THIS COMING DECEMBER, ONCE YOUR 5K OR 10K TURKEY TROT has been accomplished you may wish to stay trained-up through the end of the year and be ready for a New Year’s Eve or Day competitive walk or run.
Next week Earned Runs will roll out its annual ‘ON TO THE NEW YEAR’ plan for that purpose. Whether or not you wish to continue training, you likely are able to easily walk or run a Jingle Bell Run, organized by the Arthritis Foundation.
The course is USA Track & Field-certified and chip timed for those interested in an official finish time.
This event claims to be the “original festive race for charity”, with the aim of championing arthritis research and resources. Having run a couple of these races in the Cleveland area in years past, when living in the city, I can attest to the joyous holiday atmosphere it engenders in participants. Elves, reindeer, and Santa’s seem to be everywhere, identified mostly by headgear. There are Christmas trees and wrapped gift boxes, and gingerbread people too. All are running AND walking amidst the tinkling of jingle bells (there’s one in every race packet).
The race website says ”100 percent of your registration fee and fundraising efforts go to a great cause, the fight against arthritis, a disease which affects about a quarter of the US population.
The mental image many may have of someone suffering with arthritis is a bent-over, elderly man or woman walking with a cane. In reality, a decade-later selfie might be more typical, especially of a person now in their 40’s. Risk factors include genetics! If you have a family member with OA you are more likely to develop it too, says the CDC, regardless of how well you take care of yourself. Carrying extra weight stresses weight-bearing joints like knees and hips, which are likely to be involved. Many of us have those additional pounds.
Yes, it’s not only joint injury or overuse that increases the risk of OA in that joint, or obesity. Just being older, or female, or having a relative with OA is enough to heighten the chance that you’ll be dealing with joint degeneration later in life.The ‘poster child’ face of arthritis could belong to any serious runner who’s had a previous joint injury, or a genetic risk, or who is overweight.
Perhaps pain medications or general willingness to tough-it -out will allow continued sport activity like running, you think. The CDC indicates greater disability is possible, because the joint can be destroyed:
“Osteoarthritis can cause severe joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. In some cases it also causes reduced function and disability; some people are no longer able to do daily tasks or work. Severe cases may require joint replacement surgery, particularly for knee or hip OA.”
Verywellhealth.com correlates the kinds of irreversible changes seen on radiographic images with what’s happening in the joint tissue/space. The damage that’s occurring that translates to pain, swelling, and loss of function: joint space narrowing, osteophyte formation, and subchondral (below-the-cartilage) sclerosis and cyst formation.
There isn’t a cure…yet. Having arthritis in my knees and likely elsewhere, I’ve opted to walk rather than run in competitions, hoping some new treatments will be developed in the near future before any severe changes occur. I want to keep, not replace, my original joints. Surgery isn’t necessarily a forever solution with the current man-made replacements and the procedure is not without risks. A previous Earned Runs blog discussed the younger age trend that been noticed in patients seeking these operations.
Perhaps you’ll realize that participating in a Jingle Bell Run this month is worth the effort ‘in the long run’ (pun intended). To assist with prevention and better treatments for a disease than potentially can sideline “1 in 4 people in the US.”
Above all, these events pack in a lot of holiday fun!
If there isn’t a Jingle Bell Run near you or circumstances prevent your participation in the organized event, design your own JBR. With Earned Runs bibs, you can create holiday fun with friends or do it solo, wherever and whenever you please. And donate to a charity.
The Arthritis Foundation National Office, which has research support programs and fundraising activities like the JBR, has a score of 87 (out of a possible 100) on the charitynavigator.com site. The Arthritis National Research Foundation has a 97.3 score on that site, with 100% going to research.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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