The Philippines has had only 1 report of a runner dying in a race. This is unlike in the US where some people have died while running/jogging.
However, with the running boom, with running being the “in-thing,” more people are taking up running/jogging. More unhealthy people – those who have been sedentary all their lives – are suddenly lacing up their running shoes and attacking the roads. Generally, this is a good thing but with races occurring weekly, too many newbie runners are beguiled to join, and some end up pushing themselves too hard in excess of their limits.
increasing number of runners + inadequate training + increasing number of races = recipe for disaster
What should runners, especially newbies, do
- pick your races when you’ll actually race – you can join runs weekly, but choose which ones where you’ll go all out. Treat the other runs as training runs (though this is easier said than done).
- train for your race – remember that training takes time. Runner’s World has a training program for beginners called the “couch to 5k program” and this takes at least 6 weeks! So be patient. And now that many of the weekend races have 3k events, I suggest newbies start with that and go longer once they’re able to. Also, as much as possible, try training at the same conditions as your race (terrain, humidity, etc).
- know/listen to you’re body – more trained individuals know their bodies better. They know when their body tells them to stop. An example here would be Paula Radcliffe (the women’s record holder for the marathon), who in the 2004 Olympics in Athens stopped in the middle of the marathon race. She wasn’t feeling 100% for the race and when she realized she had to stop, she did. She knew that if she didn’t, she’d end up pushing herself too much that it might end up causing more harm on herself in the long run.
- when something’s wrong, stop and ask for help – watch out for feelings of light headedness, dizziness, cramps, chest pain… it’s your body’s warning signals, don’t disregard them.
- avoid NSAIDs – NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which include Advil/alaxan (ibuprofen), ponstan (mefenamic acid), arcoxia (etoricoxib), are the wonder drugs of exercise. They numb pain and decrease inflammation. However, one of their major side effects is that they affect the kidneys and its ability to regulate our body functions. I read somewhere that one runner took these pills while running a marathon and he ended up with acute renal failure. He had to be brought to a hospital where he had to undergo dialysis. In addition, since they numb pain, they may mask any discomfort/pain during a workout that one may be fooled to push harder which may inadvertently cause injuries. NSAIDs, if one has to take them, should be taken after the workout, but these shouldn’t be taken long term.
- consult your doctor – especially if you’re above forty, or if you have any medical condition such as diabetes and hypertension. Some drugs you might be taking (such as diuretics for hypertensives) could affect the way you run/train.
Running is generally safe but as with all activities, it has its own inherent dangers. So if you’re planning to take up running, remember that training properly, ensures running safety.