Is it dangerous to run a marathon? How to prepare and stay healthy


from the USA




of the National University Sports Association

(NCAA) assess the risks by -differently, but agree on one thing: the risk of dying during the race is very small. In Sweden, the mortality rate was

0.24 people

per 100,000 participants, and in the USA -

0.41-0.98 people

per 100,000 participants.

But if the danger is low, why do people still die? Let's get it right.

A key parameter that determines endurance in endurance sport (these are all sports that require great physical endurance: cycling, athletics, swimming and so on . - Note ed. .) And in cyclic sports in general, - the level of aerobic endurance, or

VO2 max


This is the maximum amount of oxygen that the body is able to consume during intense physical activity.

The level of aerobic endurance depends on how long a person can run without using glucose stores in the muscles, that is, in anaerobic mode. The later the anaerobic regimen starts, the more energy will remain at the end of the race.

During the race, the metabolic, thermoregulatory and physiological requirements of the body increase by 42.5 km.

This means that the runner needs a lot of energy. Everything that happens during the marathon is connected with the body’s attempts to get this energy.

  1. Blood rushes to the muscles . At this time, the internal organs — stomach, liver, kidneys, spleen — receive less blood than usual. Moreover, all systems - cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory, nervous, immune and endocrine - work very intensively.

  2. The load on the heart increases. The amount of blood that the heart pumps during running increases 3-4 times. It is necessary that the working muscles receive the necessary oxygen and energy. To cope with the task, the heart goes into a special mode: it ejects a larger volume of blood and contracts more often than at rest.
  3. Closer to the finish line, the energy ends.

    During a long run, the body needs about 10 times more energy than usual. At the same time, human muscles can only count on 2,000 calories. This is the maximum amount of energy that can be obtained from glucose, which accumulates in muscle cells as glycogen.


of the Swedish study

, in which they studied mortality in long-distance running from 2007 to 2016, indicate that the most common cause of death for runners is

sudden cardiac arrest

(VOS) associated with physical activity. This can happen to people of any gender, but in men during a marathon the heart stops

five times more often


VOS and heart attack are not the same thing.If during a heart attack a part of the heart dies due to a lack of blood, then with a sudden stop, the problem is that the heart begins to beat too fast. Because of this, fibrillation occurs, as a result of which oxygen ceases to enter the brain and the person loses consciousness.

The heart can stop during the marathon, and on the finish line, and a few hours after its completion, as was the case with Vladimir Korchevsky. During the marathon, the BOC happens more often than during the half marathon.

Experts believe that the case may be in a higher load.

There are other, rarer reasons that can lead to a sharp deterioration in well-being and death of the runner.

This will allow you to soberly and efficiently calculate your strengths and control your condition during the race. You need to know the following indicators:

  • VO2 max,
  • pulse range in the aerobic zone,
  • threshold pulse, at which the body goes over the aerobic threshold and begins to work in the anaerobic zone .

It is advisable to undergo an in-depth medical examination of all organs and systems.

Such an examination includes stress tests: stress echocardiography (stress ECHO) and treadmill test (stress ECG).

About how to do this, we wrote in detail here, here and here.

- During preparation for the marathon, it is very useful to control the level of electrolytes: potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium, - advises Sergey Khaikin. - An electrolyte analysis should be done once a month and a half, depending on the load and training cycle. It makes sense to consult with a sports doctor about biochemical blood tests for iron levels (iron and protein ferritin tests), creatine kinase, urea, myoglobin, free and total testosterone levels.

During a marathon, an average person loses 3-4 liters of liquid with sweat. If you do not compensate for fluid loss during the race, the risk of heart rhythm disturbances will increase - especially if the race takes place in hot weather and in humid climates.



Related Articles