I have been a little MIA lately as the summer has been full of balancing work with lot’s of quality time with friends and family.
Most of you know what I’m talking about! Pool parties, weddings, barbecues, park outings, camping, outdoor sports, vacations, and the list goes on and on!
I hope everyone is having a safe and healthy summer!
I’ve been meaning to write an article about the potential negative effects of long duration endurance training for some time. As most of you know from my articles that I am more passionate about the aspects of sustainable and flexible approaches to fat loss for the general population and also exercise science geared towards fitness competitors being a physique Coach.
So there are health benefits to moderate endurance training and I spent a few hours reading studies and such about endurance training and because I’m not a big fan in general of endurance training like jogging, for myself in any shape or form I will hit mainly on the negative but I am aware of the positives as well.
Marathon Runner VS Sprinter
So I am not trying to be a total downer on anyone who loves to jog, nor am I saying to give it up. (However if looking better naked is your goal jogging alone is not going to help much in this area.. just saying)
I think it’s great when someone has chosen a new healthier eating lifestyle, tracking macronutrients, resistance training, plyometrics, a small amount of HIIT and some short duration cardio.
Soon the bug hits to challenge yourself to do a marathon or a triathlon, maybe a friend is doing one. Go for it if you want to challenge yourself! I do find that with anything sometimes we get addicted to the positive benefits we see in our body, the runners high, and before you know it, it consumes your life.
Endurance training like this is not a great choice however if fat loss is your main goal. The risk of lean muscle tissue loss is high and with that comes a reduction in overall metabolic rate. So what ends up happening quite often is the skin starts to sag reducing the appearance of a nice toned look in the glutes and sometimes arms.
As with any sport or too much repetitive movement patterns, muscular imbalances occur, most runners get back pain because the glutes are not firing correctly.
I’ve worked with a handful of former endurance athletes, and many had to stop jogging due to the constant hip, knee, ankle and shin pain. Many also get shoulder impingement that causes constant pain when raising your arm over head and external rotation. The thing that saddens me is seeing the look on their face as they describe how much body fat they have gained as they were so used to carb loading for races, and never learned how to properly eat the correct calories for their new found activity levels. Many suffered with mild depression afterwards as they relied on that runners endorphin high to alleviate stress and the body fat gain was also affecting how they felt about themselves.
So there are some studies out there both good and bad, this is a list of a few that were conducted in the past 10 years on the negative side…
|1. According to a study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010 in Montreal, regular exercise reduces cardiovascular risk by a factor of two or three, but the extended vigorous exercise performed during a marathon raises your cardiac risk seven-fold!|
|2. In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers recruited a group of extremely fit older men, all members of the 100 Marathon club (having completed a minimum of 100 marathons). Half of the men showed heart muscle scarring as a result of their endurance running—specifically, the half who had trained the longest and hardest. If running marathons provided cardiovascular benefit, this group would have had the healthiest hearts!|
|3. A 2011 rat study published in the journal Circulation was designed to mimic the strenuous daily exercise load of serious marathoners over the course of 10 years. All the rats had normal, healthy hearts at the outset of the study, but by the end, most of them had developed “diffuse scarring and some structural changes, similar to the changes seen in the human endurance athletes.”|
|4. A 2012 study in the European Heart Journal found that long-term endurance athletes suffer from diminished function of the right ventricle of the heart and increased cardiac enzymes (markers for heart injury) after endurance racing, which may activate platelet formation and clotting. Twelve percent of the athletes had detectable scar tissue on their heart muscle one week post-race.|
|5. A 2010 study presented by the American College of Cardiology showed that endurance runners have more calcified plaque in their arteries (which also increases stroke and dementia risk) than those who are not endurance athletes.|
|6. A 2011 German study revealed a very high incidence of carotid and peripheral atherosclerosis among male marathon runners.|
|7. A 2006 study screened 60 non-elite participants of the 2004 and 2005 Boston Marathons, using echocardiography and serum biomarkers. Researchers found decreased right ventricular systolic function in the runners, caused by an increase in inflammation and a decrease in blood flow.|
|8. Research by Dr. Arthur Siegel, director of Internal Medicine at Harvard’s McLean Hospital, also found that long-distance running leads to high levels of inflammation that may trigger cardiac events.|
Exercising excessively or incorrectly can backfire on your health in a number of ways. For example, the following can occur when you exercise too much or too hard:
- Your body can enter a catabolic state, in which your tissues break down
- Excess cortisol (a stress hormone) can be released, which not only contributes to catabolism but also to chronic disease
- You can develop microscopic tears in your muscle fibers (which may fail to heal if you continue over-exercising), and increased risk for injuries.
- Your immune system may be weakened.
- You may develop insomnia, especially if your workout is in the afternoon or evening.
- Nutrient deficiencies can increase if micro nutrient requirements are not met. I suggest a natural source multivitamin, 1000-2000 mg of extra vitamin C, and extra calcium and magnesium. Try adding 1/2 tsp of sea salt to each litre of water you drink to help replace trace minerals, and sodium lost in sweat for each hour of exercise. Ensure you aim for 2000-3000mg of Omega three’s from fish oil.
Each person can tolerate different levels of endurance training, stress from work, family, lack of sleep as well as inadequate nutrition can impede recovery so these need to be considered before designing a program for yourself. I would consider some form of full body resistance training added in for the potential lean body mass retention properties as well. You knew I was going to throw that in there. What could be better then a new lifting personal best?
Researchers analyzed information from about 1,000 healthy joggers ages 20 to 86, and about 400 people who were healthy, but did not jog, and were mostly sedentary.
The analysis showed that light joggers were about 78 percent less likely to die over the 12-year study than those who were sedentary. “Light joggers” were defined as those who ran at a speed of about 5 mph (8 km/h) a few times a week, for less than 2.5 hours per week total.
In contrast, those who jogged strenuously were just as likely to die during the study period as those who were sedentary, according to the research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Strenuous joggers were defined as those who ran at a speed of more than 7 mph (11 km/h), for more than four hours per week.
I will admit it is interesting findings in regards to the calcified plaque in their arteries and the muscle scar tissue found in those studies. Doesn’t look very promising for those who love the challenge of long duration running unfortunately.
There you have it! There are many other aspects of endurance training I could hit on but I think for now
I’ll wind this down as I am not an expert in this area.
I suggest reading from a variety of sites to come up with a good solid game plan if you are considering adding in hours of endurance training to your weekly schedule.
Your friend in your fitness journey,
CEO of FITNSYNC
Developer of FIT N FLEXIBLE
Personal Fitness Trainer NCSF