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Football can require quite a lot of running. Sometimes after exceptionally intense moments I find myself briefly unable to satiate the need for breathing, at which point I wonder if I’m doing something that’s potentially unsafe for myself. My heart rate can stay above 200 during such episodes (though I’ve only measured it a couple of times), which is above the "standard" maximum effort for my age (28), but I feel fine apart from being rather out of breath – which is surely to be expected from lots of running.

How do I know when it’s time to slow down? Can I "run till I drop", figuratively speaking, for as long as I feel OK? I am not aware of any medical issues that might subject me to extra risk.

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Hypothetical questions aren't really a good fit, because they don't apply to anyone. Besides there are people who run a marathon every day or who participate in ultra-endurance runs, while others can't even run 30 minutes. So clearly, there is no answer here. Perhaps you should focus on the risks of running too long under a specific scenario? –  Ivo Flipse Apr 1 '12 at 19:21
    
@IvoFlipse I don’t mind. As I mentioned, the scenario I’m thinking of is football. If I rephrase to ask how to know my safe limit in football, do you think that would be a good fit? –  romkyns Apr 1 '12 at 19:25
    
Yeah, that would be much better and if you have a specific reason to be weary, then please add that as well –  Ivo Flipse Apr 1 '12 at 19:28
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Here's a related question: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/5891/… –  user3085 Apr 1 '12 at 20:03
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1 Answer

(Taken almost exactly from my answer here: How worried should I be about overexertion?, but I can edit if you give additional details in your question.)

Based on your description, the only thing you should really worry about is dehydration (headache, dizziness, cramping), or heat related illnesses (heat stroke, heat cramps, hyperthermia). Your body will generally stop you from exerting yourself more than it is capable of. If your push right up to your limit, you may experience lightheadedness, greying vision, and nausea. Those symptoms are not related directly to your heart rate, but rather, to your body's inability to get oxygen to your brain and eyes (because it's being used elsewhere). If you're healthy, you can push yourself, but rest if you get some particularly strong signs to stop, unless you are okay puking at the side of the field.

Muscle strains are also a possibility when overexerting yourself, but a different kind of overexertion than you've described.

One rare condition that would begin to present itself 12-24 hours after very strenuous exercise with inadequate hydration is rhabdomyolysis (another description).

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