26 Reasons to Run a Marathon

Marathon Start
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Thinking about running a marathon?  Sure, there are plenty of excuses not to run a 26.2-mile race (too hard, too far, scared of injuries, don’t want to lose toenails), but there are lots of reasons why all the training and pain is worth it.

Here are 26 reasons – one for every mile you’ll run – why you should consider running a marathon.

1. You’ll stay motivated to run.  You can’t get away with not training with a marathon, so having one on your calendar will keep you motivated to stick to your training schedule.

On days when your motivation is lagging, you'll think about how you'll feel if you're undertrained, can’t finish, or have to cancel.

2. You can achieve a life-long goal. Many people have “run a marathon” on their bucket list, but few actually follow through with it.

3. You’ll improve your health.  Running regularly strengthens your heart and also helps keep your blood pressure and high cholesterol at normal levels. It also improves your immune system, so hopefully you’ll get sick less often.

4. You can raise awareness and money for a good cause. Many marathons benefit charities and worthwhile causes, from disaster relief to fighting cancer or other diseases. Running for something that's bigger than you is a great way to stay motivated to keep training, meet other runners to train with, and can make your races even more meaningful.

5. You can prove to your high school gym teacher (or anyone else who doubted you) that you’re an athlete.  Ok, so proving to the naysayers that you can complete an incredible physical achievement shouldn’t be the only reason you decide to train for a marathon, but it is a nice little bonus.

6. You can get in better shape.  If you’re not in good shape – possibly the best shape of your life – by the time you reach the starting line, you didn’t train hard enough!

7. You’ll sleep better.  Marathon training can be exhausting and your body will crave sleep, since it repairs itself while you’re resting.

  You’ll definitely find yourself getting to bed earlier and sleeping a lot more soundly.

8. You’ll have a lifetime of bragging rights. Once you become a marathon finisher, you’re always a marathon finisher. No one can ever take that title away from you!

9. You’ll stay busy.  Training for a marathon takes up a lot of time so if you’ve gone through a recent life change – retirement, job loss, empty nest – that gives you some more free time, now might be the perfect time to take on the marathon challenge.

10. You’ll have a great excuse to buy new running clothes. You’ll be running a lot so you won’t be able to get away with one or two running outfits, unless you want to be doing laundry constantly.  Picking up some new running clothes and gear is a great way to reward yourself for sticking to your training.

11. You’ll be a great role model.  It’s hard not to respect someone who is dedicated and determined to complete a substantial goal such as running a marathon. You’ll be setting a great example for those in your life who matter to you.

12. You’ll get a medal and cool shirt. Whether it's a medal, a shirt, or a great finishing photo, you’ll get something that’s a recognition of your achievement. You may not wear it or look at it all the time, but it'll be there when you need a tangible reminder of your running prowess.

13. People will make signs for you. You can’t expect friends and family to make signs for you if you’re running a shorter race, like a 5K. But running a marathon is definitely a sign-worthy endeavor.  If you think they need some help, you can even give them some ideas for funny signs and inspiring signs.

14. You’ll be distracted.  In my marathon training group, I meet a lot of marathoners-in-training who just recently got out of a long-term relationship or are dealing with a difficult family situation.  Running can be an incredible stress reliever and focusing on a goal such as a marathon can take your mind off your troubles.

15. You’ll meet new people. Joining a running group is a great way to meet new, like-minded people.  I know lots of people who have met their best friends and spouses through running groups.

16. Or, you can spend time with family and friends. If you’re not interested in meeting new people, you can convince a friend or family member to train for a marathon with you.  Training together and traveling to the race is a fun way to bond and spend time together.

17. You’ll gain confidence you never knew you had. After you’ve logged a 20-miler, you’ll feel like you can conquer the world (after a post-run nap, of course). Your running confidence will surely overflow into other areas of your life, such as work and relationships.

18. You’ll find new places to run. If you typically stick to shorter distances for running and racing, training for a marathon will force you to find new places to run, since you'll be running a lot and you’ll get bored with the same routes. Check out MapMyRun.com or ask local runners for suggestions on where to run.

19. You can travel to cool, new places.  If you love to travel, marathon running is a great excuse to visit a new city or country. You'll get to see a lot of the local area in the race and may even be able to score discounted marathon runner rates on hotel rooms.

20. You will most definitely be inspired along the way.  Whether it’s the double-amputee wheelchair racer, the 73-year-old grandmother running her 35th marathon, or your own kids holding the “We Love You, Mom!” signs, they will ALL inspire you.

21. You can indulge a little after your long runs.  It’s important that you don’t go overboard with eating and assume that marathon training gives you a license to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. But during your very long runs, you’ll be burning thousands of calories, so it’s OK to be a little indulgent after. You will be hungry, after all.  You can run hard, and celebrate hard.

22. You’ll better understand runners' lingo.  If you’ve been a casual runner up until this point, training for a marathon means that you won’t be able to avoid the runner’s subculture much longer.  You’ll find yourself speaking in running acronyms and talking about running a lot.

23. You’ll tone your legs.  Weight loss is often a goal of marathoners-in-training but, as many discover, it doesn’t always happen.  Although you may not lose a lot of weight, logging all those miles will absolutely increase your lean muscle mass, which results in some nice-looking legs.

24. You can get guilt-free massages.  Marathoners-in-training tend to get tight muscles, and regular massages can help you feel comfortable and stay injury-free. Treat yourself to a massage or two during your training to help relieve some of that tightness.

25. You’ll have an amazing feeling of accomplishment.  Although you’ll experience rough patches during marathon training and during the race, it’s all worth it once you cross that beautiful finish line. You’ll feel proud knowing that you set a goal of finishing a marathon and you followed through with it.

26. The experience will change you.  I love this quote:  “The person who starts a marathon is not the same person who finishes a marathon.” It’s true that the marathon will change you and you’ll be a different person when you finish the race. You’ll forever know that you have the mental and physical strength to persevere, even during times when you think you can’t and won’t succeed.

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