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Go Running!

December 11, 2019

Why Long Distance Running is so great for your health

Long distance running provides an excellent whole-body workout, and – if you’re like us at Cascade Relays – is deeply enjoyable as well. Many of us agree, running is good for the body and good for the soul. Long distance running is extremely effective at burning calories, tones the body, and improves your overall well-being. Plus, it gets you outside, and provides opportunities for socializing. Read on to learn more about all the great health benefits of long distance running. 

Defined as running for at least five consecutive miles, long distance running is an activity that can tax even the most elite athletes. Yet, the human body is specially adapted to running long distances, and nearly anyone can train their body to run marathon distances. The health benefits of long distance running are numerous, here we outline a few:

  • Running burns calories, strengthens your muscles, and tones your body – Regular long distance running enhances the body’s ability to burn fat as a source of energy. 
  • Running strengthens the heart – As an aerobic exercise, long distance running improves your cardiovascular system and strengthens the heart. 
  • Running builds stronger bones – In addition to strengthening the heart, long-distance running also strengthens bones by making them denser and less susceptible to breaking.
  • Increases VO2 max – Long-distance running builds a higher VO2 max. VO2 max is the maximum rate at which a person can consume and use oxygen. Long-distance running has been shown to increase this metric, allowing athletes to consume and use more oxygen.
  • Increases muscle mass – Weightlifting is the primary way to increase muscle mass, but long distance running can complement an athlete’s weightlifting regimen and allow them to achieve greater results. Long-distance running stimulates activity in the circulatory system, sending oxygen-rich blood to muscles where it helps to build new tissue and repair existing tissue.

These health benefits all tell us one thing: the more you run, the better you will run, and the better you will feel. As you train in endurance and speed, your muscles will strengthen, your heart will get stronger, and your body will start delivering more oxygen and using it more effectively. Your muscles- especially your leg muscles- will get better at using that oxygen, and your running will improve as your overall health improves as well. What’s more, running has a demonstrated effect on mood. Like other aerobic exercise, long distance running purges the blood of a substance called kynrenine, which tends to accumulate during times of stress and is linked to depression. At the same time, aerobic exercise like running increases the body’s production of seratonin, which leads to a good mood. Can you feel that “runner’s high” yet?

Ready to reap the benefits of long distance running? Running is great because it can be done anywhere, and it doesn’t require an expensive gym membership. All you need to do is put your shoes on and go! How about a little extra motivation? Start your long distance running routine now, and be prepared for one of Cascade Relay’s exceptional, unique relay races. Our long distance relay runs focus on community, friendship, scenic courses, and supporting local non-profits. To learn more, visit