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.


#metoo should not have happened. It happened because finally women spoke up and yet they should not have been pushed to this. Our women have been subject to harassment of all kinds at all places and yet they soldier on. They do this because they are made of a tougher substance than the weak ones who attempt to harass them.

Why do men harass women? I know that the safest excuse is the media and the movies, but movies reflect society. So without stepping into the chicken and egg conundrum let me say that children are moulded by their parents and by what they see their parents do. The other day when my father-in-law mouthed an expletive while travelling with the family it took me a lot of self-restraint not to react in the presence of my daughter but therein lies the danger. We do so many things not caring what the children in our family are seeing or hearing.

Children growing up in homes where the father abuses or just disrespects the mother can never be expected to respect another woman. At an impressionable age children both boys and girls should be taught the importance of respect. The importance of giving and getting respect be it a boy or a girl. Every girl deserves her respect and she should be made aware that it is her right and cannot be denied by anyone. Likewise every boy should know that every girl he comes in contact with deserves the respect as much as is due to him.

When we ingrain the importance of respect I am sure that movies that show otherwise will fail to make the same impact as what is in their value systems. When children see their family members treat each other with love and respect, they will know that there is simply no better way around. It can be tough to be different when the role model at home or even work is a misogynist but they say that the difference between good and great is just a thin line. 

I hope that the next #metoo campaign will be by men who will proudly say, I respect women, because I am a real man.