Fitness trainer and ace runner Gagan Arora shares how changing his running style from a heel striker, to a mid foot striker has improved his race time. He tells us how he’s preparing for Airtel Half Marathon 2017.

10 years ago, I began running for weight management. Now, I am inspired by mentoring others. Being fit and healthy is a habit, one I don’t need any motivation to maintain any longer.

I am a fitness expert, and run two to three races a year. This gives enough time for recovery and cross training. I also love weight training, which I boost during off season.

Preparing for a race

To get ready for a half-marathon, I prepare 8-12 weeks in advance. For a full one, I extend this to 16 weeks.

I lift heavy weights 3-4 days a week, during the off season to build stronger muscles. Two days a week, I do some easy cardiovascular exercises.  Flexibility is daily routine. When preparing for a race, I drop strength training to 2-3 times a week in a circuit form, and start running 3 or more times per week.

2-3 weeks before the event, I drop my strength routine to 2 to 1 per week and run 4-5 times per week increasing mileage and adding speed workouts. This includes Interval runs, Tempo Runs, Easy Pace Long Runs and Race Pace practice runs.

Another habit that helps me is foam rolling and stretching on daily basis, as this keeps your muscles supple, and reduces the chances of injuries.

Foreverfit- Gagan Arora running

Changing my gait was a boon

Learning, changing and practicing efficient running based on my gait cycle, has improved my running capabilities, like no other. More than 70 percent of distance runners are heel strikers.

I was one of them too, till I realized that changing my landing pattern loaded my muscles efficiently and made me a better runner. So changing from a heel striker to a mid foot striker, chopped 20 mins from my Half Marathon time.

Homework for Raceday
The magic happens during training itself. Of course, race planning is a critical aspect, and one needs to do enough homework to get best out of that day. The event test your physical and mental abilities while incorporating all that you have learned, during training.

Five important matters to consider for race day are: best running gear, nutrition before, during and after the race, hydration strategy, mindful pacing and maintaining mental focus.

Choose your races carefully

Signing up for a race throws a mental challenge at me. So, I start practicing in a structured way, to beat my own personal best every time! Since there are so many races and sporting events these days, it’s important to accept that you can’t beat your personal best every time week after week. My mantra is to choose an event sensibility, and take 4-6 months to train to be your best.

Raceday Concerns

Dropping some weight definitely helps in running faster. Next, comes sleep, nutrition and hydration.  Before the Half Marathon, have 5-7gm protein in water and a banana. If I am going longer than 90 min, I have 2 bananas or some muesli and curd. After my run, I go for coconut water and whey protein, or whey in water with muesli and berries.

Gagan Arora is the M.D Kosmic Fitness; a Master Trainer Reebok Running Squad; BOSU International Master Trainer; a REHAB Trainer; a Barefoot Training Specialist and an Animal Flow Instructor.