Why your Marathon training might be making you ill


I know what you’re thinking…Why?

Why do you think my marathon training is making me ill?

Exercise makes you fitter, right? Yes, but healthier? Well, it depends.

‘J Curve’ to demonstrate risk of infection after exercise

‘J Curve’ to demonstrate risk of infection after exercise

The risk of illness following exercise is actually modelled as a J shaped curve, where the risk is low with moderate exercise but actually increases to high with higher intensity and duration.

Research suggests that there is a five-fold increase in risk of infection in the 2 weeks following a competitive ultra-endurance (marathon or more) running event.

This risk is most increased with exercise lasting  more than 1.5 hours of moderate intensity and when performed without food.

It also suggests that following any period of prolonged exercise there is an ‘open window‘ where the risk of infection is highest, this varies from 3-72 hours within individuals. In some instances the risk of infection can last up to one month after an ultra-endurance event.

The sort of infection is generally URTI (upper respiratory tract infection) or ‘common cold’ to us!

One way to reduce the risk is to support your system with the correct food and supplements. This includes complex carbohydrates and high GI food immediately following strenuous exercise.

Another way is to take Vitamin C as it has been proven to reduce the chance of getting a cold, and if you get one it helps clear it up quickly.

Echinacea  (a plant from North America) is proven to be effective in reducing the risk of getting a UTRI and can be taken in tablet form. Also you could try a glutamine supplement to avoid immunosuppression by the long hours of training.

Grapes also contain polyphenol resveratrol which stimulates the immune system and have an anti-inflammatory affect on cells.

To conclude, we are not saying don’t do marathons, just be aware that you need to take care of your body to prevent the risk of becoming ill due to your training.

If you would like more information, please contact us. 


**Reference: Aspetar Sports Medicine Journal Volume 4 Issue 2

Samantha Bramley