Marathon running has become ever more popular with many runners using them to raise huge amounts of money for charity and also to achieve personal goals. But just how good are they for our bodies?
Research suggests that for the body to cope with a marathon then the body requires fitness and conditioning to fully cope with the demands put on it. Training should take place over a period of months so that the body can adequately adapt. In fact the research suggests that if training is done properly then our muscles, joints and bones can be strengthened and conditioned by the experience but the key is training and preparation.
The people who are most at risk in marathon running include those who are overweight and unfit, have had a previous injury that then becomes aggravated and people who have bodies that are asymmetrical in some way. If someone has all of these factors then the impact on the joints is really a concern.
On a warm day a marathon runner can lose up to four litres of fluid which can cause dehydration. Drinking little and early can prevent this happening. But conversely another problem can be drinking too much water which can cause a condition known as water intoxication, although this is rare.
Another factor to be aware of is that marathon running can cause problems for the digestive system. This is something caused when people start taking carbohydrate drinks or gels during a marathon and are unsure how their bodies will react to them.
It is obviously very sad when anyone dies during or after a marathon but the research here is very interesting. The suggestion is that those who die tend to have undiagnosed heart problems. The advice is to remember that whilst deaths as a result of marathons are rare you should always consult your doctor before taking part in a marathon.
The conclusion seems to be that as long as you train and help your body adapt to the challenge then there are health benefits to running a marathon. Another piece of key advice is to seek medical advice before you commit to any marathon.
Always give your self time to properly train for the marathon. The advice from marathon runners is or give yourself at least a 6 month lead time to train. Then build your mileage up each week, training three to five times a week.
Make sure when you are designing a training schedule that you build rest into it so that your body can properly recover.
Look at what you eat and drink to ensure that you are getting the right food groups to help your body to cope. Lots of protein is essential as well as carbohydrates.
Finally seek medical advice before you do anything as you may suffer from a condition that you are unaware of.
Once you pass the finish line there are some key bits of advice to remember. Use hot and cold baths and showers and keep hydrated. Eat plenty of protein as this will help your body to recover. If you can go and get a massage to loosen up all those tired muscles. The benefits of a good massage include reducing pain, muscle soreness and inflammation. Also, keep moving. You may not feel like it bit something like swimming will really help you to not seize up. Finally, investing in a foam roller or massage ball could also be a good idea.