The first time you tell someone that you run Ultra-Marathons (or Marathons), the inevitable question that follows is “but isn’t that hard on your joint?” or “how do you think your body will be when you get older?”
I’ve been doing this stuff for quite a while now and I can’t think of one negative permanent affect it has had on my body. If anything it has made me feel stronger each year. I do however wonder sometimes about the possibility of people’s warnings coming true, and then I remind myself that the evidence is overwhelmingly positive.
Within our close knit running community, there are countless examples of distance runners that have been at it all their lives and are now well and truly into the second half of their lives and are still going strong – perhaps even stronger!
Anecdotal evidence is one thing, but what does science tell us???
Well this week, distance runners the world over, were able to yell a united “I told you so!” to all the worry warts in their lives. The research published HERE, tells us that running those “crazy” distances does in fact ADD years to our lives instead of TAKE them away. This is happening at a genetic level and is clearly measurable.
I do wonder if there are other factors at play though. I feel strongly that the quality of our health can be directly reflected in the level of our happiness. If you repeatedly put yourself through something that forces you to challenge your boundaries, obtain an amazing sense of achievement and connect with other positive and happy people as part of the process, then it is no small surprise that there will be benefits beyond just the obvious health and fitness ones.
Another interesting thing is the cyclic nature of running in our culture. The 1970’s saw a massive running boom hit the western world. This happened at the same time as the Hippie movement where people were searching for a greater level of freedom and happiness. We are now in the midst of another great and perhaps even bigger running boom and I believe it is happening because we have become too comfortable in our fast food, automatic, sitting down, over processed, plastic world. Maybe there is a built in sensor that tells us when we reach the tipping point of too much ‘EASY’ and reminds us that we need to have an element of striving in our lives. Running presents the perfect vehicle for our bodies to chase the essentials for a greater level of physical, mental and emotional satisfaction.
So, when is your next run?