Did you know there are multiple reasons running too much is bad for you? Getting enough exercise is extremely important, and running is a great cardiovascular workout. However, you've got to be careful when you're chasing that amazing runner's high. Too much of anything is usually a bad thing, and running is no different. Here's a look at some of the reasons running too much is bad for you.
That's right — one of the craziest reasons running too much is bad for you is that it actually might damage your heart. Studies have shown that some hardcore marathoners actually have more coronary plaque buildup in their arteries than sedentary people. Running causes inflammation, so perhaps this is why extreme runners have heart problems — they push their bodies to the extreme and never give them time to properly heal. All that wear and tear might be just as dangerous as being a couch potato. The benefits of running don't start to diminish until you start running more than 30 miles a week, so you can still enjoy long runs — just don't be hard on yourself if you can't make it that extra mile since it might not be doing you any good, anyway.
Cutting back on miles might be hard for those who are addicted to the runner's high. And it's definitely possible to become a little too obsessive about running. You might put immense pressure on yourself to run a certain amount of miles per week or to finish a 5K under a certain time. This need to go faster and farther could lead to loads of mental stress or a physical injury. Becoming addicted to exercise can also affect your personal life when you start to plan your daily activities around your workouts. You might even put off other important things that you need to do because you'd rather run instead.
I have personal experience with this problem. I used to be one of those people who ran too many miles per week, and I was often pushing myself to finish under a certain time. Because of all the stress I put my body under, I always felt exhausted. This made it hard to do everything that I needed to do during the day. Running too much in the morning made me so tired that I had a tough time staying awake during school, and if I ran during the evening hours, all I wanted to do was eat and go to sleep afterward. You don't want exercise to have this affect — you want it to make you feel energized.
If you're running a ton of miles each day, then you're probably getting too much sun. Vitamin D is a good thing, but you only need 15 minutes of sun three days a week to get enough of the nutrient. If you spend more time than that outdoors, you risk damaging your skin and increasing your risk for skin cancer. Of course you can always wear SPF, but you might sweat it off if you run for a long period of time. There are sweat-proof sunscreens available, but no formulation is completely waterproof or sweat-proof.
Ever heard of "runner's face?" Running too much can lead to fat loss, which can lead to sagging facial skin. You're also doing nothing for your looks if you don't properly rehydrate after a sweaty workout. However, fat loss and water loss might not be your only worries. Over-exercise can cause oxidative stress that damages your skin's collagen and elastin fibers, and you definitely don't want these fibers to be weak since your facial skin will be violently bouncing up and down as you run. Spending too much time in the sun can also cause wrinkles, so why put all that stress on your skin by pounding the pavement for mile after excruciating mile?
Everyone's body is different, but I'm living proof that running too much can cause weight gain. Right now I'm actually about 20 pounds lighter than I was back when I was running six miles or more every day! All that running made me extremely hungry, and of course all I craved were carbs. My body was probably mostly muscle, but I hated the way it looked — my thighs were huge! No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get that lean long distance runner look. So don't put pressure on yourself to run a massive amount of miles every week — it might not give you the slim and trim look that you desire.
If you spend an hour a day running, just think of all the great things that you could do with your extra time if you cut that hour down to 20 minutes. You could relax in a hot bath, give your skin a spa treatment, or sip on a healthy smoothie while catching up on your favorite TV show. Why let working out take up more time that it has to? I know that some people like to run a long time because of the affect that it has on their minds, but here's an idea—try spending some time meditating after a shorter run. You'll get the same clutter-clearing affect without the added physical stress.
So while running is extremely beneficial, just remember that you can have too much of good thing. Instead of running a long distance at a set speed, try interval training by sprinting all-out for 30 seconds and jogging or walking for a few minutes in between sprints. The explosive bursts of energy can actually burn more calories than running alone, and trust me — you'll definitely feel the burn of a solid workout in half the time. So have you ever had a problem with running too much?
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