10 Reasons to Walk a Marathon

Do you feel the itch to join in when you see a marathon announced? Do you wonder why anyone would drag themselves through 26.2 exhausting miles? Did your spouse just sign up for a marathon and you wonder what the heck got into her? Walking or running a marathon can be a great goal. If you are ready to get started, we have a tutorial on full how to train for and walk a marathon.

To Get in Shape

Portland Marathon Finish Line
Portland Marathon Finish Line. Wendy Bumgardner ©

If you put in all of the training mileage recommended in the 19 weeks before your marathon, you will have walked 420 miles. You will start off thinking that six miles is plenty far for anyone to make it through. Weeks later, a half marathon distance of 13.1 miles is an easy day. Along the way, you will learn the value of stretching and crosstraining. You will have been transformed.

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To Lose Weight

Weighing on Scale
Roy Hsu/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Those 420 miles in training? They burn the calorie equivalent of ten pounds of fat for a 160 pound person. If you are dedicated to your training schedule, with walks of an hour every-other day and a mileage-building walk once a week, you will be getting an excellent amount of exercise to help lose weight. But if your primary goal is weight loss, you must also track your diet closely and ensure you are eating fewer calories than you are burning.

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To Raise Money for Charity

Leukemia Society Team in Training Shirt
Leukemia Society Team in Training Shirt. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Signing on with a charity marathon program gives you a good incentive to work your social network for donations. Your friends and family donate because they want to support you as well as the cause. Charity marathon programs also provide camaraderie with others who support the cause and coaching and support during the event.

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To Cross it Off Your Bucket List

Finisher Photo
Wendy Bumgardner ©
You're not getting any younger and your bucket list is probably full of things that cost more than a marathon entry fee and some good shoes. You might as well do the marathon while you can still get around without a wheelchair. Although, come to think of it, those wheelchair marathoners are usually the first finishers and score all the best freebies at the finish line.

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For the Medal and Shirt

Portland Marathon Finisher Awards 2004
Portland Marathon Finisher Awards 2004. Wendy Bumgardner ©

A marathon medal proves you are an endurance athlete, no matter how slow your finish time. My marathon medals are framed and on display in my office. People who see them are always impressed, probably more than they would be by my diploma or other certificates. I wear my long-sleeved Portland Marathon Finisher shirt often when I travel and when I am on cool-weather training walks. I get nods of recognition and strike up conversations with other marathon finishers. It brings respect and camaraderie. Once you've enjoyed wearing your shirts, you might even turn your race shirts into a quilt. to let your victories keep you warm through the winter.

To Train with Active Friends

Country Music Half Marathon Racers
Competitor Group ©
If you have friends who are training for a marathon, go ahead and join them. Otherwise you won't be seeing much of them on the weekends. If you join them, you'll be spending long hours together during your long slow distance weekly walks. If you don't have any active friends, marathon training groups are a great way to meet some. Caution -- it may be habit forming, as now you will have friends who are training for the marathon next year.

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To Have a Goal to Train For

Start Line Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon
Start Line Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon. Wendy Bumgardner © 2009
It is easy to find an excuse to skip your walking workouts. Too cold, too hot, too busy. But if you are sticking to a marathon training schedule, you know you must do the mileage no matter what. Otherwise you will fall behind and you won't be ready. If your spouse is waving the "honey-do" list, you have an excellent excuse as to why you need to do your long walking workout first.

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For an Excuse to Visit the Marathon Location

Disneyland Half Marathon Finish Friends
Disneyland Half Marathon Finish Friends. Wendy Bumgardner ©
Do you long to visit Hawaii? Want a good reason for a trip to Las Vegas, Disney World or Disneyland? How about soaking up the quirkiness of Portland, Oregon? You can give yourself extra motivation to stick with your marathon training as you plan a trip to a dream locale.

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Because Somebody Said I Couldn't

Don't Walk Signal
Don't Walk Signal. © Thinkstock / Stockbyte / Getty

So, you're not a runner. You don't have an athletic build. You may have more than a few extra pounds. You may never have won a race in your life. You may never have earned an athletic trophy. That doesn't mean you can't be a marathon finisher next year. Don't let anybody tell you that you can't do it. Especially yourself. It takes dedication, time, effort, sweat, blisters, and a few pair of shoes. But I've done it and you can do it.

To Feel Like a Champion

Wendy Bumgardner ©

I always cross the finish line choked up with tears. I am a winner. I am a champion. At the marathon finish line, it doesn't matter what your finish time is. All that matters is that you finish. You will be draped with a medal. You will be swathed in a heat sheet. You will have your photo taken. Your name will be listed in the ranks of marathon finishers. You are a champion forever.

Now that You're Convinced - How to Find a Walker-Friendly Marathon

Here are tips for finding a walker-friendly marathon that will greet you and treat you right.

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