People are starry-eyed about running marathons. They believe running will improve their health and fitness and start out training for a 5Km marathon. Once they master it, they often begin to train for longer races – 10K, half marathon and eventually a full marathon which is around 42k. So, is long-distance running really all that helpful?

In fact, this full-blown marathon got its name from the legend of Pheldippides who ran from Marathon to Athens in Greece to proclaim their victory over the Persians. But as fate would have it, he fell dead soon after his arrival.

While life may be like a marathon, your fitness training program need not be just running marathons. Have you ever noticed that marathon runners in Olympics look so skinny? Why are marathons proclaimed to be healthy, yet the first man that ever ran one collapsed?

There are many health risks associated with excessive endurance training. Read on to know why running long-distance marathons frequently might not be of great help in the long-run.


How Helpful Running is for Health?The Downsides to Running

The Human body is not designed for marathon or long-distance running. This is because marathon running requires much more exertion and concentrated effort. As a result, the muscles and tendons get over-used and get inflamed, bones wear out and the immune system function goes down. Besides, injuries are also likely to happen when you are stretching your body’s capacity.

The health benefits of running seem to drop when people run more than 30km a week, more than six days a week or faster than 12 km per hour, according to an article published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Here’s how running could pay diminishing returns to your health:

  1. Stress

All exercise puts stress on your system. However, when performed for hours together, like during a triathlon, ultra-marathon or marathon, those stress levels can be far-reaching especially if there’s no time for recovery. Experts estimate that it takes the body at least a couple weeks to fully recover after a marathon.

  1. Inflammation

The body has an innate capability to adjust its endurance level according to the increased level of exercise in order to reduce systematic inflammation. However, oxidative damage is a serious consequence of continued inflammation and it should be addressed before increasing the distance. In addition, the body is also prone to suffering from lactic acidosis, if you run the same pace along the whole distance.

On the contrary, consider running in intervals of high intensity and low intensity to give your body the time to recover and also exert yourself at the same time.

  1. Diet and Weight

Many runners train for running long distances with a motive of losing weight. However, surprisingly many people gain weight when they begin running or training for a long distance event. This is because as weekly mileage increases, they experience a surge in appetite and to makeup, binge on high carbohydrates and sugar.

In addition, there are chances that you will also be gaining muscle. If you are not varying up your routine, pace, intervals, and elevation, your body would adjust to one thing. As a result, it would be less efficient about burning calories.

To turn this over, you can try interval running, interval walking or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). All of these workout routines will help you increase your lung capacity with periods of high intensity, recovery period and then back again in high intensity. There are many studies that have hailed this type of routines that is even beneficial for the heart.


79% of runners get injured at some point, a statistic that’s remained relatively stable for more than 40 years. In addition, a lot of people also tend to break down orthopedically leading to osteoarthritis and more

There’s no denying that running is one of the easiest ways to work out. However, too much of anything is bad for the body, including running. So, your fitness regimen should not solely be based on running. Don’t just focus on marathons, but also Balance your workout schedule with all essential elements – Yoga, Pilates, Aerobics, HIIT and Stretch exercises.


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