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Ekaterina Zykova: Run in a Company!

Story of a sports photographer: sports and work

For Ekaterina Zykova, running is a hobby, a job, and a way to have a great time in a company of friends. Read on to find out how she manages to combine it all and why beginners should start slowly.

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

I would say I started running by accident, almost 4 years ago, while working at Nike. At first, it wasn't a regular activity, but then I met an instructor and got into running 'on schedule'.

Running is my true passion.

There are several components to running. First of all, it's a daily routine that helps my physical and mental health. Secondly, it's a way of socialising: I'm friends with other runners from different clubs and we often hang out together. Finally, running is also my job: I specialise in shooting running and athletic starts, I work at contests and in cooperation with sports brands.

How often do you go running?

5–6 times a week, depending on the preparation stage.

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

I think it all depends on your end goal: if you want to have some time to yourself, to figure things out in your head and relax — it's better to run alone, but if you need to power through a difficult routine or you simply don't have the energy, inspiration and/or a habit of running — run in a company.

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

I'm an asphalt runner, plus I've been living next to embankments for the past 3.5 years, so I've had no choice!

What are your favourite routes in Moscow?

From my house to Frunzenskaya Embankment through Andreyevsky Bridge and then to the left through Luzhniki until Moscow-City. I also enjoy Kosmodamianskaya Embankment on the side of Zamoskvorechye from where you get the best views of the high-riser on Kotelnicheskaya.

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

The two main things are to start slowly and with short distances. You can even switch back and forth between running and fast walking for the first couple of weeks. Just don't rush it. Remember that you will always have time to get in shape, but injuries are real.

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

I think I'm more of a nighttime runner: in summer, I can go for a run around midnight, when it's not so hot. I find it harder to run in the morning.

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

Black. And comfortable. Running shorts, thick running tights, t-shirts with longer sleeves to prevent chafing (e.g. Moscow-based brand Gri). My all-time favourite trainers are the Nike Pegasus 35 Turbo, although they don't make them anymore.

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

I think the main life hack is not to think about the technique too much and simply enjoy the process. Do not think that you need to make extensive preparations and do a tambourine dance just to start running; for starters, all you need is to go out and run. I personally believe that if you aren't planning to achieve specific results in running and are doing it for pleasure and at your own pace, one or two sessions with an instructor will be enough for you to learn the technique, and then your sole task is to enjoy it.

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

I have a Garmin watch that inputs data into Strava and NRC; one of them has a convenient table with details about my training sessions, stats, and distance, and the other is full of pretty info blocks, audios for running, and your achievements.

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What would be your five tips for beginning runners?

  1. Do not think that you are doing the worst of all. It's hard for everyone, even for that guy who runs so fast and wears nice running clothes, while you have your old joggers and sneakers on. At one point he was also a beginner. It's perfectly normal. Even if you're walking more than running for now.
  2. Take your time and space. Do not try to run a kilometre in four minutes or finish a 10-km distance right off the bat. Starting slowly and with short distances guarantees that you will fall in love with running at some point, plus you won't get injured. Do not try to accelerate your progress.
  3. Run in a company. Find a club that suits you or join runs from numerous bars and coffee shops — in the very beginning, a nice company will help you get used to training as well as make new friends. The running 'squad' is some of the nicest and most diverse.
  4. Support the locals: participate in local marathons, join local parkruns in your nearest park on Saturdays, buy items from local manufacturers, and support Russian athletes at competitions.
  5. If you aren't feeling motivated and inspired to continue, set an ambitious but achievable goal, e.g. 'run 10 km at the Moscow Marathon in 3 months', and make a plan using apps or the help of your instructor. If you have a schedule for the near future, it's easier to get used to the new activity.

Enjoy the process.
Otherwise, what's the point of doing it?

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

Moscow's culture of running is definitely in somewhat of a heyday.

In the past, it focused around the 'Orange House' and Gorky Park, and now it has extended all the way to the vicinities of Moscow. On the one hand, you no longer know each runner by name, but on the other — coming across a runner on the street has become a norm rather than a rare occasion.

Today, Moscow has dozens of running clubs and teams that run in nearly all districts of the city; there are dozens of runner-friendly spots where you can leave your belongings and have a glass of water before the run; we have numerous open training sessions available to everyone, a large number of instructors, and the number of local activities is also growing, from large-scale official marathons of the Running Community to smaller challenges and races initiated by teams and organisers. New starts, running brands and shops are emerging, and all of that contributes to Moscow's overall running culture.

Moreover, people are getting more and more interested in using running tracks and getting into professional athletics, which is amazing!

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