Running is not to die for

Distance running is serious business. It’s not for the faint-of-heart. Literally. And we were reminded of that after three runners (ages 26, 36 and 65) died upon completing a half marathon in Detroit this past weekend.

Autopsies have shown that the three runners were in great health, and friends and families have vouched that they trained appropriately. While the number of deaths per year per event is relatively low, the tragedy itself is not uncommon. These incidents came only about three weeks after a two more runners collapsed and died during a half marathon in California.

To hear that these runners were in good health and were experienced runners puts a question mark on the end of these stories. Hopefully, though, these runners were doing what every runner can/should be doing when considering long distances: listen to your body, talk to your doctor and prepare sufficiently. While you may be in “perfect health” (whatever that is…), you may have a preexisting condition that would be potentially fatal if you were to exert yourself to a certain extent.

I know a lot of people roll their eyes when they’re told to listen to their bodies, but in this case it’s important. Know your max. Read up on signs of dehydration, heat stroke and fatigue. If your body wants to tell you something it will, but you’ve got to be listening. For example, if the tips of your fingers go numb, you’re dehydrating. If you’re running, don’t let your pride keep you going. Stop. Sit down. Let bystanders know that you need water. You’ll get it – I promise.

All of these things are uber important, but even more-so if it’s your first distance event. Take all possible precautions. After all, you want to be able to run another one, right?

For extra credit, check out this doctor’s blog entry about running and sudden deathat Runner’sWorld.com.

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