Upon re-watching the 5k at BU Joe Klecker is visibly experiencing advanced levels of physical distress beyond his competitors. Only time will tell whether or not digging that deep has lasting effects on his biological ability maximize his performance, and only he will know for certain. His performance that day raised a few questions for me:
1. What responsibility do coaches play with their runners to not only maximize performance in the moment, but also ensure the physical safety of runner? For example, Ritz was likely cheering on Joe to dig deeper despite his discomfort in those final laps. Is it only the responsibility of the runner to know if they should slow down, or should a coach recognize when a runner is pushing beyond a safe place and encourage them to stay safe rather than dig deeper?
2. After Joe finishes, he is clearly not physically healthy place, yet his peers don't seem concerned and no paramedic of any kind approaches him to make sure he's okay. Beyond this seeming like a major oversight to me by the race organizers to not have paramedics there waiting at the finish line, I also think we've normalized a response like Joe's in distance race outcomes. From an outside observer, the place he's in at the immediate finish of the race appears unsafe and unhealthy.
All in all, as distance runners we keep trying to train our brains to ignore the pain that comes during a high exertion effort like a race, but at what cost both for both our short term and long term health?