With the London Marathon just around the corner, there are runners on every street looking desperately to fit in the final few miles of practice before the big day – but what effect does running have on the body?
Recently comedian Eddie Izzard completed 27 marathons for Sport Relief and scientist Dr Francois-Xavier Li from Birmingham University commented “With this level of exertion, there can be dangerous biological effects.”
Perhaps the most obvious side effect is fatigue and also joint pain, Osteoarthritis for example is a common side effect due to the pounding nature of the running itself, particularly on hard ground. Biology and Medicine applicants may want to think about the short term solutions to impact injuries and how the NHS can combat common avoidable injuries.
Human Sciences applicants may wish to consider the viability of marathons, considering since we have historical evidence of cardiac events dating back to the death of Pheidippides in 530BC who apparently ran the plains of Athens before suddenly dropping dead after the finish line!
Speaking to the BBC Li did, however, comment that because so much of the marathon is a “mental” game, that older runners actually seem to have a bigger advantage – which at 51, Izzard likely played to his advantage: “We see in ultra-endurance, people of older age perform just as well as much younger people, probably because a lot of it is mental. As mentioned we can do a lot more than we think and if we put our mind to something we can achieve more than one would expect, and maybe older people have a little bit more resilience, a little bit more patience, a little bit more long-term view, and they are able to cope better with this kind of thing.”