I'm ramping up from my hard effort at the Washington's Birthday Marathon 2 weeks ago. Today is 7 miles with Denise, then another 6 on my own. Next week, I plan to run 20 or so miles.
I have often paraphrased Dr. Ken Cooper's remark that if you're running more than 25 total miles a week, you're probably doing it for reasons other than health. I was interested by the study published in the March issue of "Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise". In it, Dr. Paul Williams found in a study of 62,000 men and 45, 000 women that decreases in high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol were associated with number of marathons run in a year:
"Paul Williams, Ph.D., author of the study, found that men who ran two or more marathons per year were 41 percent less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, 32 percent less likely to have high cholesterol, and 87 percent less likely to be diabetic than non-marathoners. Those who ran only one marathon every two to five years also had significantly lower risk for these conditions than non-marathoners."
These results were largely independent of average total number of miles run per week, suggesting that the act of running a "long run" in itself granted some benefit.
This gratifyingly justifies my training which includes 2-3 long runs longer than 20 miles each month.
What I am about is making training for the marathon a lifestyle. Contemporary medical advice recommends 60 - 90 minutes a day of vigorous exercise. This is consistent with training for the marathon at the amateur level.