Marathons Aren’t as Impressive as Running a 5K

Running a marathon is seen as the big goal for committed runners – and it’s quite the triumph since running for so far and long is a big challenge no matter how healthy one is. I’ve never run a marathon and I just found out that there’s no reason to (phew!). It turns out that after looking at a lot of studies on health and running that just committing to a 5K run is enough.

5K seems to be the optimal distance for the vast majority of people given the fact that it’s long enough to be a challenge but not so long it can endanger one’s health.

So by focusing on the 5K, you’re optimizing health benefits and minimizing injuries, and if you’re deliberate about your training, you can maximize your fitness gains too. Training seriously for the 5K will get you close to your biological potential for aerobic fitness, Joyner said. “Seriously is the key though,” he said. The secret is high-intensity interval training, or HIIT — short periods of very hard efforts interspersed with easier recovery bouts. Studies show that these high intensity workouts produce greater improvements in VO2 max than the kind of long, slow workouts emphasized in many marathon training plans.1 Two-time U.S. 5,000-meter champion Lauren Fleshman has published a list of a dozen 5K-friendly HIIT workoutsat Strava, most of which require no track, just a stopwatch.

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Paris Marathon Runners Generated Energy to Power Event

At the recent Paris marathon the runners literally generated electricity. Pavegen put down a series of tiles that create an electric charge when compressed, so all they had to do was lay the tiles along the marathon route. The resulting energy generated by the runners was enough to power signs and screens during the event; the goal is to have the marathon fully powered by the runners themselves.

The flexible tiles made from recycled truck tires will span a portion of the Champs Elysees for about 25 meters (82 feet) of the 42.2-kilometer course, according to Pavegen Systems Ltd., the U.K. maker of the tiles. Each footstep generates as much as 8 watts of kinetic energy, which is fed back to batteries that can charge display screens and electronic signs along the route, the company said.

Schneider Electric SA (SU), the race sponsor, aims to eventually make the Paris Marathon an event that generates energy rather than consumes it, Aaron Davis, the company’s chief marketing officer, said in Pavegen’s statement. London-based Pavegen aims for its tiles to help cut carbon emissions and boost energy efficiency in cities around the world in the future, it said.

Read more at Bloomberg.

Get High from Running

You may hear from people who run that they feel great afterwards and get “addicted” to running, well it turns out our bodies may be born to run, which is why we get high from it.

As a doctor, Morganti knows what regular running does for her body. “Your heart gets stronger. It gets bigger. The amount of blood your heart can pump is more.” That’s called “stroke volume.” Oxygen metabolism gets more efficient, as well. “That means your blood vessels and muscles absorb more oxygen,” she says. “Running also builds new bone.”

But when I ask her about “runner’s high,” she lights up. “Oh, it’s really like an empowerment. And zen at the same time. You feel strong and light, and you feel relaxed.”

Read more at NPR.

Run Barefoot for Better Legs

When it comes to running it’s not the shoes that count, it’s the muscles. Some researchers have examined barefoot runners compared to shoe runners and found out that barefoot runners don’t strike their heels like those who shoes. Running barefoot is fun and healthy!

“People who don’t wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike,” says Daniel E. Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and co-author of a paper appearing this week in the journal Nature. “By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike. Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts, but actually you can run barefoot on the world’s hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain. All you need is a few calluses to avoid roughing up the skin of the foot. Further, it might be less injurious than the way some people run in shoes.”
Working with populations of runners in the United States and Kenya, Lieberman and his colleagues at Harvard, the University of Glasgow, and Moi University looked at the running gaits of three groups: those who had always run barefoot, those who had always worn shoes, and those who had converted to barefoot running from shod running. The researchers found a striking pattern.

Keep reading at Science Daily.

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