Are 10k Runs Bad For Your Health

- Isometric Training FAQ 14 -

By Paul "Batman" O'Brien 

B.A., N.C.E.H.S., Dip. Acu., Cert Clin. IMed., Dip. Adv. OBB, Dip. CHM, Pn1, PN-SSR, PN-NCA, M.AFPA., M.C.Th.A.

This is the Readers Questions Sections, where each issue I'll highlight a new question and provide you with a detailed answer.....Feel free to contact me with your questions here - contact me

This week I'll be answering David's very important question on if I really feel that long aerobic activity is bad for ones health - I suspect I may take a lot of heat for this and make myself very unpopular to some with my answer, but I would like you to read my reply and apply common sense and critical thinking to what I've written -

David Asks:

Hi Paul,

I've been following your Newsletters for a long time and I am very grateful for all your advice. However this last update left me a little doubtful.

Are you really saying that long exercise such as 10k runs are bad for your health? That we should substitute it with very short intensive exercise?

Please clarify this because it would change my training entirely.


My Answer:

Hi David,

Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you find the newsletters interesting. What I am saying is that some activities, while fun and enjoyable - are not optimal for fitness and health. And yes, that would include a 10 k run. I personally enjoy running, and will occasionally do it just for fun - but I know it does not help my health goals.

All of this will be discussed in detail in the upcoming project, but here is a basic summary.

The body adapts to the function it performs - it's great like that. If you tell the body that it's primary goal is to continue moving at a steady pace over long distance it will adapt and optimise for that purpose.

Look at a Marathon runner, then look at a sprinter. The Marathon runner is a walking skeleton. The sprinter a muscled Greek god. Increased volume training encourages an over trained state that creates a weakened heart, lungs and immune system. Why? Because they are surplus to the distance runners requirements.

The body never needs the cardiac reserve of the heart because it never gets to use it in a steady state aerobic function.

If the body needs less blood volume it doesn't need the same amount of oxygen to carry in the blood - so you can reduce and downgrade the lungs.

In doing so you've also made the body lighter so it has to propel less weight for the same amount of time....and because the body strives for efficiency it will cut back on ALL unnecessary weight - it never needs explosive fast muscle as this is not the primary usage of the body, so that goes too.

Yep you lose any muscle not needed to extend and contract the leg over a short space repeatedly.

The decrease in muscle, heart reserve volume and lung capacity all compromise your immune system. Your under CONSTANT stress as though you were being stalked for days. This leads to digestive problems, particularly with the intestines and colon, and it can also effect the spleen, liver and gallbladder.

Finally bear in mind the origins of the Marathon. The name marathon comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger. The legend states that he was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. He ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly, exclaiming "We have won".

He then promptly collapsed and died from the run.

And that's not surprising. The long distance of the run can induce a condition called hyponatremia which may result in vomiting, seizures, coma and even death.

Of course, there was the study in 2006 that showed in non elite marathon runners (I.e. not professionals) that training for a marathon directly led to heart damage and dysfunction.

Finally I leave the topic with this - In 2007, Ryan Shay, a 28 year-old elite long-distance runner, died after collapsing from a heart attack early in the US Olympic marathon trials.

Hope that helps,

Your isometric expert and personal trainer,

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