Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Runner by Choice

I've always considered myself to be a sporty type of a person, but I am more into sports that don’t involve ball games. When I was still a student, I tried playing volleyball and basketball several times just to impress a girl, but failed miserably. There was even a scene that became a laughing memorabilia for some of my friends (including the girl) which completely shattered my future basketball career. So, I became reconciled to the reality that I will never be good in playing with balls other than the ones attached to myself :)

From then on, I got more involved in something that I believed have a much lower “learning curve” requirement – running. How hard can it be when I’ve been doing that all my life?

photo borrowed from http://www.wohill.com

So I started running short distances because it wore me out easily. For a while, I found it enjoyable and relaxing after every run, until busyness with other things took over my priorities. Eventually, it came to a point where short distance running became short distance walking. And then I got too lazy to go out of the house to run or even just walk.

My preoccupation with work and being lethargic for almost a year made me pay a hefty price. My blood sugar level sky rocketed. This was made worse by a genetic history of diabetes from both sides of my family. Last April, I was finally diagnosed with diabetes.

I became alarmed with my health condition but was too confident to see an expert. I decided to self-diagnose by going back to running and eradicating rice in my diet all at once. The change was drastic although I thought I was getting myself back on track, unaware of an impending danger from the self-medicating regimen.

Running again became an almost daily routine. I wanted to lower down my blood sugar level so bad that for almost one week of strict diet without a single grain of rice or any carbs for energy, I decided to increase my running distance from 3km to 6.6km. And it worked! The run was so effective; it became a life and death situation for me. My sugar level went dangerously low and I experienced hypoglycemia. I was nearly unconscious when my wife rushed me to the hospital.

I was confined for four days and all the doctors and nurses were so baffled by my stupid stunt. All told me that I could have ended up in a diabetic coma if I waited a little longer. Upon discharge, I was prescribed proper medication, diet, and exercise, this time under the management of specialists.

I learned several lessons from my four-day hospital stay: one, totally taking out carbs from my diet was not a good idea after all. Two, there is no such thing as a special diabetic diet. Diet for diabetics is just like anybody else’s diet. You can eat almost everything but via small frequent feedings.


Slowly, I got my momentum back. From leisure walks to brisk walks and short stride running, I was running 6.6km again. Just recently, my family and I participated in World Food Programme’s Walk the World Philippines -- a walking and running event against hunger at the SM Mall of Asia grounds. My wife and kids took the 2km walk and I registered for the 5km fun run. I was able to finish my run in 34min and 52sec. Not bad for my first official race.

I choose to run not because I lack the height or skills for ball games. I choose to run not because I’m diabetic. I run because I want to live my life at my own pace. That is why runners call it “fun run”. For most leisure runners like me, getting ranked in a race is only secondary. Ultimately, a runner competes with nobody but with himself. When I run, I feel this sense of freedom where almost everything else is optional. It’s all about my time, pace, stride, distance, and speed. It’s a runner’s choice … my choice.
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