A recent WSJ article profiled new research that makes the following claims -
Opinion is nearly unanimous among cardiologists that endurance athletics significantly increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, an arrhythmia that is estimated to be the cause of one third of all strokes. "Chronic extreme exercise appears to cause excessive 'wear-and-tear' on the heart," the editorial says.In some ways it's not surprising to me. The research also tries to tie high intensity exercise to eventual health problems. While any new research is bound to cause controversy, the authors seem pretty confident they are on to something. Does it make sense? I'm sure we'll hear more about it in the future so i'll wait for a bit before i weigh in.
Either way, it seems that what i'm doing occupies a sort of 'unexplored space'. I do a few big events but don't chronically exercise like most endurance athletes. I train super hard, but for extremely short durations. When is the damage done? If it is during times when you push the heart very briefly to extremes, then maybe i'm screwed, because i'm certainly doing more of that than just about anyone else. But if it is when the heart works pretty hard for hours upon hour, then i'm going to live damn near forever, something that might make me pretty unique among the group of crazy folks that do ultra endurance events. Maintainable Base Fitness! Yeah baby!