Over nearly 20 years of marathon running and training for long distance sports I have heard many misconceptions about the inherent risks of running endurance events. I have put a few of these myths to rest below.
Often the most common objection I hear in regards to marathon training is made by individuals who are out of shape and quite incapable of running at all. The statement that our bodies were not made to run long distances is not only untrue, but it is often a statement made to excuse the unwillingness to try.
Second, I hear the statement made that distance running is bad on the joints and that marathon training can slowly wear away cartilage. That itself is simply untrue. The biggest contributor to cartilage degradation is obesity and since running not only combats this it also increases blood flow to your joints, boosting their health.
I have also heard that running causes the heart to enlarge. That is also untrue. Marathon training has substantial cardiac benefits including lower blood pressure and increased efficiency. A healthy runners heart has to work less to move the same amount of blood.
Marathon training has a high rate of minor injuries. However, this is most often due to improper techniques in training and does not necessarily imply that the marathon training itself is bad for you.
Marathon training injuries are due, primarily, to two distinct factors. The first is usually a mistake made on behalf of the runner and they increase their total weekly miles too fast, causing injury.
The other injury often found in marathon training is pulled muscles. This is due to inadequate flexibility. Some simple stretching will solve this, so once again, you don’t get off the hook.
To adequately train for a marathon requires substantial time to slowly build up you weekly miles. To often the sport itself is blamed for improper training.
Marathon training produces some of the healthiest, happiest, runners on the planet. And now that you know it is good for you there are no excuse why you can’t get out there and get some good training in.