Running your first 5k run!
|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]|
JAN 30 — Running really is a low-budget activity. In this challenging economic climate, you might not be able to cough out the 150 bucks for the monthly gym membership or engage in some other activity which requires fees and equipment such as golf. Not everyone can go to their friendly neighbourhood plastic surgeon and liposuction off a few kilos in an effort to lose weight. Maybe you are depressed that you didn’t get selected to receive the RM100 book voucher from the government or the RM500 BR1M angpow. Running can be good therapy.
To run, all you need is a pair of sneakers, shorts or running track bottoms and a T-shirt. You are now all set.
So I have had a few people asking how does a person even begin to run as a regular activity. Let me just first say that I am not a fitness instructor, athlete, or sports professional of any kind. But what I can do is share some practical experience I gained when I started running.
Firstly, if you are new to running, don’t start by running on a treadmill. Go outside. Pick a nice green park, a lakeside or even the nearby “padang” is good. I am not much of a fan of running on treadmills. It can be incredibly boring with four walls, frigid air conditioning and people who don’t talk (who really talks while on treadmills?). I only go to run at the gym when it’s pouring rain outside or want to do adjustments to my running strategies for races. Other than that I prefer the great outdoors (or what comes close to it in the concrete jungle that is KL). There is a lot more to see but, more importantly, it might be better for a person who is starting to run.
It is important for there to be a sense of achievement (however small it might be) when you begin running.
Try to go for a route which is mostly flat like along the Titiwangsa lakeside. “Jangan nak tunjuk terror” and try for undulating terrain like Lake Gardens. Even the neighbourhood park will do.
It can seem to be quite demotivating for a person just starting to pick up running to go to places like TTDI Bukit Kiara, Taman Tasik Permaisuri, the Lake Gardens and Taman Tasik Titiwangsa which are the usual haunts of avid runners. You see the auntie and her “cucu” making their morning rounds (hell, they probably can go faster than you). The svelte and “ganas”-looking individuals in technical tees and running tights pounding the asphalt. The running clubs with their cadre of members completing their weekend run. Yes, it can be daunting but imagine this, you could be one of them!
Pick out a clear route that you would like to cover during the running session. It is important that you do this as it will help measure progress and achievement. Seriously, it does make a difference. How else are you going to be able brag later if you don’t know the distance you have covered. If you like, you can go on Google Maps and get the distance of the route measured.
Before you begin, do some warm-up exercises for five minutes such as an exaggerated high stride where you lift your knee as high as possible in a striding movement. Do walking lunges and heel kicks (that’s when you try to kick yourself in the butt with your heels). Don’t forget to warm up your arms too by swinging them to and fro as if you are already running.
Start off first with a slow jog. Don’t immediately go into a sprint! Unless you are a professional athlete, a child below the age of 12 who just had a chocolate breakfast or are high on some illegal substance, you will sure “pancit” before you have even managed to reach the first signpost. Don’t forget to breathe.
Identify markers or signposts along the route to enable you to establish how much ground you will cover. These could be a playground, a building, a particular tree or any old thing which is easy to spot. If you are just starting with five kilometres, try to identify five markers to signify each kilometre covered (“agak-agaklah”). The objective is to be able to run as long as possible to the next signpost before you can’t run anymore and begin walking. When you reach the signpost, begin running again to the next one. As you progress and improve on your capacity in later runs to run non-stop from one signpost to the next, reduce the number of signposts gradually.
Don’t get discouraged when you see “makciks” and “pakciks” in their 50s and 60s running faster than you. They have been at it longer. I remember this one Singapore woman in her late fifties whom I met during last year’s Penang Bridge Marathon. She flew past me at the 25km mark and I never saw her again after that. Rumour has it that she had completed the marathon and was sipping ice tea at the airport departure lounge while waiting for her flight back to Singapore by the time I crossed the finish line myself.
Be warned! Depending on your starting fitness level, it might take a few sessions before you can completely run the first kilometre. However, before you know it, you will be able to run five kilometres non-stop from start to finish!
A friend once told me how motivating it is for her to see the hot men in nice tight running shorts jogging around the park where she runs. She said that she usually runs the circuit a few extra times to enable her to get a close encounter of the second kind.
Whatever the motivation, believe me when I say that anyone can run five or even 10 kilometres. It sounds like “jauh gila” but with a little motivation (e.g. tight butt sightings, losing weight, getting healthier) soon you will be able to run non-stop for 30 minutes. Join a running club like the Chap Ayam Runners.
And then when you are ready, sign up for a race!
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.