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Alexey Komissarov:
I Run Through the Mountains in Africa and Across the Tundra in Chukotka

Favourite routes, life hacks, and much more

Alexey Komissarov, CEO of Autonomous Non-Profit Organisation 'Russia — Land of Opportunity'. Candidate for Master of Sports in motorcycle racing. Also likes running, triathlon, alpine skiing, diving. Winner of numerous competitions in Russia and abroad: winner of the 2008 Russian Endurance Cup, three times Ironman (a series of long-distance triathlon races), two times finisher of the Comrades Marathon in South Africa (90 km). In March 2015, took part in one of the 20 most extreme marathons in the world — the Baikal Ice Marathon (42 km across the frozen Lake Baikal, from one shore to another), came 2nd in his age category.

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What does running mean for you and how did you get started?

I took up running in the autumn of 2014, when I received a slot for the Baikal marathon as a birthday gift. Today, running is an essential part of my life, a way to keep my body in good shape, to take a break from pending tasks, and think about important things during a run. It's also a great way to have a tour of a new city during quick business trips.

How often do you go running?

I try to exercise 6 days a week, but I don't tend to run on each of those days. I also do power workouts in the gym, as well as swimming and cycling. I usually run 3–4 times a week.

What's better, running on your own or in a company?

If it's a recovery run, it's a great idea to run in a nice company. If it's an intense training session, it's better to run alone or with an instructor.

What kind of terrain do you prefer, concrete pavements or park alleys?

I usually find park alleys to be more attractive, but I still run in different locations and on different surfaces — through the mountains in Africa, across the tundra in Chukotka, on ice in winter, along the embankments in different cities.

What are your favourite routes in Moscow?

Luzhniki, Krylatskoye, Khamovniki, Meshchersky Park.

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What is the best way to get back to running after a long break?

Use common sense and take it slow, make sure to warm up before running and add power exercises in the gym to your training routine to strengthen your ligaments and joints.

What is your preferred time for running, mornings or evenings?

I think in theory it's better to exercise in the morning, but in most cases, I tend to find time for training in the evening, after work.

What kind of clothes/equipment do you prefer for running?

Comfortable and suitable. It's not about brands. The most important part of running equipment are the trainers. One manufacturer can make totally different models. Some are suitable for slow running and overweight people, others are good for interval training with a pace of over 4 min/km. I have a lot of trainers from different brands and I use them depending on the goal, surface, season, and running pace.

Do you have any life hacks/recommendations on running techniques you would like to share?

Do not forget about GPP (General Physical Preparation) and special running exercises. To run safely and correctly, it's important not only to watch the way you step but also to have all of your body muscles well-prepared, especially your back and core muscles.

Choose difficult terrains once in a while, e.g. deep snow, sand, uneven surfaces in the woods (this piece of advice is not only for beginners). In winter, you can practice running on ice: this kind of surface will force you to put your feet right below your centre of gravity, or otherwise you will slip and fall.

Do you use any exercise apps? If so, which ones?

I use TrainingPeaks. My instructor sets tasks for me using the app, and then monitors my training progress and fitness levels. It also allows me to keep track of my results, make sure that I'm making progress (or not, sometimes) and just use it as my exercise diary.

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What would be your five tips for beginning runners?

  1. Make sure to use the help of a professional instructor, at least in the beginning. It will help you master the right technique, avoid injuries, and make good progress.
  2. Choose the right trainers; do not run in trendy-looking shoes that aren't meant for running.
  3. Set an achievable goal that motivates you (e.g. run a semi-marathon after 3 months).
  4. Never compare yourself to other people during training (in terms of heart rate, pace, etc.) and only focus on your own progress.
  5. Possibly the most unexpected piece of advice: do not listen to music while running. It's a matter of personal safety, and it also makes it easier for you to focus on your feelings, breathing, and technique.

How well-developed do you think the culture of running is in Moscow?

It's developing very quickly. I'm happy to see more and more people of different ages and training levels during my runs. I'm also convinced that Moscow is the best city on earth. For running, among other things.

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