Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Few Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running – An Indian American Perspective

This year, I have almost completed 1000 miles of running. However, not to be delusional, but when I look back on nearly 2 years of running/jogging I want to change a lot of my past training. I made a few mistakes – small mistakes that resulted in a back pain, ankle sprains, a poor track performance, or missing weeks of running due to disheartenment. (Nevertheless, I was not completely incapacitated due to an injury, knock on wood!).

Many of my injuries or faults can be attributed to impatience, lack of proper information and a sense of
carelessness. I always accepted the fact that a feeling of accomplishment can overcome any pain or disappointment that comes my way during running. The reason for writing this blog is to accept that I was wrong. It is prudent to enjoy the benefits without the suffering if you follow few basic mantras. These days, I’m fervent about the little things and it’s paying off: In spite of ups and downs in life, and a busy work schedule, as I’m writing this, it’s been over two months since my last day off. I’m on track to run over 1000 miles in 2014. Not bad – considering I am not a pro and running is only the hobby or I may say “passion”.

I want you to learn from my mistakes so you can enjoy running in the best possible way without worrying about any injury or discontentment. “Do as I say, not as I do” seems appropriate for this post. Without further ado, below are the seven things I wish I knew when I started running.

Don’t Care About Distance Running

Don’t worry about distance covered. Just do one or two miles a day. Be patient and recognize that modest increases in mileage done over a long period of time will have you running fast over the long-term. There are no shortcuts.

Who Cares About Running Fast

I was concerned about running fast enough to impress co-runners or myself at my age. That was a huge mistake. I realized that being athletically well rounded and coordinated helps me run more efficiently.

Little Things Matters

All those little things help keep you healthy and encourage you to run/jog – icing when you need it, taking a nap after a long run, eating a healthy diet, and taking care of those small aches and pains before they become a real injury. If you are not a teetotaler or occasional smoker, a genuine desire for running will make you quit these habits relatively easily. Don’t ignore small things or habits which can influence running.  Running gets you in good shape, but what you do before and after you run enables you to keep running.

Run in Less Shoe

I used to wear bulky ASICS running shoes which I bought few years ago; I think that was to play tennis with my friends in Katy. Nevertheless, it was too heavy to be considered as a good tennis shoe too. (I wonder why my achilles always hurt?). It is worth spending dollars to get a suitable and comfy running shoe. I love running in Nike Free Run shoes because they are very light, flat and feels like running without any shoe. The lesson here is to ease into your new minimalist shoes. They can help you a lot – but introduce then gradually in your training program.

Experience Runner’s High.

Not that easy though. After running few miles, running becomes a meditation, and it’s blissful. However, I remember last year when I started running, experience was not that pleasant even after running 3-4 miles. Reason, I was not allowing my mind and body to drift with the run, rather I was pushing because I wanted to run quicker and faster. Not good! Allow your body to groove in. Let it go at its own pace. It will automatically reach to a point where you will experience the heavenly pleasure in running. However, that may take weeks or months. But, it is worth waiting.

Form Matters. Work on it.

We as an Indian never worked on our running form in high school and rarely did any drills. That’s a crying shame, but unfortunately it is a bitter truth. Running is a skill, like any other athletic movement, and needs to be done efficiently if you want to prevent injuries and run like Tarahumara – a tribe who proved beyond any doubt that humans are “born to run”.

Get Off the Roads

I’m being dramatic. There’s nothing inherently wrong with running on the road, but I truly believe every runner can benefit from trail running. With a softer surface, it can help you recover more quickly from workouts. The varied terrain helps you build more coordination and work more stabilizing muscles. The sounds of birds and leaves are much better than traffic!  

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Thanks to Shreetika, my daughter for being a wonderful and talented editor for my blog.


  1. Haha thanks Dad for the kind words! Great job on the article.

  2. Hi Sanjeev, I like your blog. It is very inspiring for runners like me.

    Just a minor correction to the title of this post and to elsewhere in your blog posts. I think you mean Indian Americans (

    American Indians refers to the Native Americans of this country.

    Keep blogging, as your posts are quite informative.

    1. Ravi,

      Thanks for the correction. I will make sure I don't make that mistake again. Thanks for the reading the blog and your valuable feedback.