Running to Celebrate Life

Posted on by on May 30th, 2012 | Comments Off

Fellow iskolars within the organization have been active participants of the Manitoba Marathon for the past couple of summers. This year, UPAA-MB members have gathered and organized ISKO-RUN (an amalgamation of Iskolar and Run and a moniker for keeping the score), which is a running clinic to prepare UPAA-MB members and families for the upcoming Manitoba Marathon this June. The marathon is participated by around 14,000 runners of varying ages, all come together to celebrate life, fitness and family ties.

Norman Garcia, UPAA-MB’s resident fitness trainer, shares with us his motivation in starting this clinic as well as sharing his advice on how to stay fit, whether you’re a marathon participant or not.

What is ISKO-RUN and what are the motives behind it?
ISKO-RUN was established in pursuit of UPAA-MB’s mission to harness the potential of its members and to this end, the Membership Committee aims to prepare interested UPAA-MB members who will be joining this year’s Manitoba Marathon. This is not exclusive to the members though, as their friends and family are also welcome. This is also not just about preparing oneself to run the marathon, but also for those who simply want to get fit or lose weight through running.

The idea here is to introduce natural running form and techniques to maximize health benefits, to improve physical performance and to reduce the risk of injuries. ISKO-RUN is not just about running—it also includes discussions on nutrition, visualization, strength and cross-training.

Please describe a usual ISKO-RUN session to us.
Each ISKO-RUN lasts about 90 minutes, broken down as follows:
15mins – review of natural running form
15mins – light jog, warm-up, calisthenics
45mins – running
15mins – speed work drills
15mins – cool-down and stretching
15mins – discussion on nutrition, strength training, others

We’ve heard that this training clinic is intense. How do you keep yourself and your “trainees” concentrated and motivated?
Every session, participants are progressively taking on challenges to slowly build-up their strength and endurance. As the trainer, I encourage each participant to run at the pace that is comfortable to them. I also emphasize that they are not racing against the other participants; rather it’s all about conquering one’s own limit. I think running is a great way to see what you are capable off. Each hurdle, no matter how big it is, can be overcome with proper preparation and visualization. Every time one overcomes a challenge, he or she becomes a better person physically, mentally and emotionally. These changes also bring positive influence to his or her personal and professional life. Running is a spiritual activity as it allows you to discover yourself better.

I try to keep each ISKO-RUN session fun and interesting by not acting like a drill sergeant. Instead, I work as a running buddy who has also started running at the same level as they have started.


To anyone who is interested in keeping fit, or joining the MB Marathon, what are your tips/advice?

- Visualize! Visualize the end in mind. Imagine the following: You’re just a few meters away from the finish line where your family and friends are cheering for you. You’re wearing your favourite clothes. Your health indicators (blood pressure, sugar level, cholesterol level, etc.) make your doctor smile.

- Be patient. There are no shortcuts. Progressively take on challenges. If you find a drill difficult, regress and slowly build up. Don’t be pressured by what the other runners are doing, everybody started as a beginner.
- Make sure to warm-up before running and to stretch after running.

- Run only after 1.5 to 2 hours after a light snack or 2-3 hours after a big meal. Do not run later than 4 hours after a meal as you have less energy. Also eat high protein food within 45 minutes after each workout.
- Take care of yourself! Invest on a good pair of running shoes and make it a habit to put on sunblock even if it’s cloudy as UV Rays penetrate through clouds.

- Carry a sports bottle and hydrate yourself regularly; take a sip even if you’re not thirsty; when you are thirsty that’s an indication that you’re already dehydrated.

- Find running buddies to make running fun, safe and motivating.

- Be mindful of the surroundings. Appreciate the beauty of the environment especially the trees, flowers, clouds, route, people, etc. Treat each run as “me time” and time to commune with God and nature.

- After each run, say a brief prayer to our Lord, thank Him for giving you the opportunity to run that day and promise to be a better person after each running session.

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Photos by Jeffrey David

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