in order to stay safe and prevent injury – keeping a tall spine, proper breathing methods, distributing weight through the entire foot, and tightness through the core and upper back. And they go without saying.

Nevertheless, the exercise still has its critics and myths continue to haunt us. Some of them are as follows:

1. Your knees can never go over your toes when you squat

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The theory that knees should never go over toes was found in a study that found maintaining a vertical lower leg as much as possible reduced strain on the knee during a squat. However, the study only looked at two dimensional models of the knee joint, so it lacked consideration of forces working from above, at the hip, below, and at the ankle, which all receive considerable force in this position

The reason we are told to ensure our knees don’t go over our toes is actually less about our toes and more about our centre of gravity and muscle recruitment. With the weight shifted back, we get more muscle activation from the glutes and hamstrings, whereas when our weight is shifted forward the focus is more on the quads and anterior chain. So… knees over toes is a myth as the toes simply serve as an arbitrary point and the guideline should really be more to do with how to balance load, but the knees over toes works as a simplified guideline.

2. Deep squats are bad for your knees

 

this-is-how-deep-you-should-squatContrary to popular belief, squatting deep is not bad for the knees – studies have found there is no difference between partial, parallel and deep squats impact on the knee.  Another study by The Journal of Biomechanics found that the deeper the squat, the less pressure is created inside the knee. The journal of strength and conditioning research also completed a study which concluded that parallel squats with heavy weights are less effective at increasing strength than deep squats with a lighter weight.

Obviously, there is not a one-size-fits-all perfect squat, but in most cases, gradual progressive training to the full range of motion of a deep squat will be effective.

3. If it doesn’t break parallel it doesn’t count

Myth. Despite the research supporting squat depth as seen above, failing to squat deep doesn’t mean that the squats don’t count. In fact squatting to parallel is probably the most widely used squat because it is arguably the safest form of squatting and the easiest to perform.

For some people, though it has greater muscle activation, squatting below parallel just isn’t possible, be it due to lack of flexibility, lack of strength or lower back issues.

If the lower back rounds when the athlete performing a full squat breaks parallel, it’s time to stop. Rounding of the back during this phase of the squat places intense pressure on the lower vertebrae of the back. Research has shown that during the deepest phase of the squat, this compression is six times greater than at the top of a squat.

Work on flexibility by performing bodyweight squats and gradually sinking lower until you can break parallel and enter the full squat without compromising your spine. Dynamic warm ups and flexibility work will help to increase your range of motion.

4. Look up as you squat

As much as you may enjoy staring at your squirming face as you squat, “head up” is one of the worst commands you can give to a client. The logic behind it was/is that the body goes where the head leads and therefore if you look up, you will be less likely to fail your squat. However, with a heavy load across your shoulders looking up increases the amount of pressure on your neck and could potentially lead to slipping the discs in your neck. Ideally, the aim should be to keep your spine in neutral alignment. For most people you need to keep your eyes forward and tuck the chin slightly.

5. Squats decrease knee stability

This myth can be traced to a research that found that squats increased knee laxity, thus increasing the risk of knee injury. The results of the study have never been reproduced, and later research found that populations that performed squats, such as powerlifters and Olympic-style weightlifters, possessed more stable joints that other populations.

6. The Deadlift is a good substitute for squats

The deadlift is a great core exercise that compliments the squat by more aggressively working the trapezius, grip, and hamstrings. The issue with the deadlift is that it doesn’t work the legs through a large range of motion as the squat and as such doesn’t provide complete development of the quads. Performing lower body exercises only through a partial range of motion tightens up the tendons, making athletes more susceptible to injuries, and reduces knee stability. Rather than choosing between squats and deadlifts, include both of these powerful exercises in your program.

7. Performing leg extensions before squats works the quads harder

The idea is that this training method would work the muscle used in the isolation exercise harder. However, research found that because lighter weights are used in the second exercise, the strength training effect is reduced. The leg extension is fine as an auxiliary exercise, but they should be performed after squats, not before.

8. Your feet should be shoulder width apart

Let’s be realistic here. It may make for a visually appealing setup when you have a semi-wide stance when squatting, but this statement gives no consideration to the lifter’s anatomy. There are big guys out there who have very wide shoulders, so this cue would almost put them in a sumo squat position right off the bat. Not following your body in this regard may lead to clearance issues when the ball and socket joint of the hip are restricted due to your stance.

