Professors and students to perform research on marathon runners

Marathon study
From left, Rachel Pata, clinical assistant professor of physical therapy, Lou Loban and PT students Rebecca Kingston and Lauren Yuknis. Loban will participate in a Quinnipiac study of Hartford Marathon competitors to learn more about muscle breakdown and recovery in aging runners.

Oct. 11, 2013 - Three professors and their students from the School of Health Sciences will examine a group of runners competing in the Oct. 12 Hartford Marathon to learn more about muscle breakdown and recovery in aging marathon runners.

Johanna Chelcun, a clinical assistant professor of physician assistant studies, Tom Martin, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, and Rachel Pata, clinical assistant professor of physical therapy, and their students, Rebecca Kingston and Lauren Yuknis will be performing research on approximately 20 runners to compare common biochemical and hematologic parameters and markers of muscle breakdown between young (25-40 years old) and masters marathon runners (55+ years) over a 54-hour post-race period.

"We have some brave participants who are really interested in this and want to help us out," Chelcun said.

Kingston and Yuknis have a special interest in the study. They became fast friends as sophomores, bonding over their mutual love of running. The duo even completed half marathons together in Connecticut and New Hampshire.

"Both Lauren and I have been running since before middle school," Kingston said. "It's kind of exciting to take that a step further in the sciences."

The professors and students received interest from 300 runners who filled out surveys. They also recruited runners during the Healthy Lifestyle Expo Oct. 10 and 11 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.

The hope is to have the findings published in a journal. Kingston and Yuknis will also the present the study as their final Capstone project.

"We're going to learn a lot about the effects of running on the body," Yuknis said. "Being a runner, I think it's really interesting to know what does happen. It's something that Rebecca and I can both relate to."

Pata said the runners will be tested once prior to the marathon and a total of four times following the race.

The research team will draw blood and record vital signs and performance assessments from the participating runners before the marathon and at various intervals after the marathon.

"We want to learn if there are any potential increased risks for older runners, and if there are, we want to learn about how we can best minimize those risks," Pata said.

Lou Loban, 66, of Stratford, Conn., volunteered for the study. Loban has competed in about 50 marathons as well as a 100-mile race last year in South Dakota.

"I like helping people," he said. "If it helps anybody, it's a good thing." 

The research is being made possible by grants from the Foundation for Aging Studies and Exercise Science Research Grant, the School of Health Sciences Faculty Scholarship and the Center for Interprofessional Healthcare Education at Quinnipiac.