Maybe 13.1 is the perfect distance after all…

From Scientific American magazine, a report today on the damage that extreme running can do to the heart, which certainly gives me pause in the passing thoughts I have about training for a 26.2-mile race someday in the future. Even Running Times magazine weighed in last year on the side of not running full marathons, for most people anyway.

The authors quoted by SA looked at a study posted in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, which found that extreme endurance training can cause inflammation and scarring in cardiac tissue both during and for days after extreme long distance runs:

“Physical exercise, though not a drug, possesses many traits of a powerful pharmacologic agent,” O’Keefe said. “As with any pharmacologic agent, a safe upper dose limit potentially exists, beyond which the adverse effects of physical exercise, such as musculoskeletal trauma and cardiovascular stress, may outweigh its benefits.”

It’s just another reason, in my mind, that exercise should be kept in the “Goldilocks” zone — not too much, not too little. And why training for races like 10Ks and half marathons may be the optimal way to balance both fitness and goal-setting without going overboard. That’s my two cents, anyway.

Read the full story here.

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