A new study by Dr. Eric Larose of the Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Quebec indicates that all but the fittest marathoners suffer some temporary damage to their hearts after running a marathon.
Dr. Larose studied 20 runners, ages 21 to 55, in the 2008 Quebec City Marathon. He found that in MRI studies of the runners’ hearts, they lost function in over half of the 17 muscle segments that make up the left ventricle. The runners who had a measured VO2max of 50 or higher before the race and those who were better hydrated had the least amount of damage and recovered faster.
Although running marathons is relatively safe, it is important to make sure that you are well prepared before attempting one and that you have a solid hydration plan for the race. Once the race is over, it’s a good idea to rehydrate as quickly as you comfortably can, to speed your recovery.