In fact, one may choose a very close leg stance on a particular day and a very wide stance on another to ensure they hit all their muscle groups or to avoid a monotonous movement.

Conclusion

The worst thing a lifter can do is try to fit a round peg into a square hole. There’s no one-size-fits-all on body types and skeletal structure, so take heed of this important information.

-The Travellothoner

The Truth About Gyms

The pressure to get fit is real. I gave in at the beginning of the year and purchased a gym membership. Since then I have learnt a hell of a lot and I though I would share some truths about getting fit with you lovely people.

Starting and staying committed is the hardest part.

For the first 2 weeks I used to have a minor breakdown over having to go to the gym. I would feel amazing straight after the workout, but the build up to it I would be like a 2 year old throwing a tantrum. After the two weeks of going to a class every other night it stopped feeling like torture and began to be something I would wake up looking forward to. Your adjustment time might be quicker than mine just don’t give up straight away!

Eating contributes more to weight gain or loss than the exercise. 

Going to the gym working hard and then coming home and eating whole dominos pizza will not have you seeing results you want any time soon. Your muscles need a good amount of protein to heal after a work out and carbs to give you energy to keep you going. No fad diets either, half the time these will only be short term solutions. Depending on your goal will depend on your food intake, but a balanced diet is a good place to start. I’m still working on getting my mix right, but since I’ve concentrated on reducing excessive carbs and sugar I have noticed better results and steadier energy levels throughout the day.

Results will not happen overnight.

It’s demotivating exercising on a regular basis and not seeing results straight away. It takes a while to see any real difference. Tracking your progress through photos bi-weekly or monthly and measurements rather than weighing yourself is probably the best way to see progress. Muscle weighs more than fat that means the scales can be deceiving. Also remember it’s not always about the results you can see on the outside, it’s also about how you feel. Before I could physically see a difference I could feel my body was stronger and more energised – that’s what really counts.

Gym buddies are real life heroes. 

Self motivation is hard; when you’re feeling weak its easy to just skip a day and then a day becomes a week and soon enough you’re no longer exercising at all. Having a friend, club, family member to exercise with is a great way to avoid this as you do not want to let them down and they will feel the same. If you find one person doesn’t share all you fitness interests then mix between a few different people so you always have the best motivation around you for each activity!

Want to improve a certain area ask a trainer.

It can be a bit embarrassing, but asking is probably the quickest way to finding out! Befriending the gym staff then getting them to help you plan you routines to improve a specific area will save you so much time and energy. If you’re not a gym member go on YouTube and have a flick through some videos, most of them will have the same moves which you can then use in your own routines.

You will feel happier and less tired. 

The endorphins released when exercising are linked to so many health benefits. This includes reduction in the chances of heart disease, diabetes, depression and obesity. I think through the commitment of trying to improve you body you begin to change the way you see yourself which helps you feel more confident.

-The Travellothoner

Your BMI Sucks!

The body mass index, or BMI, is commonly used in doctors’ offices or in general fitness terms as a way to estimate your body fat level. It provides a quick and easy way to evaluate obesity trends in the general population. Medical professionals use it as one of many screening tools, such as cholesterol checks and family history questionnaires, to evaluate your risk of chronic disease related to your weight. But your doctor cannot rely on BMI alone for diagnosis of whether you’re overweight or obese and the health risks posed by these conditions.

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Your BMI is equal to your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared. The equation using American measurements is: BMI = weight(kg) / (height x height (m)). For many online calculators, you enter your weight and height, and the calculations are done for you.

BMI is useful as a way to evaluate the rate of being overweight or obese in the general population. It’s easy, convenient and inexpensive, and doesn’t require any specific training to take the measurements. But BMI only provides a rough estimation of your body fat because it doesn’t involve any direct measures of your tissue.

Limitations:

BMI Mistakes Muscle for Fat

BMI uses your weight in the formula but doesn’t distinguish if that weight comes from an abundance of fat or from lean tissue. Athletes and gym enthusiasts who carry a great deal of muscle may seem heavy for their height or overall size, but that’s because muscle is denser than fat. These highly muscular folk may have a high BMI but not have too much fat.

