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More than 628 marathons took place in the USA last year.
Each race is a little different. How do you know which marathon course is just right for you?
Matching the right marathon to your goals and personality can make for a truly memorable experience.
Here are my seven deciding factors you can use when choosing a marathon.
Before we go any further . . .
Make sure you have a solid running base built up before you jump into a training plan. What does that mean? You need to be able to comfortably run 3-5 miles, 3 times per week and do that for 4-6 months before starting a half/full marathon training plan. The running base is the foundation on which you’ll build your training. If your foundation is weak then the chances that you’ll get injured or have a less than satisfying experience are high.
It’s okay to have a race that you’re aiming for in mind even if you’re still building your running base. In fact, having a goal can help you stay motivated and challenge yourself.
Timing of Life Events: The ideal marathon will come at a time for you when you’ve built up a solid running base and have had time to complete a training plan. For best results make sure that your training comes at a time that you’re not overwhelmed personally or professionally. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to try and change jobs or move during your marathon training.
The Weather: What kind of weather do you want to train in? You’ll want to consider how much time you’ll have to train outside before the race. It’s important to do at least 50% of your training runs outdoors on a surface that mimics your marathon route.
What kind of weather do you want to race in? It’s best to research the type of weather that is typical for the location for that time of year. Most marathon websites have a list of what the temperature was on race day for the previous few years. Knowing what weather to plan for can make your experience that much better.
Size of the Race: Do you want a larger well established race or a smaller more personal marathon? Think about your personality type. Do you thrive on organization, crowd support, and thousands of other runners? I personally like smaller races where fiinding a parking spot is not a huge chore. Trevor, on the other hand loves driving in the big city.
Your Finances: How much money do you want to spend? Your personal finances may dictate which marathon is an option for you. Remember that you’ll have the race registration fee, running gear, travel expenses, hotel, meals, and recreation expenses.
How far away from home can you travel? This will be dictated to some extent by finances, family commitments, and how much time you can get off from work. Try to stay at a hotel close to the starting line. You can find a list of hotels that are catering to race particapants on the official website of your marathon. These hotels will likely provide shuttle services to and from the race.
Will you be having anyone come to support you on race day? If it’s important to you to have lots of friends and family at the race to watch you run, it might be best to choose a location closer to home. However, if you’d rather blend in to the pack and not have people making a big deal over you, a race far away from home might be ideal.
Your Race Goals
Are you trying to achieve a specific time goal and want a flat, fast course? Do you want to see some beautiful scenery and don’t mind some challenging hills? How about a trail marathon?
If this is your first marathon and you want to bathe yourself in fun and excitement then pick a festive race like Walt Disney World Marathon, any of the Rock N Roll Series Marathons, Napa Valley Marathon (wine along the course), Cincinnati Marathon (also called the Flying Pig), and the massive New York City Marathon.
If your sole focus is on setting a PR or qualifying for Boston then these are some of the fastest courses (Sacramento, Corning, Austin, Steamtown, Chicago, Berlin, Seoul, Paris, Milan, or Hamburg).
Also Mentioned in this Episode
Quick Tip: How to recycle or donate your used running shoes.
Shoe companies, retailers, and individuals can donate footwear both new and used to those in need around the world. Soles4Souls has coordinated relief efforts for the Asian Tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike, netting over 1 Million pairs donated for these disasters.
Hope Runs is a non-profit group working in Kenya and Tanzania, using athletics, education, and social entrepreneurship to empower AIDS orphans. They accept donations, including running shoes.
Shoe4Africa is a charitable organization whose mission is “empowerment through sports and education, creating unique health initiatives, and promoting Aids awareness.”
Grinds your old running shoes into material that makes athletics and playground surfaces.
One World Running
Since 1986, a group of runners in Boulder, Colorado, has collected, washed and sent to Third World countries new and “near-new” athletic shoes along with other athletic equipment.