Running a Marathon

With the popularity of running half-marathons and marathons growing, you may find yourself adding it to your bucket list. Perhaps a neighbour just ran their first marathon, or you see the running groups training together in the evenings and you think “I want to do that, too!” While crossing that finishing line is incredibly rewarding, and running is a fantastic cardiovascular workout, before you add it to your goal list and embark on training, here are five things you should consider.

1. Training takes a lot of time and discipline. Running 42.2 kilometres is tough and to prepare yourself mentally and physically, you have to put a lot of time into training. Most training programs last about four months and typically call for training five times a week. Consider whether you are able to devote that amount of time to training because you can’t make up for missing weeks of training—you have to be consistent to build your endurance and strength.

2. Marathon training will impact much of your life. Not only will training take up a good chunk of your time, but you’ll likely also have to shift other things in your schedule to make room for it. For one, if your long run each week is early on Sunday morning, this means no more late Saturday nights out drinking since you’ll need to be well-rested and hydrated to be fresh for your run. Also, is your boyfriend willing to give up that time with you? He may also need to pick up more responsibilities around the house, for example, with you out training so often? Having a good support system is important.

3. The costs of marathon training can add up quickly. You might think you already own a pair of running shoes so you’re all set. But you’ll likely soon need technical fabric gear, synthetic socks, a fuel belt and a GPS watch to help you train comfortably and efficiently. Plus, registering for races is not easy on the pocketbook either (and if you want to run a destination race, there are the travel costs, too).

4. You might not lose weight. While you do burn a fair number of calories running (a 135-pound woman running at a brisk pace burns about 1,300 calories in an hour), you’ll also have to fuel your body with more food, so that number on the scale may not budge.

5. You can look forward to black toenails, chafing and more. You see that slender girl out for a run a few times a week, and she's the glowing picture of health and you want to be her. Know though, that there are many unpleasant potential injuries from the minor (black toenails and blisters) to more serious (plantar fasciitis, shin splints and Achilles tendinitis are just a few of the most common running injuries that may call for visits to a physiotherapist).

Karen Kwan headshotKaren Kwan is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She covers health, beauty and travel for Canada’s top women’s magazines and websites. On her blog she writes about fitness, travel, food and beauty, and in her spare time this avid runner trains for marathons.