Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Did My 206 Marathons Within 5 Years Cause Me Permanent Damage?

The Boston Marathon took place earlier this week. There were 27,221 people who started the race and 97% finished the 26.2-mile course. Leading up to race day there were many headlines in newspapers, television reports, and online reading:
  • Running a marathon is as traumatic for your body as having heart surgery
  • The Many Ways Running a Marathon Destroys Your Body
  • Running IS bad for you! Marathon runners 'at greater risk of fatal kidney disease'
  • Marathon running could be bad for your health
These sorts of headlines irritate me! There are extensive research studies from well-respected institutions dating back decades showing the undeniable benefits of marathoning. Although I'm not one to race in organized marathons, I have done my fair share of completing the marathon distance... time and time again.

The total mileage of my solo runs across the United States, Montana, Germany, Alaska, and the Mojave Desert from 2006-2011 was 5,386 miles -- the equivalent of 206 marathons in 184 days on the road (all while pushing 80 pounds of gear in a support stroller)! Of course, there was also about 7,000 training miles during those 5 years.

If I were to believe all of the doomsday articles written about marathoning, I could possibly convince myself that all of the marathons I accomplished in my 40's have permanently damaged my body and decreased my lifespan. However, I don't buy it! Sadly, headlines (like those above) can discourage potential marathoners from ever approaching the starting line.

My advice to anyone interested in researching marathon running with an aim of possibly taking on the challenge is to read quality studies from reputable institutions. Don't let some 'scary' headlines keep you from experiencing one of the most wonderful goals in running. Train smart, have a check up with your physician beforehand, and enjoy the 26.2-mile journey -- a journey that millions of people have successfully taken since the first marathon distance was accomplished in 490 BC.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso