Arrow-right Camera


The Race To Get In Shape With One Week Left Until Bloomsday, Doctors Warn Non-Trainers To Go Slow

Sun., April 28, 1996

Dick Green can spot them yards away the day after Bloomsday.

They’re the ones shuffling slowly to their desks at work, failing miserably to look casual. The ones clinging white-knuckled to handrails on the staircase.

The ones who didn’t train.

“I always enjoy Mondays after Bloomsday,” says Green, laughing.

To Green, an associate professor in physical education at Gonzaga University, running 7 miles with no training sounds like a bad joke. Yet, he sees thousands of people do it year after year.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of people who won’t get to work the next day or who will be crawling out of their hot tubs,” Green says. “They’ll be hurting units.”

Dr. Ed Rockwell, Bloomsday’s medical director, knows the type.

“They are the people who end up on their backs at one of my medical stations. They wake up looking at the sky,” says Rockwell, who has counted 264 cases of heat stroke in Bloomsday history.

Sometimes, the next person they see is a cardiologist, like Dr. Terrance Judge.

“We’d see a lot of them with heat stroke in the emergency room,” Judge says.

If you’re still not a believer in training or refraining, consider: A girl who didn’t discover until race day that she’d outgrown her running shoes developed such severe blood blisters that Dr. Ronald Douglas was forced to peel the toenails from her big toes.

“If you haven’t trained,” Douglas warns, “just go down and watch.”

Physical therapists list a host of reasons those who haven’t spent the necessary weeks or months pounding the pavement should walk or sit it out.

Sprains, strains, tendonitis. Aching knees, sore legs, stiff backs. Stress fractures, shin splints, ruptured Achilles tendons.

But some physical fitness experts say not all couch potatoes must stay home and watch the action on television.

“For people who haven’t trained, it’s perfectly fine to participate, but they shouldn’t set too lofty of goals,” says Zoe Cain, a physical therapist and former triathalon athlete. “They should walk and jog and walk and jog and know full well they’ll be miserable for the next week or so.”

To be certain whether you should join the throngs at the starting line, consult your doctor for an opinion from someone who knows your physical ailments and condition.

Cain says people who are stricken with a sudden urge to complete Bloomsday can at least make the most of the one week left.

Drink lots of water, starting right now, she says. Walk a little every other day, increasing the distance each time.

Stretch often, especially the legs and back. Take Saturday off, Cain says. And on Sunday, enjoy the race at a leisurely pace.

“Most people are capable of going out and walking for two hours,” she says. “And they’ll probably be fine, with the exception of sore muscles.

“My husband has trained not even one step and he’ll be out there doing it. I’m the one who’ll be listening to the whining.”

A holistic doctor in Spokane hopes to lure last-minute trainers to a last-minute session on ancient Chinese breathing techniques.

“Discover your true potential,” urges the bright yellow advertisement Dr. Linda Hole is circulating.

Her friend, San Francisco doctor Effie Chow, will be teaching qigong sessions at the Masonic Temple in Spokane from May 2 to 4.

“This will definitely cut down on sore muscles and increase their endurance,” says Hole. “We expect anyone who does the exercises to have a better time - both on the clock and just a more pleasant experience.”

The deep-breathing routine won’t replace training, she says, but it will enhance anyone’s performance.

Despite the most sincere warnings, health experts predict many thousands of Bloomsday procrastinators will forever take to the streets without a single day of training.

The doctors, anyway, are prepared.

“Oh well,” jokes foot doctor Dru Rodriguez. “It keeps business going for me.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

Tags: health

Click here to comment on this story »