Earlier this month, an incredibly sad story popped up all over my social media feeds: Amanda Peake Glover, a mother of four, tragically passed away after completing the Palmetto half marathon. At this time, it is not known why she passed away.
Glover’s family is in our thoughts and prayers.
This story hit close to home. I’m a mother, we’re about the same age, we live in the same state, and I run races, too. I said a prayer for her family, and then I had the same thought that I’m sure many of my peers did: that could have been me.
It’s not yet known why Glover passed away. Still, the tragedy has lead people to speculate that running the race had something to do with it, and that running is possibly bad for your heart.
I read the comments online, and also fielded well-meaning concerns from friends and family members. Some even asked me if I was going to give up running.
The short answer?
No. Never. I’m going to run as long as I’m physically able to.
It’s easy to read stories like this and get scared. It’s true – sometimes runners collapse and die after finishing a race, sometimes runners get hit by cars, and sometimes runners get attacked by animals and horrible people.
Bad things can happen on a run, which makes running appear dangerous.
But here’s the thing – the vast majority of people are going to make it home from a training run or a race. According to Johns Hopkins researchers, the risk of dying during or shortly after completing a marathon is very low – happening in 0.75 out of every 100,000 marathoners. Of course, when it happens to even one person, it’s extremely upsetting. We like to believe that if someone is in good enough shape to complete a race that they must be in good overall health, too. When someone sadly passes away on a run, it’s easy for some people to blame running when no other theory makes sense.
The incredibly low risk of dying on a run is not enough to make me hang up my running shoes. And while some people may believe that a relatively young mother like me should avoid a “risky” sport and spend every waking moment hugging my children, that’s not realistic for me – or anyone else, I’d imagine.
I’m going to keep running for myself and for my kids.
Of course the sport comes with risks – as does everything in life – so I’ll take precautions to stay safe on the road. I run without music, use illumination devices at dawn, slow down my pace in hot and humid conditions, and stop running if I don’t feel well. I’d like to believe these and the other safety checks I take are enough to keep me up and running, but the truth is we can never prepare for everything. In running and in life.
Running isn’t dangerous. Life can just be unpredictable and unfair. But it’s also beautiful and fun and up to us to enjoy it as much as we can.
And so I’ll keep running no matter what.
Written by Jen Matz.