Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Come?

One of my colleagues swims regularly at the public pool at the Likas Sports Complex. He’s aware that I’m an active runner, but he hardly ever showed any interest in running. I swim a little too, but I would go to the swimming pool at Sutera. I think we met each other once or twice at the Likas pool before I became a member at Sutera, but that was a long time ago. So actually our paths in sports never really crossed. 

However, last week he excitedly told me that he and some friends had registered for the 10km category in the Borneo International Marathon (BIM) on 04 May. I was happy to know that he has decided to try running too, but I thought it’s a little too late for a non-runner to start training only now, since we are so close to the event. 

Unfortunately, the 10km category is the shortest available category in the BIM. Many other similar running events in Malaysia have the 5km category, but not the BIM. My colleague has since started his so-called “training” for the 10km challenge. His idea of training means running twice a week for a distance of 5km per session which, according to him, would take between 30 to 45 minutes to complete. That training began last week. 

Recently, I posted an article entitled The Fun Run in which I shared the story of how some people have the tendency to underestimate the stress they put their bodies to. That was a true story that happened during the BIM last year. They had to stop their 10km race after running only 4km because of severe cramps. I don’t know if they trained at all before that race. 

My sister hasn’t been physically active practically her whole life, and she has a bit of a weight issue. Some years ago, she found out that she had Type 2 diabetes. She turned 50 just a few days ago. Recently she made the brave decision to become active in doing regular exercise. She started off by just brisk walking, and this lately she has also started to jog a bit. But she has to slow down to a walk again after jogging only a few hundred metres. Even a few hundred metres of jogging can be a huge challenge for some people, but that is still many times better than doing no exercise at all! We all have to start somewhere! 

Anyway, as I was biting into my peanut bun during lunch today, my colleague walked into my office and asked me an interesting question. Well, it was a question, but it sounded more like he was wondering to himself aloud. He said, “How come there is a bit of pain in my ankle after my run?” 

A bombastic question that made me pause for a while, not very sure how I should answer it. As a matter of fact, as surprising as it may be, this wasn’t the first time people have been asking me questions like that. They all sound like a no brainer question, but believe it or not, the reality is that many people still don’t realize that it takes a bit of time for the body to gradually react to the kind of stress they subject it to. 

Even regular runners—including elite world class runners—may sustain injuries every now and then. So if you are not a runner, but suddenly decide to put on a pair of sneakers and run 5km one fine day, it’s not realistic not to expect at least some soreness or aches in the joints after that. I hate to break it to you, but it is only human to experience all those. At least I know I did! 

The best policy is to give sufficient time for the body to react, perhaps over a period of a few months, i.e. to build strength and endurance for the workload. Not only will you minimize the risk of injuries, but it will also be much more enjoyable to run without suffering pains all over! 

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