Kulbir Bajwa, M.D., an internist at the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Vacaville, loves running in marathons and not much could stop her from training, not even being hit by a car and breaking her clavicle.
“I had my arm in a sling, but I just went to the gym and did a lower body workout,” she recalls. “If it’s something you enjoy, you do what you have to do to continue.”
Dr. Bajwa’s unfortunate encounter with a car was the second injury she suffered in a year; several months earlier she tripped while running and broke her hand and scapula. Both injuries required six weeks to heal, but they did not deter her from continuing to train for marathon races.
What drives her so? “The euphoria and how you feel at the end of the race. It’s unbelievable,” she says. “The journey of running is amazing. Along the way, people are urging you on, cheering. Your family and friends are there for you, you’re seeing what your body can do. You also see other runners in pain, cramping up. Then you hit mile 20, and you realize you only have six more miles to go, so your mind just goes to a whole other level. The last mile is pure euphoria; it’s a very different feeling. You have the joy of accomplishment.”
Dr. Bajwa trains in some way every day because she has a personal goal of running in three more marathons in the next year. During the week, after a busy day of seeing patients, she goes on short runs for speed or tackles hills. On the weekend, she has more time for the long, endurance runs.
And, she is not the only Bajwa in training. Her husband has already completed three Ironman competitions (a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike race and 26-mile marathon run, all within 17 hours), and is preparing for an ultra-marathon. Her two children, ages 10 and 12, participate in children’s triathlons.
For anyone considering elevating their jogs to marathon-length runs, Dr. Bajwa has some hard-earned advice to share. “Make sure you have proper running shoes and that they fit you well.” If you’ve had the shoes for a while, it may be time to get a new pair, too, as most running shoes are only good for about 400 miles.
“Don’t run on an empty stomach. Try to eat carbohydrates, such as a banana or a bagel beforehand.” Staying hydrated is also very important, she adds. “Drink water before and after you run. Don’t forget to put on some sun block, to wear a hat, and to tell someone where you are going. I know runners who bring identification, a cell phone and $5 with them, so they can get something to eat or drink if they need it, or make a call in case of an emergency.”
Finally, set a personal goal and keep your eye on it. “Goals help me stay focused. If I have a marathon coming up in three or four months, I focus on that. Maybe your goal would be to run in a 5k, a 10k, or to improve your time. Goals will help keep you from getting bored, and letting your training slide.”
Tip from Dr. Bajwa
There is high risk of obesity in our young population these days. Parents can make lifestyle influences on their children. If they are swimming, running, playing soccer or football, they are showcasing healthy behavior to their children.