Run on.

Run on.

Bad things can happen.

To anyone. Anytime. Anywhere.

Without warning.

It’s a tough fact of life that we must face each and every day. Often our hobbies are attempts to escape from the reality that at times life can be unfair and even cruel.

And even our passions are not immune.

As the events that transpired at the Boston Marathon last year showed, sometimes tragedy is brought about willfully and with malice.

Other times… it just happens.

With a heavy heart I read the news this past weekend that two runners died at the Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon and another at the Run Like a Diva Half Marathon in Galveston. And it was just a few weeks ago that an apparently healthy teenage girl died shortly after completing the Virginia Beach Shamrock Half Marathon.

Why did this happen?

These runners were joining thousands of others in a celebration of the human spirit, dedication and positive competition. They were supposed to be having fun.

Why did this happen?

When they woke up on race morning, they were concerned with pinning on their bibs and making sure to tie their shoes properly. They weren’t thinking this was going to be the last day of their lives.

Why did this happen?

There are no guarantees.

There are no guarantees.

Sadly, there is no good reason other than this does happen. Not often, but it does happen.

Running, cycling, swimming, hockey, football, basketball, baseball (and any other sport you can think of)… people have died while doing it. Professionals, amateurs and recreational athletes alike.

And it is tragic when it happens.

Distance running, like any form of activity, exercise or sport, carries with it an inherent risk. You can take steps to minimize the risk, but no matter how cautious you are… you cannot eliminate it.

It’s a harsh truth you have to accept.

I’m 45 years old and both of my parents have dealt with heart issues in their lives. Sure, I went to the doctor before I started running, got my heart checked out and a full blown physical to boot. But even though my doctor gave me a clean bill of health then and during my last annual check-up (I’m overdue, btw), it doesn’t mean that I’m 100% safe. That guarantee simply doesn’t exist.

Every time I lace up my shoes and hit the pavement, I know in the very back of my mind that something bad… something really bad… can happen.

I laugh it off, tell myself that I’m in the best shape of my adult life and have done this a thousand times before. Nothing is going to happen.

It almost certainly won’t (hell, 99.99% certain it won’t)… but it could.

It’s a truth I’ve had to accept and a risk I’m willing to take with each and every step.

From what I’ve read, none of the runners were at great risk when they collapsed. Race conditions weren’t dangerous. Safety personnel was on hand. And the runners themselves were apparently in good shape or unaware of any existing health conditions.

This shouldn’t have happened to these people. They should have received their medals and gone home to celebrate with family and friends, bragged about it on Facebook and treated themselves to a big meal.

But it did happen. And if you run or engage in physical activity, statistically it could happen to you.

So here’s my plea…

If you run or plan to take up running, please visit your doctor for a full physical. Make sure your body (and especially your heart) is ready to handle the strain your going to place upon it and that you don’t have any “unknown” medical conditions that could put you at risk.

Listen to your body when you exercise. If it tells you something isn’t right, listen to it. You can always come back and exercise (or race) another day.

And run smart. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Run in cooler weather when possible; slow down or stop if things get too hot and be sure to hydrate properly.

You can’t eliminate the risk; you can only minimize it and accept the truth that none of us are invincible.

And with that in mind… Run on!







Posted on April 17, 2014, in General and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. >>Bad things can happen.

    To anyone. Anytime. Anywhere.

    Without warning.<<

    So, so true. You know what this week has been here.

    But I'll still tell you to get that physical and to be careful. 🙂

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