Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lest We Forget, An Insight From Dr.George Sheehan

I'm always surprised when I speak with runners and they verbalize the belief that all aspects relating to running,including racing, are healthy. The following was written by Dr.George Sheehan and provides an interesting response to that belief.For the few who might not know Dr.Sheehan, he was a long time medical editor and writer for Runner's World as well as a devoted runner himself. He wrote: "The goal of the runner who races is not health. His objective is the fitness necessary for maximal performance. Health is something the runner goes through on the way to fitness. A way station he hardly notices in his pursuit of the twenty to thirty percent of capacity that lies untouched. And health, therefore, is what he risks in training to do his best. Because just beyond fitness and a personal record lies staleness, and with it fatigue,exhaustion and possibly injury." Gut wrenching workouts can make you faster at races but they won't necessarily make you healthier.On a related note, I have often heard people say that so and so is very healthy because he runs marathons. An article published in the Health section of the New York Times a few years back reported that studies were done on runners who had finished a marathon.They found that a significant number of them had elevated levels of Cardiac Tropin,a substance in the blood that is present in those who experience cardiac injury or heart attack.Now I'm not trying to get all Dr.Ken Cooper on you here(see previous post from 2011 entitled, The Trojan Horse Syndrome or Betrayal From Within),running can be an incredibly healthy and health giving activity,but,it only takes a little knowledge of anatomy and physiology to see that a training regimen which includes a significant amount of high stress workouts week in and week out is not healthy in the long run. There is a place for hard training and racing but only when it has been preceded by intelligent preparation and ongoing evaluation.


  1. I especially like that last sentence.

  2. Glad you liked it!---It's like anything--you have to lay a foundation--more stressful work is added as the body is progressively conditioned to handle it.