Too Much Strenuous Jogging May be Harmful


I started running about 3 years ago. I hadn't run since high school and I hate it. I sucked at it. I couldn't run more than a minute without getting winded. Deep down something in me really wanted to be a runner. So, I huffed and I puffed and I started running during the summer of 2012 with loosely following the couch to 5k program. I ran my first 5k in November of 2012.

I came in at just over 31 minutes and I was immediately obsessed. My parents were there to see me finish. My Dad had a similar running story to mine. He never ran as an adult until he was in his 40's and just decided to start running one day. He started with just running from one mailbox to the next. Then it was to the end of the street. Sure enough he ended up running a couple of marathons. Which, at the time, I had no CLUE what they were or how much of a badass he had to be to run them.

5kAs much as I love running it hasn't always loved me. I had to back out of the first half marathon I signed up for (in early 2013) because of knee pain. Over the next 1-2 years I was constantly dealing with one running related injury or another. IT band issues, Achilles heel pain, shin splints,... and then the internal stuff started.

In October 2013 I wrote a post wondering if running was ruining my body. I even included this ridiculously fancy concept map I drew out as I was working on the post.

Running PainI had dealt with TMJ, IBS, and borderline thyroid disease (not confirmed and treated until April 2103) for years so I knew running wasn't causing any of these issues, but it certainly seemed to be worsening their symptoms. I know many women who run 40-50+ miles a week and they've never had an issue. I also know many women who deal with ischemic colitis and hormonal imbalances that did not exist prior to taking up running regularly. Not every body is the same. After a year or so of running 30+ miles a week my body finally acclimated. In the last 6 months I've gone from running 40-50 miles a week to 20-30. Now the only physical issue I have is one exceedingly attractive black toenail.

Given my history with running I wasn't at all surprised to see this new research that found too much strenuous jogging may be harmful, and light jogging may be most optimal for longevity.

Researchers looked at 5,048 healthy participants in the Copenhagen City Heart Study and questioned them about their activity. They identified and tracked 1,098 healthy joggers and 413 healthy but sedentary non-joggers for 12 years.

The study, which tracked hours of jogging, frequency, and the individual's perception of pace, found that over the 12-year study strenuous joggers were as likely to die as sedentary non-joggers, while light joggers had the lowest rates of death.

Jogging from 1 to 2.4 hours per week was associated with the lowest mortality and the optimal frequency of jogging was no more than three times per week.

Overall, significantly lower mortality rates were found in those with a slow or moderate jogging pace, while the fast-paced joggers had almost the same mortality risk as the sedentary non-joggers.

It wasn't weekly miles that separated strenuous versus light joggers but the effort of the jogger. Since I've cut back on my weekly miles I've also cut back on how hard I run. I've been focusing more on low heart rate training and often don't even wear a garmin anymore. My average pace is anywhere from 11-14 minutes a mile now. I give zero cares. I used to run 10 minute miles as my 'base' but it was always pushing it a bit for me and that's likely what led to all the running-related health issues and injuries I had.

Obviously people run for different reasons. A lot of my friends train very hard to improve their speed. A lot of my friends run purely for the stress relief and :::gasp::: don't even wear a garmin to keep track of mileage or pace! You should always do what works best for your body. If you start to suspect that running may be stressing your body out more than improving it then don't be afraid to lower the intensity and try cross training more (walking is seriously underrated.)

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Have you ever found yourself running too much, or too hard?