Health

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

The rewards and risks of extreme exercise

Comments (3)
By Peter Hadzipetros

It's rare that someone dies running a marathon or half marathon. Extraordinarily rare when three people die. Yet that's what happened in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009.

Within 16 minutes, three men collapsed and died while running the half marathon in Detroit. All had trained to do the event and – according to news reports all were relatively healthy.

Emergency medical staff were on hand quickly for each man, but none could be saved.

It's a tragedy but unfortunately it happens. People who sign up for any organized race have to sign a waiver acknowledging that they understand the risk they are taking in participating in an extreme event.

No sane person would compete in a half marathon or marathon without doing the proper training. It is hard on the body and you need to be prepared for it.

A whole lot of exercise doesn't necessarily mean that you're immune from heart troubles.

Studies have suggested that you're at higher risk than the general population of suffering a heart attack while you're running a marathon, but the rest of the time, your risk is much lower. A study out of the University of Manitoba also suggests that long-distance races can cause damage to your heart – but it's healed within a week, with no long-term effects.

But the evidence is not clear-cut. A three-year old study suggests that for runners over the age of 50, it might be difficult to tell the difference between the positive effects of training on the heart and the onset of cardiovascular disease.

You have to know your limits. But the heart is a complicated and tricky little organ. By the time you realize something's seriously wrong, you may already be knocking on the pearly gates.

But there's risk in any activity – probably more in a life of non-activity.

The Detroit deaths prompted the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association in the United States to issue a warning: we need to be more aware of the prevalence of sudden cardiac arrest.

The association estimates that 300,000 Americans die every year from sudden cardiac arrest. That's one person every two minutes. Clearly, not all of them are running marathons.

Some of them are at home watching television or outside office buildings, taking a smoke break.

Yes, three runners died in Detroit doing something that gave them great joy on Sunday.

What didn't make the headlines was that on the same day, in Columbus, Ohio and Toronto, 30,000 people crossed the finish lines for marathons and half marathon and while maybe not extending their lives, sure improved the quality of it.

« Previous Post | Main

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.

Comments (3)

Michael

China

I am still sore from finishing the Beijing Marathon on Oct 18th, it was my first, and possibly my last marathon. I think that 4 factors may have contributed to the Detroit tragedy 1. Most rookie marathon and half marathon preparation guides do not have one run the full distance before the actual race. 2. Runners often mistakenly believe that they will run faster in the race than in training and so go at too fast a pace. 3. In training a runner gets a pretty good idea of what is a reasonable distance for him or herself. These runners probably went beyond that limit, I know I did. 4. Training is time specific, and no matter how you feel or what the weather is like, that race you trained for for four months and spent $80 to enter is going to happen at 8am on race day. Sometimes it can just be the wrong time.

Posted October 20, 2009 08:30 PM

Ron Parker

Victoria

Running may be good for your cardio vascular fitness but weight training for the over 50's is much more beneficial. A one hour session using slow protocol twice weekly is the minimum, but the results are great. The increase is bone density and muscle development staves off osteo porosis, improves heart function, burns more calories and even helps digestion. I ran three days a week until I was fifty, and have only weight trained for the past 17 years. I feel better, am able to do more in a day and pack 10 more pounds of muscle with a smaller waist than before.

Posted October 20, 2009 01:27 PM

Amy Dar

Calgary

A death in any sporting event is unfortunate. My sympathies to the runner’s families and friends. A death during a marathon always reminds me of the ‘ironic’ death of Jim Fixx, noted running enthusiast and author, at the age of 52 in 1984 during his daily run. In my mind his death was not due to the running itself – his previous lifestyle had caught up to him (i.e., at age 35 he weighed 240 lbs. and smoked two packs of cigarettes per day). Running smart is key, and if you do this your run is no more dangerous than your morning commute.

Posted October 20, 2009 12:26 PM

« Previous Post | Main

Post a Comment

Disclaimer:

Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

Back of the Pack »

About the Author

Peter HadzipetrosPeter Hadzipetros is a producer for the Consumer and Health sites of CBC News Online. Until he got off the couch and got into long distance running a few years ago, he was a net importer of calories.

More from Peter Hadzipetros »

Recent Posts

The rewards and risks of extreme exercise
Peter Hadzipetros
Monday, October 19, 2009
The golden age of running
Peter Hadzipetros
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Late night calories could pack bigger punch for your paunch
Peter Hadzipetros
Friday, September 11, 2009
Exercise, not 'guardian angels' key to avoiding falls
Peter Hadzipetros
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
For the love of it
Peter Hadzipetros
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Subscribe to this blog

Recent Comments

I am still sore from finishing the Beijing Marathon on Oc...
The rewards and risks of extreme exercise
Running may be good for your cardio vascular fitness but ...
The rewards and risks of extreme exercise
A death in any sporting event is unfortunate. My sympath...
The rewards and risks of extreme exercise

