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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Writer defies doctors' orders to attempt cross-border run

The red pins indicate my starting point which is Doha, the Saudi border and finally, the finishing line at the Jordanian border."

The red pins indicate my starting point which is Doha, the Saudi border and finally, the finishing line at the Jordanian border."

I am doing something big for this year, I am running from Doha to Jordan.

Yes, on foot and in fact, I have already started my run and am currently about 50km south of Doha.

After another 50km, I will be at the Saudi Arabia border. Then, it is all the way across cities and sands to the Jordanian border.

The total distance of the run is about 1,600km, based on the National Geographic World Atlas.

And how much time do I have for this? Why, I have a whole year to do it! Even if I divide the total distance by 300 days, I have a daily distance of 5km to cover, which works out to about 45 minutes of slow jogging on a lazy day.

Sounds like a cool plan, huh? What I’ve described is actually a motivational running map, an idea I picked up from the sitcom Modern Family recently.

It’s Christmas Eve in Season 5, episode 10 and Phil is pushing himself hard during the last leg of a walk, covering a distance equivalent to that of his house in Los Angeles to the Canadian border, on the elliptical machine in his bedroom. He monitors his distance by marking a map on the wall with pins. Technically, this means that I will actually be clocking the distance by just doing my runs in the neighbourhood, local parks, on the running machine or simply wherever I am, with a map pinned on my wall at home. I won’t be physically crossing the Saudi deserts but my aim is to cover the distance involved within 2014.

Why is this a big thing for me, one may ask. After all, it is just 1,600km for the whole year and an avid runner could probably cover a longer distance during the period.

The fact that I am able to run again today is a blessing because three years ago, I was advised to stop running due to a rare muscular condition which affected my legs. I was an avid runner back then and the heart-breaking diagnosis came from a few specialists.

“The good news is that you’re not an athlete and your life doesn’t depend on it. So stop running,” said a doctor to me in an almost chirpy tone.

I was devastated. Not only did I have to stop running, I was also asked to avoid all forms of exercise that required repetitive movement of the legs.

That year, I bit my lip, pulled out from all the runs that I had signed up for and went back to swimming.

Luckily for me, all was not lost. The following year, I had a chance to meet an American chiropractor, well-known for his barefoot approach to running, which has helped a lot in getting me back on track.

I have to say that at the beginning it was not easy to change a lifetime of running a certain way. But small, gradual changes and lots of perseverance helped me through.

First, I bade farewell to my expensive running shoes and I started to re-condition my feet with help from the chiropractor.

I changed my running style and improved on my posture and felt the difference one step at a time. Soon, I was doing complete barefoot runs at parks, attracting a lot of attention from curious onlookers but those who understood barefoot running gave me the thumbs-up.

Well, I still go barefoot from time to time although I’m more of a minimalist runner these days.

But going against the “no running” experts’ order to cover 1,600km for the year is a big deal for sure and it certainly is a milestone in my personal fitness journey.

Like what Phil says in an almost smug manner earlier in the episode, this body doesn’t just happen. So, go find your way and see what works best for you in your personal health and fitness journey. All the best!

Tags / Keywords: Community , Central Region , Lifestyle , Travel , Family Community , Jay Jayaraj , Running


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