M.Sc. Occupational Health & Safety

Runners views sought for reserach

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05/10/2006 at 00:07
This ain't very scientific, but possibly could be interesting. I am doing some research into the principle of 'risk'. I am quite interested in people's perception of risk.

For example, using genetically modified food as an example, your either for it or against it based on who you are, beliefs etc etc

So, what about running? Fifty percent of people will tell you that running is bad for you. Bad for your heart, big event tragedies such as GNR always quoted, bad for your knees.

Anyone have any experience of this?

Why did you take up running? Why do you believe that the risks were worth it?

Just really interested to hear runners points of view on this. WShen I am finished, I am going to try and shape this into some sort of research paper which of course I will make available.

05/10/2006 at 00:27
i dont think 50 percent of people would say that, but the majority of people who would are those who are too lazy to run and use it as an excuse... i think the risk in running is minimal, and deaths in big races such as the gnr blown out of proportion...maybe there is a long term risk with knee injuries etc, but this is the case with most sports...
05/10/2006 at 01:05
Absolutely agree with you ST. But then again we are runners. What I am trying to get at is the perception of risk.

Why do we think differently? Impossible question I know, but your response is absolutely bang on valid. Thanks.

As for the knee issue by the way, all the scientific reports I have read indicate that running actually has a protective effect.

Completely un related but I must congratulate you for signing Andrew Johnson. Europe for you next season me thinks!
05/10/2006 at 08:27
isn't a health and safety risk the risk of the health and safety officer catching you doing something wrong;)
05/10/2006 at 08:30
I didnt think about risks when i started running
Didnt weight it up like that
I was 38, and thought i was indestructible

Now that i run regularly-i look for the research which supports me carrying on running

But i have always exercised anyway
05/10/2006 at 09:14
I don't think I ever considered the risks in any systematic sense when I started either - I saw the GNR on telly one year and decided 'I'd like to do that'. So, knowing the importance of a gradual build up set myself a target of nine months to get in shape and did it. At the time, if I considered risks at all, it was a case of balancing the risks of being active against those of sitting on my @rse pretending I wasn't getting any older and gradually seizing up completely.

I continue to accept the risks (and I consider these much greater during training when I'm often out on my own in the middle of nowhere than during a race when there's plenty of people about and medical cover available within minutes) because I judge that they are insignificant compared to the benefits.

I suspect that most people who run do so because they recognise some value in being active and choose running over other sports because it seems to suit them.
05/10/2006 at 09:17
hmmm risk the only risks to myself at the mo, I feel is the dark and being attacked or falling over! more likely to fall over on the heart lungs front I am sure the benefits far out way any minor risks (if any?)

I started running after chasing ambulance for my dad having a heart attack and couldnt run ditched the weight the fags life change, but really I love it for the feeling good stress relief!
I had also heard that running could be benefical to myself bones and joints etc as I was taking hrt after an emergency hyster.

05/10/2006 at 09:25
Didn't think about risks at all. I had watched a marathon on TV (not FLM - it may have been European Champs or something) and was amazed at how anyone could run for 26 miles, when I struggled to run 100m.

The thought stayed in my mind for quite a while, but I always thought I couldn't do it. Started seeing a chap who was really in to running, and he encouraged me to start. The relationship didn't last, but I had got the running bug.

Although I'm aware of the GNR deaths, and that injuries are possible, the only "risk" I think about related to running is being able to find a loo when I really need one.

"Why do you believe that the risks were worth it?" is not something I can answer, because I honestly don't consciously recognise that there are risks.
05/10/2006 at 09:33
Thats a valid answer Nessie.

This is all useful stuff. Like I said earlier, it's certainly not scientific.

Its obvious from just a small number of posts that we as runners dont really accept that there are risks. Or, even if we do, we calculate that not to run/exercise would be of greater risk.

Its just a matter of perception. My research is trying to look at why some people percieve running as a positive thing and why some people percieve it as a negative thing.

05/10/2006 at 09:34
"Risk" is just another word for "probability", isn't it? And I could talk about that till the thread was dead and buried.

Our perception of risk is probably more influenced by personal experience than by statistics. We know that the probability of a healthy person dropping dead while running is no greater than the probability of the same person keeling over while watching television or cooking dinner. But if your brother died of unexplained causes during a run you might see the level of risk very differently.

We also seek out facts that will bolster our own beliefs, whose basis may or may not be rational, and selectively screen out those that contradict them ...

05/10/2006 at 09:45
hmm good point vel! also the more runners you hang out with the lower any risks seems maybe as it all becomes the norms!

I guess I should have mentioned the risk of injury, I have been worried about getting a running realated injury through not stretching properly or warming up so thats high on my list if thats any help!!
and thats high on my list because it would stop me running!!

