Running off the turkey
|Azrul Mohd Khalib works on HIV/AIDS, sex and human rights issues. He is becoming cynical and is in danger of losing his sense of humour and mind. He also runs and is battling an addiction to the "A Song of Ice and Fire" book series. Azrul can be contacted at [email protected]|
DEC 29 — It’s 6.30 in the morning and the purposely annoying music from the phone alarm seems to go on and on. Wiping the drool off your face, you stumble to the bathroom and look into the mirror. The face looking back is barely human.
Vaguely, you remember why you told yourself that you must wake up and go running this morning. Images of the mince pies, slices of turkey, plates of meehoon goring and sticks of satay you ate (correction, gorged on) during last night’s Christmas party float at the periphery of your befuddled mind. Oh and of course, who could have resisted the chocolate reindeers and those yummy cream eggs? It’s a “once-a-year” occasion. Totally justified. If we don’t eat than some people will kecil hati. Can’t have that, right?
You put on your socks and lace up your running shoes and stumble towards the door. You suddenly realise that the morning seems to be cooler than usual. You think to yourself that maybe it won’t be so bad and things will clear up later during the run. Of course, running clothed only in your shoes and socks might bring too much clarity for some and criminal charges of indecent behaviour for others. With a start, you go back inside, put on a T-shirt, a pair of shorts and head out for a 5km run.
Sounds ridiculous? Believe me, some of us have been there. In the aftermath of an epic makan session, which many of our Malaysian festivities tend to strive to be, we tell ourselves that tomorrow we will hit the gym or go running to make up for it. What I tend to do is go running in the morning. One of the benefits of doing so is that it is supposed to burn more calories than at any other time of the day. Turning on your body’s metabolism early enables it to go on longer and burn more fat. Running first thing in the morning also apparently increases the likelihood of losing weight and keeping it off.
Three kilometres out and a dog starts barking and chasing after you. For a split second you see what appears to be a jackal with fangs glistening with saliva, eyes which remind you of the beast from “The Omen” with a bark from the depths of hell. You increase your efforts and look back again. This time you see it for what it is: a yelping tiny whiny poodle which almost made you wet yourself. Objects in the light of the morning after a party can seem more fearsome than they are. A few glasses of bubbly can do that to a person.
Running in the early light in particular helps clear minds, solves problems and often tends to give birth to new and creative ideas. The endorphins kick in and provide a lasting calming and refreshing effect which helps armour you for the day ahead. No pills, no Bloody Marys and nothing illegal required.
Have you noticed how clean and pure the air is in the morning? There are fewer cars, buses and motorcycles on the road and less carbon monoxide to choke on. You don’t need to go up to Genting Highlands but you do need to get off your butt.
You know the usual excuses for not exercising after work? No time lah. Too tired lah. Have to have dinner with family. My wife/husband will think I am having an affair. Too many other things to do. We can quietly give these excuses a quiet burial by getting the 30-minute exercise squared away first thing in the morning. Later after work, you can concentrate on other more important things like listening to Horatio Caine’s “kill me now” one liners on the latest episode of “CSI”.
The best thing about beginning a routine of running in the early hours of the day (besides the canine motivation and being labelled a streaker) is that it gets you juiced up and provides a motivation to do it again the next morning as a result of the adrenaline and endorphins. You become more active and might find yourself unafraid to try new things. Soon, you will become an annoyance due to your cheerful morning disposition. Some may want to lock you up in a dark room. Others may help hold you down while you get beaten up by your co-workers.
Me? I haven’t been beaten up yet but I am learning to do the shuffle and it’s bloody hard. So, set your phone alarm before you go to sleep and give running in the morning a try.
If it is not yet too late to do so, may everyone have a Merry Yuletide and Happy New Year!
See you on the other side in 2012.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.