When the recreational running scene exploded in the 1970s and through the early 2000s, the marathon was considered the ultimate goal in running. For some it was about just finishing, but for many it was running as fast as possible and continually striving to improve. Things have changed a bit as running has continued to grow and expand. Now the half marathon is the marquee event and a lot more runners are signing up for 5K races, obstacle races, novelty runs, triathlons and trail running races.
Although marathon participation has tailed off slightly since reaching an all-time high in 2014 with 550,000 finishers, it remains one of the most challenging and authentic goals in endurance sports. Here are five reasons you should put a marathon on your calendar sometime this year.
1. Strike while the iron is hot.
2. Marathon training focuses your running.
When training seriously for a marathon, while a lot of your training might be considered “just long distance running,” you have to plan sensibly and diligently. You can’t skip the long runs, so you have to schedule other key workouts, cross-training sessions and rest days around these touchstones in a strategic way. The result is usually a runner who’s better organized on the whole, more fit and more energized about training and everything else in life.
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3. Marathon training and racing offers a comprehensive learning experience.
4. Marathon training gets you in shape for everything.
READ MORE: How to Shake Up Your Weekly Long Run
5. Marathons are such a big deal now, they’re not even a big deal.
If you really want to fight the crowds and deal with the qualification processes for races like Boston, L.A., Chicago or New York, that remains an option. However, you can enjoy a well-operated 26.2-mile event within a half-day’s drive of practically anywhere in the U.S. these days, allowing you to do a marathon without spending megabucks on airfare and hotel rooms or taking a long weekend away from work or family obligations. That is, logistically, today’s marathons are more like the 5Ks of the 1980s.
READ MORE: What You Need to Know to Run a Marathon