Monday, October 30, 2017

Run but with care...

“How can you run 10 kms if you cannot walk 10kms?!” This incredulous question that had a tinge of anger came from a veteran runner and triathlete of Chennai. He was sad about the demise of his friend and veteran runner who passed away recently. He was visibly upset at the way people were taking up running without thinking about the side effects. Recounting parts of the discussion with him below:

If you are planning to run to become fit, lose weight or any other reason you must first start walking. Start by walking slowly then move to a brisk walk. A thumb rule is to be able to have a regular conversation with others during the brisk walk to understand the ideal desirable pace. If you are gasping too much then you should slow down.

After consistently walking for two weeks at least the next step will be walk run where you walk for 4 minutes then run for 1 minute,  gradually the walking will reduce and the running will increase till the ideal balance of running 4 minutes and walking the next minute is achieved after a period of atleast 3 months. Take it slow, there is no pressure to prove to anyone that you can run because you know that you can run and that is enough to motivate yourself. Increasing mileage and speed can cause injuries and / burnout. 

You can walk and run with a group but always look out for people of similar abilities and work with them. Avoid increasing the mileage rapidly or planning to run in events immediately. There are enough events organized these days that you will always have one when you are finally ready in body and mind to participate instead of just making up the numbers.

To Group leaders - Have separate plans for beginners; it is very dangerous for beginners to run with the regular experienced runners without any guidance. Pacers must accompany new runners and they should ensure that beginners gradually work their way in.

To beginners joining a group - Do not succumb to peer pressure and do what everyone else is doing or what is popular because it may not always be the right thing for you. You can plan for 3 days of run walking in a week with 1 day of only walking or some other workouts like cycling, swimming, strength exercises or yoga. Ensure that you take adequate rest and never compromise on your sleep. If your sleep is lesser than ideal then it should ideally be deep undisturbed sleep.

Running should be fun not a chore or something that is being done to prove something to someone. In the end be responsible when you start physical activities for the first time. Consult your family physician, take a master health check up with a stress test to assess your physical condition and if you can do it. Do not over exert yourself. 

 Run responsibly, run with a smile...Run.

Image courtesy: Google Images

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Be warned, running in a group can be injurious to your health

In moments of deep sadness you often wonder what could have been if?

I heard of a fitness fan who ran and was also into core work outs who died recently after returning home at the end of work out session.

IMHO large fitness groups are a recipe for disaster with mob mentality and one size fit all plans that lead an unsuspecting new comer the wrong way. Today many people are led by what they see others doing and enter into gruelling physical activity without considering if they can do likewise.With the rising incidence of heart attacks among younger, physically active people it is a cause of concern. One of the biggest takeaway that i have from my years of working in the life insurance field is the relative lack of self awareness of people about their health condition.

People are not aware if they should indulge in high intensity activities to achieve their usual target of weight loss. The question is Should I?  and not Why can't I?

Large informal groups lack ownership to the members and while in the good times they stick together during an injury the person fends for himself. Can injuries by avoided completely? No. Can they be minimized? Yes.

A running group that I belonged to from its inception disillusioned me in some time. This group due to a variety of reasons not least the enthusiasm of its ever growing membership base became a beacon for all fitness fans in the area, this beacon effect was aided by the peacocks who ran to flaunt their PB (personal best an absolutely meaningless figure) to the adulation of others. Though i gained a lot from the group and from running itself, few things scared me and prompted me to act.

There were two initiatives inspired from my observations of what I saw around me:
1. A basic health declaration form with a disclaimer that sensitized every member to the risks of physically enduring sports. Few basic questions were sought to ascertain the basic health conditions and family history. Also blood group & ICE details were sought. This had many objections and did not see the light of day. This is very surprising today considering most paid event organizers conveniently hide behind a disclaimer that frees them from all liabilities or injuries during the event they run. This is like buying a parking ticket to park your car but the ticket says we are not responsible for anything.

2. A master health check up plan with a focus on the stress test (CTMT) to assess if a new comer or an existing member can undergo stress and the acceptable levels of stress this to be corroborated by the personal family physician of the member. The response for this was next to nil.

It is nice to hide behind the disclaimer of every one is mature and is an adult to take care of their health status , it also means that there is no need for a group to exist. Leaders need to take responsibility for their members especially new comers and those who may be unaware of their health status. It is incredible that a new comer just walks in and starts running!!! During core work outs people are asked to do as may reps as they can, now this can becomes extremely subjective and extremely dangerous when the person who trains and hands out such gems of wisdom is either unqualified or has no obligation to those he trains.

Leaders should rise above their personal Landmarks /goals and care for those who come behind them. If not, they should make way for others. (I left from the group in some time). Let people run or do activities alone if the group cannot watch out for them. Working together responsibly and growing fitter together should be the goal. The other things are simply incidental.

The onus is on every individual wanting to be in a group to be extremely responsible more so the leaders to make them aware of their responsibilities.