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How much can a body endure? fitnessathletes test their limits page 3
Athletes test their limits during extraordinary long triathlons

 Arthur Puckrin, 69, of England pedaled for 336 miles during an ultra-long triathlon at Lake Anna State Park this month, eating ice cream along the way.
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Date published: 10/21/2007


The prize is often nothing more than hugs from family and friends and the satisfaction of a goal accomplished at the finish line.

"You can do it, if you put in enough time and effort and training," Wortley said. "What you have to decide is, is it worth it for you?"

knowing when to stop

Rudy Dressendorfer of Penryn, Calif., is a licensed physical therapist, triathlete and Ph.D. who has focused his research on the the physiological and medical consequences of overtraining in endurance sports.

He said that training for a distance event can reveal unknown weaknesses in the body, allowing people to make more educated decisions about what to put themselves through in the future.

He gave the example of a young woman who was training for a half-marathon and discovered she had an uncommon heart condition that she never would have known about if she'd stayed sedentary.

But ultra-runners often talk about the key to their success being their ability to numb themselves to the pain they feel as the miles build up.

Dressendorfer worries about that aspect, since pain is one of the main ways our bodies tell us something's not right.

And according to those who finished the triathlons at Lake Anna, listening to those messages is critical.

Chang said certain kinds of pain--like muscle soreness and blisters--are to be expected during long-distance training or racing.

However, he said, "If you are having sharp, acute pain that appears to be joint-related, then you are probably overdoing things."

Distinguishing between those two is the challenge.

Roche-Wallace said she's dropped out of races before. She set up her own deca-iron triathlon course--10 Ironman-distance triathlons in 10 days--near her Michigan home, but quit after five to avoid injury.

"That's always a really hard decision," Wortley said. "It's a matter of learning your own limits."

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413
Email: ebattle@freelancestar.com

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