Connect with us

News Pick

From couch to marathon: A beginner’s guide to finishing strong

Here’s a hobby you can consider trying during vacations. In this article, we bring you essential tips before you start running



Starting to run or participating in a marathon is a remarkable endeavour. It requires proper preparation and dedication. So, whether you are a seasoned runner or a beginner, following some handy tips can help ensure that you have a successful and enjoyable experience. But hold on! Before you get set and go, remember to carry these learnings from our seniors.

Ms Anita Yadav, Principal at Apeejay School, Faridabad Sector 15, started participating in marathons in November last year. The idea came to her during Covid-19 imposed lockdowns. “I could not go to the gym. So, I began to run within my housing society. Each time I would do it, I felt happy and peaceful. Soon, I found myself registering for several marathons in the city,” she says.

The most recent which she was part of was the Aravali Trail Run. She expresses, “It was a great experience as it was challenging. During the trail run, all the participants ran through the forest trails despite the rain. Further, my next goal is to be able to run 21 kilometres. I am currently preparing for that.” When asked how she manages her love for fitness with her current role, she shared that she wakes up at 4 in the morning to follow an exercise regime. “Marathon surely teaches you to go to the next level,” according to her.  

For students who want to try it, Ms Yadav advises to start running in a local park or a nearby society. It could be any kind, relay, obstacle race, hurdle race etc. “Start with a few meters first. If it’s not something for you, go for walk-a-thons. Take your family along too!” A powerful learning shared by her is: Running can be a competition but only with oneself.

Besides, the act of running is often used as the greatest metaphor for life. Why? Because you get out of it what you put into it. The things we learn during our running journey often bleed into the rest of our life.

So, if you are enthused to lace up your running shoes and take on the challenge, refer to these tips:

Set realistic goals

Assess your current fitness level, previous running experience and time available for training. Establishing achievable goals will help you stay motivated throughout the process and prevent potential injuries from overexertion.

Create a training plan

Developing a well-structured plan is crucial. Consult with a running coach or utilise online resources to create a personalised plan that includes a balance of distance running, speed work, rest days, and cross-training activities. Gradually increase your mileage over time to avoid overtraining.

Invest in proper gear

The right running gear is essential for comfort and injury prevention. Choose high-quality running shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning for your foot type. Additionally, wear moisture-wicking and breathable clothing to help regulate body temperature and prevent chafing.

Follow a balanced diet

Fuelling your body with the right nutrients is key to training. Focus on a well-balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Stay hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day and consider incorporating electrolyte-rich drinks during longer runs.

Practice cross-training

Add exercises into your routine to enhance overall fitness. Activities like swimming, cycling, yoga, or strength training can improve cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and muscle strength, leading to better performance while running.

Get sufficient rest and recovery

Allow your body the time to recover between intense workouts to prevent burnout. Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night and consider incorporating relaxation techniques such as stretching or foam rolling to ease muscle soreness.

Join a running community

Joining a community or finding a training partner can be incredibly motivating and provide a support system. Sharing experiences, tips, and training sessions with fellow runners can boost your morale and help you stay accountable.

Practice race-day simulation

If you are participating in a race, simulate race-day conditions during your training to familiarise yourself with the physical and mental challenges that lie ahead. Set aside specific long runs where you practice pacing, fuelling strategies, and mental focus. This preparation will give you confidence and reduce anxiety on the main day.

Taper properly

Tapering refers to reducing your training volume and intensity in the final weeks leading up to a marathon. This allows your body to recover fully, ensuring you are in peak condition on race day. Stick to your taper plan and resist the temptation to squeeze in extra training sessions.

Have a positive mindset

Running or participating in a marathon requires one to stay motivated and embrace the journey. So, don’t shy away from visualising crossing the finish line and remember to enjoy the experience, regardless of your finishing time.

A Social Science educator at Apeejay School, Model Town in Jalandhar, Ms Maninder Kaur, is also a marathon runner. She participated in ‘Daud Jalandhar’ in October, 2022, during which she covered 21 kilometres. Sharing her experience she says, “When it comes to running, one needs a lot of exercise and practice. With it, focus, resilience and the right training is important. My suggestion to beginners is to make a proper plan and follow a schedule. Don’t forget to take a day off and give your body the time to relax.” Besides this, she shared that if one can pair the hobby with swimming and cycling, it will be an icing on the cake.

“Students, make up your mind this vacation! In the beginning, it can be tough but endure it. There is always a starting point. Try short-distance running first and have a proper diet and inclusion of fruits and vegetables is necessary,” she says. Further, Kaur looks up to the decorated Kargil War veteran and India’s first blade runner, Major D.P. Singh as well as a British Sikh and retired marathon runner of Punjabi Indian descent, Mr Fauja Singh. For those who may want to take up running as a profession, this is the right time to start, according to her.

Lastly, Mr Rohit Mahajan, a Jalandhar-based businessman who has participated in about fifteen marathons till date says, “It has the transformational power to change your life. I recommend it to all students. It will boost your focus on tasks, improve your muscle strength and make you happier.”

He is a parent of two children, Rushil and Razel, both of whom study at Apeejay School, Model Town in Jalandhar. “I get them both to run with me. In my view, all parents must lead by example,” he says.

Remember, this journey will involve highs and lows throughout. So, enjoy the memories and lessons learned, which will stay with you for a lifetime.

Good luck on the new adventure!  

Mrini Devnani is a Senior Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]