Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I run to complete, not to compete...

Good news for running enthusiasts, more runs coming up in the second half of the year.
* Mizuno Wave Run - 27 Jul 2008
* Run NUS 2008 - 17 Aug 2008
* Singapore Bay Run - 24 Aug 2008
* Human Race 2008 - 31 Aug 2008
* GE Women 10km - 26 Oct 2008
* Standard Chartered Marathon - 7 Dec 2008

All are opened to public. Online registrations available.

I started running at the age of 10, ‘hand-picked’ by my PE teacher. I competed at school level and inter-schools level. I love running but wasn’t blessed with a marathoner’s build, yet that didn’t stop me from running. During U time, studies and projects occupied most of my time, thus running became my early morning and evening activity, until now.

Some people said running is addictive, I couldn’t agree less. Whether it is the exhilaration of propelling your body through space, or the pounding on the ground that sends sensation up your bones all the way to the pleasure centre in your brain, or it could simply be the sheer satisfaction of having done something good for yourself. Once you catch the bug, you can never kick it. Ok, let’s view it as a "positive addiction," it is where you perform a repetitive activity without self-criticism or judgment that has a beneficial effect on your mind and body.

Some people asked me “do you run or do you jog”? What's the difference? Most people would say that jogging is just a slow form of running. The late Dr. George Sheehan, a best-selling author from the 1970s running boom, once wrote that the difference between a runner and a jogger was a signature on a race application. In other words, if you're motivated and enjoy running enough to train for an organized race, you're a runner -- regardless of your speed or experience in the sport. Even after running for years, I still don't consider myself a runner.

How to start running: Talk to fellow runners and learn how they got started.
Get a good pair of shoes: Tell the sales staff what you intend to use your shoes for and what kind of feet you have to avoid any pains later.
Start small: Try to run for 10-20 min. Finish the target time/distance set and gradually increase the time/distance run when you feel comfortable. It is better to have a good pace throughout the whole run rather than starting out fast and ending with a walk.
Listen to your body: If you are hurting, take a break. Running is meant to be fun, not painful. Remember to hydrate your body with water/isotonic drinks during and after exercise.
Stretching: Stretch for 10 min after you work out to relieve any tightness you might feel in your muscles. Stretching will help you relax, prevent injuries and also get you into better shape for your next workout.

Warning signs to watch out for:
If you experience any of the following, take a break or see a doctor if the symptoms do not subside:

Muscle pain which is not due to fatigue. This could be very sharp pain or pain that does not subside quickly. Watch out for pain in the calf and knees. Consult a GP or sports doctor if you experience pain.
Headache could be a symptom of dehydration.
Fatigue is one of the most overlooked symptoms.If you are new to running, the sudden increase in vigorous activity may be a shock to your body. The body needs time to recover as well.

Follow this simple training guide:
Start easy: Go for "base" - just getting used to the target distance you wish to achieve. If the distance is the furthest you have gone, try starting with half the distance or a total workout of 15-20 min. Once you are comfortable with the distance, increase both the distance and time of your workout while keeping the pace consistent. When you build up the base, you can run a given distance at a certain higher speed for a given number of times. Race at your pace.
Rest: We underestimate the amount of pressure we out on our body when we exercise vigorously. Be sure to plan at least one rest day for every day you workout. If you find that you cannot sit still, try to do less vigorous exercises such as swimming, which is easier on your joints, or even walking or yoga, which are easier on the cardiovascular system. This helps you enjoy the benefits of running for a longer period as you give your muscles time to heal, hence preventing injuries.

To me, running is the “cheapest exercise” yet the most beneficial form of exercise. You don’t need to buy expensive rackets, golf clubs or diving gears… You don’t need to book courts, golf course or pay for private club, membership or special courses… You don't need to wait till your friends are free because you can always run alone... All you need is a pair of good running shoes... Enjoy your run!

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