Running Performance and Heart Health

Jun 21st, 2013

Category: Fitness

Running Performance and Heart Health

Dr. O’Keefe giving a TED Talk on running and heart health

File this away in the old "some is good, more isn’t necessarily better" folder.  In this TED talk, Dr. O’Keefe, a cardiologist, discusses heart health and heart attack risk factors among runners and non-runners, and summarizes a few studies on mortality rates between runners and non-runners.

The take-home points of his talk, as it relates to running, per the studies he discusses, are as follows:

  • Not running at all (couch potato syndrome) sets you up for the greatest risk of heart attack.
  • Some running, or being an average or mediocre runner, is beneficial in terms of reducing heart attack risk factors.
  • Getting really good at running (think elite level) is better than being a couch potato, but not as beneficial as being a mediocre runner.

A couple of points to consider when taking this in:

  • He didn’t discuss other forms of exercise and their impact on heart health.  It was only focused on medium- and long-distance running.
  • He is coming from a health-oriented point of view, and all of his recommendations are based on optimizing heart health, not performance.

So what does this mean for you?  It depends on if you’re after health or performance (some would argue that you can have both, but at the highest level of athletic performance, health and performance are going to diverge, at least somewhat).

If you’re after health, you’re training at the right place.  Due to the nature of our program, we try and balance not only metabolic pathways (time duration of workouts and their related adaptations), but also disciplines/modalities.  We’re not just a barbell program, or a bodyweight program, or a running program.  Due to the balancing act of all our modalities, you’ll never be over-exposed to one discipline and will have well-rounded health.

And if you’re after performance, you’re also in the right place.  We’ll do everything we can to optimize health while chasing performance.  To that end, we have a number of specialty coaches (Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, etc.).  And more related to the subject at hand, we even have Coach Aaron, our CFO Endurance and Running coach.  Did you know he runs track workouts every Saturday morning at 8am at PIedmont High School, or that he runs an entire strength-and-conditioning program for track and endurance athletes?  Check out his Facebook page for more information.