Archives

October 2009 (1)
September 2009 (2)
July 2009 (2)
May 2009 (2)
April 2009 (1)
March 2009 (1)
February 2009 (1)
January 2009 (1)
December 2008 (1)
September 2008 (1)
July 2008 (2)
June 2008 (2)
May 2008 (1)
April 2008 (2)
February 2008 (1)
January 2008 (2)
December 2007 (2)
November 2007 (4)
October 2007 (3)
September 2007 (3)
August 2007 (3)
July 2007 (4)
June 2007 (5)
May 2007 (3)
April 2007 (6)
March 2007 (3)
February 2007 (6)
January 2007 (7)
December 2006 (2)
November 2006 (3)
October 2006 (3)
September 2006 (4)
August 2006 (5)
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

Stabbing in Finland investigated as possible terrorism video
A suspect detained for allegedly stabbing two people to death in a knife attack in the western Finnish city of Turku is being investigated for murder with possible terrorist intent, police said Saturday.
CBC in Barcelona Blood clinics overflowing with donations in wake of attacks in Spain
Many in Barcelona feeling the strain and helplessness born of this week's attacks will tell you there is but one place in town guaranteed to help you feel a little better: a blood bank.
'Who's next?': Police investigations have some Israelis pondering Netanyahu's future
Israeli police are investigating two cases involving allegations against Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, which has some Israelis wondering if the prime minister can survive
more »

Canada »

Canadian killed in Barcelona attack identified
A Canadian citizen was killed and four others injured in the attack in Barcelona, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Friday.
How a Toronto hospital uses virtual reality to grant dying patients a last wish video
A Toronto IT consultant has dedicated himself to taking hospital patients outside of their room using custom-made movies and a set of virtual reality goggles.
United Conservative Party application rejected by Calgary Pride parade
Without clear policy supporting the LGBTQ community, members of the newly formed United Conservative Party won’t be permitted to take part in this year’s Calgary Pride parade.
more »

Politics »

Canada open to completing NAFTA talks in short order
Canadian negotiators are open to working on a timeline proposed by the U.S. to complete NAFTA renegotiations before the end of the year, CBC News has learned. A government source tells CBC News that Canada is willing to work quickly, but will not agree to a bad deal for the sake of meeting a deadline.
Birmingham mayor defiant after boarding up Confederate monument
Mayor William Bell says Confederate monument doesn't tell the correct story of his city.
Canadian killed in Barcelona attack identified
A Canadian citizen was killed and four others injured in the attack in Barcelona, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Friday.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Robin Thicke, girlfriend expecting baby on Alan Thicke's birthday
Robin Thicke's girlfriend is pregnant, and their baby is due on the birthday of Thicke's late father, actor Alan Thicke.
Deadpool 2 stuntwoman thrown from motorcycle through a window, says WorkSafeBC
British Columbia's workplace safety agency has released the first official account of a Deadpool 2 stuntwoman's death, saying SJ Harris was thrown from her motorcycle and propelled through a plate glass window.
Video Tina Fey returns to Weekend Update to talk Charlottesville
Tiny Fey has returned to Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live to discuss the violence surrounding a white nationalist rally near her alma mater's campus in Charlottesville.
more »

Technology & Science »

Analysis After cracking down on neo-Nazis, tech companies wonder who should police online hate
For more than two decades, lawmakers, tech companies and consumers have held vastly different views on how to handle those who spread hate, racism and abuse online.
Demand for eclipse glasses outpaces supply
Still looking for a pair of eclipse glasses? You may be out of luck.
Analysis Digital vigilantism after Charlottesville: Get ready for more naming and shaming
As people grow frustrated by the seeming lack of repercussions for overt racist behaviour, it’s likely we will see more digital vigilantism and more support for “naming and shaming” campaigns.
more »

Money »

Canada open to completing NAFTA talks in short order
Canadian negotiators are open to working on a timeline proposed by the U.S. to complete NAFTA renegotiations before the end of the year, CBC News has learned. A government source tells CBC News that Canada is willing to work quickly, but will not agree to a bad deal for the sake of meeting a deadline.
$500K hardship fund for former Sears Canada employees approved by judge
A judge has approved a hardship fund for former Sears Canada employees that will come from a pool of money set aside to pay bonuses for key employees.
Canada's annual inflation rate rises to 1.2% in July
Canada's annualized inflation rate in July was 1.2 per cent, up from 1 per cent in June, largely driven by higher prices for gasoline.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Canada pulled off a Miracle on Hardwood at the 1983 University Games video
While many people are familiar with the "Miracle on Ice," not so many are aware of Canada's version on the hardwood — an upset of Charles Barkley's U.S. team at the 1983 World University Games.
Live Watch the Summer Universiade opening ceremony video
Watch action from the 29th Summer Universiade in Taipei City, Taiwan.
Live Watch freestyle BMX at the FISE World Series video
Watch live action on from the Festival International des Sports Extrêmes (FISE) World Series event in Budapest, Hungary, as the BMX freestyle events get underway.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »