If you’ve been running for a while—or, heck, even if you’re a newbie—you’ve probably felt the pressure to run a marathon. You’re not a real runner until you conquer 26.2, right?
While finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment, it shouldn’t be the goal for all runners. If you’re on the fence about toeing the line, consider a few reasons why a shorter distance may be more appropriate this year.
You're looking to lose weight.1 of 8
If you want to slim down, a marathon might not be your best bet. Fueling properly while training for 26.2 miles is a delicate balance and adding weight loss goals to the mix can set you up for a bonk. If your ultimate aim is to drop pounds, a clean diet and interval workouts might help you burn fat faster than monster long runs.
Your running feels blah.2 of 8
Passing on 26.2 for a year (or more) can help you avoid burn out. Runners often sign up for fall or spring marathons out of habit, but every once in awhile it can be beneficial to focus on another goal. Shooting for a 10k PR or planning an overnight relay with friends instead can keep things fresh.
The timing isn't right.3 of 8
Maybe you just started a demanding new job or you have a lot of travel planned; forcing marathon training into an already packed schedule might leave you stressed and unhappy—and potentially undertrained! Perhaps this is the year to run for enjoyment (and finally hit up the local run club's happy hour).
You have other goals.4 of 8
When you train for a marathon, long runs, endurance workouts and recovery will become your priority. There isn't much time or energy for other activities. If you have your eyes on another athletic endeavor—say, completing your first triathlon or really focusing on your yoga practice—it might be best to put your 26.2 plans on hold.
You're on a tight budget.5 of 8
Sure, there are low-cost marathons to be found, but if you've got your heart set on a big city experience like New York City or Boston, prepare to fork over a few hundred dollars. And once you add in travel expenses, gear and extras, training can take a pretty big chunk out of your wallet. If you're trying to stick to a strict budget, look for low-cost (or free!) running events instead.
You have a nagging injury.6 of 8
Maybe you've got shin splints that keep coming back or a nagging hamstring pull; whatever the case, if you're not feeling 100 percent, the rigors of marathon training will likely make things worse. Pass on long races for now and focus on getting strong and healthy. If you've been putting off physical therapy or strengthening your glutes, now's the time. The race will be waiting for you next year.
All your friends are doing it.7 of 8
Sure, it helps to have buddies for those double-digit long runs, but if the only reason you're interested in a marathon is peer pressure, it's time to reevaluate. Marathon training is intense and 26.2 miles is a long way to run if you're not all in. Before you commit to a months-long endeavor, make sure you're signing up for the right reasons. If marathons aren't your thing, figure out what type of running event truly motivates you, and do that instead.