Running has never been my thing. Weak knees and a heavy run lead to a very self conscious runner, so I’ve abandoned the sport.

However, running is everywhere. In my town every weekend boasts a 5-k or half marathon fundraiser. And every single one is packed with people begging to pay to run.

Running has a lot of great health benefits. It is an instant boost to your cardiovascular system. One study shows that even though marathons are tough on your body, marathoners tend to have a low risk of heart incidents.

And basically everyone can run. If you have two working legs (and some only need one and a prosthetic) you can run. It does not matter how coordinated or spastic you are, running can be for you.

And it is free. Hello, outdoors!

But the big kahuna is the marathon. A marathon is not for a recreational runner. It is not for the weak. And it is not for the ill-prepared. If you are thinking about a marathon, go in prepared. Here is how.

  • Start a training routine. Like I mentioned, marathons are not for the faint of heart. You can’t bust out 26.2 miles without preparing unless you plan to take a day to walk it or if you want to die. I would not recommend either. From the minute you decide to run a marathon, devise a training plan. Many runner’s website offer free training plans to prepare for marathons. Usually the plan has you start small and continually increase your running mileage until race day.
  • Get a good pair of shoes. Not all tennis shoes are made equal. If you are planning to run every so often, a good pair of shoes might be fine for you. However, a marathon is a different kind of beast. If you are serious about running, ditch the Foot Locker and hit up a running store specialized in running shoes. There, a salesperson will evaluate your run and stride to recommend the right shoe for you and your run.
  • Live healthy. Training for a marathon is a big commitment to a healthy lifestyle. In order to train effectively, you need to make healthy adjustments in all other aspects of your life. Eat fruits, veggies and grains regularly and ditch the sugar and sweets. Those will only drag you down and delay your training progress. Drink water religiously since you will sweat out a lot through training. And sleep well. Your body will need time to recover.
  • Check with your doctor. Before beginning any fitness program, whip out your insurance card and visit your doctor to make sure your body can handle such an intense fitness program. The study mentioned above stated that most marathoners who have a heart attack during a race usually has a pre-existing heart condition. The marathon just aggravated it. Check with your doc to make sure you are in tip top shape to avoid risk of heart attack, joint problems or asthma.
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