Thursday, 6 February 2014

Not Quite Prepared...

The race is next Sunday! Are you ready? Seems like most HK people are not!
Next weekend is the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2014 and it was shocking to read that one-third of the people surveyed who ran the 10K last year risked they health because didn't even train for it, according to a university study.

Another one-third trained for it, but only once a week, said the Baptist University study, which indicates how many people in Hong Kong are unaware of how much training they need to do and the health risks involved in not preparing for the race.

Dr Lobo Louie Hung-take who lead the study, said 10K participants should be training three times a week -- 40km to 48km of running -- in order to reduce injury risks, even though they were not running competitively.

But the study found people only ran 9.7km per week throughout the year before the race.

The university questioned 1,146 runners who took part in last year's Standard Chartered Marathon events, with about 25 percent who ran the 10K, 50 percent in the half marathon, and the rest in the full marathon.

It was shocking for Louie and his team to discover 32 percent of half marathoners just trained twice a week and one-third of marathoners less than three times a week.

"Generally speaking, half and full-marathon runners should train about five to six days a week with at least one day of rest," he said, adding that training should be "tapered" down 10 days or so before the race, in other words, now.

It was found the average half-marathoner ran 20km per week and marathon runners 43km. However Louie's team recommended 48-64km and 48-80km respectively.

He warned that insufficient training could lead to injury and even death. Some runners can experience serious cramps or push themselves too hard after "hitting the wall" -- when the body is depleted of glycogen and stalls due to a shortage of energy.

"It's like a car that's being pushed to keep going even when the fuel tank is at empty," Louie said. "In some serious cases, runners can collapse, be in a state of shock, start hallucinating or fall into a coma."

Last year 37 runners ended up in hospital due to injuries compared to 38 in 2012.

Louie does a lot of research on physical education, but one has to question his warnings that are meant to shock people. From my experience most Hong Kong people are not physically fit and once they have cramps they usually stop running, basically giving up because they don't know how to continue running with the pain.

When I ran the 10K last year I was shocked to see so many people walking the route instead of running it, because in my heat we were expected to finish the race between 1:10 and 1:20.

Walkers would have taken at least two hours to finish, so what are they doing in this race? They took spots that should have been for those eager to run but were unable to sign up online due to space limitations.

While I agree with Louie's suggestions on how much training people should do for the half and full marathons, he recommendation for those running the 10K to run at least 40-48km a week seems excessive.

The timing of the study's release is also pointless now, less than 10 days before the race. Louie should have done this soon after people completed their online registration so that participants would have enough time to prepare and do more research on how to train for the race.

Nevertheless the professor should continue his research this year to gauge how much training people did for the February 16 race as well as survey participants about their eating and lifestyle habits. There's a captive audience right at the finish line. As Nike says, Just Do It.

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