Pheidippides, a Greek herald and a highly accomplished runner of epic repute ran 26 miles from Marathon Greece into Athens to proclaim the news about a momentous victory over the Persians, only to collapse and die an abrupt and tragic death right before the emperor’s throne.
Fast forward a couple of millennia and we have Micah True, who dropped out of the mainstream American culture to join the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico in the Copper Canyons, a tribe known for traversing vast distances every day in their quest for survival. His ability to outrun even his fellow tribesmen with a genetic predisposition primed over ages was so legendary that they nicknamed him ‘Caballo Blanco’, the white horse. Sadly, he died at the age of 58.
We are, in essence, talking about what most would perceive as the fittest men to have walked the face of Earth and their untimely demise. As baffling as it may seem, modern research is now beginning to shed light on the deleterious effects of extreme endurance training.
Leading cardiologists have started publishing white papers on the host of real dangers posed by an overindulgence in any form of exercise routine that encourages one as the catchy sloganeering goes: ‘to go beyond’. Ironically, many in their quest to push the limits have already gone far beyond never to return again.
Here is why: something starts happening when you pound away on the road relentlessly. The stretch in the chambers of your heart starts overwhelming the muscles, the levels of catecholamine and adrenaline rise, free radicals start to blossom and it starts burning the heart; it literally starts seering and inflaming the insides of your coronary artery. A repeated and prolonged battering of such proportions penultimately leads to the heart getting older before its time leading to untimely death.
Thankfully, the efforts at raising awareness especially in the west are gaining momentum despite of an all powerful, profiteering, propagandist corporate lobby hell-bent on promoting a sport that has the potential to shave off rather than add years to your life.
My heart goes out to the gullible, the highly educated and even the so-called creme de la creme of our society who, in the meanwhile, swayed by the slick marketeering, reams of misleading literature and sponsored role models, trudge on endlessly, actually believing that running non-stop for hours altogether is making them healthier.
It goes without saying that the aforementioned views are not be mistaken for an aversion to exercise as most couch potatoes would like to believe or rather misinterpret.
Exercise in moderation and in the right dosage can prove to be extraordinarily beneficial, running included. It is after all supposed to add years to your life and life to your years.