Will we bother?

Recently, Micah True's autopsy report highlighted a burning issue that sparked heated debates among marathoners about the implication of undiagnosed cardiac disease, pretty much like a hidden time bomb amongst the unassuming running community.

I remember writing about the same topic some time ago. Reference: here. But as I read it again, I am doubtful of it's relevance and value to the readers, despite my sincerest intention to educate....

I realize the issue is not the science in the article. Most of us that are remotely familiar with Google would have no difficulty downloading pages upon pages of scientific data to satisfy even the most avid science junkie. But the burning issue, it dawned upon me, is to get people to want to DO something about it.

As a doctor, it is my duty to keep my patient abreast with the DOs and DON'Ts as well as PROs and CONs of their illness and treatment options. But more often than not, most colleagues would agree with me that you can speak until your saliva dries up or your face turns blue, but to get some people to change their ways is just too darn hard! A simple example is to get a person to quit smoking. You can tell them about the health hazard and paint a dreadful terminal stage cancer scenario, tell them about the cost of each cigarette and outline the money they can save by quitting, even show them the picture of a cancerous lung tissue or dead fetus.....it's all on the cigarette boxes by the way...yet they are undeterred. 5 minutes later, they are squatting at the stair ways, puffing away.

A different mindset is obviously at work. Battling your most valiant attempts to make a believer out of him. Runners, though generally a motivated bunch, are no exceptions either. Just because we have 10-20 or 100 marathons under our belts, we think we are impervious to any of the human conditions. We may think we are "super human". But we are still, just human.

The human nature is resistant to change. And we are much too complex for our own good. To cause a paradigm shift in any of these cases would require more than the usual health campaigns, taglines, bumper stickers or even a stern warning from our favourite physician.

So, what will make us more receptive?  What moves us to change our mindset?

Nothing. No amount of sound advice, emotional pleading, blackmailing...Not even if you make it mandatory. It seems hopeless....but it doesn't mean we stop trying.

This is with a hope that someday, somehow, with all this over-exposure and bombardment of advices and coercion, one out of a thousand may suddenly have an epiphany or experience an enlightenment. He begins to take matters into his own hand and decides: I WANT to do something about this!

Then all the effort would have been worthwhile.

Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel.


  1. I totally agree, sometimes it's easier to squeeze water out of a rock than getting someone to change their ways.

    Anyways, frightening to know that keeping healthy is no sure way of living longer.

    I listen to the signs given out by my body out more and more these days.

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  2. Yes, Nick. Ppl will do just what they want regardless of what you tell them. As for runners, I just hope it isn't too late....

  3. Hi Francis,
    Although I haven't finish reading "Born to Run" but Micah True's incident shocked me as well. Not in runners, in other people a lot of times we will think the odd is not us.

    May I take this blog to reach you and your readers regarding a matter as I don't have your email.

    I have suffered from an injury on my left tibia and ceased training for almost 3 months and still counting. I registered for Gold Coast Airport Full Marathon but it's a doubt that I can do it at the current condition. The organizer allowed me to transfer my entry to other participant. If you happen to know of anybody is still interested for a entry, they can feel free to contact me. Thanks

    1. Kent, I am so sorry to hear that. I will of course ask around, but I doubt that given there are only 4 weeks left there are any takers. But to keep in touch, u can email me on francisyeng@hotmail.com. Do drop me a line.

      Hope you recover soon!


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