The marathon and you

What does marathon running do to the body?

The average runner loses 1cm in height and sweats out 6 litres of fluid – but boosts their memory!

The gruelling 26 miles of a marathon will trigger blood, sweat and tears in many runners.
But how exactly does running such a distance affect the body?

‘During a marathon and other high intensity, endurance sports the body goes through intense conditions,’ says Dr Agim Beshiri, medical director at the global healthcare company Abbott. ‘But, with the appropriate conditioning and training, the body manages to adapt and rise to the challenge. ‘For instance, some organs can withstand significant reductions of blood flow for short periods of time as the body automatically prioritises circulation to the heart, brain and muscles during a marathon.’

You’ll shrink…

The average marathon runner will be about 1cm shorter at the end of the race than when they began. This is because over time, the discs in the vertebrae compress, researchers at Swansea University found. However the height decrease is naturally reversed in about one day’s time.

You’ll lose 3lb…

Most runners will lose 2-3 pounds of body mass during the course of a marathon. An average person sweats between 0.8 to 1.4 litres per hour during exercise, according to the Boston Athletic Association. This equates to between 3.4 and 6 litres of sweat for the whole race. A new study has found marathon runners tend not to remember the gruelling pain they experience completing the 26.2 mile challenge. It comes as thousands prepare to take to the streets of London this weekend for the annual Virgin London Marathon.

Your heart will pump up to 16 litres of blood…

The heart is a pump that is made up of around a half a billion cells, explains Dr Agim Beshiri, medical director at the healthcare company Abbott. ‘Cardiac output in a normal individual at rest ranges between 4 to 6 litres per minute. ‘But during a marathon, the heart is required to pump three to four times this amount.

You’ll improve your memory…

A new study from the Salk Institute in California found the same bodily process which helps fuel the body efficiently for running is also responsible for improving memory and learning. This means marathon runners may have better memory than the average person, the reasearchers suggest.

You’ll be more attractive…

Scientists at Cambridge University recently found that people who are better at running half marathons are likely to have been exposed to high levels of testosterone in the womb. This means they not only have better cardiovascular efficiency but also a strong sex drive and high sperm count – suggesting that historically they were chosen by women as more desirable mates.