Marathon running can kill !

... or so the latest "experts" say

1 to 20 of 21 messages
30/11/2012 at 10:46

Don't know if anyone else has seen the story on the front page of today's Telegraph online, but "experts" (ahem) are now saying that we should only run for between 30 and 50 minutes at a time and do no more than 1 or" a few" marathons or triathlons in our lives. Otherwise, we risk an early death from heart failure. This appears to be based on nothing more than the realtively early death of Micah True from "running too much", although Pheidippedes also gets a mention.

Appreciate that this sort of story comes round fairly regularly and will no doubt be seized upon by couch potatoes everywhere (some of the readers comments underneath the story are so typical). I doubt if it will make the slighhtest bit of difference to any of us, but the danger is it might put off some people from taking up running in the first place.

M.r Zuvai    pirate
30/11/2012 at 11:06

i've learnt no good can come from the comments section of any news article - you're likely to find reasoned response there are you are to find the lochness monster!

as for the article itself, well it just conforms the lazy/ sensational journalism we've come to expect from the DT

Rafiki    pirate
30/11/2012 at 11:19

I believe every word of it - I'm hanging up my running shows and heading off to find the Loch Ness monster instead!!

30/11/2012 at 11:22

As someone new to running, and would like to push myself towards marathons next year, this preys on my fears a little. I recognise it is baloney and at least the comments section cheered me up (especially when someone mentioned the knees).

One thing I do wish is when there is a death if they could publish more details on what happened for us all to learn from. Appreciate it is private and hard for families though. Preparation, hydration, medical checks could maybe have helped these cases so would be good to know.

30/11/2012 at 11:31

I saw a similar thread on Letsrun regarding a Wall St Journal article prompted by the same editorial.

There's a response here on the US Runnersworld site.

http://www.runnersworld.com/health/too-much-running-myth-rises-again

 

30/11/2012 at 11:35

Itsnt it just like the food scares that keep coming up?

 

30/11/2012 at 11:36

I believe the old adage of "don't believe everything you read in the press" still holds true...

and with a typical lack of foresight on the DT's part they don't quote one of the salient points in the original article in the Heart, namely:

After our recent articles on this topic,1 ,3–5 Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon and Editor-at-Large for Runner's World Magazine, challenged our assertions about the dangers of extreme endurance efforts by demanding, ‘Show me the bodies’. Amby has a good point: the risk of dropping dead in a marathon is remote, about 0.5 to 1 in 100,000 participants.6 But the occasional marathoner or triathlete who dies while strenuously exercising is the ‘canary in the coal mine’. Chronic extreme exercise appears to cause excessive ‘wear-and-tear’ on the heart, inducing adverse structural and electrical remodelling, which offsets some of the CV benefits and longevity improvements conferred by moderate physical activity. Thus, even though chronic extreme exercise MAY not kill you, it MAY erase many of the health advantages of regular moderate exercise.

basically, you might die, you might not - your choice to act on that info. 

I'll keep doing what I do - I have a greater chance of death from cancer based on that data.

 

30/11/2012 at 11:45

The Daily Telegraph is now an absolute rag - on a par with the Daily Mail.

Shame. It used to be quite good.

Rafiki    pirate
30/11/2012 at 11:45

Quite how they can isolate the fact that it's allegedly running that causes these changes in the heart is quite impressive considering the myriad of other factors that influence any physiological change in an individual's body!

One factor that is rarely mentioned in this sort of article is quality of life, which in my case has certainly improved since taking up this endurance malarkey.

And as an Evolutionary Biologist, I'll stick with the persistence hunter model and accept the fact we're 'designed' for endurance running

30/11/2012 at 12:06

Great points FB and Rafiki. It must be impossible to isolate 1 single factor , like how much running an individual does, from things like diet, stress, alcohol intake and most important of all, your genes !

30/11/2012 at 12:23
Steve Rand 7 wrote (see)

As someone new to running, and would like to push myself towards marathons next year, this preys on my fears a little. I recognise it is baloney and at least the comments section cheered me up (especially when someone mentioned the knees).

One thing I do wish is when there is a death if they could publish more details on what happened for us all to learn from. Appreciate it is private and hard for families though. Preparation, hydration, medical checks could maybe have helped these cases so would be good to know.

Hi Steve

A few weeks ago, I started a thread that discussed this (link below). One stat that sticks out was that an average person has 7-in-a-million chance of dying in a marathon.

That sounds a bit hairy... until you compare it with other activities that bring the same 7-in-a-million risk.

  • 1700 miles in a car
  • 42 miles on a motorbike
  • 42 minutes in a canoe

For most people, if you include time spent in other people's cars, they do roughly 1700 miles every month. Every single month! Lots of people do 42 miles on a motorbike every single working day!

But you wouldn't lose sleep about it would you?  And yet there are no health benefits. So why worry about running a marathon? We know that the fitness benefits from running massively reduce your chances of dying of heart disease and cancer... which are far far bigger killers, and before you die, are also far far more debilitating on quality of life.

It's a no-brainer. But, as with anything, it's fine to be conscious of risks... and mitigate with sensible measures....  just like you do the same with driving - drive at sensible speeds, make sure your car has legal tyres and brakes.

Be conscious but, unless you are far from being an average person (e.g. if you know you have a health issue that badly increases your risks) then don't fear for a moment.

http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/forum/clubhouse/7-micromorts---your-chances-of-death-in-a-marathon/229370.html

Edited: 30/11/2012 at 12:24
Rafiki    pirate
30/11/2012 at 12:35

Run Wales - is that one in 7 million whilst running a marathon, as a direct result of the marathon, as opposed to normal background mortality?

30/11/2012 at 12:47

If you read the Runners World link in Andy D's post above, you'll see that the report did try and isolate the effect of running by removing other factors such as weight, alcohol consumption and smoking.  As the Runners World article says, you end up saying "if you take away all the health benefits of running, then you find there is no health benefit to running".  Its just sad that people get research grants to come up with this rubbish!

There was another report in the media a few weeks ago regarding the dangers of spending too much time sitting down:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19910888

So you can't win if you believe them all - if you sit on the sofa you'll die, but if you get up & get moving you will die!

 

30/11/2012 at 13:08

First... I'm not an academic in this field... nor work as an actuary or anything! But I read a little.. that's all

You ask a good question... one that had crossed my mind - but I'd not investigated.  I have just done that.

The 7-in-a-million (7 "Micromorts") statistic does, I believe, derive from estimating the number of people who have run marathons in the last few years...  and compared it to the number of reported deaths that occured directly associated with marathons in the same period. Probably based on news coverage...  so if someone died 5 days later...  or died training, then I think those deaths would be excluded. It won't be an exact science... but will give a ballpark figure.

As a comparison to background mortality, I just found this site..   http://www.deathriskrankings.com/%28S%2812horeipsbjsaqyhghltmb45%29%29/MortStats.aspx?compare=1&222

If I'm reading it right, if you are in your 30s you have 924 micromorts chance of dying within any given year.   So that's roughly 2.5-in-a-million chance of dying (from any cause) on any given day.  (If you're in your forties it jumps to 5 or 6 in a million chance in any given day)

I don't know what the average age of marathon runners is.. but I'd be surprised if it isn't somewhere in the mid-thirties...  so I'd say that, using all the broad-brush assumptions... that an average marathon runner has  7-in-a-million chance of dying during an average marathon...  but if he/she chose not to do the marathon, he/she still has a 2.5-in-a-million chance of dying the same day, from some other cause.

I'd say that that is absolutely miniscule compared to the health benefits to be gained from being so fit.

Edited: 30/11/2012 at 13:13
30/11/2012 at 13:16
When a handful of people die running each year it always makes the news. How many thousands of people die every year due to them being unfit and overweight and that never gets a mention.
Rafiki    pirate
30/11/2012 at 13:37

Thanks for the clarifiation RW!

I guess the question 'they' will never be able to answer is if one of those 7 people had not run, or even trained for a marathon, would they have already died as a result of a heart disorder brought on by too many McDs? Or if they played squash once a week, ate healthily, would they still drop dead in 2 years time due that same heart condition. i.e. marathon running is not the causal factor - it just triggers an underlying condition.

The benefits far out weigh the risks - plus you get shiny medals

30/11/2012 at 13:57

An average person in their fifties has over '5000-in-a-million' (5000 micromort) chance of dying in any given year - that equates to 14 Micromorts on any given day.

It is well established that a person running a marathon has a 7 micromort chance of dying.

This is statistical proof, that the over-fifities can halve their risk of dying by running a marathon every day.

Can I please have a PhD in Maths.

Rafiki    pirate
30/11/2012 at 14:31

Certainly Dr Wales!

I think the only thing statistics prove is that you can prove whatever you want statistically!

30/11/2012 at 14:47

The sad truth is never trust anything science based written in a newspaper. Delivering proper analysis of scientific trials and data in order to deliver a balanced interpretation of results is beyond most journalists. They just want a headline from an "expert". 

30/11/2012 at 15:14
Millsy1977 wrote (see)
When a handful of people die running each year it always makes the news. How many thousands of people die every year due to them being unfit and overweight and that never gets a mention.

To be fair to the papers they do love stories about fat people though when one dies you won't see a headline  of "Fat person dies young sitting on the couch consuming MacD" whereas the runner dies during marathon is worthy.  I guess one is news and the other just isn't.

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