past 11 years, a team of physicians and researchers at Mayo
Clinic has been collecting data from athletes in an attempt to
predict and prevent running injuries.
Science, as the research study is known, studies the effects
of distance running on the human body. The project was
launched in 2008 alongside the inaugural 26.2 with Donna ó
The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, a race founded
by Mayo Clinic patient Donna Deegan to support cancer
research. With almost 10,000 athletes from all 50 states and
several countries, the marathon provides researchers with a
diverse pool of study participants.
objective of Runnerís Science is to look into various
problems that runners have so we can understand why they
happen. If we can understand more about why these diseases or
injuries happen, then we can start to look at ways to prevent
them and fix them," says Dr. Sara Filmalter, a Mayo
Clinic family and sports medicine physician.
most common injuries runners experience are lower extremity
injuries ó mostly knee pain, hip pain, and foot and ankle
pain," she adds.
past decade, research has looked at how food and fluid intake,
foot strike and training distances affect runners.
the early years, we obtained a lot of data on runners with
race-related injuries, and we found that undertraining for a
race can lead to injuries during the event," says Dr.
Filmalter. "Our research showed, for example,
half-marathon runners who ran less than three days per week
during training, or whose long run was less than 10 miles at
the peak of their training were more at risk for injury during
Science also uncovered significant findings related to food
and fluid intake, and finishing time.
found that runners who consume whole food during a distance
race have slower paces, compared to the runners consuming
gels, who had faster paces," says Dr. Filmalter.
we found that runners with slower paces tend to be at the
greatest risk for exercise-induced hyponatremia or low sodium,
which can be very detrimental ó even deadly. We found that
slower runners stop more often and consume more water."
Filmalterís recommendation: "Regardless of pace, we
recommend runners drink to thirst and remember to consumer
some beverages that have electrolytes in them, such as sports
recently, Runnerís Science has been reviewing specific body
parts to help determine whether differences in size, shape or
thickness will predispose a runner to pain or injury.
year, Runnerís Science will focus on ultrasound evaluation
of Achilles tendons in runners who do not have any pain there.
Weíre trying to see any differences that may predict whether
or not a runner has issues with their tendons in the
future," says Dr. Filmalter.