WHY ARE MALE RACERS DYING?

     Looking back over the 2011 season, I was thinking about the losses we’ve had in roadraces.  As I wrote in my blogpost “Has Road Racing Become A Lethal Sport?” (November 3), this past year has been one of the most fatal for long distance runners in memory, with at least 5 runners dying as they neared the finish line or shortly after they crossed it.
     As I thought more on this, I realized something strange: these incidents all involved  men.  Looking back over the years, it seem like these fatalities always involve men, dating back to Ryan Shay collapsing at the Olympic Trials four years ago in NY, and before that as well.  In triathlon, too, it’s the men who have been dying.  
     Can this just be a coincidence?  I find that hard to believe. 
     At a time when female participation in long distance running has been exploding, and has nearly equaled male participation in the marathon and surpassed it in the half-marathon, one would think that the risks of running, and the occassional and rare tragic consequences, would be equally shared.  But that doesn’t seem to be the case.  This is subject that’s very ripe for study.
     Here’s one very unscientific, possible explanation for at least some of these deaths: perhaps among non-elite, less well-trained runners, men are more concerned with finishing times, while women are more focused on enjoying the experience. 
     As I noted in my earlier blog, runners who use caffeinated supplements to get an edge put themselves at risk of a cardiac event if they consume more than 200mg in a day.  Combined with the adrenaline rush that comes with a big push to the finish line, a runner with a latent heart problem may end up collapsing.  So perhaps some undertrained men are pushing themselves harder than their female counterparts, and paying the price.
     Whatever is going on here, the answer is not to give up running; it’s to set realistic goals, prepare properly, and stick to your plan all the way to the finish line.  Train for the kind of race you want to run, and then run the kind of race you’ve trained for.  That’s just smart marathon training.

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About horowitzrun

Jeff is a certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach, and is the author of "My First 100 Marathons" (Skyhorse Press 2008) and "Smart Marathon Training" (Velo Press 2011). An obviously addicted runner, Jeff has run at least one marathon in every state and on 6 continents, including marathons in South Africa, China, Bangkok, and Antarctica. Jeff is available for group, one-on-one, and virtual coaching. Options include: 1. Basic Training Plan. This includes a customized training schedule geared towards a goal race, with a detailed running schedule that would include all distances and target times for each workout, including speedwork, tempo, and endurance sessions. 2. Complete Fitness and Race Plan. This includes the plan listed above, plus the non-running workouts and drills that runners need for better overall fitness and performance. You would get strength & core workouts, as well as run-specific training drills and stretches. 3. Virtual Coaching. This includes all of the above, implemented on a week-by-week basis. We review each week's progress at week's end so that adjustments can be made. The program is tailored to suit you right up to race day. It involves more contact, on a weekly or even daily basis. 4. Full Coaching for athletes in the Washington DC area. All of the above, plus a weekly workout together including speedwork, drills, and strength training. 5. Individual track sessions. One-on-one track-based workouts. Contact Jeff for pricing.
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