Of late, it seems that literally everyone is into marathon running. Well, maybe not everyone but every second person you (or who knows somebody) has taken running up as a hobby/fitness challenge.
As fulfilling and brag-worthy as running a half or full marathon is, it’s an activity that takes quite a toll on your body. Not only is there the damaging impact it has on your joints, but a recent study found it’s quite bad for your kidneys too.
Beth Sheehan, an accredited exercise physiologist and professional practice advisor at Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) told Nine Coach, “Running sends one-and-a-half to three times an individual’s body weight through their body,”
“This repetitive impact over a longer distance and time especially when running a marathon, will potentially have long-term effects if an athlete is not adequately prepared.”
The body parts that are most likely to be impacted are the joints in your knees, hips, and feet. Overusing them can lead to painful strains and injuries. Aside from this Marathon running is also heavily taxing on the metabolic system.
“The extended energy demands on the cardiorespiratory, endocrine, and neuromuscular systems also affect the metabolic demands on the body,” Sheehan explains.
And this will present itself in the form of dehydration, adverse fatigue, and renal complications alongside the kidney damage that was mentioned earlier.
Unfortunately, marathon running-induced injuries can’t always be prevented, but there are precautions you can take in order to avoid it as much as possible.
“A solid preparation and training program needs to be implemented prior to a marathon,” Sheehan advises. “This involves a combination of cross training to ensure adequate strength and cardiovascular fitness, appropriate dietary requirements, as well as proper management of joints and muscle length.”
According to Sheehan, apart from your actual running training, you should do separate sessions to work on your leg strength (focusing on the glutes, legs and core), and stretching sessions( like Yoga) to assist with flexibility.
And yes, one must never forget the golden rules when it comes to running marathons or training: Warm up, starting your run slowly and building up, and cool down by foam rolling or stretching, ideally when your body is still warm, or in the shower.
Gear is crucial, and it is recommended to get customized shoes to suit your feet and stance, and wear breathable clothing to reduce your body temperature, and therefore your chances of overheating and dehydration.
When it comes to hydration, remember that adequate fuelling is imperative. Drink water during long runs and take an energy gel pack, if you experience fluctuating sugar levels. Rehydrating after the run with an electrolytes is also important. Also please steer clear of dehydrating drinks, like alcohol and caffeine post-run.
All in all, running is clearly not for the weak-hearted and requires tremendous commitment. “Your body and health are at stake, so consult an accredited exercise professional as well as a sports dietitian to ensure you are adequately prepared for your event,” Sheehan says. “Also, listen to your body. If you are experiencing increasing pain or a urinary issue, seek professional advice.”