Health Benefits of Ultra Running

Ultra marathoners are a committed bunch. To prepare for races that exceed 26.2 miles – most popular versions are 50 and 100 mile courses – participants find themselves logging hundreds, if not thousands, hours each year to get race-ready. But is all that time on trails really good for you?

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“Live! with Regis and Kelly” Photo: David M. Russell

A recent study published in PLoS One by Dr. Marty Hoffman, a professor at the University of California at Davis, seeks to answer that question. A ultramarathoner himself – having completed ten 100-mile races – the professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation is focused on discovering the effect of extreme levels of exercise on the human body.

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Set to be a longitudinal study that delves into the impacts over the long-term, the initial results of the study chronicled 1,200 ultra runners over the past year. The study found that those who ultra are “generally healthy, reporting few serious health problems and illnesses.” The study also recognized that these runners display an elevated mental toughness necessary to dealing with endurance running.

The biggest issues for ultra runners: knee injuries, stress factures and a higher-than-average rate of allergies, thought to be due to the many hours spent training in outdoor settings.

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Photo: Peter Mcintosh

To learn more about the mind, body and soul impacts of ultramarathoning, Marin Magazine spoke to Brent Thomson, Kathy Winkler and Ted Knudsen, three Marinites who not only regularly ultra, but truly love it.  Want to learn more about what drives them and how you can to become an ultra runner?

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This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s January 2014 print edition under the headline: “Why You Should Run an Ultramarathon