Running a marathon is one of the toughest things you can do in your life. It is a grueling race that covers 26.2 miles. You only have to look at the pained expressions of the runners to see how punishing this event is. Yet, running a marathon is one of the most popular items on a bucket list!
Perhaps the best way to understand a runner’s fascination with the marathon is to go back to the origins of the race.
According to Greek mythology, a messenger by the name of Pheidippides, ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to announce the victory of the Greek military over the Persians.
Legend has it that Pheidippides ran the entire distance without stopping. When he arrived in Athens, Pheidippides burst into the assembly and exclaimed, “Rejoice, we have conquered!” Shortly thereafter, Pheidippides collapsed and died.
What was the distance covered by Pheidippides from The Battle of Marathon to Athens?
Whether fact or folklore, the story of the first marathon has inspired and challenged runners to finish a 26.2- mile race at least once in their lives.
Running is a great form of exercise. You can lose weight, improve your cardiovascular fitness, and maintain overall health and well-being. Likewise, running is a proven way to manage stress.
However, you may realize that there is more to running than just regaining your health and fitness. Why not take your running to the next level and embrace the challenge of running a marathon?
If you need more convincing, here are 9 reasons why you should run a marathon- at least once in your life.
1. Be Among the Few, the Proud
In the United States, around 700 marathons are organized every year. Yet, only 0.05% of the entire U.S population has ever run a marathon. Even more astonishing is the total number of finishers.
For example, in 2018, 505,634 runners competed and finished a marathon. The number represents only 0.0015% of the U.S. population!
By running a marathon, you easily distinguish yourself from more than 99% of the people in the United States. You are among the few, the proud, the accomplished runners who have completed a 26.2- mile race!
2. Increase Your Self-Confidence
It’s easy to say, “I want to run a marathon!” It’s a different thing altogether to run and finish a marathon.
Many runners can talk the talk but can’t run “The Run”. Once reality sets in, the idea of running 26.2 miles in often harsh conditions becomes too daunting. Before you know it, the excuses start coming in.
Running a marathon will increase your self-confidence because it is one of the hardest, most grueling and painful events that you will go through in life.
It is not just a test of physical endurance. A marathon will tear you down emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
As you tread one mile after another, the voice of desperation will grow louder and louder in your head. Your mind will race to find reasons to quit. Will you give in?
Only the strength of your heart can overcome the limitations of the body and the weakness of the mind!
At the end of the 26.2- mile journey, it should not matter where you place. Raise your hands in triumph because you have overcome your fears and self-doubts!
3. Improve Your Fitness
You cannot go from running a 3-mile race to a 26.2-mile marathon. You need time to develop your strength, endurance, and conditioning.
To prepare for a marathon, you must slowly build up your body’s ability to run a progressively increasing number of miles.
As you consistently log in the miles, your levels of strength and endurance will improve. Over time, your level of fitness will get better as you begin to recover faster from running longer distances.
4. Give Your Life New Purpose and Meaning
Do you exercise or do you train? Is there a difference?
Exercise is an activity you do to stay fit. On the other hand, to train is to have purpose and meaning. You don’t “exercise to run a marathon”.
You train to run a marathon.
When you sign up for a race as big as a marathon, running takes on a whole new meaning. You are no longer running to stay fit. You are now running to complete one of the most iconic races for serious runners.
Your workout sessions become training sessions. You will have more drive and focus. The 3 to 4 months it takes to prepare for a marathon will be hard, but they will also be fun and exciting!
5. Finishing a Marathon Is a Milestone
A good life is one that is filled with milestones. As you get older, there are fewer opportunities to create milestones that you can be proud of.
The marathon remains one of the most enduring accomplishments you can attain at any age!
6. Make New Friends
As we mentioned earlier, less than 1% of the entire U.S. population will ever run a marathon. Thus, when you run a marathon, you are part of a select community that shares the same interest – to run and finish 26.2 miles!
Before running your first marathon, take the time to watch one. Observe how the runners interact with other runners.
If you are lagging behind, you can be assured that someone will give you words of encouragement. He may even keep pace with you for a few miles just to keep you going.
At the finish line, you will see the early finishers imploring the remaining runners to complete the race. Strangers before the starting gun have become fast friends at the finish line.
7. Be an Inspiration to Others
How many times have you been told “You can’t do this”, “You’re not good enough”, or “You’ll probably fail”?
For sure, you’re not alone.
It can be a nasty world out there with plenty of naysayers who find pleasure in putting other people down.
Stand up to the naysayers and inspire others by running a marathon.
Those who say “You can’t” are probably part of the 99% who won’t run a marathon! Show others that as long as you put your heart, mind, and body to accomplishing a goal, nothing is impossible.
8. Win a Medal
To be clear, not everyone will win a marathon. Winning this race requires a special athlete with an incredible skillset and amazing fortitude. However, in a marathon, there are no losers.
Everybody is a winner!
Not many people can lay claim that they have run a marathon much less say that they finished one.
By running a marathon, you have extended yourself beyond your comfort zone. You have conquered your fears and have done something most people will never even dream about doing.
In a marathon, the participation medal can feel as valuable as a gold medal!
9. Learn to Appreciate Life’s Finer Things
Running a marathon is a life-changing event. Water has never felt more refreshing. Suddenly, that sports drink provided by the race sponsor tastes welcomingly sweet and wonderful. That pint of ice cream has never tasted creamier and sweeter.
For months, you’ve been subsisting on a diet of pasta, bread, rice, and other starches. Now, every juicy bite of that 20-ounce Porterhouse steak represents every stride to the finish line.
Wash it down with a nice glass of red wine – you deserve it!