05/10/2006 at 09:59
I had to make a conscious decision about "risk" when I developed a tibial stress fracture 7 weeks before I was due to do FLM on a charity place with a lot of money resting on me finishing the race. I decided that the risk of causing further damage that might necessitate a plaster-cast and a long period off running was, for me, on that occasion, worth taking, and I did virtually nothing for 7 weeks then ran/walked the race.

The fact that I "got away with it" wouldn't stop me from advising other people NOT to emulate my example, though!

Then there are all those everyday decisions - "Do I squeeze out an extra two miles today because I'm running well and risk not being fit to do my planned 4-miler tomorrow, or do I stop now even though I know I'll regret not banking those miles if work overruns and I don't get to run at all tomorrow?"
05/10/2006 at 10:13
Interesting subject Dan, but if you really want to write a research paper I think you will have to do this 'properly' & get some advice (if needed)
05/10/2006 at 10:41
In terms of why some people (far, far less than 50% of the population in my judgement) think running is 'risky', I think you'd need to ask them.

It's far too simplistic a model to attribute the attitude entirely to media coverage but it can't help that we live in a society where 'harm' is deemed newsworthy but 'good' generally isn't. Taking last year's GNR as an example - the story that made the press was that four runners had died (tragically) despite the organisation that surrounded the event. The cause of death - primarily pre-existing and undiagnosed medical conditions that could have killed them at any point - wasn't reported nearly so widely. It's too soon to comment on what happened last week but the fact that over 30,000 people, many of them first timers, successfully completed raising millions of pounds for charity and contributing substantially to the economy of the north east just doesn't seem to be as big a story as the fact that one person died.
05/10/2006 at 11:13

totally accept that point. This is early days. Not even begun literature search yet. Just reading peoples views at this formative stage may well shape how my future research will take shape.

eM.milou    pirate
05/10/2006 at 11:26
RD - have you posted on the FRA site too? Although doubtful you would get too many 'serious' answers on there!!

However as a fell runner I see no risk in my running at all only when the clouds are down, it's raining, freezing cold and I'm stuck up a mountain and can't see a bliddy thing!
05/10/2006 at 11:36

I had not considered fell running!!

Now that is something different!

All I can say is that I admire you but I would not have the fitness or bottle to do what you do!
05/10/2006 at 11:52
Hi, I took up running as a risk eliminator, I was going through a difficult time with divorce etc and all the stress that entails, I sat down and made a concious decision to do something. The options were 1) Drink myself stupid,Let it sap my self respect energy and wallow inself pity or 2) Get up, get fit and at least try and do something except mope around.

Luckily choice 2 won the vote, running has been a Godsend for the following reasons,Risks reduced:- obesity, alcohol abuse avoided, depression reduced (the mental boost of a run cannot be quantified),general fitness and sense of wellbeing best in 15 years,the major risk of being bitter and twisted nearly eliminated.
Compared to the risks increased:-A few pulls and strains and thats all I can think of.

Positives far outweigh the negatives, had made plenty of new friends....the most friendly sport I have ever had the luck to participate in. Sorry I do go on a bit don't I.
05/10/2006 at 12:31
Hi RD - there are risks everywhere. There is more risk travelling by car than by running I think. In industry we would assess the risk and take appropriate action to reduce or eliminate it e.g proper training, equipment, machine guards. The same can be said for running - reduce risk by buying good shoes, eating properly, running with a partner, carrying a mobile phone etc. I do not think it is possible to get to the bottom of risk perception though - it is purely a personal issue and down to environment and the nurturing process etc.and you are right that there is no right or wrong answer. I don't think running is risky but I do think jumping out of a plane with a parachute is risky. Yet my pal who thinks nothing of launching herself out of planes regularly lectures me about back/knee/ankle/heart blah blah blah issues!
Very interesting issue though - I work in health and safety so I am a right old anorak about it!! Good luck in your paper - would not mind a read at it (told you I am an anorak!!)
05/10/2006 at 12:38
I started running to get fit (lose weight, get heart rate up) and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. I also wanted to combat my asthma and running was something that I could never do as it always gave me an attack.

I only ever intended it to be a minor activity in my life and have surprised myself with the urge to enter races and push myself further. I am now at the stage where the negative risks of running are something that I feel I should consider.

Generally I feel that if I look after my body (take rest days, stretch properly, do other activities to keep my overall muscle balance, get even minor niggles checked out)then there is little risk to me from running, compared with any other form of exercise.

Accidents and health problems can occur from anything and the incidents reported in the media from the GNR etc are infrequent occurances that get blown out of all proportion just to create a story. Yes there are some risks if you enter an event like a marathon without undertaking the training, but the same could be said about scuba diving or even football. I don't feel at risk because I ahve takien the appropriate precautions.
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