Endurance sports have to be undertaken after due screening, caution experts.
No doubt marathons improve stamina and endurance, but the recent death of a senior citizen in Mumbai during a marathon which sent shock waves through sport lovers underlines the importance of health screening before taking up this taxing sport. While 64-year-old Gajanan Manjalkar breathed his last on the track, 17 other runners required hospitalisation during the Mumbai Marathon held on January 19, 2020.
With the upcoming Republic Day marathon on January 26 in Hyderabad, aspiring participants need to ask themselves a few questions, says Dr Shanu Shrivastava, senior psychologist, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre. They need to be honest with themselves about whether they are really interested in running a marathon, or want to do it merely because some others are doing so, or because they want to put up pictures of their feat on social media and earn ‘likes’. People also need to understand whether they have the necessary calibre and training, he added.
While social media is making a positive difference in a lot of things, it also creates an inferiority complex among people, who then try to outperform others, Dr Shrivastava noted.
The human body is under considerable strain during endurance sports like marathons, and medical evaluation is a must before training for such events, feels Dr Chandra Sekhar Ramineni, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and a marathon runner himself. “Pre-evaluation helps in identifying cardiac arrhythmias and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which are considered the leading causes of sudden death. Pre-existing health issues like diabetes and hypertension should be discussed with physicians. One cannot abuse one’s body and think that by running marathon everything will be set right,” he pointed out.
“Marathons seem to be easy, as it appears as if all you have to do is lace up and run; but there is a lot more to them than that,” says Dr Madhumathi Sanjay, senior consultant, OB GYN, Apollo Hospitals, who is also a marathoner. “Awareness regarding healthy lifestyles has increased in the last few years, but it is important to undergo a thorough medical check-up before jumping on the marathon bandwagon. It is important to slowly step up from 5 k to 10 k to a half-marathon and then to full marathon, depending on how your body copes with endurance,” she cautions.
Fitness is on everyone’s mind these days, and this has spawned too many fads. A plethora of diets and gym routines has created a measure of imbalance. Everything has to be done systematically and sensibly, points out Kruti Kadakia, who has been running marathons for five years now. People need to have awareness about running, but such awareness is missing, avers Kruti.
“For some it’s a status symbol, and about keeping up with the fashion; they don’t realise it needs to be done with discipline — one needs to go to a trained and certified coach, sleep on time, get the right strength training and address any soreness or wrong posture issues with a physio. People don’t understand how to control their heart rates, due to which they get fatigued and dehydrated, which is the main cause of deaths and medical emergencies during marathons,” She added. “Races end, running doesn’t. But races sometimes end in death. I feel the basic concept of races is getting distorted; we are just pushing ourselves in every race without listening to our bodies. The whole idea of a race is to celebrate the finish line, but we end up celebrating finish timings. The idea is to find happiness with our selves, not to whip our bodies,” sums up Srikanth, marathoner and Joint Commissioner, Income Tax Department.