• Mason Masters

Marathons & Moms: The Toughest Athletes On Earth




Out of the numerous challenges which humans present the human body, which one pushes its limits the most? Is it marathon running? Soccer? Bocce Ball? According to a newly released study, the answer might be a little more universal.


A study published in the journal Science Advances took a look at the metabolic rate of extreme distance athletes (think ultra-marathon runners or road cyclists) and how the strain of intense exercise effects the caloric burn off during an extended period of time. Your average couch potato can throw about 4,000 calories at a problem (playing basketball, escaping hungry bears, parallel parking, etc.) before reaching the limit of what their body can do. After that point, the body taps into its reserves to keep that work rate up. Most people don’t get close to this limit, even during exercise. There are two groups of people, however that live at this metabolic limit found by science: extreme distance athletes and pregnant women. 


This will come as a surprise to exactly none of the women out there, but bringing a child into this world really pushes the body to its limits. So much so that it is comparable to the stresses a Tour de France cyclist or an ultra-distance runner goes through. 


What this study looked at was the way the human body adapts to high levels of stress over a prolonged period of time. People have no problem spiking their metabolic rate to play hockey or to run a marathon, but the body can’t rely on that short term boost if you’re running a marathon every single day. So, it adapts exactly how a woman’s body adapts to that freeloader living rent-free in her bladder attic.


When faced with sharing nutrients or spending the vast majority or nutrients on physical excursion, the body finds ways of storing energy where it can for itself. At their week one metabolic rate, the runners in the study, should have only been able to sustain their workload for about 70 days at most. When researchers last checked on the runners, more than 120 days had passed with the runners pacing themselves at an insane six marathons per week. 


So, there you have it folks, want to prove you’re the best of the best? Either run across America in 120 days or get pregnant. Get out of here with that CrossFit garbage. Unless you’re pregnant and doing CrossFit, then I’m very sorry, please don’t hurt me. 

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