Running – the risk of dying

Death: Paul Kidby

“Running just a few minutes a day reduces risk of dying”

Really??

Such was the headline on the news item that morning.

Now, I don’t run. There is a certain top-heaviness in the curves department that has always made running feel ungraceful for me. It holds few attractions unless it is barefoot through heather or snow when I don’t actually give the proverbial monkey’s about being graceful. I have huge admiration, and a certain amount of jealousy for those who can and do run, but personally, I’ve always preferred to get my exercise in other ways. But hey, if it is going to ‘reduce the risk of dying’…

Except, it isn’t… and the journalist who wrote that wants to be given some fundamental lessons in the mechanics of life. Because the one thing that is absolutely, unquestionably, unarguably certain is that dying is not a risk… it is an inevitability.

It is true that my son has categorically refused permission for me to die without his consent, given in triplicate and deposited in the local planning department on Alpha Centauri for fifty of our Earth years.. no, wait… that was the Vogon demolition plans for Earth…

But the permission thing stands.

While I am sorry to disappoint my son or indeed disobey my employer, the two being one and the same; on this occasion, and possibly with regret, I will, unfortunately be obliged to do so. I am going to die.

And that is okay.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I have no immediate plans for it, nor reason to suspect the event to be imminent; it is not scheduled in the calendar, I have not polished my shoes in preparation nor am I submitting my holiday request form for the occasion. But it is going to happen one of these days and no amount of running is going to alter that. Nor will any other form of exercise, any amount of healthy eating or exotic diet. Birth and death are part of the same package and if our erstwhile journalist is writing articles on his Dictaphone whilst jogging his way to immortality, he may as well stop now.

Running… five a day… cycling… all the adjuncts of ‘healthy living’ will not reduce the risk of death by one iota. They may prolong life; they may protect and encourage good health. But the scythe of Death is inescapable.

And that worries me.

Not the dying thing… that’s okay. Granted I might have a preference or two about the manner of it… were I to be given any choice in the matter… but the actual exit itself is fine. What worries me is the denial of death that we seem to be suffering from these days in western society. The denial of life too, in many ways; its natural process and progression from youth to age. The pursuit of physical health I have no problem with; the maintenance of the machine that carries us through our days has a lot to be said for it. But I have to wonder about motivation here; I know there are many genuine and utterly valid motivations at individual level, but as a society it makes me wonder what we are playing at sometimes.

Are we really pursuing health, half the time, or just attempting to evade death? Are we pursuing an ideal of beauty because of its fitness for purpose and aesthetics or because we are afraid our own reflection, our own self-image, somehow isn’t good enough? Or attempting, with scalpel and needle to delay the ageing process because we have ceased to value the wisdom of years or the beauty of a face whose journey is written in the contours and wrinkles of experience?

Many write of the cult of celebrity and media and decry the influence it has on our young people, seeing the extremes they go to in search of that model figure without a curve in sight, yet I have a feeling that more of us are influenced by its airbrushed projection that we might care to admit. Are we simply afraid of our own mortality?

“…reduces the risk of dying” indeed….hrmph!

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
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89 Responses to Running – the risk of dying

  1. Ritu says:

    I don’t ‘do running either!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I ran for 11 years until my knees told me to stop. However, when I went for a bone density scan, I was told that all the years of running had paid off as my bone density was good. As you say, running might put off death for a few more years, but death is inevitable. Also what I find rather sad is the media’s focus on youth, as though older people should be hidden away somewhere. There seems to be a dread of ageing, but if we lead a healthy life there’s no reason to fear it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Steph Davies says:

    I always think that running does keep you fit… but at what cost? Surely not worth an extra few years if you have to spend those years running!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. besonian says:

    Great post, Sue. I’m sure you’re right that the often manic obsession with so-called healthy living is very often a fear of death masquerading as something deemed more acceptable. Its’really weird, and a total denial of reality. There is, as you imply, one – and only one – sure and certain thing in life – that it will end. In fact, ‘life’ implies ‘death’. Without death, there is no life. Like – without ‘down’ there is no ‘up’; like without ‘cold’ there is no ‘hot’; like without ‘female’ there is no ‘male’. Etc. Etc. The whole universe – at least as perceived by us – is dualistic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I agree, Jeff, and it is that very limitation that gives life its intensity and vibrancy..the very things we see as giving life value are a direct consequence of death.

      Like

  5. simonjkyte says:

    So it was RUNNING!
    And I thought it was going to be a game of chess. I should have watched fewer of those Bergman films

    Like

  6. I have nearly pulled hair from my head reading such articles. Such powers do not exist…to prevent death ….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ksbeth says:

    unless you run into a deep hole )

    Like

  8. socialbridge says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Sue, about the way in which there there is a tendency out there to act as if death is not part of life’s package. And, as for prolonging life when all quality is gone, well that’s definitely not a runner for me anyway.

