Is high intensity running harmful?

For someone hoping to become a better, faster runner and potentially get engaged in high intensity activities (e.g. marathon) no additional health benefits should be anticipated, but rather a slightly increased risk for heart problems, as well as for running-related injuries and disabilities.

This should not be a reason to discourage high intensity activities, for those who really enjoy it either for leisure or as an anti-stress activity. The overall benefits of running far outweigh the risks for most individuals.

Is high intensity running harmful?

Many would otherwise endorse the following moto: "I don't run to add days to my life I run to add life to my Days".


These are some recommendations endorsed by the International Marathon Medical Director's Association to reduce health risks for high intensity runners:

1. Participants should not only be sufficiently trained, but equally important, they should have a goal and corresponding race plan that is appropriate for that level of training and fitness. If not, do not attempt the distance.

2. Have a yearly physical examination and be sure to discuss your exercise plans, goals and intensity at that visit.

3. Take one baby aspirin (81mg) on the morning of a long race if there is no medical contraindication and you are >40 years old.

4. Consume less than 200mg caffeine before and during a 10K race or more.

5. Only drink a sports drink or its equivalent during a workout of 10k or more.

6. Drink for thirst. Do not drink to the max.

7. Do not consume a NSAID just before or during a race. You can use it at the end of the race as needed.

8. Consume salt (if no medical contraindication) during a 10k or more.

9. During the last mile, maintain your pace or slow down; do not sprint the last part of the race unless you have practiced this in your training. Run as you train.


vascular health

Vascular Surgeon

Dr. Efthymios (Makis) Avgerinos is a Vascular Surgeon, Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in USA.


Scientific Editing

Efthymios D. Avgerinos, MD, PhD, FEBVS
Associate Professor of Surgery
Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Pittsburgh
Medical Center Pennsylvania, USA