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Viktoria Kiselyova: Moscow Is Perfect for Running

Running community, the runner's high, and much more

Fitness coach, winner of a bodybuilding contest in San Diego, and healthy lifestyle advocate talks about how the culture of running came to Moscow and what it takes to become a true runner.

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

For me, running is a dynamic meditation. I could never imagine that I would be able to relax while on a run. But it's true, I can relax while I'm running, both mentally and physically, it's my meditation and my reset.
I started running on a dare. I wanted to run 10 km nonstop, and then quit. But it turned out that quitting it is even harder than starting

How often do you go running?

For the past two years, I've been running six days a week, and sometimes seven.

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

Whatever suits you best. I know a lot of people who always run alone and avoid company, they prefer to follow their own course. Others like running in a group. I guess it depends on your character. But running is a wonderful way to make new friends.

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

Since I live next to an embankment, that's where I run for the most part. My other option is Luzhniki as they have a special running surface. Running on bare earth or a special surface is obviously better for your health than asphalt.

What are your favourite routes in Moscow?

I like running in Khamovniki because I live here and I think it's the best district in Moscow; I run through Luzhniki towards Gorky Park and on to the observation platform of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It's my favourite route but I often switch it up, depending on the length of my training session. If it's a long training, the Garden Ring is amazing. It's 16 km long, and running there on an early summer morning in a company of friends is very enjoyable.

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

The most important thing after a break is to take it slowly. If you used to run a lot before the break, don't rush to get back to your previous figures and give your body time to get used to exercises. After each week of running, increase your running distance by no more than 10%.

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

I try to run early in the morning before work, at 5 or 6 a.m. I do not have a fixed schedule, so I find it more convenient to get it done at the beginning of the day so I don't have a chance to miss it. I like to joke that I used to go to bed at that time of day, and now that's when I'm running.

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

I use running equipment from Nike. It's been my go-to for many years. Your running equipment is very important. When I just started, I didn't pay much attention to it and used to run in whatever I could find in my closet. But when I bought my first running tights, I realised how easy and comfortable things became: comfy equipment makes a runner's life easer, especially in winter. Proper equipment saves you from heat loss, getting injured (regular sneakers are slippery), and catching a cold

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

I think everyone understands how important it is to have the right running technique. It's going to help you run faster, for longer distances, and without getting injured.
Running includes the stance phase and the swing phase, and the way your feet land on the ground is very important. Ideally, you should land on the front or middle part of your foot, not on your heel.
And don't forget to use your arms because arm movements are incredibly important. Runners have a life hack: to make your legs run faster, move your arms more. Give it a try, it really works

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

I use Strava, it's an exercise app with social network features where you can track your friends' progress. I also use the NRC app.

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What would be your five tips for beginning runners?

  1. Do not rush it. One of the most common mistakes amongst beginners is that they want to run fast and for long distances right from the start. But what matters most is to run without getting injured, so give yourself some time, do not compare yourself to other, faster runners, listen to your body and the way you feel.
  2. Choose the right trainers. Beginning runners often get injured because of choosing incorrect shoes. These days you can pick the most suitable trainers and test them out in-store.
  3. Find an instructor. If you've never run before, I recommend finding an instructor and booking at least a few sessions with a professional. It's much easier to learn the right technique from scratch than having to fix one.
  4. Find your squad! Find yourself a group of like-minded people who also love running. Join running clubs, meet new people, make friends. Running is not just an exercise, it's also a way of communication. It's helped me make friends with people all over the world!
  5. Enjoy the process. There is a state called the runner’s high: that's when your body starts releasing endorphins that each runner gets addicted to. It's always hard in the beginning, but there will come a point when you'll realise that running is freedom and an incredible pleasure.

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

I've had a chance to run in all large cities across the world and I can confidently say that Moscow is perfect for running. It has everything you need: parks, stadiums, arenas, picturesque routes. There are plenty of spaces where you can leave your belongings for the time of the run for free, and even take a shower afterwards. All of that has formed Moscow's running community. Only 5 years ago, people had mixed emotions about runners passing by, but now it's perfectly normal. More and more Moscow residents are taking up running, and that's amazing!

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