That Can’t be Good for You

jogger - vascular system

Have you heard this one from your family and friends? I have, but the research doesn’t support their concerns.

Many of my friends/family worry that ultrarunning is bad for my heart because it has to work for extended periods of time, like 36 hours, at an elevated rate. The research shows that there is short term stress (duh) but there are no long term negative effects on the heart. Overall, ultrarunner’s hearts are normal and often more healthy than the general population.

The most chronic ailments ultrarunners suffer from are allergies and exercise-induced asthma. On average, ultrarunners miss 2.2 days of work a year for illness. It’s 3.7 for the national average.  All those people concerned about your knees, tell them to rest easy the research doesn’t support that or damage to other joints or cartilage.  Yes, runners get injured. They pull muscles and tendons and sometimes they get a stress fracture. What athlete doesn’t get hurt at some point, even recreational athletes (aka not extreme)?

So ultrarunning is not bad for you. Perfect, that’s exactly what all ultrarunners wanted to hear, so we can look at our friends and family and roll our eyes. Then we walk into another room to sit down with our crew for the next 100 mile race. “Alright guys, you know how this goes. There is no quitting. I don’t care if I’m puking, peeing blood, have diarrhea, twisted an ankle, bloody from falling down. It doesn’t matter. I go until I cross the finish line.”

Sounds like optimal health status to me.

I’ve heard ultrarunners say they want to be healthy and they may have started running to be more healthy. Many of them eat well and take care of their bodies, but I believe it’s more of a taking care of the body to run 100 miles and not running 100 miles to take care of the body.

If it can get so tough out there, why do we do it over and over again? Because crossing the finish line of a 50 or 100 mile run is remarkable. The more difficult the race the more we love it. We earn ever belt buckle we have. We run into hell with a smile knowing it’s going to get hot, we’re going to get burned, and we’re going to want to die.

We do it because we refuse to believe we won’t come out on the other side. We stare down our demons, pull on the boxing gloves and go round after round after round. We’re fighters. When we get knocked down we get back up and keep going toward our goal.

The true benefits of running Ultras: mental fortitude and the belief that you can.

Never Surrender, Never Retreat.

Fountain of Youth

running kids

My oldest son, Jazz, turned eighteen on Friday July 10. Everyone says “time flies” and we all know that it does especially when we are having fun. And, all in all, watching my son grow into a man has been fun. Yes, he still acts and thinks like a teenager and he will for four or five more years, but he has successfully launched.

When our children reach another milestone along the journey of life, we ask ourselves, “What was I doing when I reached that point in my life?”

At the age of eighteen, I had a child of my own. I was trying to finish my high school diploma while taking care my son. Jazz and I were going through boxes a week or two ago and came upon a picture of him and me. He was 18 months and I was 19 years old. He said, “You look younger now than you did then.”

I have to admit I get a kick out of every time I am mistaken for his sister or one of his friends. He laughs about it now but he didn’t when if first started happening. People have made the mistake of thinking I’m about fifteen years younger than I am, even when my son is not around.

Some people just age well, I suppose, but running keeps you young. It is the fountain of youth. I’ve met many runners who look much younger than they really are. Running keeps you relaxed in other areas of your life and it helps you deal with stress when you are stuck in frustrating situations. Stress can add years to your appearance.

Running also keeps the bones and joints healthy. I know a lot of people (non-runners) say that running is not good for bones and joints, but all the science proves otherwise. Runner’s bones are more dense than people who are not active. This protects them from factures as you age and the bones become more brittle. Joints stay healthy when they are used, keeping the blood flowing to them.

Running also helps keep the extra weight off. Carrying extra weight causes joints to break down more quickly and hinders cardiovascular and respiratory functioning. If you take your running seriously, meaning you run three to four times a week and seek to improve your performance, you food choices tend to be on the healthier side such as fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.

I’m convinced running keeps you young not only in physical appearance but in the heart too.

Be young, enjoy life, and run.



I went to the Bodies art exhibit over the weekend, which is human bodies with the skin removed exposing the muscles and bones. The bodies have been donated for this purpose and preserved through a process called polymer preservation.

Throughout the exhibit there were walls covered with information on the nervous system, circulatory system, muscles, ligaments, and bones. In addition to this information, there was information about how to keep your body healthy and strong. They address topics such as nutrition, physical activity, and lifelong learning.

At the conclusion, was a map of the world, which highlighted where centurions (people who have lived to 100 years of age and over) have lived. I was surprised that there was a large group in the United States in California. The other large groups were in Japan and China.

One of the things it talked about was how we age more slowly if we remain active not just physically, but mentally and sexually too. It’s a careful balance. You cannot neglect one area of your body and expect to get good results in the end. Endurance athletes often say it’s mind over matter, but it’s not you have to train both because without one the other does not continue.

Being able to see all of the muscles and bones interconnected was fascinating and mesmerizing. As an athlete who pushes their body and mind people what it can do, seeing the nuts and bolts of how it all happens gave me a new appreciation for the feats of endurance completed by others and myself.

The bodies were very beautiful and amazing most were posed in the middle of complex physical activities. I would encourage anyone to go to this or a similar exhibit if they have the opportunity. It’s appropriate for all ages, if handled in the right way. If your child has a fear of skeletons or the walking dead, probably isn’t such a good idea :0)

Run More and Enjoy Life


I often find myself wondering why more people don’t run. The benefits of running far outnumber the difficulty of getting started and maintaining a consistent routine.

I admit that my enthusiasm for running can get a little annoying. I can talk about running for days and not get bored. I love to learn about it and learn ways to help others to enjoy it.

I know not everyone wants to take running to the level I have, but there are some many more benefits to running other than the physical fitness, which is the reason most people begin running. Running is an excellent way to improve physical fitness don’t get me wrong, but it is so much more.

I really believe that this world would be a better place overall and that each individual life would be improved if everyone ran five miles three days a week or even three miles four days a week.

Running increases energy, relieves stress, and stabilizes your mood. It is cheaper than therapy, alcohol, and painkillers and doesn’t have all the negative consequences. You don’t have to have a lot of money to get started just a pair of good shoes. There is no gym membership required and you don’t have to have friends to get started, but you’re likely to gain some the longer you stick to running.

It may seem strange that expending energy would increase it on the back end, but it does. You may be tired when you first start, but your body will adjust the way it burns the food you eat and begin supplying you with more energy.

Physical activity is one of the best ways to relieve stress. It increases the feel good endorphins in your body. It is meditation in motion, your mind lets go of whatever was stressing you out and you can just focus on the physical movement of your body and really be present. Often you will have an “aha” moment during a run as the solution to a problem reveals itself as you put one foot in front of another.

Exercise also reduces depression and anxiety thereby stabilizing your mood and allowing your body to sleep better, and better sleep is always a good thing especially if you are dealing with stressful situations on a daily basis.

You will increase your support system through running as well. Although running is an individual sport for the most part, runners are social just like any other group. They love to hang out, get to know other people, and support one another through encouragement and advice. There is always room for one more on the road or the trail. Even if you start running, as I did alone and not knowing any other runners, if you run enough races or do a relay you will meet other runners.

Many people say they are too busy and too stressed to take thirty to forty-five minutes three to four days a week to get in a run, but if you make time for it, the world becomes a better place for you and those around you.