Scott MauriceRunning a marathon is no small task. It takes generous preparation and determination to complete 26.2 miles. If you’re new to running, even one mile may seem daunting, let alone 26. However, statistics indicate that since 2000, U.S. marathon finishers have increased by 47 percent. That being said, more Americans are opting to physically challenge themselves every year. Here’s why:

Charity

One major reason people opt to run a marathon is to raise money and awareness for an important cause. Whether it’s cancer research, HIV/AIDS awareness, homelessness, or ending world hunger, the goal of helping others is a strong motivating factor to completing a marathon. When others have vouched for you by donating money, you’re more than likely to vouch for yourself!

Get in Shape

As the new year approaches, thousands of Americans use this time to set new fitness goals. Some want to lose 10 pounds, others want to get stronger. It’s easier to accomplish your goals when you set a specific milestone. Running will improve your cardiovascular endurance and strengthen your muscles. Moreover, regular exercise has the added benefit of improving your mood, alleviating stress, and providing heightened energy levels.

Try Something New

Running is uncomfortable, especially running over 20 miles. When you first start training for a marathon, you may feel particularly insecure. However, with commitment and persistence, the gradual improvements you see will instill a sense of pride and ownership over your journey. We aren’t always given the opportunity to step out of our comfort zones in our daily lives. Why not rise to the occasion and try something new? At the end of the day, it’ll only make you better than before.

Set a Good Example

When you make a positive change in your life, you’re not only benefiting you, but also those around you. Your friends, family members, and colleagues will definitely take notice that you’ve challenged yourself and had the strength and courage to push through. You can show them that something they once thought was impossible is right within their reach; make the abstract, tangible. Additionally, you can start training for your next marathon by helping someone else.

Meet New People

Training for a marathon with a friend is a great way to stay on track and accomplish what you set out to do. The running community is very supportive and veterans are always open to help newcomers settle in. Check your neighborhood or city listings for a local running club. Or, find an existing friend or colleague who’s willing to train with you.

Marathons aren’t easy, but they sure are possible and definitely worth the work.