Individuals who are very muscular such as bodybuilders or those that have very little muscle definition may not receive an accurate BMI reading by using height and weight measurements alone. Muscle weighs more than fat. Hence a muscular person may appear to have a higher BMI and be perfectly healthy, or a frail, inactive person may appear to have a lower BMI and in reality have more body fat than is healthy.

Your health care provider can easily see with a physical evaluation and lifestyle questions that your high BMI is due to muscularity rather than fat. Further evaluations, such as blood pressure checks and cholesterol screenings, may still be performed to rule out any underlying health issues.

BMI Can Underestimate Fat

Because BMI does not directly measure fat, it can miscategorize people as healthy who have a normal weight for their height, when they’re actually carrying too much fatty tissue. A man with 20 percent or higher fat and a woman with 30 percent or higher, but both at normal weight, can be at the same risk of chronic disease as a person who looks obviously overweight.

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Sedentary people and older adults are at particular risk of this condition, called normal-weight obesity. If you don’t exercise, you lose valuable muscle mass and accumulate excess fat — even if you don’t rank high on height-weight charts. Older adults naturally lose muscle mass as they age, along with some bone density. For this reason, health providers often run lifestyle screenings, family history questionnaires and annual blood tests in addition to BMI calculations on all patients. This helps rule out normal-weight obesity in otherwise seemingly healthy patients.

A normal BMI is only one factor in your overall picture of health. If you smoke, eat a nutritionally poor diet that contains a lot of sugar and saturated fat, or sit the majority of your day, you may still be at risk of health problems.

BMI May Not Reflect Positive Change

BMI is a broad number that doesn’t accurately reflect changes in behavior, which could be improving your health. People with a high BMI who are physically active are at lower risk for many health problems than people with a high BMI who are sedentary. For example, physical activity correlates with reduced risk of coronary heart disease and early death, regardless of your weight.

People who adopt a healthier lifestyle by exercising more and choosing healthier foods over junk food may not lose weight if they haven’t reduced their calories significantly. They are healthier, but BMI doesn’t change because their weight has remained stable. If they rely on BMI as the only marker of their health, their new habits don’t seem to be doing much good.

Even if you lose weight, your BMI may not change noticeably. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that losing 5 to 10 percent of your weight can lead to positive benefits, such as decreased blood pressure and cholesterol. In a 200-pound person, this is a loss of 10 to 20 pounds. Losing the weight may not move your BMI to a normal range, however. For example, a 5-foot-11-inch person must weigh between 136 and 178 pounds to register a normal BMI. If he started out at 200 pounds and lost 10 to 20 pounds, he may have improved his health, but he still falls into an overweight BMI range. Although a bit frustrating, the change still has positive benefits.

Weight Distribution and BMI

Healthier habits often also change the distribution of your weight, even if weight loss isn’t showing up on the scale. You may lose some visceral — or belly — fat, which is inflammatory and increases your risk of disease. Exercise in particular helps you lose this fat. BMI can’t tell that you’ve reduced a wide waist circumference and added muscle, creating a healthier body composition. It may just show an unchanged ratio of height and weight, putting you in an overweight category.

Your waist size may be a better marker of your health status because it indicates where you store fat. Use a measuring tape to measure around your waist just below your belly button. A waist wider than 40 inches on a man or 35 inches on a woman can be dangerous.

Those who have enough lean mass to be classified as obese by BMI but not by body fat percentage, are far and few in society. These persons would normally be highly active athletes, and it is unlikely sedentary persons or those with infrequent exercise habits would fall into this category.

Does not consider Age, Gender and Other Conditions

BMI fails to take age and sex into account. Women naturally tend to have more body fat than men of equal BMI, while older people tend to have more body fat than younger people with the same BMI.

Furthermore, BMI measurements have no way of measuring where body fat is located in the body. Studies have indicated that belly fat – the fat surrounding abdominal organs – is more dangerous than peripheral fat beneath the skin in other body areas.

If you are normal weight or overweight according to BMI (18.5-29.9) there is still a chance you are actually obese, which is primarily due to low levels of lean mass (muscle, water and glycogen).

