Sunday, March 19, 2017

So you are a runner? Nice!

After a long hiatus and many excuses I have started taking baby steps into a renewed fitness journey.  There is no point in dwelling in the past when I lost weight and was fitter and etc. it is now time to look at the present and gradually in the future about where I want to be with regard to my fitness.

Most people take up sports like running or cycling or swimming separately or together when they hit middle age when either under threats from their doctors or close family members or a clear mirror they decide to huff and puff their way to a sleeker new version of themselves. While the intent is good, there are many grey areas that often get overlooked in these fitness journeys.

One of the first challenges is finding a good group to do these activities. Chennai has seen a rash of running, cycling, triathlon and other fitness groups and their growing memberships prove that more are seeking to get fit through a mob. Yes the mob mentality runs through these groups where mindless peer activism tends to lead people wrong. Every individual is unique and every ones fitness status is different therefore using a one size fits many schedule and plan may not always produce the best results.

Groups may not have the structure to allow a new comer to discover himself / herself gradually and then evolve step by step. The standard term is “How much?” Meaning how much are you doing today. 

For a new comer it may be acutely embarrassing to admit that their PB or personal best is probably half a kilometre at best.  A better option would be to simply say let US run and let us focus on the time we run rather than how much we run.

Then there is this mysterious number called PB.  Mysterious because of the value people attach to it, you will find at least one in most groups who cannot stop himself from displaying his PB each time forgetting that it does not mean anything to the others. Worse sometimes this may cause fool hardy imitation by a rank newcomer at times leading to injuries since these displays are usually commended by a few others. A PB is personal best, meaning it is a personal number and ideally it should be personal. I wonder if people run just to post on Facebook for the likes.
 Injuries are a given for sports and prevention is better than cure. One way to prevent injuries is to avoid sports altogether the other way is to be careful. The best way to be careful is to carefully listen to one’s body. A mandatory requirement for most sports activities especially if the person is unhealthy is a clearance from the individual’s family physician, an annual Master Health Check-up after the age of 30 for every one can be a life saver. Many join up for such endurance sports with scant disregard for their current body conditions, these sports can be extremely stressful to the heart and therefore a stress test like a Treadmill will help alleviate any fears and also make the individual aware how much he can push himself. Life style diseases are on the rise and sports can be a killer rather than a panacea for the ills.


One more peer related issue and this has a connect to the PB is the accessory standards. Running or cycling clothes, shoes, the cycles and then the gadgets. 
GPS trackers, Heart Rate monitors, Fitbit bands the options are endless and sometimes it becomes a simple "Mine is better". The activity at times revolves around the gadgets and not the other way round.                            


Keeping it simple may not be a bad thing and the chances of a heart burn due to non syncing of a device after a grueling activity is less.

The final challenge in this fitness journey is in one knowing how much is too much for him.  This is another personal number and is best known by the individual or maybe his doctor.  Group activities can make this number become a variable quantity. The best fitness plans will factor in adequate rest and recovery however unless the individual is clear and committed to his personal plan these two crucial elements are often given the go by. Since most groups are heterogeneous and people come from different work styles fitness plans can never be standardised.

So should one give up all these? No. It all comes down to balance and knowing oneself. A fitness activity will lose its edge the day when the person no longer enjoys it so it may be a good thing to mix it up and vary the intensities. A game of badminton or Frisbee or even a walk may be the need of the day and the moment. The challenge therefore is to understand and act accordingly. Groups serve a limited purpose, they will make it fun, they will provide the buddy network, they will give the social cushion but optimum fitness is down to the individual. A buddy usually helps, so it may not be a bad think to work out with a buddy or more than one buddies but the challenges that one takes up every day are with oneself after all it is a personal milestone.

So get out start running or cycling or swimming or any other sport, it is fun, it is healthy and it is worth doing, just be responsible along the way.

P.S. In case you are wondering, i have completed a MHC last year and my next one is due in a few months. 

Images courtesy Google Images.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The three rings...

This is a picture of a gutter in a place called Annur near Coimbatore. This gutter brought back some strong memories and my eyes wandered to my ring finger.

You would have heard the joke about marriage being a three ring game:  Engagement Ring, Wedding Ring and Suffe Ring. This post is about the second one and it is written after 10 years of it being on my finger.  There are two pieces of jewellery that are constantly on me both have a connection to special women in my life. The first is a cross on a chain that is a gift from my mother and the second is the wedding ring. I seldom take off both however this post is about the times when the ring tried to get away!

Instance 1: This happened few years ago during a trip to Tuticorin. This was on a flight from Tuticorin after the inflight meal when the attendants were collecting the trash, the ring fell off into the trash bag. I did not notice and when I did I got frantic and called the air hostess. I asked to look into the trash bag but she asked me to wait then I saw her wear gloves and patiently sort out the entire trash bag, finally after she retrieved it she washed, dried and gave it to me with a smile. I know for sure that my Thank you will never be enough but I said a silent prayer for her as I left the flight.

Instance 2: This time I lost my ring in Tuticorin but at the hotel. Somehow I contrived to leave my ring among the bedcovers and realized it a few hours later. After much panic and retracing my steps I discovered it safe in the room

Instance 3: This takes me back to the gutter at the start of the story. As I got out of a car my finger got entangled on a string hanging near the car and as I attempted to pull free my ring slipped off my finger and fell into the gutter. My colleague who was with me found his cell phone light to be insufficient and bought a flashlight from a shop nearby. Then both of us started flashing the light and tried to spot the ring without much luck. Few bystanders and locals who noticed us asked us what was the issue when we told them that we lost a ring and they realized that it was worth a sovereign or so they started giving multiple ideas none of which seemed workable. Then two of them got into the gutter and literally poked around till they found it. They gave it me as my colleague found some water to wash it. I kept repeating thanks and thought of giving some money in gratitude, they just smiled, washed their hands and went away.

Instance 4: This time I lost it in a bus when my ring got struck in my bag and in the rush to pull it free the ring pulled free and disappeared. This time quite a few of my co passengers joined me on my knees looking for the ring. Soon it was found and it returned to its rightful place.

By now you may be wondering why I keep losing my ring so often? I wondered too but in time I learnt:
-         That there are many good people around who help without any returns
-     No matter what happens marriages are forever and despite every set back it will come back to its rightful state that is togetherness.
-         Staying married is hard work and needs a lot of help.