Thursday, 22 October 2009

Safer Long Distance Running

The last week has seen tragic and unfortunate deaths of half marathoners in Detroit, San Jose and in Mumbai - of reasonably seasoned, well trained runners.
It raises questions particularly for those seeking to push for the distance too soon and sometimes without adequate training and taking the several weeks schedules too lightly. This is the first thing that runners pushing the distances of half marathons and beyond need to adhere to.
The second would be to listen to your body before and during training and the race telling you to slow down and not push yourself as hard, there is always another race - unleass of course you are a champion athlete.

A great article in with comments in from Cardiologist Paul Thomson highlights one of the less predictable risks of rupture of cholesterol plaque with severe stress, which upsets blood flow, and leads to clotting and high chances of death. These are things we need to be more educated about as we test the limits, as in any extreme sport.

He also states" The risk of dying from a heart attack goes up about 5 to 7 times during marathoning or other strenuous exercise. It's actually lowest among those who exercise the most and the most vigorously--it's may be double for them, while it's 30 to 50 times more dangerous for weekend warrior types who exercise infrequently. At the same time that you see these during-exercise risks, we also know that regular exercisers have about a 30 to 50 percent lower overall risk for heart attacks."

I would add - Mind over body is one issue that long distance runners focus on, but we must remember that tuning the mind into the body is as critical, though less talked about

So exercise is great but while we are under stress we need to be ever more aware too. The article is a must read.

Train well, listen to your body which should be a critical part of training, manage your diet and cholesterol especially, and you will run safer.

Have fun and get High while you run


Pankaj said...

Rahul I just completed my first half marathon at delhi. I took about 1.56 hours. Since it was my first half marathon, I ran without expectation. I enjoyed my run and slowed down when I got tired.we need to get people to enjoy running. Long distance running can become boring. It does not have the competitive fun of golf or tennis. A runners club, I pod music and identifying a variety of routes can make it better.finally running should be about fitness and fun and not competition . Focus should be on a fun run rather then timing and distance.

Rahul Verghese said...

Spot on Pankaj. Couldn't agree more with you.
Competitive running is for a few of us, and mostly, even then, it has to be combined with sensible training - for the rest of us - perhaps 99% of us, it is about fun, camaraderie, 'me' time, getting out in nature, discovering parts of your city form an early morning perspective and .....

Anonymous said...

so whats the balance between mind over matter?.its a tough one. i keep to run thru the agonizing pain one day and throwing in the towel the next.its painful running long in mumbai's humid conditions right now in May!
it seems to depend on my 'mood'.


Rahul Verghese said...

Running in May in Mumbai is tough, just ran there in Borivali National Park and Aarey last week - tough!!
But over time you wd tend to get used to it, hydrate well, make sure you are taking in salts etc. Run with company. Walk when you feel tired and jog /run when your pulse and breathing are back to normal. Mind over matter needs to kick in when you want to stop running for no apparent reason, rather than due to high fatigue or being totally out of breath.