BMI also does not account for lactating or pregnant women, children and teenagers who have not reached physical maturity and are still growing, and a tendency for natural differences in height and weight ratios between races.

Conclusion

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests that an assessment of weight and health risks involves using three key measures

  • BMI
  • Waist circumference
  • Risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity.

As BMI is based on weight and height measurements, by losing weight you will reduce your BMI and put yourself into a lower risk group. A healthy diet, including a balance of food groups, vitamins and minerals, is essential for a long and active life. Body weight and shape are a balance of energy intake (dietary calorific content) against output (calorific burn from activity and exercise).

Many studies have shown that, to lose weight slowly and steadily, any diet that includes a healthy balance will work if you are motivated. Ideally, a balanced eating plan is always best to lose weight healthily.

Simply put, BMI can give you a rough idea of your level of health when considered along with your lifestyle and physical factors. Sedentary lifestyle with an unhealthy diet and belly fat all point towards the risks that your BMI indicates. However, if you’re the opposite of the above factors, BMI may not be a criteria doing justice to your overall health.

Until next time,

The Travellothoner.

Why I Run!

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I used to be the kind of person who always said “I hate running”. And I meant it too. Being a fat kid that I was, my go-to activity was computer games, staying indoors and eating . I wanted an easy-to-implement, cheap exercise to help me lose baby weight (although I wasn’t a baby anymore). Then I came across a running group within my community. They’d just come off The Mumbai Marathon back then, and would show off their medals with pride. It was something that caught my eye, and gave an added incentive to run.

I wanted to prepare for an upcoming marathon, although reluctant to put in any effort. And somehow on this quest of mine, my dad joined in too. And there’s something about peer pressure that just keeps you going, maybe for the good or for the bad. His enthusiasm was one of the primary reasons that kept me going. I trained for this marathon with all my heart, and all my unhealthy body had to offer.

And as it went, I finished the HTHM 2015 10k marathon in about 1 hour and 10 minutes. A total of 19 years before I took exercise seriously. I was on track to finish in under an hour, but I developed a cramp that slowed me down a little. I so wanted to give up, but I was very determined to finish what I’d started. Rather I did not want to quit something that I’d started, again.

So, that was that. After the marathon, my competitiveness took over and I want to do things the right way this time, and finish stronger. Something that you should know about me is I am either all in or all out. I don’t know how to half-commit to anything. And thus began my journey.

At the gym, I would use all sorts of cardio machines. I’d step out for runs and added some weight training to my regime. I’d use the treadmill too, but I’d always walk it out in order to protect my knees. This was my routine until about a month, before my life took a huge turn.

It had happened – a random event that changed the course of my life from being a lazy bum to a runner. I registered for a marathon that was way out of my league. I ended up registering for a 25k hilly endurathon, when I’d barely managed to finish the 10k a month ago. But again, I was all in, and I told myself that I would go back to my routine, work extra hard and be ready for this event.

But amidst all this training, a funny thing happened…I fell in love!

I started running on a ridiculously steep hill near my place, to get used to running on a hill. I ran slowly the whole time, but so what? No one was timing me. I wasn’t running a race. I wasn’t with anybody. I was able to run simply because I loved running.

When I got back that day, I felt amazing. I felt “clean” on the inside. I felt like I had worked my whole body, not just my legs. I did it again the next day. I took an easier route this time. At the end of that run, I was sure of something. I had a new sport. A sport I loved. A sport that in itself was enough to get me out of bed every morning. I was a runner.

Once I got back to the gym, I was worried about running on the treadmill. I had always avoided that like the plague. It’s boring, right? And tedious too. But this time, it wasn’t. I found some good running music, set the treadmill on a gentle incline, and ran a good 30 minutes. I was still slow. But it was nobody’s business as to how fast or slow I ran. It still gave me that clean feeling on the inside. My mentality started changing. Instead of despising it, I started looking forward to it. I’d start thinking about my next run as soon as my current run was over.

Why did I fall so hard for this sport?

