endurance running = cheeseburgers

Time to get to work!IMG_0527I don’t even notice the cranes in the sky anymore. Our city is always under construction (did you know the Washington Monument is covered in scaffolding at present?)

Despite all the equipment around, I still think it’s beautiful out. And hot!IMG_0529Now it is time for a story… which may only interest running nerds. Feel free to skip over this and head straight to the food photos at the bottom of this post.

As Anthony and I were unpacking boxes the other day, I came across this Wall Street Journal article (available online), crinkled up and wrapped around a delicate mug. I don’t know if it was the image of runners or the word “Cheeseburger” that caught my eye, but I’m glad I paused to read it.

P1010340According to the author, endurance running could be the “exercise equivalent of eating a cheeseburger,” i.e., long-distance running could have negative health benefits. He then goes on to highlight the “mounting evidence that extraordinary doses of exercise may diminish the benefits of modest amounts.” This claim is based on recent evidence that extreme endurance running may increase your chance of heart disease — particularly problems caused by coronary plaque buildup.

In my opinion, the article offers little convincing evidence to prove the argument other than noting a few small studies and single cases of extreme athletes who have suffered from heart disease. The research linked to heart disease — the #1 cause of death in the US, according to the CDC — is conflicting and vast, so it’s pretty tough to believe one or a few studies when there are an equal number of studies which contradict it… which the author admits himself in the article. It’s an interesting piece, though, and could hold some truth. But heart disease is such a big complicated topic that I’m hesitant to accept any fact about it without overwhelming evidence.

Amidst the large amount of “fluff” in the article, one study did catch my eye. A recent survey compared 2,377 runners, all of which had survived a heart attack. Over the next ten years, 71.5% of them died from cardiovascular disease (I wonder how this compares to the average?). The study concluded that those who ran or walked regularly after their heart attack had a better chance of avoiding a second one — except for those who ran or walked more than 7.1 km (4.34 miles) of running or 10.7k (6.64 miles) of walking a day. Still, I’d like more information about the health stats and ages of the participants of the study to make any conclusions.

An interesting study, for sure. But if 4.34 miles is considered “extreme” training, then I better start counting my days! Ha!

The other news I would like to highlight is that DC was recently ranked the second-fittest city in the states (again!). I don’t know how we lost to Minneapolis (again!) but am still so proud.

So in sum I am either on the brink of heart disease OR I am healthier than everyone in all cities except Minneapolis.

Focusing on the healthier side, Anthony and I tried this recipe last night (subbing pine nuts for almonds).P1010327It’s part of Real Simple magazine’s “detox plan” and was recommended to us by a friend. We thought it was pretty good: quick and healthy, just what you need on a weeknight!P1010330… but we weren’t huge fans of the waxy cabbage. Next time we will make it with arugula, one of my favorite friends!

Favorite — but only second favorite, after you fine people!

  • Did you read the WSJ article? Thoughts?
  • Have you ever done a detox?
  • Do you think your city is “fit”?




  1. I also saw that article. I’m not sure if it holds much water, if any. I’d have to read more about it and it would take a lot more convincing to make me believe it. I’ve never done a detox diet, but I do love a good salad for an easy weeknight meal! The city I’m in is definitely not considered “fit” when looking looking at everyone as a whole community… But it’s one of the best places to visit and live!

  2. Daniel sent me the link to the article. Read it and concluded the same… I want to see things like family history associated with the small group of participants. I understand that the stress hormone, cortisol, not only makes it difficult to lose weight but can also wreak havoc on the heart and other major organs. In that sense, putting our bodies under “extreme” or prolonged stress during endurance training might contribute to higher cortisol levels (I have seen many studies on the relationship between overtraining and increased cortisol.) That said, I am not convinced that I should cut my losses and just start enjoying burgers.

    Another theory… Consider type of person who “over trains.” Many have obsessive compulsive tendencies … i.e. running every day – that’s crazy!, and many begin running as a coping mechanism for another life stressor … and it eventually becomes an addiction of sorts. OCD and addictive tendancies can be linked to high stress, often type-A, personalities. High stress can be linked to heart disease. Could it be that extreme athletes are naturally “higher stress” individuals to begin with, meaning that we might be at a higher risk for heart disease regardless of our running regimen.

  3. I also read that DC got 2nd for fittest city!! yay!! Love it! Indianapolis on the the other hand is like the top 10 fattest city… oh I am so proud!

    i have also read things recently regarding the “unhealthiness” of marathon training and what not. I don’t know how much I believe it… I definitely don’t WANT to believe it!!!

    Again, jealous over your gorgeous DC runs 🙂

  4. Dawn H.

    That article is interesting. It seems like there’s studies proving something is good/ bad for just about anything (coffee, wine, vegetarianism, etc). i enjoy running, and do it in relative moderation. it also decreases my stress, which is known to be bad, mostly.

  5. From what I understand, from the articles about things being bad.. it seems life is a terminal disease…

    As for the Washington Monument – I keep telling visitors that it was bad, so its in monument jail1

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