Run Too Long And You May Live Too Short A Life

During the Greco-Persian War in 490 BCE, Phidippides, a 40-year-old herald messenger (professional running-courier) ran the 26 miles from a battlefield near Marathon, Greece, into Athens carrying momentous news of Greek victory. Upon arriving at the Acropolis, he proclaimed: ‘Joy, we have won!’ and then immediately collapsed and died.

Now if that doesn’t get your attention for today’s post, I don’t know what will. But before we get started with business let’s first start with…

Good morning! Happy Wednesday, I can’t believe how quickly this week is flying by. Tomorrow my in-laws will be coming in to town from Philidelphia. We’re very excited to see them! Though I am still racking my brain on what to make for our “holiday feast”… any suggestions are welcomed!

Even though they’ll be in town, I’ll still be sticking to my training schedule:

  • Thursday: Heavy lifting (with Amanda) and quick 3-4 mile speed run (with Jeanette)
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday: Long treadmill run followed by 5K PJ run with friends

With all that running, it’s hard to believe that I am about to share a new report that says running is actually bad for you.

Now, before you get all antsy and try to defend the sport… remember, I love to run. As seen here, here and here.

That face just screams, I LOVE TO RUN 🙂 

But at the same time, I am not afraid to admit that I know it’s not the best thing for my body in the long run (no pun intended). I am very conscious about the time I spend with my Mizuno’s laced up and am much more likely to be seen doing speed work than long runs (which only happens 1x/week and is always less than 70 minutes).

Running: The Opposite Of Longevity

With the popularity of marathons and ultra-running growing exponentially it’s hard to believe that running can be anything but wonderful for you. Right? Most people start running because they want to live a healthier life. They start training for a marathon for the bragging rights, the physical challenge and the idea that running 26.2 miles is safe.

But researchers have discovered: 

“Vigorious exercise is good for health, but only if it’s limited to a maximum dose of between 30 and 50 minutes.”

This was the quote published in Heart.

US cardiologists explain that doing high intensity for longer can actually be damaging to the heart… and that running too far, too fast, and for too many years can speed up your life. Isn’t the reason we all want to workout to live longer and healthier?

I know what you’re wondering… great, but what does that mean? Well, according to the research, chronic extreme exercise can cause “wear and tear” to the heart, “inducing adverse structural and electrical remodeling”. In lamen terms, it means that long spots of running and at high intensities can offset the actual benefits of cardiovascular exercise and affect longevity of your life.


Here are some other running facts that I came upon during my research: 

  1. There are around 30-40 million Americans partaking in running, making it the most common form of exercise.
  2. Approximately 35-45% of runners will experience a running related injury each year.
  3. Runners will experience an average of 4 injuries per 1,000 hours of training. That means if you run around 5 hours per week, you may end up with 1-2 injuries each year. That proved the case this past year for me when I experienced my knee sprang.
  4. Speaking of knees: the knee is the most commonly injured body part from running. Accounting for around 42% of all injuries. The second is the food and ankle.

With this information being published will I cut back on my running? I have long supported that running too far isn’t all to great for you. This is why I have no desire to run a marathon (1/2’s are just fine for me) and why you won’t see me spending my entire Saturday on the roads of Charleston. I like to get out, get on the roads and get back home to enjoy life. Running for 20+ miles isn’t something I care to brag about.

I also stay firm in my believe that there is no reason to run every day of the week. I run 3 days… that’s it. As it has always been, strength training is the center of my fitness program.

And as far as time spent each day exercising… short and sweet! Long life… I hope is in my future.

Questions Of The Day: 

  1. How often do you run? 
  2. Have you ever had a running related injury?



  • I’ve seen these articles/studies. I have mixed feelings on it. Yes, I can buy that perhaps for some people, excessive running might lead to damage. But-I still think the benefits far outweigh the small risks. I think the key is to keep intensity sane, meaning, within reason or to about 10% of total miles. And to not run excessive miles all year round. Who knows? If running ultimately is my cause of death, I’m ok with that!

    • I agree Amanda… after all people know that processed food kills but decide to “enjoy life”… same with running we do it because of the love of the sport. I am on both sides of the fight… just call me Switzerland.

  • Hi there! Don’t often comment but love your blog… 🙂

    I run on occasion, mostly on the treadmill, and usually not for more than about an hour. I mix it up with elliptical, stairmaster, dance classes, and the rowing machine because I feel like running is the hardest form of cardio on my body (And i’m an ex-ballerina!!) But I do really enjoy having it in the mix, and get excited when I improve my times. Slowly getting faster has been my goal, getting farther in the same amount of time. I am hoping to be able to run a half marathon at some point, but I don’t see myself going any farther than that. 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting! And for reading!! I love to mix it up too. I agree, 1/2 marathons are the perfect distance… you get a challenge but you don’t need to sit in an ice bath afterwards. Ex ballerina? Wow, that’s awesome! I still have a desire to take ballet classes as an adult.

  • Lizzie1956

    What about race walking? I would love to learn more about that–seems like you can avoid some of the running pitfalls and still get a great workout in a short time!

    • I have heard great things about speed walking! I actually took speed walking as an elective in college. Lol, it was fun. But yes, it is a great way to burn the calories and be gentle on the body.

  • Camille C.

    I never comment, but this is something I am really passionate about. I totally agree that running long miles is not the best for your body. I used to run marathons (starting when I was 16) and it caused me to need hip surgery when I was 21. Now, I also run three times a week but do strength training, cycling classes, plyometrics, eliptical, etc. I feel much healthier now with a more balanced fitness routine… But my hip still hurts. All. The. Time. And probably will forever. It’s different for everyone, but I do think that variety in cardio and strength is the key to overall balanced fitness.

    • Thanks for commenting! Wow, you’ve been through a lot but I am glad you’ve found a balanced program that works. I am just sorry you’re stuck to hip pain but it seems like you’re not letting it slow you down!

  • Tracey McKoy

    Interesting. I work out 4 to 5 times a week – mixture of strength training and cardio. I would often end a routine with a long run on the treadmill until I could go no more. I felt like I was doing myself good with an intense, long run to cap off my routine. My trainer pointed out that pounding it out for long periods on the treadmill encourages high levels of free radicals in the body and is actually bad for you. He recommends HIT – for no more than 15-20 minutes of running or other cardio activity. He also pointed out at the physical appearance of the sprinters in the Olympics and the runners. He said the runners looked physically older and not as firm and muscular as the sprinters.Maybe the runners become more catabolic from such intense and long runs. I have taken his advice and only do short bouts on the treadmill – no more running. I’m learning more and more about the importance of timing and rest in exercise and letting your body recover and avoiding over training. I have to remind myself to take my rest days seriously and I try to not push myself too hard. Balance and rest is key.

  • Stef

    I am not a natural runner – and my pace is closer to walking than jogging – but I enjoy it immensely. I started with couch to 5k a year ago and ran my first 5k in may of 2012 I try to ‘run’ no more than 2 miles at a time. I’ve run one 5k (May 2012) and would like to run a 10K in 2013 and perhaps a 21k (half marathon ;-)) in 2014.

    I find cardio really helps my mood and strength training helps my body.

    • Congrats on the 5K, that’s great! I love the 10K distance I think the best, I am excited for you to give it a go, it seems like 2013 can be a big year!

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