Running for Life

By Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar
28 March 2013 11:53 IST

RUNNING is the fastest growing sport in the world today, especially marathon running. Why is this so ? Running gives total freedom to the runner. Not only does it free him from the shackles of physical inability, it also frees him or her from the need for organised sporting activity, from the need of sticking to a routine or a schedule. It keeps him free form his dependency on others.

You can run anytime, anywhere, with or without anybody else. As you keep running your body's ability to run increases. You find your self running faster, farther and more often.

You can question me as to why I chose to write on a mundane topic like running on a forum like Goanews. How does it relate to anything at all ? To me running makes a better body, a clear, stress- less and free thinking mind. Running makes a better individual and a better society.

There is a Latin proverb "Anima Sana in Corpora Sano"- Sound mind in a sound body"- and it is so very true.

Running is not only an art, it is also a science. Very few appreciate the art and science of running. As a result very few can run.

What is this science of running ? There are different types of running. Marathon running and short distance sprinting are entirely different. Road running, track running and trail running are different. Barefoot running and the traditional running with shoes are different.

To be able to run the body has to be maintained healthy, strong and injury free. How to do this is in itself a science - a delicate one at that. One requires a knowledge of human biology, of human body for running consistently. One should be familiar with the human gait cycle, the muscles exercised during running - the directly exercised muscles and the indirectly supportive muscles. All the muscles of the body - and believe me most muscles of the body are involved in running -- have to be strengthened by systematic gym workouts and at the same time kept injury free. This in itself is an art and a science.

So you see running is not a mundane topic. It is art and science of the highest level. It builds the mind while it builds the body.

My personal philosophy in running for life is to "die fit" ! As my age increases so must my fitness - so that when I say goodbye to the world I must be fit enough not to become dependent on others. This, incidentally, was also the idea behind "vaanaprasthaashram". Vaanaprasthaashram was a phase in the twilight of one's life when our ancestors would retire into the jungle, fit to survive the trials of the jungle till death overcame them. Their bodies never found by their near and dear ones. All attachments broken. Those dead rightly forgotten. I personally think remembering the dead is hypocrisy, remembering their actions is history. Erecting and garlanding statues of Shivaji Maharaj or Mahatma Gandhi once a year is hypocrisy while learning from the virtues they embodied is learning from history. Running makes a person less hypocritical, more analytical, more scientific. So do run.

You need to know your "arch type"- the arch of your foot. There are three arch types in humans viz. neutral, high and flat. Each type requires a different running shoe. High arch runs better with a CUSHIONED SHOE (eg. Nike airmax 2012), a neutral arch runs better with a STABILITY SHOE (eg. Asics Gel Kayano 17) and a flat arch or a flat foot runs better with a MOTION CONTROL SHOE ( eg. Asics Gel Evolution 6).

The gait cycle of barefoot running is totally different from that of running with shoes. A barefoot runner lands on his toes while a shoed runner lands on his heel. Landing on toes is the original way the nature intended. Barefoot running shoes (eg. Vivo barefoot, Vibram five fingers ) are different from traditional running shoes and are available in today's Indian market but one has to search for them.

Technology has added many a jewel in the crown of running. I use a Garmin FR 70 heart rate monitor with chest strap, a Nike plus pedometer and also have a Beuer PM 18 finger sensor heart rate monitor and distance calculator.

Traditional heart rate monitors come with a chest strap and record your heart rate continuously during your run. Continuous heart rate record is important as it prevents over exertion which is dangerous as well as under exertion which is actually a waste of time as it provides no cardio-benefit. Heart rate monitors with finger sensor do not have a chest strap but can give intermittent heart rate. Both are worn like a watch on the wrist and have many other functions like chronograph, calorie counter, stop watch etc.

A nice addition to the running gadget armada is a GPS running watch. Although a tad expensive it is invaluable in long distance runs. GPS enabled watches come with chest strap heart rate monitor and are in direct communication with global positioning satellites. Garmin, Suunto, Nike etc manufacture them.

In traditional running the correct type of running shoe is extremely important. This requires gait analysis. Gait analysis is currently done in India at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai. Gait analysis tells us about a movement at the ankle level, a movement called PRONATION. The flatter the arch of the runner the more is the pronation. The more the weight of the runner the more the pronation. Stability and motion control shoes are designed to correct different degrees of pronation. Only those runners with no or minimum pronation (neutral or high arch) will benefit from cushioned running shoes. All the rest will require stability or motion control shoes to control their pronation and prevent leg pain. Ironically most of the fancy, high priced shoes marketed in India are cushioned shoes. One has to search for stability and more so for motion control shoes.

Now let us take a look at the running apparel. Correct running apparel (t shirt and shorts or tights) can keep you comfortable on your run and also increase your performance by up to 20%. The technical fabric for running clothes is MOISTURE OR SWEAT WICKING POLYESTER. Not all polyester is sweat wicking. Wicking is a process by which the fiber transports sweat from the sweat pores of the skin to the environment.This keeps the skin breathing freely and also helps in body temperature regulation during your run. This fabric also prevents CHAFFING, a friction injury that can occur to the skin during running. Nike Dri fit, Kalenji Equarea, Adidas Climacool are examples of such technical fiber.

A lot more can be written on running but I shall stop now but not before I say that one can run till the fag end of one's life. Age need not bar anybody from running. Just see that you make an early start. Just see that you are consistent. Just see that you remain injury free. That should see you running for life !

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Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar

Dr Mukul R Pai Raiturkar is a consultant pediatrician & neonatologist practicing in Margao. He is the co-convener of Ami Goenkar, an organisation of secular young Goans working towards a novel approach to religious-political issues of Goa. Son of veteran Goan freedom fighter Mr Ravindranath Pai Raiturkar, he exudes unshakable faith in a liberal, secular and free spirited democracy of India.

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Previous Comments

Elementary stuff!! Walking is 100% times better than running, especially for aged people!

- AC, Goa | 13 th April 2013 05:14


Dear Sudesh,

Heart rate monitors are of 3 types : Those with chest strap , those with a finger sensor and the latest type is a HR monitor ring which you wear on your index finger as you run.

Best is to go for those with chest strap as these give a lot of parameters in real time. There are two types of these viz those with GPS enabled watch and those without GPS. All of these can be paired with a compatible foot pod to give the distance in case GPS or satellite feed is not available.

HR monitors with chest strap without GPS can be purchased in Mumbai from Total Sports with their flagship store at Dadar TT (at the circle). They are also available online at,, and on Choice is between garmin, Suunto and Polar.

GPS watches with HR monitor are not easily available in stores. You can purchase them from,, or global easybuy section in

HR monitors with chest strap also have an online component provided by each manufacturer, like Garminconnect by Garmin. You can access other runners, avail of their training plans, take a virtual trainer and upload your workouts.

A fairly good option is to go for Nike+ GPS sportswatch with a nike+ footpod. Their online component is also very good. Your shoe must be nike+ compatible. Goan nike stores do not keep GPS watches. You can try Mumbai. They are online though. Problem with Nike is that their stability shoes are very few (only the Lunar series and Structure series) and their motion control shoes are not marketed in India.

Thanks and do let me know if you need more info.

All the best.

- Mukul, Margao, Goa | 12 th April 2013 13:22


great article, Mukul!kindly let me know more about heart rate monitors, their availability etc. Thank u once again.

- sudesh prabhudesai, Margao | 11 th April 2013 19:07


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