Yesterday was the funeral of an old school friend - Leigh Horne. He was a boxer, and tragically got knocked down by a lorry while he was out on a training run and was killed...he was only 30. There is a news article (here) about what happened.
|Leigh climbing mountains in Ireland|
I completely lost touch with Leigh after leaving school, and only found out about the accident through Facebook, but I remember him as a great guy...and it seems from his Facebook profile that he grew into an impressive man, dedicated to his family and his sport.
To find out that someone I know, who's my age, died while out doing something I do (almost) every day has really struck a nerve.
I don't know the detailed circumstances of what happened to Leigh, but it serves as a reminder to all of us who run on the roads that you can never be too careful. When I think about it, I do take some stupid risks - on more than one occasion I've run across someone's driveway as they started to back the car out, or have crossed the road just a little too close to the oncoming cars, or assumed someone has seen me when they haven't, been out at night wearing all black - the list goes on. I've been lucky so far, but it really isn't taking worth taking such a gamble with my safety.
As invincible as we all feel, the worst does sometimes happen, and unfortunately it seems Leigh was just one of many. After a bit of Google research, I've found statistics (here) from the Department of Transport that show that in 2010 in the UK, there were 19,455 accidents reported involving pedestrians and vehicles where someone was injured...and 403 of those resulted in a fatality. Obviously that's not just runners...any pedestrian, any vehicle..but these are much higher numbers than I had expected. It's frightening and really does make me re-evaluate why I take the chances that I do, and makes me realise that I need to change how I run when I'm out on the roads.
Leigh's death has also served as a reminder to me of how incredibly important it is to really take advantage of every day we have...it's clichéd I know, but it's true. I'm the world's worst at wasting time, prevaricating, watching the TV instead of actually doing something, and not taking up opportunities I'm offered through fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or just damn laziness. It's crazy. As some of you will know, my amazing dad died very suddenly of a massive heart attack while he was at his desk at work, 10 years ago. You would think that this would have made me realise just how precious life is and how quickly it can be gone.
Now I don't want to sound morbid, but clearly horrendous things can happen, and they do, every day. Because of that, I know (and I think we all do) that you should tell your nearest and dearest that you love them whenever you can, you should say yes to new experiences, get back in touch with friends you haven't seen because you've all been too busy...take advantage of everything today has to offer because you never know what tomorrow might hold for you.
Now I just need to work out how to actually live like that - to turn off the TV, and to make the most of every moment. I suppose I can start with my approach to running. I should stop plodding away on that boring 4 mile route I have, just to rack up some empty miles to get the weekly numbers up, and start making the most of every mile. To quote the recent Nike campaign (which against all my instincts, I love!) ...I need to "Make it Count".
I know it's easy to say these things, harder to actually apply them in every day life, but sometimes, it's really worth the effort.