So you’re thinking about running a marathon. You know it isn’t going to be an easy task, but in the end, it’ll be worth it, right? Your friends will be in awe of your amazing accomplishment, you’ll have a perfectly good excuse to brag about it all over social media, and you’ll get one of those elite 26.2 bumper stickers you’ve seen on a few cars parked at the gym.
Before you decide to go full steam ahead into hardcore training mode, consider some of the benefits and potential downsides that may come with training for a marathon.
You Have a Goal to Motivate You
If the thought of having something to work for excites you, training for a marathon will be right up your alley. Knowing that you have a goal to accomplish will keep you motivated to run further and push harder each time. Setting small milestones for yourself along the way, like increasing your distance by one mile each week, also allows you to track your progress and will push you to get results.
It’s a Big Time Commitment
Your days of happy hours after work and sleeping in until noon on weekends may be over for the foreseeable future. Knowing that Saturdays are your long run days and you have a 20-mile run ahead of you may make you think twice about going out for cocktails on Friday night. Training for a marathon doesn’t mean you have to be a complete hermit, but you may begin to find yourself turning down more social invitations than you accept.
Exercise Is Mentally and Physically Stimulating
Researchers have found that intense exercise like weight lifting or cross country running stimulates the release of endorphins. These endorphins give you what is referred to as a “runner’s high” by blocking the transmission of pain signals through the body and producing a euphoric feeling. This high typically comes in the midst of working out, but you may also continue to benefit from your workout after it’s over. As your muscles begin to get stronger, you’ll feel more powerful and in control of how your body feels. That sounds like a win-win to me!
Running Can Take a Toll on Your Body
Running day after day for miles on end is hard on your body, and running 26.2 miles is not something your body is naturally built to do. Sometimes running this much can confuse your body and cause your immune system and hormones to go out of whack. The constant pounding on pavement can lead to joint pain, and if you’re not adding strength training to your routine, pushing your body beyond its limits can result in serious injury.
You’ll Have Opportunities to Explore
Running outdoors gives you the opportunity to see places right in your hometown that you may never have seen otherwise. Jogging through backroads or side city streets gives you a whole new perspective on nature and the things around you. While you’re running, choose a road you’ve never been down before and enjoy the scenery. You never know, you may find a hidden gem nearby that you didn’t even know about!
Don’t Necessarily Expect to Lose Weight
If losing weight is one of your reasons for marathon training, you may want to think twice about jumping into this challenge. In fact, it could be dangerous for your body if you’re not consuming enough calories to fuel your runs. Of course, running for hours at a time will burn tons of calories and you will be in fantastic physical shape, but it’s important to replenish just as many calories as you’re burning in order to build muscle and strengthen your body. If you aren’t getting the proper nutrition, you may begin to experience fatigue and stiffness, which could eventually lead to muscle damage and serious injury.
What’s Your Decision?
Deciding to run a marathon is completely up to you. It’s a big commitment that may not be for everyone. You’ll have to stick to a consistent schedule whether you like it or not, and you’ll be pushing your body to its limits. If the benefits of training for a marathon outweigh the potential downsides for you, it’s time to begin signing up and planning your training schedule! And soon enough, you’ll be picking out a spot on your car for your very own 26.2 bumper sticker.