Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chances are ...

It's that time of the year again. It's marathon season, so we have to read more articles implying that marathons (and by inference ultras but those writers don't even know there are people crazier than marathon runners) are a sure-fire way to kill yourself. Here's a typical one  with scientists and all.

My favorite quote:

"Siegel, a former marathoner who researches the health consequences of the race, says the smartest thing to do is to complete the training and then watch from the sidelines."

What a fucking moron. Apparently, the odds of dying during a marathon are 1 in 50,000. We live in a culture of fear where a quantyified chance of dying makes us feel like it could actually happen to us. After all, SOMEONE died. Well, you can't live like that.

As an exercise on fear, here are the odds a US resident had of dying of various causes in a 12 month period (complete list here ):

Pedestrian (in other words, walking) 1/48,816
Car occupant 1/20,331
Falling 1/15,085
Assault by firearm 1/51,620

And the list goes on. Basically, you have the same odds of dying while walking in the street as those of dying while running a marathon (assuming you run one a year). All in all, every year, you have 1 in 1681 chance of kicking the bucket.

So running 2 marathons a year is safer than using cars. So why the hell is there even a discussion about this? I'm not going to go there, but that Siegel fellow and others like him can live their life in fear, away from pools and lakes (1 in 82,777 chances of drowning).

They of course "take swimming lessons but stay on the side of the pool"! Unbelievable.

The lifetime odds of dying are 1 in 1. All we can do is make sure that when the time comes, there are as few regrets as possible. Will Dr Siegel, on his death bed, think: "I sure had a lot of fun on the side lines, looking at those people run marathons"? I don't think so.

In the immortal words of Tim McGraw: "Live like you were dying"!


David said...

Love it. Great Rant.

Derrick said...

Beautiful post! Brilliant.

....JD, me thinks you need to go for a run!

42at42 said...

They failed to mentioned the odd of dying from an ailment resulting from obesity or inactivity.

Caroline Novak said...

It's funny, I was just talking with someone the other day about this, and we determined that far more spectators will statistically drop dead at marathons than runners.