Part of the Club1 of 11
Having completed a marathon, you can check a major accomplishment off your bucket list. You are now officially allowed to put the "26.2" sticker on your car. Whether you sign up for the race to raise money for a charity, to commemorate a milestone birthday or just for fun, running 26.2 miles is a major achievement. Becoming a marathon finisher is a popular life goal—and for good reason.
Let's Go Shopping!2 of 11
You now have a (legitimate) excuse for buying new gear. Marathon training is a commitment, and in order to be successful, you'll need the right equipment. Now's the perfect time to get fitted for new running shoes, pick up some chafe-free shorts and finally spring for that fuel belt.
Hot Body Ahead3 of 11
You'll get in the best shape of your life. Most training plans include interval workouts and long runs, which improve both your aerobic endurance and your speed. Combined with the increased mileage, many runners find themselves in the best shape of their lives on marathon day.
Unmatched Experiences4 of 11
Race day will be a huge event. All races are special occasions, but there's something truly awesome about a marathon, especially if you run a big city race like Chicago, New York or London. From the cheering crowds and bands along the course to the medals at the finish, race day will feel like one big party.
Overcoming Challenges and Fears5 of 11
Pushing outside your comfort zone is incredibly satisfying. Ask any marathoner what they're most afraid of and they'll probably say, "Not being able to finish the race." But once you finish, the feeling of accomplishment and relief is immeasurable. Let the adrenaline motivate you to keep seeking new adventures. (After a post-race nap, of course.)
BFFs on the Run6 of 11
A running partner becomes a true friend over the course of two- to three-hour long runs. There's something about a double-digit run in the pre-dawn darkness (or pouring rain or freezing cold) that solidifies a bond between runners. By the end of your training, don't be surprised if your running buddy knows more about you than your long-time best friend.
The Pressure is Off7 of 11
You can start the race off nice and slow. Unlike a 5K, which requires maximum effort from the first mile, you can take your time with the beginning of the marathon. In fact, your race will be even better if you can run the first half at a slower pace.
Join the Conversation8 of 11
If there's one thing that runners love more than running, it's talking about their running. When running friends ask if you've done a marathon, you can spout off your PR with the best of them. Now when the conversation turns to races, you'll be able to (humbly) brag about your 26.2-mile accomplishment.
Epic Post-Run Meals9 of 11
From post-run pancakes to burgers to beer, marathon training requires a lot of fuel. Take advantage of your increased energy requirements and make plans to indulge in all of your favorite foods. Need motivation to get through those final miles? Start planning out the tasty treat you'll have when you're finished!
Even More Epic Rest Time10 of 11
You have a great excuse to put up your feet, relax and not run for a week after finishing a marathon. Toast to your accomplishment and wear that medal proudly—while lying around doing nothing.