Thursday, October 20, 2005


I'm tapering, but I haven't felt it yet. I ran 20 this past Sunday, and I have 25 miles scheduled for this week (ending next Sunday). So really, it doesn't feel any different than any previous weeks. I think next week will feel different.

I spent the last few days in Toronto, and it was really cold over there. New York's a little better, but not by much. It made me think that I should really move somewhere warmer if I want to keep up this much running. I really don't like the cold, and I may have to switch to more indoor training for the winter.

While I was in Toronto, there was some controversy being played out over talk radio. Last Sunday was the Toronto Marathon. A 36 year old man collapsed and died after running the half marathon. This is the 3rd death there in the last 5 years. So while I was there, the radio pundits were discussing whether all entrants should get notices from their doctors. Since I am both a marathoner (almost) and a doctor (already), I thought I was a better judge of that question than most others. And my answer is no.

I'm sure that guy was pretty healthy, and would have been cleared by his doctor. It's unreasonable to suggest that every marathon runner should have a stress test, or more specifically, it's unreasonable to ask the government there (which covers healthcare) to pay for that. Even if he did have a stress test, I'm not sure that 12 minutes on a treadmill would have revealed a problem.

The bigger problem is that many people run these races without any idea what they're doing. For starters they may not have trained properly. So even though they're "healthy", they haven't put in the proper training to run long distances. For crying out loud, I've run over 300 miles in the last few months, and I still feel like I've barely trained enough. Another major problem is what these people are doing during the run. Are they not drinking at all? Are they drinking too much water? Both of these mistakes can be fatal over the course of a marathon.

So what's the solution? Well the idea here is to make sure that all entrants are ready to run a marathon. One of the thoughts I've had is to make people prove they've run a race of the next distance down. So the half marathoner would need to have run a 10K, and the marathoner would need to have run a half. I recognize this would be a pain, but maybe it would prevent people just going out there without any experience or proper training.

In any case, considering the amount of people running marathons, the amount of real medical disasters is probably small. So I'm not sure this is such an important issue and warrants drastic changes, but it's just been on my mind while I was there.

In other news, I've got only 40 miles of training to go before the marathon. I can't believe it's so close. I'm already staarting to lose sleep thinking about how I'm going to get there, what I'm going to wear, what pace I should run, etc. I really need to get this over with so I can get on with the rest of my life!

And just in case my own marathon isn't enough to obsess about, I'm also excited about a few other people's marathons. In particular, Alejandra is running the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco this Sunday. Also, Jon in Michigan is trying to come back from injury and family illness to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon this Sunday as well. I wish them both lots of luck, and I'll be cheering them from here. Go Alejandra and Jon!!


Blogger nancytoby said...

Not a Canadian, but I'm with you on the "permission slip" - that seems a bit too much like government paternalism to me. Can't stop people from running marathons - you can only stop them from running officially and in a relatively supervised setting! If I go that way, I was doing something that I loved!

Friday, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Susan said...

Tapering is the hardest part for me . . . almost feels like cheating!

Friday, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Jon (was) in Michigan said...

I think there are thousands of people that die of heart attacks every year at the park, on a bike, in a car, at the swimming pool. Nobody is checking those people over to make sure they are healthy enough.

People are going to die doing all kinds of things. Its a choice they make and educating them may help but ultimately, people are going to do what they want to do.

Friday, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Donald said...

Something to hopefully reassure you: I've done over 30 marathons, and I NEVER feel perfectly rested before the event, even with a 3-week taper. It has a lot to do with nerves, I think. Good luck.

Friday, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Thomas said...

A few week ago in Newcastle, 4 people died during the Great Northern Run - and that's only a half marathon! The statement from a police spokesman was: "I can confirm four male participants in the race have died, which is more than the usual one or two" (

Friday, October 21, 2005  
Blogger partyrunner said...

it's sad for sure but i'd have to pick personal responsibility on this one...we're grownups after all.

but i did see on the vegas message board a writer lamenting that nowadays, people make it sound like anyone can run a little ol' marathon! and while i think most can, it certainly isn't a snap or to be taken lightly.

ps next time i come to town with more time, would love to run with nyc bloggers!

Friday, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Louis said...

So glad I found your blog. I'm running in the NYC Marathon, too, and I can't wait. It'll be my seventh one. I gather you're a New Yorker, so you don't need my advice. But I'll give some anyway: give high-fives to all the little kids in Brooklyn. IT makes them happy and keeps your adrenaline flowing.


Friday, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Brooklyn said...

You're a doctor? I didn't know that. What's your specialty?

I don't like reading about ANYBODY dying doing half-marathons. It just shouldn't be that costly. Sad.

Saturday, October 22, 2005  
Blogger Scott in Washington said...

"People are going to die doing all kinds of things"

I have to agree with Partyrunner on the personal responsibility side of this one. I think about the few who die when they decided to go out and do a long run without training properly versus all the people who probably live longer and happier lives because they decide to start running and I have to conclude that we shouldn't make people fill up a doctors schedule to do a stress test before running a race, but then I'm generally an advocate for personal responsibility/freedom anyway.


Sunday, October 23, 2005  

Post a Comment

<< Home