If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Monday, June 02, 2014

Emma Roca.

I kind of almost stopped reading iRunfar.com as they tend to only either outline international competitions these days, or profile new young elite boys and girls I hardly know about (and who may not even last long). So, when interview with Emma Roca showed up, I didn't even click - I heard the name, so what? But Alicia pointed me to it - and I read it, looking for "why" was I directed to it...because it is certainly not due to Emma being a bad ass endurance athlete and a mother of 3 - which is totally cool and awesome, but...

Bingo. Words I had been saying for the last few years - few, not just now - even though the previous years I was guilty as charged, big times:

"Roca: Even today I’m amazed at the amount of people running and ultrarunning. The trend is brutal and every weekend there are thousands of races everywhere. I love that there are many people passionate about the sport and that organisers are working so hard to make their races bigger and bigger, but I worry that people do things without common sense, preparation and, sometimes, to just look good or say what they’ve done on social media. Sometimes it seems like we lose a little of the essence of why we do sport, why we run trails. Then it stops making sense. We have to remember that we move, run, and cycle because we feel alive, because it gives it so much, and because it makes us feel good, healthy, brave, and vital! Now with my thesis project, SUMMIT, I hope to open peoples’ eyes to see the dangers out there associated with ultra distances. I’m talking about if you’ve not previously had a medical checkup, a stress test, a biomechanics study. I’m talking nutritionally and making sure you’ve tried smaller distances before going and running half marathons or ultras. With the results I’d like to make sure that we’re getting people to do their homework in order to fulfill their dreams in the most healthy way possible.
iRunFar: It’s interesting that you mentioned it. I listened to you talking about ultra-athletes’ physiology last year. Can you tell me a little about it and what conclusions you came to?
Roca: With the SUMMIT (health in ultramarathons and its limits) project, we are still studying many parameters associated with long distance, but at a highly summarized level we are seeing:
  • That we’re still easily dehydrated when drinking much more than 2% of our body weight during ultras—so our performance is compromised along with other biochemical parameters.
  • Our right ventricle suffers during long, continuous, and intensive efforts—and that there are hearts that are poorly suited to long distance or many hours of training.
  • That the role of our genes can be greatly influenced by the simple facts of having or having not trained, having eaten well, or having slept well. Not everything is written in the genes, but they have the ability to express it.
  • Our immune systems struggle after ultras and we’re very vulnerable to viruses, getting colds, and generally becoming ill.
iRunFar: From your findings do you think that, as some believe, elites are running too many races at the moment and that it could have a negative effect later on with regards to injuries or other illnesses?
Roca:  Yes. The heart is suffering because of the effort they are putting in over many hours. Then there is also bone decalcification—bones lose calcium and can cause osteoporosis much sooner than someone who hasn’t run as much. The studies also show that there is an increased risk of ventricular fibrillation in men, too; not women, though. So I would tell young people to wait a while before starting to run ultras—your metabolism will thank you in the future. We’re also seeing that exercise can be more beneficial than prescriptions to prevent premature death from almost all causes like heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, hypertension, colon cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, functional dependency and falls in the elderly, cognitive impairment, anxiety, and depression. This benefit is seen in both sexes and increases with the volume and intensity of exercise. You start seeing all these positive effects with only 30 minutes of exercise a day or 2.5 hours per week."

I love my sport, what it had given to me, and what it continues to give to others (and still does to me as well). I am simply advocating to be a little wiser, patient, and enjoy the process slowly and healthy.
When we (I) are in the midst of things, we only hear what we want to hear. I know that way too well.


Kim said...

I hear you about irunfar.com, I did stop reading for the longest time until I realized that it's a Western-centric site and they are just not interested in races in the East-unless it's JFK or a North Face event. I'll have to go read the Roca article now.
I winced during my half-marathon race where I heard someone say "yes I did take that ibuprofen" I know it was just a short race, but still.
You read my rant earlier in the spring about people just jumping into ultras without adequate training. Sometimes, with the popularity of trail races & ultras, it's hard to figure out if someone has discovered a love of trails or if it's just a bucket list activity. I guess it's all good even if it's a BL item, but even a 50K is just not that easy. But I don't want to volunteer at a 50K with a 16 or 18 hour time cut off.

Anonymous said...

i loved that interview -- Gave me lots to think about!!

Steve Ansell said...

Thanks for sharing the interview. It sounds interesting. I completely stopped reading iRunFar some time ago not because of the races they focus on, but simply because they seem almost entirely focused on what the top-10 men and women are doing and have done in races. I think its great what these dedicated runners can do, but they really aren't the one's who inspire me most.

Julie said...

I'm glad you shared the interview. I stopped reading iRunFar a while back for the same reason so I would have missed this. Great information in that article! Thanks!

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