Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How safe can running be?

I was a bit alarmed by the news that yet another marathoner died shorty after completing the New York City Marathon on November 2, 2008 and if I read the news correctly there were two other cases of heart attacks during the race.

The alarm bell went off because I have not been running my entire life, I am a late bloomer - per se. It has only been since 2003 that I laced up my shoes and hit the road. Up until then I led pretty much a sedentary life. At that time I was already 49 years young...WOW... has it been five years already!

As luck would have it, the December (2008) issue of Runner's World had arrived just a few days ago and it has a very informative article called "Are Marathons Dangerous? The Truth Behind the Scary Headlines". I sat down and read the entire article, it put things into perspective.

I was reminded that in sports, as in life, there are no guarantees. We can, however, improve the odds in our favor. And that's what we accomplish when we run. And swim, and bike... and repeat.

What is really important is that we train and compete smart and be fully informed. We must learn to push when able to, slow down when need to and stop when we have to.

I for one like my chances a whole lot better now that I exercise the way I do. I know that my overall health is much better for it. I am thirty pounds lighter, my cholesterol is in check, my blood pressure is perfect, my attitude has changed and my outlook has improved. What else can I ask for? I plan on doing a treadmill test sometime in the near future just to make sure all's well. I have no shortness of breath and I can last longer and run farther.

There's history of diabetes in my family and the doctor tells me I'm doing all the right things. Exercising has also been proven to be a factor in preventing dementia and Alzheimer's, this is great news, 'cause I'd like to be able to enjoy my grandson for many, many years to come.

The one and only ailment I have not been able to cure with running or biking or swimming is my back pain. The funny thing is that I am totally pain free while in exercise mode! Go figure, the doctor can't explain. I have learned to manage the pain with stretching... gotta get back to the yoga mat, I really miss this.

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