When I started this blog a few weeks ago, I asked friends and relatives what topics they would like to see here. A kind of private “Datapovo”. The overwhelming majority asked me to write a guide for those who still don’t run, but would like to take their first steps. It makes sense. We runners are many, but we are far from the majority.
So, I’ll start from the beginning. This beginner’s guide is divided into two parts. In the first, I address health issues. In the second, in a future post, I will deal with the training itself. In both cases, the idea is to pass on a minimal and accessible routine, so that anyone can follow. Don’t worry because no one here is going to recommend fancy and expensive exams. The goal is to make life easier, not make it difficult for anyone.
It can be frustrating, but if you don’t run, your first steps need to be towards the doctor’s office. “Oh, but I’m healthy.” Great, but as fit as the would-be runner may feel, there are some issues that may go unnoticed by the layman. Running is a celebration of life, it is the pursuit of health. So no lame excuses, please. If we’re going to do it right, let’s get it right.
I talked to the doctor Ana Paula Simões, president of the Paulista Society of Sports Medicine. She cites three main points contained in the Pre-Participation in Sports Assessment (APP), a protocol developed precisely to be applied to those who want to start in sports.
Clinical examination: at the appointment, the doctor will check if you have any mobility difficulties, in addition to asking about chronic pain. He achieves this by taking a good history and asking you to perform a few simple moves. It is in the consultation that the doctor should ask about family history, habits and pre-existing diseases. Asthma, for example, does not prevent someone from becoming a runner, but in some cases it may require a specific approach.
Cardiac exam: the heart is the engine that makes the legs move, and deserves special attention for those who intend to run. Stress testing (also called exercise stress testing) helps to check your heart rate and identify any arrhythmias as you increase the intensity of exercise. It also allows the identification of the effort zones of each athlete – and this information is important for those who want to train in a structured way, with a spreadsheet and coach.
Blood test: the complete blood count reveals silent infections and also tells if the patient has any anemia. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen through the body, and they need to be up to date for those who intend to run. It is also possible to identify infections or excess iron in the blood.
Note that the exams listed above are part of a basic health routine – the famous check-up. I mean, there’s no excuse.
And one last tip. The recommendation is to preferably seek a sports doctor. There are free services through SUS in some of the main cities in the country. If in doubt, contact the Brazilian Society of Exercise and Sports Medicine.