A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Enough with the "Is Running Bad For Your Health" Already

Enough already!

Just how many times do endurance runners have to prove the naysayers wrong all the time?

Here's another article, in Runners World, no less, asking if back-to-back mountain marathons are "bad for your health."


Et tu Runners World?

About 30 years ago, a lot of people were asking if marathons by themselves were "bad for your health."

Then someone has gone and run 100 miles with the horses. In mountains, no less.  And actually finished under 24 hours.

After several years and several 100 mile races later, the articles are now saying, "is running 100 miles bad for your health?"

Come on guys, this is stupid.

That's been proven wrong again and again.

So now endurance stage races like the Transrockies and Grand to Grand Ultra come to exist in recent years and start to flourish. Most of these stages are set in tough mountainous areas; usually each stage is about a marathon in length.

The start of one of the stages of the Grand to Grand Ultra


And of course these articles come out again, "is running back to back marathons in the mountains bad for your health?"

Um, let me answer that quite simply.

NO!

Let me give you a statistically longer answer to this. The risk is extraordinarily lower for a person to run than the health complications that develop when a person sits around, does nothing, and watches TV all day.

The few times that I've been in hospitals seeing relatives this year, I see a lot more patients with heart attacks, diabetes, strokes, coronary heart disease, and bypass surgeries than I do runners collapsing from races.

And yes, there have been few reports of runners collapsing from races, but if you compare it to the health complications from unfit people, the chances are essentially nil.

I have a friend that is currently working toward being a medical doctor. He was in the medical staff for both the Honolulu Marathon and the HURT 100 mile ultramarathon. What he said about the two races was amazing in one way, typical in the other.

With the Honolulu Marathon, he did have to treat some people for dehydration and exhaustion issues.

You would expect he'd be busy for a race as extreme as the HURT 100. I mean, 100 miles is a gruelling distance, right?

He sat there twiddling his thumbs the entire race.

Hmmm, maybe because runners who opt for that distance are more experienced to handle their health at that distance?

In any case, health problems are quite minimal at the 100 mile distance.

It's interesting too. I have never heard of a runner who died in an ultra. Not one story. If there was a death that happened, I would sure to hear about it. If it did happen, the news would spread around the running world very, very fast because it just doesn't happen very frequently.

So, back to this "is running a certain thing bad for your health?" garbage. It's not a story that should make the headlines at this point of time. You have a major obesity problem in this country, and most of the hospitalizations and deaths that occur happen to do with the complications of obesity (yes, cancer too; I firmly believe that the rates of cancer can be significantly reduced by boosting immunity through exercise and diet).

You can read an article here, stating that over 300,000 premature deaths happen each year due to the complications of obesity. And you hear about what, 5-6 deaths in marathons each year? Is marathon really a health issue then?

So let's stop targeting running and exercise in general as a health problem, OK? There are far larger issues concerning peoples' health than running.

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