Cardio is something we all love to hate. The monotony of the treadmill and elliptical can induce boredom but there’s no alternative for cardio. There’s one way you can get rid of the boredom associated with cardio exercises and achieve your fitness goals with ease, it’s running! Running is one of the best forms of exercise for losing or maintaining a consistent weight. It can boost your heart, bone, and muscle strength, as well as improving your stamina and even, possibly, boost your sex life. So how can you make the best of this exercise?

TC46 connected with Pallavi Barman who is the Head of Marketing & Operations at HRX (actor Hrithik Roshan’s brand). Pallavi is a fitness enthusiast herself, and here she shares 10 tips to turn running into an ideal workout regime with ease.

1. A running routine can improve heart health, weight loss, and cardio health

Running as a whole is a therapeutic and meditative activity. For me, an hour of running is equivalent to somewhat an hour of aided meditation. Let’s understand what does the body go through when you get it up and running.

Our body temperature must rise to a level where the muscles get warmed up optimally for some movement higher in intensity – more than the usual locomotive movements. Once the muscles are warm it’s easier to bend and move and twist them further. Subsequently, the heart rate also goes up because the body does extra work in first burning the oxygen deposits within the body and then collecting oxygen to replenish the consumed oxygen. For this the heart needs to pump in more and faster, bringing in more oxygen laden blood. So suddenly with an increased heart rate, comes a richer supply of oxygen into the body. This means rejuvenation for the internal bodily organs at a cellular level rendering one younger than the biological age in the long run.

Running enhances something called VO2 max. It’s the body’s capacity to absorb more oxygen with increased bodily activity. And this, as explained earlier, works as an elixir for prolonging youth. The more oxygen absorption, the higher propensity a body displays towards becoming agile and nimble.

2. Running targets fat loss and develops muscles

Running results in fat loss, owing to the alteration in aerobic and anaerobic activities in the body. This phenomena results in fat burn and hence cardio/running results in fat loss to a large extent. Having said that it also depletes the muscle build up in the process. So a combination of running and strength training is good for achieving a shapely form mainly a leaner form with muscle definition. However if one is merely into running and not focused on strength training the body tends to become lean without muscular definition which is also completely acceptable as long as there is alignment with one’s fitness goals.

3. A balanced workout regime is vital for achieving your fitness goals

A good run, up to 5 km, thrice a weak combined with strength and functional training is great for a good physical form. For me – I focus on a daily 30 minutes routine- variations ranging from weights to HIIT to cardio to strength and a weekly long run of up to 10 km to stay in good form. However, for rapid weight loss (a misnomer) rather than inch loss, I recommend a higher contribution towards running/cardio for a few months to lean down and then normalising it to add strength training for chiselling and toning up the muscles. In fact, postpartum I ran almost every day ranging from 3k to 5k to lose the baby fat/weight and post a few months of rigorous cardio started strength training to tone up. I am happy with the output! So should one see merit in the regime, I stay available for guiding further !!

4. Core-strengthing exercises build endurance

At a joint and muscle level running activates every part of the leg and core muscles. If one’s core is engaged, a good speed is achieved. Particularly in the case of endurance runs, the core must be definitely engaged to achieve the results. But alongside the runs, remember to incorporate the usual squats, plank holds, push-ups, maybe some inversions depending on proficiency level to strengthen the core muscles. It works like the chicken and egg story. You adopt both to complement each other and the output won’t be far from being available for admiration. Some regions which get worked well while running are glutes, hamstrings, calves and thighs. I vouch for running because with running I have acquired shapely calves after almost 2 decades and after having tried a whole host of regimes because none worked the same as running.

However, if one’s aspiration is to acquire the coffee table flat belly then guys! Gear up for a rigorous weight lifting routine combined with cardio combined with good nutrition practices. So clearly the dream form requires work beyond running.

5. Maintaining the right form of running is of utmost importance 

Early on, when I started running, a member of my running community pointed out to a simple experiment. While running you shouldn’t hear the tap-tap sound from your shoes. It should be effortless and should you hear the sound, pay heed to your form. It invariably means that some part of either leg is getting stressed beyond need. So focus on the form. The ideal form is toe first followed by heels on the ground. This form is adhered to gives one good calf and avoids strain on any part of the ankle or legs in general. In short, is the sustainable good form and stands which helps you gain pace and good cadence in the long run.

6. Warm-ups & stretches are your workout buddies

It’s best to always warm-up before the run, a few jumping jacks, scissors, high knees are good. After a good warm-up when you begin the run, the performance is usually notable that is if you are running for time or for speed. And post-run (any distance that is) a good stretch is a must. Side lunges, downward dog, mountain pose and the tree pose take away the strain from the ankles, glutes, hamstrings and the lower back and overall leaves you with a feeling of being less tired post-run.

7. Beginners can scale up easily with expert tips

For beginners, I always suggest a few tips. Keep these handy and see how you can scale up.

  • Always attempt breathing through the nose and not the mouth. When you breathe through the mouth one feels more dehydrated and eventually exhaustion sets in sooner
  • Run in the open and not on the treadmill. The experiences are vastly different and so are the performance and the output
  • Should you run on a treadmill keep an incline of 2/3 so there is less strain on the knees
  • Don’t perform in the beginning, just run. Get yourself used to it before setting targets.
  • Once you have done a good, non-stop 3k, work on scaling up slowly 5k, 7k, 8k, 10k, 13k, 15k and so on slowly and steadily
  • Running can be boring. So find a way of keeping yourself motivated. For me, on good fun days, it’s music exploration and on other days, it’s a lot of planning and structuring in my mind while running. Let me share The strangest experience of planning that I have indulged in while running- I have choreographed a dance sequence in my head while indulging in a 10k run. It certainly took away the boredom and before I knew it I was 10k up merely because I was so engrossed in planning my dance moves.
  • Running rapidly depleted the vitamins and results in joint pains. Please get the blood work in order or consult a physician is running poses any kind of joint aches especially knee pains
  • Hydrate well before abs after the run. The body loses positive ions so a drink rich in ions like coconut water is heavily recommended for post-run nutrition and maybe a carb-rich fruit like banana
  • Lastly and most importantly, don’t compromise on the form. The wrong form over a period of time contributes to injuries so practice caution and be aware

The body continues to be in an EPOC or post-workout oxidative burn after running. It simply means that the metabolism is elevated and is at a high after you have completed a good long run. So, aid it with good nutrition to derive maximum impact.

8. Running doesn’t have to be monotonous, just try these effective tips

As stated earlier running can be boring so tweak your runs and space them out to avoid boredom.

  • Sometimes music is a good companion
  • At other find a running companion who can pace you through your runs
  • Combine the run with bouts of brisk walking but go non stop
  • Can also combine runs with a few jumps (broad jumps) if you are running in a park
  • In the end, every lap is different from the other abs every split will be varied in performance but the idea is to set out with a goal in sight and keep going

9. Running can be therapeutic and meditative

Trust me running teaches you a thing or two about life in general. Apply the learning in your day to day life.

  • Patience
  • Quietude
  • Endurance
  • Self-sufficiency

These are all takeaways from the practice of running.

While it has a rigorous bodily effect, if trained well, it can have a super calming effect on the mind. After all, as they say, it all boils down to mind over matter. The most famous athletes, Armstrong to Bolt, all of them will be in agreement with this statement. Running can be therapeutic and meditative.

10. Don’t stop yourself from practising, even on days you don’t feel like it

And on a closing note, as I always comment on women’s health and our friendly hormones, please ladies don’t shy away from running- on easy days or on difficult days. There is always an underlying advantage – besides the happy hormones and the sense of achievement – running Aids in hormonal regulation in more ways than one. Except for your own mind, there is no reason to feel bogged down or incapacitated because of the universal “condition” which keeps us- the special creatures of god- united. Remember there is room for either excuses or results. So don’t stop yourself from practising which is great and will set you apart in pushing your limits as the superhuman you already are.

On the parting note, I am inspired to run a 10k after having shared my views here.

Passive motivation is all-pervasive.

Just look around, and RUN!!!