Pros and Cons: Should I run a marathon?
Pro: SETTING A GOAL: AND ACHIEVING IT: GAINING A sense of accomplishment
Running a marathon is something that you will look back on with a tremendous sense of pride, accomplishment and joy. The marathon is considered the Holy Grail of racing achievement. There’s no denying that being able to say you ran 26.2 MILES is an achievement you can be proud of for the rest of your life.
Con: The time commitment
Marathon training can last as little as 12 weeks and go up to years. Training for a marathon is a hefty time commitment. Each week, you will be expected 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. They say that you must respect the marathon, and by that, they specifically mean, put in the time to finish safe and alive.
Pro: Extra motivation
When you sign up for a big goal such as running a marathon, you’re setting a goal to get healthy, be stronger than you already are, try something completely new and to completely challenge yourself. Training to run a marathon is a great tool to accomplish all of the above AND to keep you motivated to exercise. The time commitment, financial requirements and determination to succeed are basically exactly what you need to get out for a run. You’ll fall in love with the race, and you’ll belt out all the motivation you could have ever possibly dreamed to perform your best.
Con: Health risks
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, and your heart. The truth is, humans were not designed to run 42.2 kilometres in one stretch. We designed this race and we challenge ourselves to complete it. Training for a marathon means pressuring your immune system. Not only that, but your kidney function is impaired and hormone levels are imbalanced. These things can all lead to inflammation of your muscles, including heart. In extreme cases, running such a long distance can cause cardiac arrest. But this is rare and happens to 1 in 100,000+. What’s more, the training requirements and gradual wear and tear on your body can lead to muscle, bone and joint pain.
Pro: Having a solid plan
Having a regular plan to follow can be a source of great comfort. It keeps you accountable on days when training is important, and also provides you with the rest days when you can just relax and enjoy doing anything non-running related. The benefits of having a solid plan also include not having to worry about creating a new workout everyday. You can just take a look at your calendar and know that you have to run 8 miles! It’s just a matter of logistics and setting out to complete your daily runs.
Con: It’s not the best means of weight loss
The truth is, you will lose some weight, but not a lot of weight. Running a marathon will deplete your liver glycogen. But training for one will continuously ask you to replenish those stores! It sounds odd, right? But since you’re running so much, all the time — you’re going to be very hungry. Your muscles will ache for fuel. 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. A better way to lose weight may involve you cutting back on calories and focusing on some HIIT (high interval intensity training) more on that in Training.
Think it through
You have to think about the marathon and all the reasons you’re signing up to complete one. Think about and 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!
Personally, I’ve ran a few marathons in my long career. The truth is, I would encourage just about anyone with a desire to complete one to go for it. It’s something that will move you to achieve your wildest dreams. It will make you realize you are capable of accomplishing anything that you set your mind to. It will show you exactly what your body is capable of (and specifically, what it’s not capable of.) It will show you the power of camaraderie in a race. When you hit the 30th kilometer and everyone around you looks like they might pass out any second, you’ll realize that all you have is each other and you’ll push one another to the finish line.
The marathon is magical. It’s an experience like no other.