The risk of the lonely distance runner

Story highlights

  • The conundrum facing experienced and novice athletes is always time
  • When exercising alone, tell someone when and where you're going and when you're expected back

(CNN)The sudden and tragic death of David Goldberg, CEO of Survey Monkey, filled me with pain and sadness for those who knew and loved him. The second thing that struck me was that while all the details are still unknown, he was exercising alone when he died. I actually learned of his death just as I returned home from a 50-mile bike ride.

Team Lipstick (author in the center) at a Toughman Triathlon.
I'm a triathlete, and that requires roughly 10 hours of exercise a week, or "training," as I call it. Most of the time I spend working out I am not alone. I am fortunate to have a team of women with whom I train. But the conundrum facing experienced and novice athletes is always time. How do you fit it in?
I get up at 4:30 a.m. four or five days a week. That schedule means sometimes I must train alone, even when it may go against my better judgment, like going for an early morning run in 15-degree weather when even the streets of New York City are empty.
    I also know about injuries. Anything can happen at any time -- all it takes is a fraction of a second for a bicycle wheel to hit rough road or for someone to cut you off. Accidents happen to the best and most experienced athletes with devastating and even deadly consequences. I hit the pavement in Central Park about 6 years ago when I lost control of my bike. I landed head first over the front of the bike and my helmet bounced along the road as my life flashed before my eyes. Fortunately, I was with my teammates,