  • I could do it alone (I’m a friendly introvert, but I need lots of alone-time).
  • I felt like my whole body was working together at once. It was also a nice break for my overthinking brain.
  • The physical exhaustion even at the end of the run helped my restlessness too. I felt clear-headed, certain, secure, and light.
  • And I could see the changes. I’d already been able to run slightly faster than the first time. My resting heart rate dropped a little. Tiny improvements – but still improvements. It’s addictive!
  • I felt like I was a part of a larger community. Runners have a lot camaraderie. Even though most of my connection was through my club, I still felt like there was a great deal of support out there for runners. It was motivating.

All I’ll say in conclusion is that whatever you do for your body, I hope you love/enjoy doing it. That’s what matters the most. That is what will help you stay committed and make an activity sustainable. Any sport will work for you if you do it consistently, and pair it with a nutrient-dense diet. You can do it!

Peace and love,

The Travellothoner.

How I Started And Fell In Love With Running!!

How I started and fell in love with running!

-How was your life before running?

Before I ever started running, I was always one of those fat kids, who had wanted to lose weight since years. My parents promised me a lot of mouthwatering goodies, countless bribes if I lost “x” kilos of weight, but it never led to anything. I had a very typical teenage lifestyle, attending college and eating junk everyday (thanks to all those shacks opposite Mithibai college), attending classes and coming back home exhausted. The busy schedule being a very good excuse to skip exercise.

I was gaining weight, telling myself I’ll start exercising from tomorrow, but never inspired enough to act on it.

– What inspired you to take up running?

This happened right after Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2015. My dad told me about the list of people who participated in that marathon, which came in our community magazine, and we both found it very cool. It was in that moment that we told ourselves this seemed like a good idea and we took up running, planning to do a 10k in the upcoming Hiranandani Thane Marathon. I practiced and trained everyday for a month.

I could run/walk only 2.2k in 30 minutes on the first day, and realized I had a long way to go, if I wanted to finish the 10k nicely, in good time. And I slowly started loving it a little more everyday, when I could see the improvements in myself.

-The excitement of your first long run/race?

My first long run was actually the marathon itself. I had never gone beyond 6k in training, but I told myself “I am going to run this race without walking for even a second, I’d rather slow down as much as I have to”. Luckily my training proved sufficient and I finished the 10k in good time, and without any cramps or injuries.

– The feeling of accomplishment?

That feeling of accomplishment, I will never forget. Be it a 10k, a half marathon, a full marathon or any other event of such kind; that feeling of having finished a marathon is still the same, as if it were my first race and my biggest achievement.

– what kept you going?

The realization, that I was capable of doing so much more than I ever thought I could, pushing my boundaries and going beyond my comfort zone, is what made all the difference. I could see myself and my capabilities in new light, and set out to explore all that I could do. I was never short of inspiration and motivation after that. Although I could accomplish so much, I drew inspiration mainly from 2 places :

1. My forever training partner and the person who always pushed me to do more, My father!

2. Realizing me taking up running inspired a lot of people around me, especially in my family to take up running or some sort of activity to stay fit.

– Details of number of races which you have run?

My marathon count is as follows:

10k x 5

16k x 1

21k x 15

25k x 2

42k x 3

Duathlon x 1

– Your short term / long term running goals?

My goal for this season is to finish 10 half+full marathons. Hopefully get near a sub-2 finish by the end of February. My long term goals include training and participation into more full marathons, ultra marathons and triathlons.

-How did it change your life?

When I started initially, I ran just cause I wanted to, because it was exciting. My first few half marathons were all near the three hour range, and there was no improvement. It was my love for the sport, the willingness to do better in the sport that I loved, that inspired me to bring in changes. I started training in a more systematic way, watched what I was eating, became more active all through my day and changed my lifestyle altogether. Late night movies, outings and eating junk was replaced with sleeping and waking up early and exercising. In the process I also lost over 24 kilos without any strict diets or stressful gymming regimes with nothing but consistency being the key.

It helped me improve my performance, and made me more competitive in terms of bettering my own previous timings and without cramps or injuries. The improvements were also very evident in all the other sports that I played. Thanks to the sense of achievement, improvement and the flooding compliments from my people thanks to the massive weight loss and my new capabilities, it lead to a huge confidence boost and helped me find a new sense of happiness and content in the way I was living.

