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So you’re thinking about signing up for a marathon but you aren’t sure what are the pros and the cons of actually running a marathon. I’ve researched and asked a bunch of marathon runners regarding this which allowed me to come up with this list.
In general, the pros of running a marathon extend beyond the improvement in overall fitness. It teaches you discipline, perseverance, and hard work as well; The cons of running a marathon are a huge commitment in time, effort, and money as well as an increased risk of injury.
But that’s not all. There are still more pros and cons to running a marathon and training for it. Ahead, I discussed each of them one by one and listed them in a list format. Let’s get right into it!
Training for a marathon has a lot of pros outside of the fitness aspect. Let’s take a look at them below.
#1 You’ll Be Fitter Than You’ve Ever Been
A marathon isn’t something anyone can do at any given time, It’ll take months of endurance and strength training paired with a good diet.
The good thing about that is if you’ve never run a marathon before or you’ve always been a couch potato, training for a marathon will make you fitter than ever. It’ll increase your endurance and strength (given that you also do strengthening exercises) to a point where your body can handle 26 miles of running.
#2 It Teaches You Discipline, Perseverance, And Hard Work
Aside from the obvious health benefits that you’ll get from training, there are also some indirect benefits from training a marathon which you could use later in life. Discipline, perseverance, and hard work.
Having discipline will allow you to stick to your schedule, diet, and training plan. Perseverance will allow you to keep doing the hard things to achieve your goal. And hard work will give you an edge over someone who isn’t working as hard.
These three things are required if you ever want to finish a marathon. The best part? If you translate them into the other aspects o your life, having discipline, perseverance, and hard work can go a long way.
#3 Lots Of Learning Time
Traning for a marathon can take 1-3 hours a day for 16-20 weeks. That’s a lot of time! What better way to spend that than by hitting two birds with one stone—learn while you run.
My favorite way of doing this is by listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I can’t even remember how many audiobooks I’ve listened to during training.
I can tell you one thing, though. You should definitely listen to Can’t Hurt Me audiobook by David Goggins. It has made me better in every aspect of my life. It taught me to callus my mind and embrace the hard work. You can listen to it for free if you sign up for Audibles 30-day FREE TRIAL. You can get it here.
#4 It Gives You A Goal
Working out and following a good diet is a lot harder to do if you have no goal to chase. Training for a marathon will make it easier because it gives you a “why” in your training.
Training because you want to finish a marathon is much easier to do than just training. Eating right because you don’t want to end up on the DNF list is much easier than just eating right.
I experienced this back when I was training for my first 50km trail run. A few months before the race, I’ve been training more than ever. I show up every day, doing the hard things, and following a training plan to the letter. I wanted to finish the race so badly and I was happy training for it.
After the race, I no longer have a purpose to train. There was no goal to chase. So, I trained less, cherry-picked my runs, and didn’t mind missing a day or two of my training session. The result was a 15 lbs additional on the scale.
#5 You’ll Get To Know Like-Minded People
People who run a marathon are disciplined people with grit. They wake up early to put in the work, they’re goal-oriented, and they persevere. If you sign up for a marathon and train for it, you’ll most likely meet disciplined, goal-oriented people training for the same event.
Who knows, they can become a friend, business partner, or maybe even partner in life. Plus, it’s just good to surround yourself with these kinds of people.
#6 You’ll Feel A Great Sense Of Accomplishment
It’s an amazing feeling to be able to knock down a goal that once seemed impossible. Finishing a marathon can give you that sense of accomplishment.
The good thing is, you can’t shake off that feeling. Once you’ve felt that, you want to feel it again and again. Imagine the other accomplishments that you’re going to achieve both in running and other aspects of your life just because you want to feel that sense of accomplishment.
#7 You’ll Gain A Boost Confidence And Self Respect
As you’ll learn later in this article, training for a marathon takes a lot of commitment. Being able to stick to it and accomplishing this amazing feat will give you a boost in confidence and self-respect.
“If I was able to finish a marathon—something I thought was impossible—I can surely do this”.
#1 Training Takes A Lot Of Time
As mentioned above, training for a marathon can take anywhere from 1-3 hours a day depending on your weekly mileage and training plan. Plus, it could last for 16-20 weeks. That’s a lot of time taken from leisure, work, and bonding with family (unless you encourage them to train with you).
When you sign up for a marathon, it’s a commitment that you are willing to spend that much time making yourself a better runner. You may have to cut back on some leisure in order to squeeze in training.
#2 It’s A Huge Commitment
Aside from time, training for a marathon is also a huge commitment of your money and energy.
Running shoes ain’t cheap! The average cost of a good pair of running shoes is around $132 (I made a study about this in this article). Plus, It’s actually recommended that you switch out at least two pairs of shoes to prevent wearing out the cushioning of the shoe.
Top that with a GPS running watch that costs $200 or more, the registration ($100-$300), your training coach ($200-$300), and your other gears, you’re looking at around $900 to $1100 (of course, you can be more frugal and spend less).
Runnungshoeguru.com made a study about how much do runners spend a year in which they found that; on average, runners spend $997 a year. Yikes!
If you’re looking to save money and buy running gears that are worth every penny, go check out my recommended gear page. Unlike other gear recommendations from other bloggers, I only recommend up to 3 products per category to help you narrow down your options. Plus, I’ve researched and used most of these items myself.
In addition, training for a marathon is a huge commitment in effort. I mean, not everyone loves waking up at 4 am in the morning just so they can squeeze in a training session before their day even begin.
#3 There’s A High Risk Of Injury
Running is a very repetitive sport. With that comes a whole list of overuse injuries, stress fractures, and muscle strains.
To avoid that, you have to find a good training program that incorporates strengthening exercises and muscle activation.
One muscle, in particular, that you have to keep in mind is the glutes. It’s the biggest muscle in the human body and it’s a very important muscle for posture and running. However, it is often neglected. We don’t usually train it as often as we should.
With that, I recommend this training program to kickstart your glutes. It’s a paid program but it’s totally worth it. You can get it here.
#4 It Can Suppress Your Immune System
Don’t get me wrong, training is generally good for your health and can boost your immune system. But the problem is when you overdo it.
A number of researchers in the field of immunology believe that prolonged (over two hours) high-intensity exercises suppress several immune parameters resulting in an increase in the occurrence of upper respiratory tract infection during endurance training.
That said, rest is a very important part of the training process. I made an article that talks about rest and everything you have to know about it. Be sure to read it after you read this article.
#5 The Recovery Period Is Long
26 miles of hitting the pavement on top of your 16 weeks of training is a lot to recover from. After the marathon, expect to be sore for 3-7 days (some, even more).
And even when you’re no longer sore, you’ll most likely still be recovering for a month or so. At that point, you should avoid high-intensity exercises like speedwork, hill repeats, or signing up for another race.
#6 Running A Marathon Is Incredibly Hard
If you think training is hard, wait till you get to actually running a marathon. 26 miles is long, even for experienced runners. It’s hard not only physically but also mentally.
During the duration of the run, you’re most likely to feel tired, exhausted, and in pain no matter how much you’ve trained for it. The key is to keep at it and remember why you started.
Although some people claim that running a marathon is bad for you, I believe that the benefits outweigh the downsides as long as you don’t overdo it.
The benefits extend beyond the physical benefits alone. It teaches you grit and other lessons that you can only get through challenging yourself.
That said, I highly encourage you to sign up for a marathon at least once.