Who is Dr. Neera Katwal?



With utmost gratitude, we would like to thank and welcome Dr. Neera Katwal, the coach of Reebok Running Squad, Bangalore to accept our invitation to be the Race Mentor for the 2nd edition of Monsoon Half Marathon 2019.  



💠How does Dr. Neera's fitness journey look like?


Dr. Neera says "After obtaining my doctorate from IIT Madras in Organizational Behaviour and having worked in the corporate sector, I changed my profession to become a running coach, a personal & group fitness trainer in 2009 as that's what I loved doing and since then I have never looked back. I am also a long distance runner who has qualified for the Boston Marathon 4 times and has run it once. Apart from the Boston marathon, I have run 3 other World Major Marathons. I have been winning prizes in open and in my age category of amateur marathon racing in India since 2010. I now train runners out of Kanteerva stadium and Cubbon park in Bangalore under the banner of Reebok Running Squad. I also conduct personal fitness training for individuals and Corporates."



Dr. Neera also has a couple of certifications in her bucket and since, we can't list'em all, so, here are some listed below:


  1. Chi running Instructor (2018)

  2. Certified Personal Trainer from American Council on Exercise (2016)

  3. Zumba Instructor license from Zumba(r) fitness, LLC (2013)

  4. Reebok Certified Aerobics and Body Conditioning Coach (2010)

  5. Yoga Instructor from Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Jigni (2010).


And last but not least, 'some' of her achievements are:

  1. She has completed 20 Full Marathons; 50+ half Marathons; 5 Duathlons; 3 Triathlons; 2 Aquathlons.  

  2. She won the Obstacle Race - 'Alpha League' (Women's category);

  3. She has run 3 out of the 6 World Major Marathons 

  4. She was amongst the fittest 8 women finalists in India to qualify for 'Channel V's Ultimate fitness fan' - a Cross-Fit based fitness competition. 

We can continue to write about her and her achievements but why write when you can experience it yourself.


Now, all the participants of MHM 2019 get a #FREE #MENTORSHIP#PROGRAM from Dr. Neera Katwal herself, every Wednesday 5 pm - 6 pm in the Zealofy Runners Club WhatsApp group.


👉Join the group for the mentorship - https://chat.whatsapp.com/KeLR9ASYfKPFZXx1vhddeh


👉Register Here for MHM 2019



#MonsoonHalfMarathon #Season2 #16June

Train With Dr. Neera

Zealofy Runners Club (ZRC) organized the 'Train With Dr. Neera' online training session powered by Monsoon Half Marathon 2019. The motive of the session was to get proper guidance and help to all the runners residing at anywhere in the country as many trainers are misguided and training with wrong forms and techniques. The session was a huge success with runners joining not only from Bangalore but from Lucknow, Punjab, Delhi, Ahmedabad and several other towns of the country.


To ensure that this information is easily available to all the runners not only in the country but across the world, we decided to put everything on the website so that it is easily available to and accessible to everyone.


We would like to thank Dr. Neera for your valuable time and immensely valuable information that you have shared with us with so much of humbleness and patience.


Enjoy the answers to the frequent and most common queries of runners :)

  Q1. I am planning to run a FM in 6 months.  How to go about it?

It's a good decision that you are giving at least 6 months to train for Ans. a FM. I generally recommend that one should do their 1st FM ONLY after having done a couple of Half marathons (at least 5-6 & after having brought down their HM time to less than 2:30:00). 


To train systematically for a FM you will need to follow a 6-day program:


  1. 3 days of running; 2 days of strength/cross-training;

  2. 1 day of yoga & other recovery aiding exercises such as relaxed swimming, foam rolling, stretching or getting a massage

  3. 1 day is completely reserved for rest. 

The 3 days of running have to include:


  1. 1 Tempo run;

  2. 1-speed workout;

  3. and 1 long run.

    The long run is the most important and you will have to build up long run mileage gradually every week starting from 14K building up to 32K. 


Q2: I am 42 years old. I am totally novice to running. But to become a runner is part of my bucket list. How to go for a smooth start and ensure consistency ? What should be the training routine and diet routine?

Ans.  Many runners (including in Reebok running squad) have taken up long distance running in their late 30s or 40s.  You can gain a lot of satisfaction & have a fruitful running life till old age without injuries if you approach it systematically & scientifically.