– Message to your fellow runners, beginners & those who dream to take up running a marathon some day?

The best part about running is, you don’t need any kind of special equipment to start. All of us have a good pair of sport shoes. The two main things necessary to run is “your will to run” and “your eagerness to step out of your comfort zone”. All I ever invested into this sport was effort, blood, sweat, time and tears; and it has paid me back dividends in the form of confidence, achievements, lifetime memories, mentors, countless colleagues and new friends, and so much more! And all I have lost in the process is an unhealthy lifestyle, lots and lots of weight and the “I cannot do this” attitude!

All I ask from everyone is, just stick to it for the first 4 weeks. These weeks will be torturous, painful and will make you question your decision and want to quit. Get past it, and life will never be the same again.

“It doesn’t matter how slow or fast you go. You’re still faster than every other person who’s sleeping or wasting time behind a TV. All that matters is being a better version of yourself from the previous day”.

Happy running!

Regards,

The Travellothoner

My Third Full Marathon – TMM 2019

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20th January, 2019 was the big day for me. All those days of waking up before the sun while my bed was at its comfortable best, getting myself mentally prepared to run while I struggled to get my stride in order and through all that constant soreness, muscle pains and what not!

It was going to be a tough day. One I was mentally prepared for; however it actually turned out to be tougher than I anticipated. Running the race for the 3rd time this year, I thought I had a slight edge over some others thanks to my experience. But the weather gods had something totally different in mind.

I did anticipate the first 5-7k to be really hot and humid, thanks to the thousands of people together, as well as it being very humid towards Nariman Point. However, slowly as the crowds begin to separate, the more seasoned runners pulling ahead, it starts to get better, with more breathing space (literally) for everybody. And usually, you start to feel the cool air whisking through your face as you near Haji Ali.

However this year, it was way worse. I was sweating so profusely by 10k, that I already felt slightly light headed. And what good weather usually starts hitting you by 9k, only came to us around 15-16k when we hit the Sea Link. To give you a better idea of how bad it was, I shall type an excerpt from The Times Of India, dated 21st January which goes as follows:

A sweltering Sunday meant that nearly 40% more marathoners needed medical attention compared to last year: By noon, over 3,200 were treated at the event’s medical camps for dehydration, exhaustion and muscle cramps. Fourteen needed hospitaliztion, though barring two, the majority went home by evening. Because of heat and humidity, several seasoned runners said they took more than their expected time to reach the finish line: Many who wanted to beat their personal best were disappointed as their running time increased by 25-45 mins.

In the morning, the minimum temperature recorded by IMD’s Colaba observatory was 20.3 degree Celsius, 1.4 degrees above normal. The maximum temperature was 33.6 degrees, which was 4.1 degrees above normal. Adding to the unconducive weather was a humidity level of 93%. Studies have shown that elite athletes can suffer one to four-minute slowdowns due to higher temperatures and humidity.

This year cases of cramps and dehydration were more mainly due to warm and humid weather. Also, the number of hospitalizations were more than last year’, said Dr. Vijay D’Silva, director, critical care and medical affairs, Asian Heart Institute (AHI). As compared to the 2,324 runners who required medical attention last year, the number rose to 3,226 this year. As a point of reference, overall participation rose by a little over 200 this year.

Read the entire article at:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/67616609.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

It was a tough game mentally. I was running at a very good pace for the first 25k, covering that distance in just a little less than 3 hours. Then slowly as I felt a cramp start to build up, I had to slow down, and even walk in the midst cause I had another 17k to go, which would be just under the sun. And if that wasn’t enough, I felt morally depressed as I saw all the various pacers run past me.

Such is life. From a high of wanting to finish the race in 5:15 hours to wanting to quit at multiple durations, cause the cramps were getting to me. However, I knew this would be a blip on my running career, I’d never be able to forget. And giving up has always been something that’s very hard for me to accept on all levels. So I carried on, one step at a time, running slightly and walking all the more, doing my best to block all the pain that came with it. All is well that ends well I suppose.

Another thing I’d like to add at this point is, being well prepared for it, I don’t hate running as much as I did last time. I started my training keeping in mind this race a year ago, after finishing it in 2018. Last year, I did not take up running for almost a couple of months thanks to all the anguish and pain it caused. This time around, thanks to better conditioning, I’ve been on my feet on the day of the marathon and the next day (today); and I am looking forward to starting training again by the end of this week.

