I opened up my internet browser to MSN today and this article popped up on the front page. This article angers me on many accounts. It is saying that heart damage is a proven side effect of marathon training, yet I know people who have had heart surgery that run ultra marathons! I think we all know that running can be hard on our bodies no doubt, but I really find it difficult to believe that a heart problem is a rampant problem with marathoners.
This study should not have even been published because in my mind it was not conducted well enough to bring into a general public problem. There were only 20 people looked at into this study set to represent the approximately 468,000 marathoners that Marathon Guide reported in 2009. I don't know about you, but if someone is making generalized health claims I think that I would want more people surveyed to look at the health risk! I would not try a new medication that only 20 people had tried, I don't think I'll take medical advice for it too!
Second, this study said they had various ages surveyed, but they never mention underlying health issues they may have. They also do not say how many of the sample were in their 20s, 30s and so on. This does make a difference because we know as we age that we are more prone to heart disease. If this study was conducted with mainly older marathoners that could drastically skew the results.
Third, this study did not look at other factors. What was the weather like that day hot or cold? We all know temperature extremes can make a difference in how our bodies react to the marathon. What was the elevation like? Going uphill is a big difference from a net downhill course! There are a multitude of extenuating factors that can contribute to physical ailments in a marathon other then the distance itself.
This study is trying to look at why people have been dying of heart attacks in races. I understand that this has been occurring more, but could it be because more people are running marathons now? Could it be related to body fat percentage? We all know that elite runners are some of the leanest athletes out there perhaps that low body fat is putting more stress on their hearts? There is no way to tell why this is occurring, but we need to remember that it get sensationalized in the media. There are almost half a million marathoners and the bulk majority do not die of heart attacks, but finish on a euphoric high knowing that they achieved what they thought was impossible.
Tell me what you think is marathoning dangerous for our health?