Running 200-miles ultramarathon could be healthier than stopping at 100

Updated: Jun 28, 2013, 14:15 PM IST

Washington: When running an ultramarathon, it may be better for an athlete`s body that they run 200-miles instead of stopping after 100 miles, a new research has revealed.

Researchers compared athletes who ran 210-mile Tor des Geants and the 103-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, and looked at the effects of sleep deprivation.

They also took samples of blood and muscles to measure inflammation and muscle fatigue.

Researchers found that after completion of race, the Tor des Geants athletes suffered less muscle fatigues and soreness as compared to their counterparts who ran half the distance.

They also kept track of the vital statistics of 25 Tour des Geants athletes, representing top 33 percent of the group.

Researchers collected data before, during and after the race from the athletes, about muscle strain in the knees and foot, and recorded the electrical activity of the muscles through electrical stimulation sensors. Data on the 100-mile runners was gathered from a previous study.

They found that longer distance athletes had 30 percent more strength in lower leg muscles than people completing 100-mile course.

The reason why 200-mile runners did not suffer as much fatigue as the 100-mile group could be due to pacing.

The Tor des Geants runners on an average ran 3.4 miles per hour during their course, while athletes running 100-miles ran at a faster clip of 4.5 miles per hour.

Though the Tor des Geants runners tried to ward off sleep in the early stages, they eventually slept up to nine hours during their whole race in 20 to 30 minute naps and spent much more time walking than others, which allowed their muscles to relax and recover.

The study has been published in PLOS One.