Monday, 13 February 2017

The Risks of Not Training

Tens of thousands of people compete in the 10K race in six heats
Following the Standard Chartered Marathon yesterday, one woman died this afternoon after she finished running the 10K race and collapsed.

The 52-year-old woman was rushed to hospital and then died, with no updates on the cause of death yet.

She is the third person within five years to die. In 2015, a 24-year-old died in hospital after collapsing 100 metres from the finish line in a 10K run. And in 2014, a 26-year-old man died moments after completing the half marathon.

It is crucial for runners to train even for the 10K race
After his death, marathon organizers increased the number of medical staff on site from 700 to 800.

But is that really the solution?

Part of the problem is that there is a number of people who haven't trained at all for the 10K run. While marathon organizers say it isn't feasible to screen the health of participants, the onus is really up to the runners. Surely they must know what a 10K run involves? If not, they need to ask someone who does, and see if it is something they can accomplish and if so, find out how to train for it.

In 2014, Baptist University conducted a study that found one-third of the event's 10K runners didn't train at all for the race in the 12 months leading to the big event.

Another one third trained for the run once a week.

Dr Lobo Louie Hung-tak, who lead the study, said training three times a week -- 40 to 48 kilometres of running -- were recommended to reduce the risk of injury for the 10K event, while half and full marathon participants should train five to six times a week.

He said insufficient training could lead to not only injury, but possibly death.

A 2014 study found 1/3 of runners didn't train for the 10K
"It's like a car that's being pushed to keep going even when the fuel tank is at empty," he said.

"In some serious cases, runners can collapse, be in a state of shock, start hallucinating or fall into a coma."

If that warning isn't shocking enough to get people to seriously consider training, or have second thoughts about running the race, I don't know what is.

The entrance fee for the 10K run is about HK$350 which is very reasonable, but people need to take a race of this distance with some seriousness.

While it is thoughtful of organizers to boost the number of first aid responders along the three routes for the 10K, half marathon and full marathon, it is really up to the runners to know their athletic ability.

There are fatalities at marathons around the world -- usually the full marathon, people collapsing at or near the finish line. But 42km is an extreme distance for the vast majority of us. That doesn't mean that all of us can run 10K -- we can, but we should train for it.

To not train for any race is wishful thinking and disrespecting one's body by pushing it to extremes it is not prepared for.

It would be interesting to know if other 10K races around the world have seen serious incidents. If it's only in Hong Kong, then there is a serious problem about health education in the city.

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