Are Marathoners Dying to Run?

I saw an article the other day with a headline that kind of jumped out at me.

Running a Marathon Hard on Heart, Especially in Less Prepared Runners.

Did I mention I’m running a marathon in 10 days?

keep-calm-it-s-only-26-2-miles-2Obviously I clicked on the headline and read the article.

Not the First Time I’ve Heard of the “Risks” of Running 26.2

Before I ran my first marathon, my dad felt compelled to have a little heart to heart with me. My folks live in Michigan, and a few weeks before they visited us in Florida was the Detroit Marathon. Apparently, a couple of guys had died while running the race, and when my dad found out I was running, I guess he was concerned for my health and well being.

Looking back on the conversation and subsequent race, I was totally unprepared to run that marathon.

But I survived.

I don’t know what the current stats are, but I understand that people may die while running 26.2 miles. I also understand that people may die while sleeping, while driving, while sitting on the couch, while flying, while eating, and while attending church.

We don’t tell people not to do any of those things for fear of death, and yet my dad was telling me I shouldn’t run a marathon because I could die from it.

Sounds like a lyric from YOLO by Lonely Island. (Wait, you haven’t heard this song? Seriously, click the link and enjoy. You’re welcome.)

We do lot’s of things that are “dangerous” every day. I mean hell, I live in Florida and don’t wear sunscreen. Talk about taking a walk on the wild side.

If I’m going to meet my maker because I wore my heart out running a marathon, I guess them’s the breaks. I mean, at least I’ll have gone out doing something I enjoy!

What Did the Article Say

The article was far less damning of marathon running than the headline would have you believe, so I guess that means it was a good headline. And that I have a good chance of surviving my race.

In a study that was recently published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, researches monitored 20 recreational distance runners as they prepared for the Quebec City Marathon. They took a baseline blood sample and MRI of the heart 6-8 weeks before the race, and compared those with results collected within 48 hours after the race. The researchers found that about half of the participants in the study had a decrease in ventricular function post race, and some of the runners had mild swelling of their heart tissue. Those that had observable symptoms were tested again in 3 months, and all symptoms had reversed in that time.

Another thing that the researchers discovered is that those that had a higher level of fitness, ie those that had trained more before the marathon, were less susceptible to the short term damage that was present in the hearts of approximately half of the runners in the study. But because of the fact that all symptoms had resided within the 3 months after the race, doctors and researchers alike concluded that marathon running poses no long term heart risks. And by participating in a proper training regimen prior to the race, even the short term risks are mitigated.

Should People Still Run 26.2?

It’s up to you, but I am not quitting.

Not only am I bound and determined to become a member of the 50 State Marathon Club, but I’m just not that concerned about the risk.

Sure, running a marathon is hard on the body. There’s no question about that. But by training regularly the body is able to adapt and get stronger, so it’s easier to endure and recover from the strain.

In this day and age, death by running too far is hardly the threat to life that obesity, heart disease, and a whole host of other maladies are. So I’ll take my chances with running.

See you at the starting line.

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