5 Ways to Protect Your Life During Races
If there’s ever a sad truth, it’d be probably this: Life can stop at any moment for anyone.
I’m sure we’d all agree on that. Good or bad, fit or unhealthy, young or old — everyone is at risk. Even runners, who are health-enthusiasts, can be a victim of what we call ‘sudden deaths’; We’ve heard about it during races, that a person suddenly collapses and the unfortunate happens.
Those tragic incidents about runners’ sudden deaths aren’t exactly new to us, but are we well-informed as to why it happens and what are the safety measures we can do about it?
I join runs often, can it happen to me, too?
It doesn’t happen to just anybody if that’s what you’re thinking. These unexpected deaths can result from head or cervical spine trauma, but most cases are actually caused by cardiac problems. It’s also important to know that it’s a rare case since a certain study estimated that only 1 out of 280,000 unscreened men per year during exercise or 1 out of 50,000 – 88,000 marathon finishers can be affected by such incident. It just seems a bit common due to the massive number of runners nowadays.
According to research, the most common heart problem that causes sudden deaths for athletes is called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). Basically, it is a hereditary disease which enlarges the heart and thickens one specific part (the left ventricle, to be specific) when engaged in strenuous activities. The abnormal thickness of the left ventricle blocks blood passage which makes it hard for the heart to pump blood to the body, thus causing effects such as chest pain, dizziness, abnormal shortness of breath, or even fainting.
There are no passive symptoms for HCM, except when you experience the side effects (chest pain, dizziness, abnormal shortness of breath, fainting, etc.) while doing your exercise. This makes it dangerous for unscreened people because they might think nothing is wrong with them, when in fact, they carry a fatal disease.
Now that we’re aware of what HCM is and its possible symptoms, what are some ways we can do to alleviate the possibility of sudden deaths?
1. Get Yourself Checked
The best way is to get yourself screened and checked, this is why big races like Milo Marathon mandates that every runner submits a Medical Certificate before running, so don’t skip this or fake your certificate.
Since HCM is hereditary, you can also check your family tree if you have any history of such sickness. If you have, it’s important to go to the doctor so that he/she can tell you what you can and cannot do anymore. Actually, even if you don’t have a history of it, it won’t hurt to visit the doctor for an annual check-up!
Related Article: 5 Diagnostic Tests Runners Need to Perform Regularly
2. Know Your Limit
Whether this is physically or mentally, you really have to know what you are capable of and race the distance that you trained for. Don’t force yourself into doing prolonged or excessive workouts that your body is not prepared to do.
You know what they say: some battles can’t be won. Listen to your body, understand what it’s saying, and slowly let yourself heal. Don’t jump into a race distance and let “Batman” do the work for you. You can start off with — just an example — 5K and eventually add more kilometers in the future; not a 21K immediately.
3. Prepare Well For Your Sport
These news about sudden deaths or HCMs shouldn’t hinder you from exercising. Remember that it’s still better to be physically fit than nothing at all, so continue with your routine. When joining marathons/fun runs, it’s crucial that you train for it. Also, always hydrate and eat well.
4. Find a Fitness Buddy
These might seem unnecessary, but having someone with you during training and races is actually very crucial. Imagine this scenario: You are running a marathon when you experience something that makes you unable to move. If you have somebody with you, he/she can get you help; as compared to having nobody around to be there when emergency happens.
5. Protect Yourself
We do what we do because we love it. But we also have to accept the risks. We don’t have to stop doing the things we love, but we do recommend that you protect yourself and your family by getting yourself insured with a comprehensive protection plan. Get yourself a good accident and medical insurance plan that protects you from critical illnesses like heart surgery, stroke, major transplant, cancer and more.
You owe this to yourself and to your family, especially when you live a very active lifestyle.
What are your thoughts about sudden deaths? Do you have any questions or want to share something? Comment below!