A Run at Mengkuang Dam

After 2 consecutive days of on call, (staying in the hospital, breathing the hospital air etc), you'd experience a kind of hypnogogic/out of body sensation; which you're unsure if it's attributed to sleep deprivation, (over)inhalation of hand sanitizer or too much coffee...

"Lucid" moments like this, intersparsed with decision making for your patients can prove quite tricky. That is why in the UK, it is not legal to work calls like this. But in private practice, anything goes. 

Well of course this cannot be compared to the intensity of work in the GH or ICU. But if you take into account that mine is a "One man Show" where as the former work in shifts and teams of HO, MO, Specialist and Consultant, arguably, I have it a lil tougher. (poor me!) Even Lone Ranger has his faithful Tonto. 

I feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway. Pretty soon, I will be naming my running shoes....

So, I decided to venture out yesterday evening for a bit of fresh air. Took a leisurely 20 minutes drive to Mengkuang Dam. Since joining KPJ Penang in early 2011, I have always wanted to visit that place. But somehow it just didn't happen. One of the reason perhaps was due to my over reliance on the hospital's treadmill. However, after my Osaka experience, my growing aversion to the machine had finally forced my lazy butt to get out there and do some real mileage.

running into the sunset...

Mengkuang Dam was, surprisingly, a superb place to run! My first thought as I drove in there: I SHOULD HAVE come here earlier! It was past 6 pm when I arrived, there was still a sizeable crowd of runners/walkers. But somehow, the vastness of the open space accommodated for all that. It didn't feel restrictive at all...

I didn't know the total distance of the pathways. And I didn't care. I just ran. 

Overall, it was a relax run. I got to the end of path along the dam, and then U-turned back to head to the other side. This "less travelled" side led me through a smaller path with minor elevations and surrounding trees. But eventually I had to turn back too. Because beyond that, special permission is required to track further into the reserve. So, that was the furthest it would take me. Overall, it was a C shape route. My guestimate would say it was about 3km from one end to the other. 

Though it was only a 45 minutes run at relax pace, the humidity was enough to make me drench. Had to call it a day as the sky was darkening and the hospital was beckoning again with admissions. 

But I went away happy. Satisfied because I have discovered a treasure. And sure enough, this will be my regular training ground in future when I am in Bukit Mertajam area, especially to get away from the humdrum of on calls...

Some say we run as an escape from the stress of life. To some extent, that may be true. But I think when you have learned what there is to know about running, it will teach you a thing or two about life in itself. You know, those days when doubts arise. On days like that, I have even come to question the purpose of my life as a doctor, whether it is for me, and if there are other things in my life that I should be moving on to. Those annoying but real life issues....sure, we all face it at some stage...

But what running has given me is a balanced perspective. How on earth does it do that? Isn't it all about just putting one foot in front of the other? What more is there to it? Well, if you are a leisure jogger, not aiming for anything but only to sweat and burn off some calories, I am sorry but you probably won't understand what I am getting at. (Pardon me if I may sound a tat condescending). I am certain you have other ways to deal with your own life issues. We are all remarkably resourceful. But for me, ever since getting myself deeper in pursuit of better marathon time, I realized that running, fortuitously, has made a dramatic impact on other aspects of my life too. 

What running does for me is to help me focus. Marathon trains the will and perseverance of the mind. As a result, when applied, you are more resolved and single minded in your attitude towards everything else in life. Be it your family life or your job. That includes trials and temptations as well. While I occasionally question my sanity with the kind of hours I put in 'in the name of my duty', I am better at coping with the renewed perspective of "toughing it out" which I know I was less capable of conjuring up in the past. I am mentally stronger. Clearer. Renewed with a fortified sense of purpose and direction. (WooHoo! I am not speaking from an endorphin surge, I assure you!)

And all this from running? Yes, a large part of it. But of course, there is an Engineer at work too. And in my belief, I know He masterminds this 'Running' in my life to help me learn: The only way which is tangible and practical enough that even I, am more readily receptive and susceptible to. It's all adding up.....He knows best. And at the end of the day, I am glad He is in control. 


  1. Mengkuang Dam is definitely a nice place to run. I've been there since small. I will be running there every weekend in the early morning. Wish to walk into u next time !

    1. I look forward to it too Jack. It's definitely a place that I will be frequenting.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts