If you’ve ever watched the London Marathon on TV and felt a spark of inspiration, then that’s all you need to get started. After all, if you’re reading this, chances are you’re already dedicated to getting yourself in shape - all you need is a little nudge to get out the door.
There are a countless number of reasons why someone might choose to run a marathon. We’ve looked at seven key reasons, from improvements in strength to opportunities for travel.
1 Boosts self-confidence
Did you know that running can make you smarter? There’s loads of science out there which basically concludes that running promotes mental and physical health, which then helps when it comes to concentration and problem-solving.
And of course, once you’ve got the running bug, you’ll quickly realise there are no limits to what you can do. The London Marathon has played host to just about every incredible story you can imagine with runners defeating all sorts of seemingly impossible barriers. Having a goal puts you in a better mood and having a better mood improves performance. A good run can also create those endorphins we all read about that create a natural high.
2 It provides great focus
We all know focussing the mind is important, especially during a marathon.
Training is all about focus and routine, and marathons are tremendous for getting you into the right mindset. Your one long run a week, the two shorter quicker efforts, they all become vital. Having such a tangible goal to focus on helps you stick to your plan each week.
3 Improves your diet
Marathons are odd things; to the outsider, they seem to come with all sorts of dietary requirements you could never stick to, but once you start training, you may find yourself eating more of the things you love. Dinners involve more carbohydrate for vital fuel, fats become a friend that rebuilds muscle when used at the right time after a hard workout and hydration suddenly involves electrolytes to make sure you avoid cramping miles from home.
Throughout your training, you will discover what really works for you. Sure, you’ll still have a beer or three at the weekend, but you’ll understand the consequences for your next run and act accordingly.
4 Boosts your strength
Running can do so much for your overall fitness. It improves the mobility of tendons and ligaments, which then reduces the chance of injury. These tendons then become more flexible and stronger.
Cartilage and bones can also get stronger from running, and you’ll notice an increase in your lung capacity. Throw in a bit of speed work and muscles start to put on a bit of bulk as well.
5 Makes you feel younger
All that running has massive benefits for the more mature amongst us. Muscle power declines about 7 per cent a decade, meaning that by the time you’re 65, you’re about a quarter as strong as you were in your 20s…unless you take up running. Running won’t stop the natural decline but combined with a gym session or two a week or the odd pilates class, you’ll slow it right down.
Take a look at runbritain.co.uk and the age group rankings on that site. Runners in their 50s, 60s and beyond are producing incredible times - easily as good as any 25-year-old.
6 Encourages healthy competition
Chances are, you’ll line up in a marathon completely uncaring about where you finish. This is absolutely fine, and a great strategy for runners of all abilities.
After the race, you’ll probably check where you finished overall, where you were in your age group and how well your friends and colleagues did. This means that next time you race you’ll be looking to improve, which is great!
Investing in a GPS watch can help you out with training and improving your speed and endurance.
It’s a great way of tracking improvement - and keeping you motivated on those rainy days where even watching Coronation Street seems a better option than a quick five-miler!
7 It’s a great way to see the world
As you can see from the London Marathon, the course includes some spectacular sights - Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace to name a few.
However, there are so many other races out there. How about a run by Loch Ness - there’s a great marathon there, or along the seafront at Brighton? And what about a marathon that finishes on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii? Or perhaps New York in November or Berlin or Paris, or just about every major tourist destination you can think of, including Everest and the Great Wall of China? The possibilities are endless!
To get you starts, check out events closer to home at runbritain.co.uk.