[Mid Valley's Walking Community Board]

Yes, I haven't forgotten that in my introductory post I mentioned that there would be a fitness segment to this blog. It's not that there wasn't the intention to follow through, it's just that I am quite a bum and I've been in a fitness rut.

A little bit of background is in order. There was a time, over two years ago now, that I used to run obsessively. We are talking about distances of more than 10 km daily, without fail. Then my knee decided to die, lethargy set in through the convenience of an excuse, and inertia is the blame for the rest.

Taking that background even further back, I HATED running in school. But right now I truly feel like it has to be my favourite form of exercise. Why? It doesn't involve other humans. I am not a coordinated human being, and I definitely don't play well in groups. Competition sometimes brings out the worst on me. But running...running is different. It is the best! It lets you compete with yourself and set goals which you are able to achieve because you aren't keeping score with another. If you are not a fan, you haven't tried it out correctly. The trick is to run slow and steady, and build up by listening to your body.

My initial introduction to running was the standard distance of 2.4 km for a few months, until a friend spurred me on to sign up for the Standard Chartered 10 km run with her. Neither of us had entered any run before, and three of us ended up training and going for it together. It was truly, truly a life changing experience. I fell in love.

When I say love, it's the kind of love that leaves you lusting and obsessed. It made me get up in the morning, with or without adequate sleep, and get that run in. It left me happier, more positive and gave me a new enthusiasm for life. I truly loved it.

So, when I started getting this knee injury, it felt like life was playing a cruel joke on me. Curse you knee! Life is funny that way. It snatches the joys from you to teach you that there is more to life. In a way it's possible that the injury has made me look for other exercise avenues to fuel the need for endorphins, and that may not be the worst thing. So I've stopped the obsessive distances, and I actually hadn't run for a few months until last Sunday.

I've also switched over completely to Vibrams now (there will be a separate post on this later on), and this has definitely spurred me into getting back into running. I did take them with me to London, and I genuinely do regret not running Regent's Park in them. Damn you, right brain (I'm convinced that laziness resides there)!

Now, back to the point of my long, meandering tale of woe. I finally ran last Sunday! One of the many Facebook groups dedicated to running which I am a part of posted a link to a new group that has started running inside MegaMall. The launch of this event was last Tuesday (2nd July, 2013), but I wasn't able to make it due to work commitments, but it was just what I needed. It wasn't until I got really excited about this that I realised I was in a rut because of the painful continuity of doing the same thing, along the same route, over and over and over. There's only so much monotony I can deal with.

Let's talk about this idea though. Firstly, it's not entirely new. Due to the temperature situation in Dubai, people have been running in malls for ages, and the organisers here mentioned that that was part of the reason, along with the fact that KL isn't the safest place in the world to run. This is true. I did attempt running around my area for a few weeks, but it was extremely dodgy and I don't really feel like sustaining any more unnecessary injury. I mean, technically, you're already running, but still.

So, while this isn't strictly running, it's known as The Walking Community, it's definitely a good start for those of you who are just getting into running/walking and/or in a rut like me.

What exactly does this entail?

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday between 8 am and 9 am, the group meets at the Centre Court (Ground Floor) of MidValley MegaMall and does a walking-based activity together. Each day is dedicated to a different activity, so it definitely allows you to change it up to keep it interesting. On Tuesdays, they conduct a brisk walking session, on Thursdays it's hill walking and on Sundays it's interval walking.


[Post-Run Offers]

The route is pretty decent too. For those of you who are curious, one round around the Ground Floor of MegaMall is almost 1.1 km, which is a pretty decent distance. Last Sunday, we did 6 rounds, which I shall count as 6 km, which really is quite a decent distance to get back into running with.


[The route and some information on the session]

Yes, it wasn't strictly running because it involved bouts of fast paced walking, but I'm still in mild amounts of pain (the good kind!) today, so I'm counting it as running.

A little note on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). For those who are unfamiliar with this, it's something a lot of people unconsciously do. While most long distance runners function on a slow and steady basis, this is not the case for all runners. I used to practice HIIT without actually realising it for the longest time! What it involves is a period of intense exercise, followed by a period of "rest". Rest does not mean sitting around, it just means a slightly lower pace of activity. For Sunday's session, what this worked out to was about 270 m of brisk walking, followed by about 270 m of jogging/running, over the course of 6 km. Is HIIT any good? Absolutely! Studies have shown that it boosts fitness level and benefits of exercise within a shortened time frame, as well as boosting metabolism. Definitely a winner!

Also, in my opinion, it is nowhere near as taxing as a sustained 6 km run, so it is a good bet for beginners or recreational runners.


[Complimentary health check-up, water and bag]

Should you get with this programme? YES! The group is a lot of fun and it consists of multiple fitness levels so no one will really be out of place there. You can participate at your own pace and be comfortable doing so. Another added boon is that if you are an oniomaniac like myself, this is sort of like window shopping. I will not lie about the fact that I was perving on merchandise while brisk walking and plotting whether I really wanted to buy the L'Occitaine BB Cream after I was done.


[Some of the participants - Still smiling after the session!]

Old habits die hard.

If you're interested in this, more information can be found here, and you can sign up in order to attend (at no charge) here:

http://midvalley.com.my/2013-walking-community.html

Kudos to MidValley for this. Seriously. It's a perfect way to contribute to CSR because it's not only economically plausible for them because it aids commerce through participants like myself, but it really does promote a healthy brand of activity.

For those of you who are motivated by freebies, it seems like the bag is complimentary to first timers and it really is quite nice and spacious. It would function really well as a gym/travel companion.

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