Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Joy of Jogging

My first experience with long distance running was when I was in Form 4 (16 years old then). Every year the school would organise a cross country and participation is compulsory by all the students. I was only active in two sports, namely badminton and hockey. So when it came to cross country, the first thing on my mind was how to skip the running. I would try to find out in advance the route and during the run, I will then take shortcuts. I don't know why I hated long distance running but I guess it has to do with the aching after the runs.

After my Form 6 examinations, I joined a bank as a clerk while waiting for my results in 1979. I am a lazy student with just average grades. I knew my results would be nothing spectacular and may as well find a job and study part-time. I was posted to the Current Accounts Department (CAD). CAD is known for its long hours because we have to process thousands of checks before the day's end. During those days in the late 70s and early 80s, the mainframe system was used mainly to keep current account ledger and balances. All the checks are keyed into a data entry cartridge by 6pm and thereafter transferred to IS Department for uploading and processing. The transaction listing would be ready by 8pm for checking. So, we are rather free during 6-8pm. Most of my colleagues would take dinner during this time. My immediate officer was a very keen long distance runner. He runs during this period of time. He encouraged me to join him for the one hour run and I did. That started my love affair for long distance jogging. Despite being heavier than me, he seems to run better and faster than me.

Subsequently, when I joined another bank, I continued to run almost on a daily basis after work at the Lake Gardens with my new colleagues. As years passed, I decided to take jogging more seriously by joining quarter and half marathons. As I got more experience, I decided to join the full KL marathon, 42.195km. My training intensified and I began to jog at least 10km at a time for 3 times a week. As luck would have it, on the actual run day, after crossing the 35km mark I suffered severe leg crams. I was walking and limping the last few kilometers. I took comfort in that I could complete the marathon, after 6 gruelling hours. I remember after the run, I went to my friend's house to compete in a mahjong marathon! Two marathons in a day!

When I first started long distance jogging, my main focus was completing the course. During the initial stages, while building stamina and getting into shape, every step I took seems so heavy and difficult. I am a firm believer in no pain no gain rule. As the more I practiced, the better I became, at my own level. I made one big mistake for I wore normal jogging footwear during my jogs. Over the years, the tendons on both my legs were sort of damaged and as a result, I began to take shorter distances to minimise the pain. I seen quite a number of doctors and acupuncturist but it did not help. At the recommendation of a friend, I saw a sports doctor and decided to take two mild steroid injections on each leg. As if a miracle drug, the pain went away overnight. That was in 2004.

After that, I continue to jog but invested in better shoes to protect my legs. I did not continue to participate in marathons. Instead, I took leisurely jogs around country roads. I would keep my jogging shoes in my car and would stop at any nice place to jog on my way home from work. I discovered something I have not noticed in the past, the joy of jogging. In the past, I was competing, timing, heartbeat rate, etc. not that I will be placed first but just being competitive.

Now when I jog, I take a slower pace. When you take away the competition, the jog starts to give you new meanings. I noticed after a hard day's work, jogging is therapeutic. It relaxes the mind and release the fatigue of the mind and body. I feel good as more and more oxygen is breathed into the body. I see nature along the way, green trees, flowers and birds chirping cheerfully. On a lucky day, I can see a snake creeping across the road. In the field, I can see children playing happily. I bath myself in the evening sun as I listen to soothing music from my mp3 player. I am now in the world of my own. As the mind becomes clearer, I reflect the kind of day I had. When things goes well, I am pleased but if I had a hard day, I will make tomorrow a better day. When I have some difficult problem to resolve, I would seek inspiration through jogging.

The best thing in life after a jog is that I don't feel tired at all. All I have is a wonderful feeling of well-being and happiness.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Chang,
    Jogging and running had been fun for me too when I was young. For me, it really is like a cure. I always have too much energy in my body and I love to run in the school fields, actually I must run around entire school time. If I dont do that, I will not be able to sleep.

    Do you still jog? Can't? Trying Joggin in your mind, focus on what it would look like...your feet would take turns to step forward in a very constant momentum...1.2..1..2..1..2.. huff...1..puff..2..huff.1..puff..2.

    Getting sleepier and sleepier....ha ha ha. Well, take care.

    Your friend.