My advice to someone starting would be: 

  1. Firstly take the help of an experienced coach (or learn from expert videos) the right running form & posture as they are extremely important to prevent injuries. 

  2. Then start walk- run sequence for 30 mins. Take walk breaks for 1 minute between 3 mins of running. Slowly reduce walk breaks & increase running periods.ina

  3. Then target running continuously for half an hour. 

  4. Then to running continuously for 5 Kms. 

  5. 70% strength training and 30% running should be the proportion initially as the body has to be strong enough to take the impact/pounding

  6. Do yoga 3-4 days a week as running makes your muscles tight. 

  7. Start with 2 days of running then build it up to 3 days. 

  8. Slowly build up to 10kms once a week. 

  9. Once you can run a 10K comfortably and have put in at least 6 months of running, you can add technical elements to further improve in time and distance.

  10. Technical elements are - Speed workout or Intervals, Tempo run, Hill workout. 

  11. It's important to not rush into doing races immediately, not to increase distance or intensity suddenly.

  12. Long distance running is a sport of patience and mental strength. 


Diet Routine:

  1. Have a balanced diet with less processed foods and more wholesome foods of the ratio 40% carbs, 40% Protein and 20% fats.  

  2. Understand the calorie requirement of your body including expenditure from running and stay within that. 

  3. Many runners tend to overestimate the calories required, then overeat and gain fat.



Q3. Can Yoga replace strength training?

Ans. Yes, if you include strengthening moves in the Yoga postures itself.  Most of the Yoga series that I create for my squad include strength exercises like lunges, calf raises, push-ups, core exercises in the same series that includes all stretches.  I will post some videos for example. You can be creative and make your own such series. Runners don't necessarily require to working with dumbells and barbells.  There is a lot that you can do with your own body weight and without equipment.

Q4.  I do strength training, I go to the gym every day. But still, I can't run more than 5 kms because after completing around 4kms. I feel the load on side of the knees (IT Band) and I stop running. My aim is to run a full marathon.

If you are doing adequate strength training at the Gym and yet you are experiencing IT Band pain then it might be due to a lack of flexibility in your lower back, hips or knees. Your muscles might be inflexible or your running form might need improvement. Ask a buddy or your gym trainer to help you stretch well after your strength training. You could do Yoga 3 at least thrice a week. Check if your form is leading to internal rotation of hips/knees & causing pronation. Try running on the road, you might be able to better control your running form on a non-moving surface. You will successfully run Ans.a FM one day, just fix these issues first through - Flexibility, removing muscle imbalance (if one muscle is stronger than opposing one), form correction.


 Q5. Is it ok to practice long runs of 10K or more on a treadmill? What are the Pros and Cons?

Ans. I advise you to mostly practice on the roads/trails as it is relatively harder as compared to a treadmill. It simulates actual race conditions and prepares you better.  It gives you a natural sense of distance which will help you push when you feel like giving up.  Time seems to move faster as you cover more ground. The terrain is uneven so your foot & leg muscles have to make constant adjustments. This improves your strength, balance, and coordination. Also, muscles work differently on a treadmill.  You push off using Quads but your Hamstrings don't fire as much as they do outside to finish your stride cycle.   would


There are some advantages too of running on a treadmill. If you are returning from an injury, the treadmill provides more stability and cushioning for the joints. It is useful to train when it is Sunny or Rainy outside. Just adjust it to 1% incline to replicate difficulty of road running. You can do uphill training if there are no hills around.


Q6. What is the recommended hydration option when running 10K  or more.  Drink from aid station or hold own bottle and take sips while running? 

Ans. I always advice to never hold anything in your hands while running as if affects your running form and creates muscle imbalances due to improper loading. If it is a supported run/race then take a few sips (200-250 ml)  from aid stations every 25-30 mins. If it is a training run then run in loops, returning to your vehicle or spot where you have kept your bottle to drink water/salts. With practice you might need water in training runs only once an hour but in races make sure you hydrate every 30 mins. 
In training runs, if it is unavoidable to ditch your phone or keys, then make sure you carry them in an armband and switch arms every hour/next run.  It's not advisable to carry water or anything heavy around your waist as well. Run as light as possible


Q7. My body easily dehydrates while running even after hydrating well the previous day.  How can I reduce it? 

