If you’ve never run a marathon, you probably can’t imagine what in the world possesses those that do run them to do so. Even those that run regularly may not understand the appeal of running a full 26.2 mile course all in one day. But there are many reasons to consider running a marathon, or even a half marathon.
When I turned 40 I found myself in strange and unexpected place in my life. I hadn’t accomplished many life goals, I had gained weight after having two wonderful children, I had no particular hobbies and I was completely uncertain, for the first time, of where my life was headed. I knew it was time to make a list of all of the things that I wanted to accomplish in life and start checking items off the list. I started by training for my first triathlon, which had been something that I had wanted to do since I was in high school. As you probably know, a triathlon is made up of three events, swimming, biking and running. Since I wasn’t a runner, this training was more challenging that I might have imagined. During my first triathlon, I completed the run portion as more of a run/ walk. Finishing was mostly satisfying, but I made up my mind right then that I would never finish another triathlon during which I had not run the entire last leg of the race. It was a silly pride thing, but it was important to me.
It was that experience that sparked my running career. Before I knew it, I was training for longer and longer runs. In 2017 I completed my first ½ marathon and in 2018, I entered my first full marathon, finishing with a time of 4:50 on a very hilly course. For me, the impetus to enter the marathon was likely born out of a midlife crisis of sorts. But there are other reasons that inspire people. Maybe somewhere in this list, you’ll find your inspiration.
RUNNING FOR CHARITY
There are no shortage of charities out there looking for ways to raise funds. Choose the charity of your choice and use your running efforts to raise funds. You’ll be amazed at how many people you can reach through your social networking circles, by email, blog and through other outreach efforts. Ask people to donate a set amount or make a per-mile pledge. You might consider contacting the local paper, television or radio stations to alert them as to your fundraising efforts. Many have short time slots available for human interest stories and would be happy to give you coverage. You may even contact the charity of your choice and let them know about your efforts. They might be able to feature you in an upcoming newsletter, flyers or other mailings that may further your fundraising efforts.
RUNNING FOR YOUR HEALTH
Running is a great cardiovascular workout. You can burn lots of calories, strengthen your aerobic and cardiac conditioning and lose weight. It can also be hard on your joints, especially hips and knees, so it is best to consult with a physician before beginning a new running regime. Couple your new fitness program with improved nutrition and you’ll be seeing a whole new you in no time!
RUNNING FOR COMPANIONSHIP
Running clubs can be found in all kinds of communities, large and small. Running apparel shops, triathlon gear shops and other sporting good stores often have running clubs that meet regularly and offer opportunities for people to run in small groups, large groups or even 1:1. There are also clubs that meet, offering singles the opportunity to meet other singles who also enjoy running. What better way to meet someone special than joining a club with people who enjoy the same types of activities and healthy lifestyle that you do?
RUNNING FOR GOOD MENTAL HEALTH/ SELF-ESTEEM
Running a marathon or half-marathon is an enormous accomplishment and while many people have pulled off such a feat, there are a far greater number of people who have not, could not and will never even try. This places you in an exclusive club, so enjoy it! If just finishing a marathon can give you such a feeling of accomplishment, just imagine how great you’ll feel if you are healthier, leaner and perhaps even running for charity! The process of training toward your first marathon can also really improve your mental health and sense of self-esteem. Just getting out on the trails or city streets, listening to the sounds of nature or your favorite play lists, and breathing the fresh air is a great way to reduce or eliminate the stresses of the day, lower blood pressure and gain a fresh perspective. For busy parents, it also provides an opportunity for much needed respite from responsibility that can be quite cathartic.
RUNNING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
People that are working full time, raising families and have other commitments will find that carving out time for training can be a challenge. Why not consider making runs to and from the office part of your training? You’ll not only get regular runs in, but you can eliminate the use of automobiles, reducing carbon emissions and fuel consumption, and having a positive overall effect on the environment. Maybe you can even start a running pool as an alternative to the traditional car pool with coworkers. This can increase your environmental improvement efforts as well as the overall health of persons that you work with.
RUNNING FOR THE MEDAL AND THE GOODIE BAG
Okay, I admit it. Sometimes the best reason for picking a particular race is just to get the good stuff! Many races offer quality commemorative medals that are worth running the race in and of themselves! In addition, most races offer t-shirts and a variety of other goodies such as water bottles, lip balm, power gel, coupons and more. I always save my bibs too. They make great memorabilia.