RUNNER'S WORLD

Running a Backyard Marathon Isn't as Insane as it Sounds

 
Lenny Wiersma

Lenny Wiersma, professor of kinesiology, works with ultramarathoners and teaches courses in sports psychology.

Despite the soft re-openings of most states, just getting out of bed still feels like a struggle for some people. For others, now seems like the perfect time to run a marathon in their garden, or break the 100-mile treadmill world record, or even run 262 miles on a four-mile stretch of neighborhood.

It might seem insane to challenge yourself in this way during a pandemic—especially since some people would argue that intense exercise suppresses the immune system. But a review of the scientific literature published in Frontiers in Immunology debuked any long-term effect. Other, recent studies determined that being physically active makes you less vulnerable to getting sick, and regular exercise benefits immunity—even in (but especially in) isolation since the highest risk factor is exposure.

For a lot of runners, “racing is a big part of their identity,” explains Lenny Wiersma, professor of kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton who works with ultramarathoners and teaches courses in sports psychology. “During times when we are not able to do that which defines us, there are an awful lot of people trying to find a way to fill that void.” The environment may change, but that desire to prove you can do something doesn’t change.

Runners are sharing their quarentined feats on social media and inspiring others. Forrester Safford was inspired to run his driveway marathon after reading about a man in France who ran for nearly seven hours on his balcony; other people may just feel motivated to get up off the couch and do a short workout. “We need people in this world to do things that are interesting and impressive,” says Wiersma, “and probably no more so than during times like this.” Continue reading in Runner's World

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