Ans. Sweat rates and heating up are different in different people and so are water requirements. Go ahead and drink water 25-30 mins into your run, or when you are beginning to feel thirsty. Drinking 250 ml every 5 kms like you are doing now is good. Most road races are well supported so I see no need to reduce water consumption (making sure you DON'T over-hydrate). If you are running a tougher race like an Ultra then you need to practice going longer periods without water. I wouldn't worry about the marathon. Continue your pre-run hydration of 3-4 L of liquids/day. 



Q8. How can I improve my 10K and HM PB? 10K from 59:30 to 45 mins and HM form 2:20 to 1:30?


Ans. A 45 minutes 10K translates to running at a pace of 4:30 per Km.  And a 1:30 HM requires you to run at a pace of 4:16/Km. These are challenging paces that will require a good amount of training and systematic effort.  You will need to train in running 3 days a week.  You will have to follow a plan that incorporates Speed, Tempo and Hill workout apart from long runs.  Strength and Flexibility training becomes more important for faster timings. Consider training with a coach and running group which will help you meet your timing goals. 



Q9. I run thrice a week and would like to bring down my HM time from 2:21 to 2:05 by MHM in June.  Is there any strength building that I can d at home to improve my timings? 


Ans. Yes, YouTube is a treasure house of good videos. Pick out videos that are specifically for runners and follow them. Target strengthening the lower body, the core, the internal muscles close to the pelvis that provide stability.  Strengthen the Gluteus medius, the inner thigh, lower workout with the group and on Wednesdays, you can follow a video that I suggest. and shin's muscles. Wednesdays and Saturdays are strengthening days at the squad.  On Saturdays, you can back



Q10. I am slightly overweight & I burn more calories than lean runners. Is it because of my running economy? How do I improve it? 


Ans. The more height and weight you have, the more calories you burn at rest and during exercise. Right now it works in your favor if you are trying to lose weight. All you have to do is watch your calorie intake. But if your concern is whether you are wasting energy by inefficient movements, then get it analyzed by an experienced coach. We do a lot of form correction and give continuous feedback on your form at the squad.  If you come on a Saturday session (which is free for all) I will be able to see your running form and point out if you are running efficiently or wasting energy. 


Q11. I am 16 years old.  I run an avg of 40 km per week. I intend to bring down my 10K timing to less than 46 mins. How to increase my pace?  Is running too much, bad for your body? How much should you run?


Ans. 40-60 Kms per week are good enough if you are training for a FM. You need lesser mileage with more speed work for a 10K. To increase your pace for a 10K, you will have to incorporate speed workout, tempo runs, hill workout and more strength training in your running plan. Too much running depends on what is too much. Elites train up to 100-160 kms per week. But our bodies might not withstand that much if we haven't built up the conditioning necessary for such mileage. An amateur runner who runs up to 60-70 Kms per week will not damage his knees if he does a good amount of strength and flexibility training. This much is enough for FM training.


Q12.  Is it ok to breathe through the mouth during running? 


Ans. The quality of air lungs is better when we breathe through the nose.  But at fast paces like during intervals & shorter races, we need more oxygen so we end up breathing through the mouth & nose. It is okay to do so. You can train yourself to breathe through the nose during warm up, cool down and in your slower long runs which are run at aerobic zone. Regular Pranayama also helps you breathe through the nose. Breathing through the nose at a faster pace can come through training but there are people who might have a deviated septum in the nose that might cause blockages on one side of their nostrils.  In that case, it is okay to breathe through the mouth and train your lungs through Speed workouts. 


Q13.  How to increase endurance for running? 

Ans. Endurance is the ability of your muscles to run for longer periods of time. Endurance can be built by slowly increasing the distance of your runs and spending more time on your feet running. 

Q14.  Please suggest shoes for running.

Ans. Get a gait analysis done to find out if you need a neutral shoe or shoes with support in case you over-pronate or under-pronation. Many stores do gait analysis.  


Q15.  To keep hydrated what can be used along with water? 


Ans. When you sweat, you lose water along with minerals such as Sodium, Potassium, Chloride. So you need to replace these salts through an electrolyte drink like 'Reload', Enerzal, etc. The store-bought ones have the right proportion of minerals along with carbs for energy. Or you can make your own drink by mixing Sugar, Salt and Lemon juice. Coconut water and Kokum juice are good sources of natural electrolytes.




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