Dear Running Doc:
I read last week of a 36-year-old women that died at the end of a half marathon race. Running is healthy. So how can I prevent this happening to me?
Susan G., New York, NY
Thank you, Susan, for bringing this up. As chairman of the Board of Governors, International Marathon Medical Directors Association, I can tell you that this association is working toward a large World Congress in the fall devoted to identifying risks and prevention.
In an attempt to reduce the risks of Sudden Death, IMMDA has developed the following guidelines:
1. Participants should not only be sufficiently trained, but equally important, they should have a goal and corresponding race plan that is appropriate for that level of training and fitness. If not, do not attempt the distance.
2. Have a yearly physical examination being sure to discuss your exercise plans, goals and intensity at the visit.
3. Consume one baby aspirin (81 mg) on the morning of a long run/walk of 10k or more if no medical contra indication.
4. Consume less than 200 mg caffeine before and during a 10k or more.
5. Only drink a sports drink or its equitant during a workout of 10k or more.
6. Drink for thirst.
7. Do not consume a NSAID (like Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc.) during a run or walk of 10k or more.
8. Consume salt (if no contra indication) during a 10k or more.
9. During the last mile, maintain your pace or slow down; do not sprint the last part of the race unless you have practiced this in your training. Run/walk as you train.
Susan, these 9 points have been agreed to by marathon medical directors from around the world. We fully expect updated recommendations after our fall meeting. Watch this column because I am sure I will write about these new ones.
Enjoy the Ride!
Lewis G. Maharam, MD, FACSM is one of the world’s most extensively credentialed and well-known sports health experts. Better known as Running Doc™, Maharam is author of Running Doc’s Guide to Healthy Running and past medical director of the NYC Marathon and Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series. He is Medical Director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program. He is also past president of the New York Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine. Learn more at runningdoc.com.
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