Wednesday, February 4, 2015


The naysayers have been around for a long time, and they're not going to go away anytime soon.

You've all encountered them.

At work, at a party or picnic, at family functions, at your child's soccer game.

"Running's gonna ruin your knees."

"You're so skinny. You don't look good."

"I can't believe you're pregnant and you're still running."

"Why do you run so much? You're crazy."

"I wish I had the time to get out there and run like you do."

The last one suggests, of course, that the person making the comment  has a much busier life than you.

In my first book, "Running Shorts: A Collection of Stories and Advice For Anyone Who Has Ever Laced Up a Pair of Running Shoes," I devote a chapter to the haters. It's entitled, appropriately, "Why Do They Hate Us So Much?"

The reasons, of course, are numerous, and now, the haters can pour additional fuel on the fire.

A study, published on Monday, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, using data from the Copenhagen City Heart Study, which examined the mortality rates in sedentary people and runners, strongly suggests that "more vigorous" runners (those who run a lot of miles) died at a greater rate during the study than those who run less miles.

Get ready for your next party, or for the latest proclamation from the guy at work, who, while stuffing the donut in his face, tells you, "See, I told you that running would kill you!"

Some media outlets have even stated that, "Fast running may be as deadly as sitting on the sofa."

I own a medical degree in absolutely nothing, but my study, which includes 39 years and over 122,000 miles, indicates that RUNNING WON'T KILL YOU.

One of my closest running friends, a former 2:39 marathon runner, age 58, has suffered two heart attacks. He and I ran 10 miles two weeks ago. The simple fact of the matter is that his heart defect is genetic, and, if he wasn't a runner, he'd be dead today.

His cardiologist told him that running has enables his body to create "alternative pathways." In other words, when arteries narrow and a heart attack occurs, in most people, the blood has nowhere to go. Runners' arteries are like superhighways. When one is blocked, there is an alternative path for blood flow.

We are in the midst of a worldwide obesity epidemic. Most of the people on this planet eat too much and exercise too little. To suggest that running too much is as dangerous as sitting on the sofa may be the single most ridiculous statement I've ever read.

At a local race near Reading, Pennsylvania recently, a 95-year old gentleman crossed the 5K finish line, and he was not at the end of the pack.

At races everywhere, runners in their 60s and 70s are outpacing many of their younger counterparts.

The fact is, we really don't know the true effects high-mileage running has on people because there are not enough 'older' runners on which to base accurate data.

No matter what statistics indicate, however, we are healthier, and our quality of life is better because we run. No, we are not invincible, and we must recognize that fact.

Running won't kill you, but that's the way I want to go.

When I'm about 98 years old.

                                                      84-year old Ed Whitlock