And like always, I did manage to run for the last 1.5k, just so that I could get this race over with. The timing was nowhere close to my liking, way past it. But it was a humbling experience and something that is going to surely help me grow as an individual and a runner. Looking forward to sharing many such experiences in the future.

-The Travellothoner.

Benefits of a body-weight workout

bodyweight-exercises

Bodyweight training is as simple as it gets and requires no equipment in order to perform it.

1. It’s a super-efficient workout.

Research suggests high-output, bodyweight-based exercises like plyometrics yield awesome fitness gains in short durations. Since there’s no equipment involved, bodyweight workouts make it easy to transition from one move to the next with little rest. And you’ve probably already heard that those short-but-intense HIIT workouts can yield major results.

2. It can combine cardio and strength training

Performing quick cardio sessions (such as 60 seconds of burpees or high-knees) between strength movements (such as a set of push-ups or lunges) will keep the heart pumping while still encouraging muscle and strength development.

3. You can burn fat—fast.

Just a few minutes of a bodyweight circuit training can have a major impact on the body’s metabolism. If you’ve ever heard of the afterburn effect, you know that even when your workout is over, your body can still be revved for hours to come.

4. At any fitness level, it’s challenging.

Bodyweight exercises are great because they’re easily modified to challenge anyone. Adding extra reps, performing the exercises faster or super slowly, taking shorter breaks, or adding a ballistic movement (like a clap at the top of each push-up) are just a few ways to make the simplest workout tougher. And with each added modification, your progress is obvious.

5. You’ll gain core strength.

Your core is more than just six-pack abs. In fact, at least twenty-nine muscles make up the trunk of the body, and many simple bodyweight movements can be used to engage all of them. Such exercises won’t just give you tighter abs, you’ll also gain better posture, relieve lower back stress, and improve overall performance.

6. It can increase your flexibility.

Not everyone who does regular resistance training has to end up with tight muscles and inflexible joints. Bodyweight training can go hand-in-hand with building strength and flexibility. Completing bodyweight exercises through a full range of motion ensures your joints are moving freely. Plus, it can lead to improved posture and might reduce the chance of exercise-related injury.  Yoga, the fave no-equipment workout for many, is another great way to to improve flexibility while also significantly improving strength.

7. There’s never an excuse to not workout.

Ask someone why they don’t exercise, and chances are they have “no time” or it’s “inconvenient.” Luckily bodyweight exercises eliminate those common obstacles. When you only need a little space, it’s easy to squeeze in workouts wherever you are. Exercising without equipment can also be used as a stress reliever whether you’re working at home or on the road.

8. You’ll achieve better balance.

When it comes to this type of training, sometimes increasing resistance means increasing balance, too. For example, a normal squat can be ramped up by swapping in a single-leg squat (a.k.a. a pistol squat). Functional movements like that one can improve balance through increased body awareness and control.

9. You’ll never get bored.

It can be easy to get stuck in a workout rut of treadmills, bicep curls, lat pull-downs, and bench presses. That’s why bodyweight training can be so refreshing: There are countless exercise variations that can spice up any workout routine. Working with a variety of exercises not only relieves boredom, it can also help break plateaus and spark further progress.

10. Mixing up your workout is easy.

11. It’s free.

Gym memberships and boutique classes can quickly add up—but bodyweight training is free. Experts cite the low cost of bodyweight training as key to its rise in popularity.

12. It can help with injury prevention.

Injury is one of the main reasons people stop working out, so preventing those aches and pains should be a big priority. Bodyweight exercises are generally safe for any exerciser regardless of experience, age, or fitness level. Many simple bodyweight movements can actually be an effective option for rehabilitation, even for those with significant impairments.

13. You’ll see results.

Bodyweight exercises get results partly because they involve compound movements—meaning numerous joints and muscles are engaged in each move. Compound exercises such as push-ups and lunges have been shown to be extremely effective for strength gains and performance improvements. And research shows improved core strength (see No. 5 above) translates to improved strength gains throughout the entire body.