If it were up to me, I would require anyone who will be taking up running for the first time – regardless of distance – to seek prior medical clearance. Running is a strenuous activity that, literally, is not for the faint of heart. This point cannot be stressed enough especially in the light of the current running boom.
I started running back in the late ‘90s during my law school days in UP. Back then, a long run consisted of three laps around the Academic Oval, and an hour on the treadmill passed for a regular workout. I ramped things up only after I had an executive check-up a couple of years ago. The check-up included the whole shebang – ECG, 2D Echo, treadmill stress test, chest x-ray, complete blood chemistry, medical history and physical examination, etcetera, etcetera. The results were very positive, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Earlier today, I went to a diagnostic clinic near my place of work to find out what tests need to be done for me to obtain medical clearance to do BDM 102. The medical clearance is a requirement for BDM (Bald Runner has always observed a “no medical clearance – no run” policy for BDM), but I would have sought one voluntarily even if that had not been the case. BDM is not a walk in the park, and to simply say “bahala na si Batman” would plainly be idiotic. After all, I am no longer a spring chicken, having seen all of 35 (and pushing 36!) summers. I should give the Caped Crusader a break.
After I informed the receiving nurse of my purpose for seeking medical clearance, I was told that what I specifically need is a cardio-pulmonary clearance. She then referred me to a cardiologist. It so happened that the cardiologist is also a recreational runner who regularly does 10k runs, so he knew what BDM was all about. His first question, which he asked half-jokingly (I think), was “sigurado ka ba sa gagawin mo?” (Are you sure of what you are about to do?). I answered yes, naturally, and asked him to please have me go through all tests that would sufficiently gauge my fitness to do BDM. The good doctor obliged, and ordered that I go through something very close to the whole shebang – ECG, chest x-ray, urinalysis, and complete blood chemistry. He emphasized that he wanted to see my creatinine, glycogen, sodium, and blood sugar levels. I asked for more, and requested that he also check my cholesterol levels - just in case. Thank God for doctors who are also runners.
As of this writing, I already have the preliminary result of my ECG. I was told that I had a slow heart rate, but that this was expected given how frequently I do cardiovascular workouts. I asked the doctor whether that was good or bad, and he answered without flinching - it was expected. All test results will be in by tomorrow, and I’ll have the full picture in a couple of days.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything would turn out okay (I never take anything for granted). It would be a shame if I had to pull out this late in the day. If and when I already have that medical clearance in my hands, I will have taken my first step towards crossing the finish line by the old train station in San Fernando.