I love jogging. I don’t love the sweat per se, nor the sweat even after I have had a deserving shower, nor the taxing effort on my body. Somehow, jogging is the only exercise that constantly challenges my mental strength. And this intense mental exercise at times put me into this mental space that with luck, I experience an explosion of ideas, my imagination can run wild, and I can be filled with a positive energy that I hardly experience outside this mental space that jogging brings forth. Hence, I love jogging.
Ever since my knee injury after my mountain trekking, I have rested my knees when possible. It has been hard on me – to take away the runner in me and I felt being caged up in my own physical space. I have extended my exercise bandwidth on swimming and weightlifting but they are not the same as jogging.
Some of my friends suggested to me to see a physiotherapist (you know how much we hate to see doctors and God knows how much they charge) and to take glucosamine supplement. I checked out the supplement at GNC and even with my friend’s VIP card, each pill costs S$0.83 and the recommended dosage is 3 pills a day. That works out to be the cost of a quarter of a packet of cigarette a day (okay, I don’t smoke – just an illustration). Since my knees did not recover the rate I wanted them to be, I gave in and have been taking 2 pills a day for a good couple of days.
Glucosamine is not a drug approved by the US for medical use in humans. It is a supplement that is commonly used as a treatment for osteoarthritis. The market of supplements business is unregulated but of course, distributors do get sued should there be bad incidents (remember the slimming pills that one of our local actresses took that cost her a liver?). Glucosamine is an amino sugar that is commonly extracted from shellfish and the only major side effect from my research is for those who may be allergic to shellfish – though depending how glucosamine is extracted, the proteins that cause allergy are usually destroyed in the process. Glucosamine has been used as a supplement since the 80s. After I have taken the first pill, the pain on my knees has vanished. I am not sure if it was due to the natural healing process and the pills just came in at the right time but glucosamine seems to work for me. Unlike other approved drugs that are taken by the patients who suffer from osteoarthritis, glucosamine does not mask the pain but rather rebuild the matters in around the joints. Some studies claim that glucosamine should be taken in liquid form because in some cases, the pills will just pass through our digestive system with the company logo intact. The big question in my mind is: if glucosamine is extracted from shellfish, will eating shellfish gives me the same effect? In as much as possible, I prefer the natural way.
Last night before I went to sleep, there was a strong desire within me to resume my ritual of jogging. My knees they seem to have healed well. A friend of mine asked me to give my knees a month to rest but I guess I crave into my desires easily. This morning I woke up, I had a glass of orange juice and 2 bananas. I did my stretching ritual and I felt some nagging pain on my right knee. I said to myself: okay, let’s see how far I can go. I did a walk around my condo, headed to the obstacle course and did my ritual of pull-up – 3 sets of 3 pulls each, 2 sets with my palms facing me and 1 set with the bar over the back of my head. Right then, I think my muscle sore surpassed any pain I may have felt on my right knee.
After my pull-up, time to jog! As I started jogging, I felt like I was gliding over the surface of my usual 4.5 km jogging trail. Right after I exited my condo, I faced the same old slope I needed to conquer. God I missed that little hill. I felt my body switching into a high energy mode, I felt my heart started to pump harder to deliver the energy supply to my muscles, and my lung took in more and more oxygen to facilitate the process. God I missed how it feels every time I jog.
Over the hill it was a gradual descend. That was when I felt some pain on both my knees. Before I hit that halfway mark, I felt the cramp on my abdomen muscles due to lack of practice. Midway I changed the strategy and have lengthened my breath for twice as long taking in air twice as much. My abdomen muscles seemed to have relaxed while I began to feel the familiar pain on my knees I have experienced half a month ago. And I realized that fear from past injuries is probably the nastiest demon that an athlete has to battle with.
In my mind, I wanted bad to complete my route. I said to myself even if this is the last time I can jog I must make it worthwhile. Mental strength is a peculiar thing. Even when my body wanted to give up, thinking that this could be the last time I can jog, my body continued.
I reached the finishing line at 21 minutes – my usual record one month ago (I hit 20 minutes once but mostly at 21 minutes or longer) – covering a 4.5 km. I think my knees are giving me problem again. I will probably give them a week rest before my next jog – aiming to reclaim that 20 minutes record. Even for that one moment of happiness, I think it is worth it.