Running the Distance: How Marathons Can Inspire You to Better Health

Running or walking a marathon race can inspire you to better health

Running or walking in marathons is an incredibly unique sport, offering a variety of health benefits and also the added factor of motivation. Many racers describe it as a symbolic act of going the distance, or pushing yourself to go further even when you’re tired or frustrated.

How Marathons Work:

You don’t have to be a seasoned runner to get started participating in marathons. You could be a novice jogger or even someone who enjoys walking and wants to take their fitness level up a notch. Most marathons are open to all skill levels, as the workout itself can be modified.

If you’re interested in getting started, consider asking a friend, co-worker or colleague who already participates to share their insight. How many races do they sign-up for? How often do they train? What steps did they take to improve their fitness level, get faster or gain endurance?

Next, do an internet search for local races in your area. Most cities offer neighborhood-friendly events year-round. Whether it’s a race against a chronic disease, a race to benefit a non-profit organization or an event that’s just for fun, you’re sure to find something that interests you!

You can also search online discussion forums and Facebook groups to connect with other racers. They might have valuable tips on how to get started, what shoes to buy, where to start walking/running and what kinds of races are best suited for your skill level and interests.

Marathons Offer these Physical Benefits…

  • Regulates blood pressure and lowers cholesterol
  • Improves your immune system
  • Increases muscle strength and power
  • Improves quality and duration of sleep
  • Tones legs by adding lean muscle mass
  • Burns calories and increases aerobic capacity

And Also these Other Benefits…

  • Reduce stress and anxiety for mental resilience
  • Stay engaged by running/moving in different locations and terrains
  • Maintain structure in your workout routine for consistency
  • Connect with other marathoners and join a community
  • Feel good about supporting a good cause
  • Travel to new destinations for racing opportunities
  • Stay inspired, challenged and motivated

But Keep this in Mind:

If you’re interested in participating in marathons, first consult with a healthcare professional for safety precautions. Physical limitations, injury or health conditions may require you to modify your workouts. A professional can give you physical tips for getting started.

Next, invest in a sturdy pair of running shoes that will last you a long time and work on many terrains. You’d be surprised at the difference a nice pair of shoes can make. Also consider buying a pedometer, FitBit or Smart Watch to keep track of your distance.

Then, decide on a workout plan and how often you want to train. Are you a morning exerciser? An evening exerciser? Do you plan to walk/run on the weekends or do a little bit each day so the miles add up? Don’t forget to decide on where you want to train as well. It could be your neighborhood streets and sidewalk, a treadmill at the gym, a race track at a nearby college or high school, along the beach, in a local park or even a state forest (like when you go hiking).

Finally, remember to pace yourself! It’s not about how fast you move, but about challenging yourself to improve and reach your goals over time. Progression is the key to succeeding in marathon races, and lucky for you, everyone is at a different stage in their fitness journey!

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