Weekly Feature

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Ed Betz/AP
Runners exit the Queensboro bridge during the New York Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2007.

The New York City Marathon: Reasons to Run

October 31, 2009
by Liz Colville
Sunday, Nov. 7, is the ING New York City Marathon, which attracts nearly 40,000 runners of every pace, ability and experience level, and more than 2 million spectators for a 26.2-mile run through the city’s five boroughs. 

Why Run a Marathon?

The marathon has become one of the fastest-growing types of sporting event in the world, but it’s a daunting event, especially for those that simply can’t fathom the distance of 26.2 miles. After the 2009 Detroit Marathon, for instance, three participants died within minutes of one another. Though deaths associated with running are rare, some may wonder, "Is marathon running dangerous?"

The Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) argues that the human body is more than capable of completing a marathon. We used to run distances "far greater than a marathon," according to the AIMS Web site. "As a hunter, one of man’s greatest assets was his stamina. He would run his prey ragged."

The marathon is hard, but training for it isn’t as tough as it used to be, and that’s a good thing. John Hanc explains the 21st-century approach for The New York Times: Take it easy. “During the first running boom three decades ago, aspirants embarked upon a six-day regimen of arduous runs hellbent on crossing the finish line in the fastest time possible," Hanc writes. "Things have changed.” Now it’s about weight loss, raising money or simply acquiring a new hobby. No world records have to be sought to participate.

The PBS NOVA documentary “Marathon Challenge” follows a novice group’s preparation for the Boston Marathon and demonstrates that the marathon is a reachable goal, even for those that haven’t run since eighth grade gym class.

First-time marathoners might get inspired by this Runner’s World article about three young dads training for their first Boston Marathon. Like many athletes, the runner dads thrived on companionship. They "pushed each other through the winter, using our runs to compare notes on whose baby was eating the best, sleeping the longest, or crying the loudest."

How to Run a Marathon

It takes patience and perseverance to run a marathon. You must treat your body like an expensive car for at least four months: Feed it with fuel, take it for frequent drives, let it go fast every once in awhile and maintain upkeep of all its parts. But if you don’t know how to take care of your personal running machine, there are plenty of experts that can clue you in.

Jeff Galloway is a distance running guru. With a regular column in Runner’s World, plus contributions to Active.com and his own site, Galloway makes distance running accessible to runners of all ages and fitness levels. His article, “How to Run Your First Marathon,” delivers important wisdom that even veterans will appreciate.

Your age helps determine how you train for and run a marathon, and Runner’s World’s "Running Through the Ages" is a great way to learn about all the perks and pitfalls of running during each decade of your life, from your teens through your 70s.

Where to Run a Marathon

Marathons routes around the world vary from scorching to breezy, fairly flat to mountainous, scenic to urban. Cool Running has a marathon search tool. Browse by location and event type.
Find more races with Running Times, a leading running magazine with ample listings that may overlap with those on Cool Running.

Daily Inspiration

The often solitary and monotonous sport of running needs spiritual as well as nutritional fuel to keep it going. The Web has ample resources with insight, anecdotes and tips to keep it interesting from the first days of training to race day.
Nike hosts a lot of inspiring multimedia content on its Web site Nike Running. The site offers training tips, playlists to get you inspired and challenges for runners.
Flotrack has a simple and free running log that you can personalize and share with other runners on the site, or even the team you run with. You can even add blog entries. The site also has instructional videos, race videos, interviews with pro runners, news pieces and more.
The running regimen can be tough on your stomach, and it's important to feed your "furnace" with the right fuel to keep it going during races and practice. The Diet Channel has a good article about fueling up before a run or race. Find information on scheduling and timing, the glycemic index and other important factors to help marathoners get their bearings before race day.

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