BODY AND SOLE: Run for your life

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/30 April) – A multiple fracture in my left shin caused by a road mishap in 1996 forced me to stop playing basketball, my favorite sport since high school. For a long while, it left me feeling useless and longing for the good old times on the hard court. I tried badminton, but my psyche had been engineered for contact sports that I didn’t find fulfillment in it.

Twenty years after – yes, twenty years! – I decided to move on and accept the fact that I can no longer execute crossovers and fade-away shots, much less race with the other guys across the floor, due to my physical limitations. Maybe I can still make no-look passes and triples. But fast breaks? Nah, my legs are no longer fresh and fast for transition plays.

Until Bob’s repeated pep talks about his addiction to running and marathons. Can I still run? The question made me reminisce those morning runs as member of the College of Arts and Sciences soccer team in MSU-Marawi. As for my lungs, I knew it’s been healed as I have stopped smoking since 1987. I wasn’t sure, though, if my legs, in particular my left leg, could still carry me across long distances.

I did try one morning, and the morning after that…until it became a habit. The first few strides hurt my fractured leg, but I told my mind to push my pain threshold farther, knowing it’s the only way to improve my mileage each day. Mind over matter. And so one kilometer daily on the first week became two on the second, two kilometers increased to four and so on until I found myself surpassing 10k after about three months. Once, as an endurance test, I ran 15k nonstop without taking a single drop of water. I didn’t collapse.

But don’t do it, as I’ve been told dehydration is bad for the kidneys, brain and heart. Build up your endurance in a gradual way, one step at a time, making increments depending on how your body responds. Observe how your muscles react, listen to your lungs and heart beat. Above all, tell your body to move on instead of stop at the faintest sign of fatigue.

Push yourself to the limit. Believe me, running is an excellent medicine and a fun way to relax the mind. I can attest to how my health has improved after I became addicted to it. (Body and Sole is H. Marcos C. Mordeno’s fitness and sports column. He played soccer and basketball during his student days, the latter even after leaving college until a highway crash that broke his left leg.)