A recent study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine reported that too much running may actually be harmful. The report gathered publicly available reports of deaths during or shortly after all known Marathons in the US from 2000 to 2009. There have been other studies that have come to this conclusion as well. Most of these deaths occurred because of heart attacks and mostly among men.
This result is of course a bit troubling to those of us who believe our running actually improves our heart health. There are a massive number of studies showing this to be the case, so what are we to make of this?
Gretchen Reynolds in an article in the New York Times, (Is Marathon Running Bad for the Heart) summarizes the state of thinking on this topic. She quotes Dr. Paul Thompson, the chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut that running is generally good for your cardiovascular health, but if you are going to have a heart attack you have a slightly higher risk of having it during a marathon than if you were simply sitting around doing nothing.
Here’s a link to the NYT article, it is well worth the read.
Another key point is how much running is TOO much? That depends of course on one’s age, sex,and general athletic fitness. Only you can answer that question. And it wouldn’t hurt to have a medical checkup with at an EKG before embarking on a half or full marathon training program either. Like most things in life, too little and too much are bad, in the middle is just right.
“Moderation in all things, including moderation.”
—— Titus Petronius
“Moderation in your daily runs, but an occasional marathon is OK.”
—— I said that