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The Complete Marathon Runner

1 August 2007


Background: Training for and running a marathon is a task that takes dedication and discipline. Marathon runners have many tools available to them to help them train including trainers, running camps, training schedules, training logs, and many other tools. Many marathon runners will train from 3-6 months for the "big" race. Marathon runners are told in magazines such as Runner's World that they must simulate race conditions as closely as possible to prepare themselves. Marathon runners often eat the same foods, place body glide on the same areas, and many have a type of ritual before running their training long runs or the marathon itself. Marathon runners expend a lot of energy focusing on a particular time or just completing the marathon. There are many things outside of running that go in to preparing for the marathon including food before the race, gel or sport beans, and hydration to name a few. With all of the preparations and training that go in to a marathon are marathon runners more likely to become obsessive about their sport? Does marathon training/running have the protective effects against depression that many other forms of exercise have been shown to provide? Hypothesis: More than half of all marathon runners will consider themselves obsessive when it comes to training/running for a marathon. The prevalence of obsessive compulsive disorder will be greater in marathon runners than the general population. Marathon runners will be protected from depression while training for a marathon. Study Design: Survey Methods: Participants of the study were marathon runners who participated in the Fargo Marathon on May 19, 2007. Each participant volunteered to fill out a survey asking questions about their running history, physical, and mental health. Before the survey was given to participants they were asked to read and sign a consent form. After signing the consent form they were given the survey. The participants were to represent the general marathon runner. Surveys were filled out the day before the marathon at the health expo where a booth was setup for participants. Results: There were 149 participants in the study. There were 96 males and 53 females who participated in the study. In the survey 67 participants stated they were obsessive and two participants were also diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). 82 participants stated they were not obsessive. There is a high correlation between being obsessive and being a marathon runner. Comparing the two groups demonstrates that the obsessive group has run over 8 more marathons and tends to run 21 seconds faster per mile than the non-obsessed group. Otherwise the two groups were similar in weekly mileage, distance of longest run, mood, and gender make up. Neither sex was considered more obsessive than the other. When reviewing the information comparing OCD group versus the non-OCD group the reader must take in to consideration the small sample size (participants) with a diagnosis of OCD. The major finding between these two groups was that the OCD group ran 3 times as many marathons as those participants who were not diagnosed with OCD. However, no difference between ages, weekly mileage, minute per mile, longest training run, or years running were found. There was also no difference between the mood of the two groups. When looking at depression and marathon training/running there was no significant difference between the groups. More data needed to be obtained in order to determine if marathon training/running offers protective effects against depression. Conclusion: With the high prevalence of marathon runners considering themselves obsessive the actual rate of OCD may be under diagnosed in this group. Depression and marathon training/running was also conclusive in this study.


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