Marathon running has emerged as a symbol of health and well-being in our society. Getting to the finish line requires strength, motivation, and endurance. While long-distance training can be rewarding, some runners discover that every body has a limit. Unfortunately, many people run too hard or too long without recognizing it—then suddenly, they find themselves at a chiropractor, physical therapist, or sports medicine doctor. We would like to help you understand the pros, the cons, and the keys of running to reap the benefits and avoid the dangers.
Benefits of Running:
– Increases lung capacity & endurance
– Improves mood
– May increases fertility
– Improves memory and learning ability
– Lowers the chances of developing certain diseases
– May prevent the development of Diabetes
– Strengthens muscles & increases muscle tone
– Aids in weight loss and maintenance
Dangers of Too Much Running:
Obviously running can be very good for you, but some studies have also proven that too much of it can cause more harm than good. Take a look at some of the ways that over-training may take a toll on your body:
– May cause damage to joints
– Over-strains the muscles
– Can over-strain the heart
– May create low back pain
– Can cause stress fractures
How to Know Your Limits:
Some studies suggest no one should run over 20 miles/week; others disagree. Research has yet to conclude on a magic threshold for optimal health as a runner–and they probably never will. So, one of the best ways to figure out how much is too much is by tuning into your body. This can be hard for athletes who like to push themselves until their breaking point or even for someone trying to achieve a new life milestone like a half-marathon or Ragnar race. But, it is important to learn how to differentiate between your mind giving up and your body giving out.
When we exercise, we naturally become sore. We also often become tired, sweaty, and hopeless. All of this can make it hard to continue running, but these are mental blocks—not necessarily physical hindrances to running. None of these are valid red flags to decrease your mileage; however, pay attention to bilateral aches, inability to walk properly, moderate to severe discomfort when squatting or bending, or recurring pain throughout your back, legs or hips. All of these conditions are a message from your body to slow down, cut back, and see a health professional.
Essential Habits for Long-Distance Runners:
If you decide that your body can handle 20+ miles a week, then you need to make sure you aren’t skipping out on these training rules:
– Take 1-2 rest days per week
– Build up your mileage slowly
– Don’t run while injured
– Always warm up, cool down, and stretch (Dr. T has these helpful stretching videos)
– Buy new shoes every 300-500 miles (Here are some tips for finding the right pair)
– Consult a Doctor before beginning any new or challenging training plan
If you are feeling side-effects from over-training, or would like to talk about injury prevention, we’d love to help you recover and prevent future damage. We work with numerous athletes who are at all levels of training.