Welcome to Sharudin Jamal Blogspot

More than a decade ago, I was diagnosed of having a peculiar illness known as Bipolar Affected Disorder. My world as I known it crumbled; I lost my business, then my job and later my sense of purpose. It was during this dark moments I rediscovered the joy of running and writing. Most of the articles here are about my rekindled pleasure of hitting the tarmac, my coming to terms with the illness and my discovery of the meaning of life.

I always on the lookout for inspirations to write in these three areas with the hope that they will shed new ray of hope to others who are in the same position as I am.

Do keep in touch if you feel connected through these essays.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pain is My Friend

Running is not natural for me.  If I don't run for two weeks, I will feel the drop in my performance.  Therefore I made a point not to miss my run two days in a row.  The beautiful thing about running is that once you are on the roll, the whole motion becomes effortless.  What was initially a drudgery becomes fluidity. That may not be the case in the beginning.

Initially, a run requires effort.  The body, much like a rusty machinery resists the action to mobilize.  All the joints ache after thirty minutes of running.  The lungs scream for more air.  The legs straddle to accommodate the ever increasing level of lactic acid.  For those who just started, running can be an insanity streak.  It defies logic.  How in the world a sweaty, hot and sticky calamity be able to outdo the comfort of the couch and the cool breeze of an air-conditioned room?

There is a logic to the whole conundrum.  Running may be a torture in the beginning, but as you progress, the body adapts.  While you are slogging on the tarmac, wonderful things happen to your body.  To resist the pain, your brain produces a morphine-like neurotransmitter called endorphin.  This is known as the runner's high.  The after effect of endorphin is a mildly euphoric state that can last for the entire day.  

Scientists also discovered another neurotransmitter known as the endocannabinoid or anandamide.  Endo means internal and cannabinoid means cannabis receptors.  Which means the body is capable of producing its own cannabis to make you high.  This is also why it is called anandamide, by means that ananda is bliss in Sanskrit.  Hence running has its perks.  The feel good chemicals can be addictive in a positive way.  You get ecstatic merely by sweating.

Those are not the only reasons to start lacing up your shoes.  It was discovered that the brain's synapses multiplies with at least thirty minutes of active physical motions.  This is known as neurogenesis.  It helps much in keeping us alert as we aged.  Not only that, the brain also experience another phenomenon known as the neuroplasticity.  What it means is the brain organizes itself in a new way when we are physically active.  This helps the person who exercises regularly deals with depression and age-related illnesses like Alzheimer and Dementia.

"Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it." Said Oprah Winfrey.  This is so true.  You cannot hoodwink running.  For example, you cannot decide to run a marathon without conquering  the mileage.  There is no short cut.  The road to success is through training.  Training, training and more training.  That's the only way to do it.  Of course, everybody's rite of passage is you must go out to take the first steps.  You may start with a modest 5 Km runs.  This will eventually increase in speed and before long you may decide to go for 10 Km.  As you progress, your mileage will increase as well.  Then before you realize, you are on the road to greatness.  It was suggested that it takes at least two years to get from the couch to a marathon.

A marathon is a unique race.  In a normal situation, anybody can complete a race.  Not in the case of a marathon.  Unlike other shorter races, in a marathon, you will face the wall.   This normally happens in mile 20 or kilometer 32 of a race, where your body depletes its glycogen reserve.  It might as well be two races added up because, beyond the wall, you must summon your mental strength to rally forward.  It is said that a marathon is both a physical and mental game.  Too fast and you get burned out early, too slow and you will lose valuable time.  So timing is everything.  It is best to over prepare for a marathon than to cut corners.

Every race distance has its lure.  A 5 Km race is to establish the basis of your lower limit.  A 10 Km race on the other hand, is to compete with the young and frisky.  A 21 Km is for the enjoyment and a marathon is for salvation.  My favorite race is the 21 Km.  It is long enough to feel elated yet it is short enough not to feel dragged.  However, to keep me on my toes I make a point to run a 5 Km tempo run and a 10 Km long run on a weekly basis.  These two runs coupled with a once a week interval run are enough to keep my body tuned for further distances required in the future.

What is the human race without it runs?  Our body was build to travel far.  We were born runners.  Our ancestors develop these running skills long ago to hunt prey for food.  Not many animals can run long distance as we humans.  Perhaps only dogs, hyenas, and horses can do the same.  The rest like antelopes, deers and antlers can run fast but on burst intervals.  We should continue this legacy for our good sake.  We humans, are meant to be mobile instead of sedentary.  

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.  Better still, what doesn't kill us makes us adaptable.  Adaptation is the key to survival.  Run if you can, walk if you have to but never, never sit still.


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