I made a bold new fitness goal this year: I am running my first half-marathon. While I have been running for four years already, I cannot seem to break from my usual 5ks and 10ks. To do this, I knew that I had to get a little help.
Coach Jay-Ar Obial of Obial Fitness Training Services is a professional fitness coach with the right credentials, being a former Philippine team athlete and a champion in triathlon and duathlon. As a BS Sports Science graduate of the University of the Philippines, his approach to training is functional, paying attention to the body's natural abilities and movements.
Since we started training at the start of the month, I have observed marked improvements in my workouts. This happened because we were able to correct some of the running mistakes that I have been doing in the last four years. Here are some valuable lessons that I have learned so far:
1. Never underestimate the power of a good warmup. Our bodies are like car engines that need to be properly amped up for good performance. Static stretching exercises (stretching in place) were mostly the kind of warmups that I practiced as I am often eager to get to the track right away. I was wrong. My trainings with Coach Jay always start with dynamic stretching that uses movements to activate the muscles. Whereas before, I had to shake off the lazy feeling that greets me as I hop on the track, these days I start well and I am able to sustain and improve my pace.
2. Get enough sleep. Okay, I thought I knew this already but I did not expect my body to fail me on my third session with Coach Jay when I had an intermittent shut-eye on the previous night. There is not much explaining to do here because if you want to have the endurance to run long distance, then you need to have sufficient rest to allow your body to cooperate.
3. Fuel up! On the same day, I only had a banana and an oatmeal drink because I was quite groggy moving around to get ready. Later, I learned that I have to consume more food -- with proper nutrition, of course -- as my metabolism is increasing because of my intensified physical activities. Coach Jay is helping me fix my nutrition plan as part of the training package.
4. Feel your pace and go for gradual improvements. Here, it is very apparent what I have been doing wrong all this time: I allow myself to get distracted by my running app and desire to always finish fast. Long-time runners are able to tell their own pace and they know that running goals are best achieved when improvements in pace happen gradually. This does not mean that I have to set aside my app; I just need to have the right motivation to be able to proceed further with my runs.
5. The best way to maintain proper form is by building muscle memory.. and relaxing. Good form is the key to running without injuring your self. That means that I have to run flat, swinging my arms from the shoulders in synchrony. For drills and sprints, I am taught to use the balls of my feet to avoid heel running.
Just relaxing helps me move naturally as the more I think about my form, the tenser my muscles become. Coach Jay always reminds that once the arms get tense, it will spread all throughout the rest of the body.
6. Do not forget to breathe! Practicing all these new techniques can be a little daunting that sometimes, my attention is diverted from my breathing. When running seems to take more effort, I go back to my breathing, taking mindful inhales and exhales until they normalize and I am back to running leisurely.
Sweat intelligently and boost your daily exercise by training with Coach Jay. Click the following links for more information:
- LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jay-ar-christian-obial-418327114/
- Instagram - @coach_jayobial