The marathon has become the defining event of the modern running phenomenon. Yet despite the dramatic growth of sports science there’s been surprisingly little research into what running 26.2 miles can do to your body. Until now.

Running for Science brings together orthopaedic surgeons, cardiologists, radiologists and runners in a combined research project that harnesses hospital-based technologies in measuring the true physiological effects of running a marathon.

It’s a collaborative venture between UCL, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, St. George’s University Hospitals and Barts Health NHS Trust and Virgin London Marathon.

The idea is simple: take a mixed group of people who’ve signed up to run their first marathon, measure them before the run, then repeat afterwards.

115 runners participated in our study. All were first-time marathon runners in their 40s, with no known running injuries and a balanced spread across the group in terms of gender, age and physique.

We completed 3 knee MRI scans: 1) pre-marathon, before participants started their training for the marathon; 2) immediate post-marathon and then 3) a follow-up investigation 6 months later.

We’ve gathered a wealth of data, which is already providing new insight into the effects of marathon running. We’ll continue to share our findings on this site as the study progresses.



Study design

Study Design

Our participants in action