    Like

  9. Noah Weiss says:

    I am still young and healthy, but I don’t see the point in prolonging life when the quality is gone.

    Though Death is inescapable, quality life can be prolonged in most cases up to a certain point. But when the number comes up… why delay it? (I might have a different opinion in 20-30 years, however…)

    Like

  10. davidprosser says:

    My daughter says I should spend my money and enjoy it, after all, I can’t take it with me.
    I don’t know who wrote the rule book on this but that’s plain silly. If I can’ take it with me, I’m not going.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mary Smith says:

    Well said, Sue. What really irritates me is the constant harping on in the media about the ‘burden’ of an aging population. Tell someone he/she is a burden often enough and they start to believe it.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I agree, Mary. The ‘ageing population’ consists of our parents, grandparent and, eventually we may come to realise, ourselves. We are all ‘ageing’… just some of us are more practised at it than others. But the ageing population is our source of knowledge, experience, stories and history… a bit more valueing would not go amiss.

      Like

  12. Smiling with you, Sue, there is no sports bra that meets the challenge ! I ran years ago, before multiple “below the hip” injuries. Now, walking will have to “delay death”. lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. quiall says:

    Excellent post! I am addicted to life and I’m not looking for a cure!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. fransiweinstein says:

    I’m not a runner either. While devotees swear by it, it does also have its drawbacks, as everything does. While I would like to be granted as much time on this earth as possible (with a good quality of life), to your point, there is no avoiding the inevitable — no matter what you eat or what you do. So do enjoy it while you can.

    Like

  15. tric says:

    Your post reminded me of the song with the line ‘stay forever young’ I think that is the active pursuit of many. As with most clubs you chose to join or not. I’m in the ‘not’ bracket.
    I’m in the ‘get old disgracefully’ club.
    Running? I think I’d rather die… literally

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Running? I probably would! I’ve always subscribed to growing old dsgracefully…and feel I am doing a fair job of that ( says she who skinned her ageing knees climbing trees the other day…)

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Running Elk says:

    Reblogged this on Shamanic Paths and commented:
    Same thing for “New Drug Saves Lives”; no it doesn’t. “New safety regulations will reduce death toll by 60%”; no they won’t. “Eating Asparagus reduces chance of death…”; nope…

    Like

  17. alienorajt says:

    Reblogged this on Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman! and commented:
    Ruddy well said, Sue: I totally agree and have been muttering similar thoughts, usually under my breath, for yonks! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I agree with you Sue and it has and always been walking and swimming for me. I was built for comfort not for speed and I reckon if I can manage my life without the aid of medication I not doing too badly. I think most of us within this community do most things right with diet and moderate exercise and anyone with a busy lifestyle as you have is already getting your share. We are preaching to the choir most of the time. Like you I would prefer to choose my passing method… but until then I want to feel alive as long as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I used to run a bit in the past when I had to but it is not something I am overkeen on!
    Death is the one certainty in life whether we like it or not! I know a lot of people do not want to think about it, myself included, but for some, being kept alive by modern methods that give them extra years but no quality yearn for it. WE are trying to be more open about death now, but it is always going to be a taboo subject for many, trying to dodge the Reaper!

    Like

  20. jenanita01 says:

    Too old to start running… My doctor said so, and no, I didn’t have to bribe him! I’m good at walking though…

    Like

  21. Helen Jones says:

    I always say, if you see me running you better start running too, because something is chasing me!

    Not a runner, never have been 😀

    Like

  22. memadtwo says:

    Well said. What’s with the botox? The strange diets? When I stopped taking a medicine because the side effects were worse than what it was supposed to prevent, my daughter said to me, “you’re going to die”. Well so are you, I replied. Seriously. We all. Are. (K)

    Like

  23. The Satyr says:

    Well said madam. X

    Like

  24. Widdershins says:

    ‘risk of dying’ … heheheheheh. And here I was thinking dying was risk free! 😀

    Like

  25. TanGental says:

    you are spot on Sue; it’s all on its head, this stuff. I get making the most of what we have and being healthy is part of that but the reaper, whether grim or just suffering from haemorrhoids will be along eventually.

    Like

  26. You are very right, Sue. Everyone is afraid of the inevitable now and will believe anything and do anything to stave it off. Death is a part of life. Running in South Africa, with our crazy taxi drivers, is likely to result in a far faster death than any other outcome [smile].

    Like

  27. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    A great post about life and death.

    Like

  28. Rats! I was hoping that by eating lots of kale I could escape death. 😀 I think the truly sad thing about the denial of death is that within the illusion of immortality life loses some of its preciousness. If we (humans in general) really truly understood that our time starts running out at the moment of birth, we would try harder to make each moment count and we would be more careful with the lives of others. Lovely post, Sue.

    Like

  29. This article really hit deep- you’re so right about questioning why we focus so much on fitness!

    Like

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