Are Marathons Actually Good For You?

While running a marathon may be exhausting and physically taxing on your body, it can also benefit your overall health. That's because long distance running and marathon training can help build muscle mass and enhance your endurance and athletic performance (via Verywell Fit).

For instance, running a marathon can help tone your legs and keep you in shape. Running and training for a marathon can also improve your cardiovascular health by increasing your aerobic capacity and helping to regulate your blood pressure and cholesterol levels — all of which can strengthen your heart and improve your immune system. Furthermore, running a marathon can improve your mental health and reduce stress. Studies have shown that running can help reduce the negative affects of stressful events and sharpen your mental resilience and coping skills. And as an added perk, the rigorous training will exhaust your body, making it likely you'll get more and better quality sleep.

How to prepare for a marathon

In the days and weeks leading up to a marathon, there are several steps you can take to help yourself prepare for the 26.2-mile race and reduce your risk of injury. One of the most important things you can do is not overexert yourself in the days leading up to the race (via Cleveland Clinic). This means scaling back your training and reducing your mileage by 50% at least three weeks before the marathon. Overdoing it too close to the race can weaken your legs, making it harder for you maintain your pace or even finish. Two weeks before the marathon, you should cut your mileage in half again, reducing by 25%. By the week of the race, your body will be rested enough to take on the full 26.2 miles.

When it comes to food and drinks, you should make sure you drink plenty of water and fill up on complex carbohydrates like bread, pasta, and starchy vegetables in the days leading up the race. This will help keep up your energy levels and ensure that you don't get dehydrated. It's also important to have food and water on hand the day of the race.