Running man

Beach jogger

Photo by Januartha

I am a jogger. More specifically, I am a jogger this week. Even an actual runner, if you don’t count the uphill and flat bits. It’s been a fast-moving week.

Jogging is a fundamentally boring pastime; the only ones who claim otherwise are joggers…yawn. But after a seasonful of gastric stuffing and three months since my last soccer game, I figured a week at Noosa beach was a fine opportunity to, as our PNG neighbours so colourfully put it, ‘throwim way leg’.

I regularly prescribe one jog daily, mane before food, knowing that few patients will be eccentric enough to comply. I didn’t invent jogging—it already existed in rudimentary form before I started—but by George, I’ve helped popularise it.

Jogging, unlike all other medical interventions, is actually positively recommended by Cochrane reviews. It’s good for hearts, minds, pancreatic beta cells and, despite my current aches, joints. I recommend my patients watch the fantastic YouTube clip “23 and ½ hours”, named for the maximum amount of non-jogging time recommended per day. Or, for old and slow people, non-walking time.

Unlike slow people, we joggers are obsessive about our bodies. Think of us as de-wheeled cyclists who miss out on clopping into cafés together to workshop the details of our tight right achilles and loose left colon. We joggers are lonely exerters, forever frustrated by others’ lack of interest in our bodily minutiae. Unless we are lucky enough to write about it. You are merely lucky enough to read about it.

After jogging the same Noosa ocean track for a week, I could describe every stone, root and ground-dwelling koala, such was my level of oneness with my natural surrounds. Something car drivers will never experience, although their access to air con and a motorised accelerator largely makes up for the deficit.

Each day I shared my contemplative oneness with 500 other Noosa early-morning exercisers, if that’s both mindfully and mathematically possible. I had never before witnessed a sunrise outside an all-night poker game, but it seems humans are capable of both waking and exercising at such an hour.

And I must confess, it felt good. The pain, the tears, the endorphin surge as I hit the wall—inevitable consequences of trying to leave my bedroom while still dark. And once I got outside and started jogging, it honestly was splendid for my heart and soul.

So, if you have never heard of jogging, maybe YouTube it first. But for those who have already dabbled, I strongly recommend you try keeping it up for a whole week. It’s worth it.

First published in Medical Observer, Feb 2014

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About Dr Justin Coleman

Justin is a GP working in Aboriginal health in Brisbane, Australia. He is also a medical writer, editor and blogger. Further details at http://drjustincoleman.com/
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4 Responses to Running man

  1. jfbuckley1 says:

    It does depend on which theory you follow – a) that jogging fitness is good for health and may prolong life OR b) that we are born with a set number of heart beats before it stops and jogging only wastefully uses up more than does lying on a couch. I realise that theory a) has considerably more evidence but theory b), when not in the midst of an endorphin surge, has considerably more appeal.
    Beautifully and entertainingly written as always thanks Justin.
    PS Older people who have limited mobility do often seem to spend quite a bit of time jogging their memory – does that count as a substitute? ( and you don’t even have to pay for shoes!)
    John

  2. Thanks John. Grateful to receive some guest commentary from a bloke who does most of his jogging on the inside. Save room on the couch for me next week.

  3. Rif says:

    Splendid for heart & soul – I couldn’t agree more. Except when you agree to 15k Run for the Kids and struggling with 5k with summer unpleasantness. Then it’s just scary.

  4. fnmyalgia says:

    A sad indictment of sports education is that schools never taught the basics. Heel-strike or barefoot on the ball per the advice of Dr Stoxen (DC!)? What purpose do stitches serve? A poor technique leading to shinsplints and the joy is lost, perhaps forever. Liberation through reading ‘Running with the Mind of Meditation’ by Sakyong Rinpoche has affirmed that jogging verges on a philosophy. My mental health would be poorer for want of it.

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