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Open Access Highly Accessed Editorial

Born to run. Studying the limits of human performance

Andrew Murray1* and Ricardo JS Costa2

Author Affiliations

1 SportScotland Institute of Sport, Aithrey Road, Stirling, FK9 5PH, UK

2 Department of Health Professions, Coventry University, Priory Road, Coventry, CV1 5FB, UK

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BMC Medicine 2012, 10:76  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-76

Published: 19 July 2012

Abstract

It is recognised that regular physical activity and a high level of fitness are powerful predictors of positive health outcomes. There is a long and rich history of significant feats of human endurance with some, for example, the death of the first marathon runner, Pheidippides, associated with negative health outcomes.

Early studies on endurance running used X-ray and interview techniques to evaluate competitors and comment on performance. Since then, comparatively few studies have looked at runners competing in distances longer than a marathon. Those that have, tend to show significant musculoskeletal injuries and a remarkable level of adaptation to this endurance load.

The TransEurope Footrace Project followed ultra-endurance runners aiming to complete 4,500 Km of running in 64 days across Europe. This pioneering study will assess the impact of extreme endurance on human physiology; analysing musculoskeletal and other tissue/organ injuries, and the body's potential ability to adapt to extreme physiological stress. The results will be of interest not only to endurance runners, but to anyone interested in the limits of human performance.

Please see related article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/78 webcite

Keywords:
Physical inactivity; ultra-marathon; endurance; runners; musculoskeletal; nutrition; hydration; race; Trans-Continental