UltrarunningEver think about running an ultramarathon? Well, researchers from northern California wanted to know just what the exercise behaviors ultramarathoners looks like. These researchers gathered “information on exercise history was (from) 1,345 current and former ultramarathon runners.”

They found that

25% of ultramarathon runners may have 3 or less years of regular running experience at the time of their first ultramarathon and that there is a trend toward a decrease in the number of years of regular running before the first ultramarathon. These findings are important for race directors and medical providers who care for these athletes during and outside of the events to recognize because a lack of running experience could influence the needs of these athletes.

The present work also demonstrates that active ultramarathon runners tend to have a high annual running distance that is diminished little with aging. In fact, it is the older ultramarathoners who tend to complete the most ultramarathons. Recognition that such behavior is characteristic of older ultramarathoners is important for those providing their medical care.

Finally, among the former ultramarathon runners, running injuries represented the most common reason for discontinuation of regular running or for deciding to not run ultramarathons in the future. These findings demonstrate the adverse impact of running injuries on the sustainability of ultramarathon running. Improved strategies for prevention and treatment of running injuries could play an important role in allowing these athletes to continue participating in this activity.

Hoffman, MD & Krishnan, E. Exercise Behavior of Ultramarathon Runners: Baseline Findings From the ULTRA Study. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, Volume 27: 2939–2945. 2013.