There are many things from which we derive a feeling of accomplishment as human beings. And when it comes to exercise, the marathon is often considered the pinnacle of racing achievement. There's no denying that being able to say you ran 42.2 kilometres is something you can be proud of for the rest of your life.
Unfortunately when it comes to a marathon, you don't get to just wake up one day and decide you're ready to do it. Training for a marathon is a lengthy time commitment. Each week you will be required to perform one long run, which can last several hours, as well as several other runs and other forms of training that range in duration. A fair amount of planning goes into preparing for a marathon, and you will have to stick very close to the schedule you lay out for yourself if you want to ensure you finish the race.
Whether you decide to take on such a big goal as a way to get healthy, be stronger, try something new or to simply to challenge yourself, training to run a marathon is a great tool to keep you motivated to exercise. The time commitment, financial requirements and determination to succeed are often just what you need to get out for a run even when you'd really rather not.
Although exercise is certainly good for your health, training to run a marathon and then running the 42.2 kilometres can take a great toll on your body. Ultimately you are asking your body to run for far longer than it feels is safe to do, and that can send your body into panic mode. Your immune system changes, kidney function is impaired and hormones get confused, all of which can lead to inflammation of your muscles, including your heart. In extreme cases, running such a long distance can cause cardiac arrest. In addition, the training requirements and continual wear on your body can lead to muscle, bone and joint pain.
For many people, having a regular plan to follow can be very comforting. It keeps you accountable on days when training is important, and also provides you with much-needed rest days when you can just relax and enjoy, guilt-free.
If your primary goal is weight loss, unfortunately running a marathon may not be your best option. It sounds odd, right? You're running so much, all the time — certainly you'll drop a couple of pounds? Although running shorter distances can certainly lead to weight loss, training to run a marathon and cutting calories simultaneously is a dangerous combination. Your body needs lots of nutrients to replenish its stores and to build muscle. When you split your focus between that and trying to lose weight, your body may suffer and experience fatigue, soreness and muscles damage. Though running a marathon can certainly be a long-term goal, attempting to lose weight and train at the same time is not advisable.
Ultimately it's all about deciding what's right for you. Before you jump out of bed and sign up for a marathon (when you struggle to complete 5 kilometres), consider the time commitment, potential risk for injury and whether you think you're ready to see your goal through to the end. If you've considered all the pros and cons and are ready for the challenge, then get ready to work toward an exciting and rewarding accomplishment!
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