Edison Peña, 34, one of the 69 trapped Chilean miners, is planning on running the entire 26-mile New York City marathon, not even a month after the dramatic rescue that captured the world's attention. He was nicknamed "The Runner" because he'd jog over six miles in the tunnels of the mine.
Perhaps that's the best way to pass the time when you're trapped in a mine for 69 days with a bunch of other dudes.
He tells People.com in Spanish:
I'm running more than an hour a day, on the beach, I don't know how many kilometers that is .... I intend to run the entire 26-mile marathon.
His younger brother, Rafael Peña, was also trapped, saying Edison would run in his underpants, boots, and helmet, and nothing else since it was so hot down in the mines.
What an inspirational story on how to stay fit and sane in even the most impossible of circumstances. Here are five ways running helped Peña stay sane and healthy during this terrifying ordeal:
Diminishes Your Appetite
You'd think the opposite at first, wouldn't you? According to health psychology department at Vanderbilt University, marathon runners say they pay far more attention to what they're eating because of how much they run. Exercise also acts as a suppressant on your appetite. Because runners are putting so much of their time and energy into exercise, they don't want to screw up all their hard work by eating unhealthily. Running also helps diminish cravings for fatty and unhealthy foods.
Improves Your Sleep
Imagine trying to get a good night's sleep trapped in a hole in the earth with no idea if it's day or night. BenefitsofRunning.net says that several studies link running to better sleep. After running six miles every day, Peña most likely expended enough energy to be able to sleep soundly for a few hours. That sounds far better than tossing and turning on that hard surface, constantly wondering if you were going to get rescued or if you'd ever see your family again.
Good for Your Psyche
Staying sane and sound of mind was a top priority for these miners, and the runner had the best chance of succeeding. Running, per The-Fitness-Motivator.com, reduces stress, boosts self-confidence, increases happiness, and improves mental alertness. It gave him the opportunity to get away from the others and reflect and concentrate on something else other than his dire situation. And haven't you ever heard of a "runner's high"?
Reduces Risk of Osteoporosis
It's hard to imagine that these guys had access to a lot of milk during those first few troubling weeks. Luckily, they made contact with the outside world, so they were able to receive doses of vitamin D and calcium. Still, to get the most out of these precious nutrients, running builds strong bones, even more so than resistance training. Running definitely helps stave off this terrible affliction and kept Peña's bones strong.
Enhances Circulatory and Heart Health
You've got to work out your heart, which in itself is a muscle. Plus, the miners were at risk of thrombosis as well, which is the formation of blood clots. Health experts gave them exercises to do to avoid this. But runners don't have to worry as much, as exercise helps your heart pump harder to keep up with the body's demand. This flushes out your arteries out, according to Health.LearningInfo.org. There was less of a need for Peña to worry about forming clots and the health of his heart while trapped since he was running so often.
With Peña receiving all these health benefits from his daily exercise in the mines, it's no wonder he feels so ready to tackle a 26-mile marathon less than a month after his rescue. Tune in on November 7 and cheer him on!
Do you think running helped Pena in the mines? Will you be watching the New York City marathon?
Image via YouTube