All that you need to know about Marathons

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Marathon – a word which is generally used by Sports and Athletic enthusiasts. The dictionary defines a marathon, “as a long-distance race, completed by running, walking or a mixture of both the strategies”. The race stretches through a distance of 26.219 miles or 42.195 km which is usually ran as a road race. It was conducted as an event to commemorate the run of the famous Greek soldier Pheidippides. He is known as a messenger of victory of the Greeks in the Battle of Marathon.

Marathon was one of the first modern Olympic events and was added in the format in 1896. Every year the world witnesses more than 800 marathons with participants ranging from 100 to thousands. The number of marathons are increasing every year leading to an increase in the number of participants. In 2013 there were more than 500 thousand marathon participants in the United States alone. Marathoners are often seen making shocking revelations about self-realization while they were a part of marathons. Katherine Switzer says, “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon”.

History

The name Marathon is derived from the legends of a Greek soldier named Pheidippides who is known to have run from Marathon to Athens to deliver the news of the victory of Athens over Persians. The organizers of the first Olympics marathon devised it for 40 kms to celebrate the achievements of Greece. Also, the first marathon winner was a Greek named Spyridon Louis. The distance of a typical marathon was standardized in 1924 at 42,195 meters. The first accounts of a marathon run is described in Plutarch’s works known as the “On the Glory of Athens”. The first marathon race was the brainchild of Michael Breal who aimed at featuring this event in the first Olympic Games in 1896. The event was highly appreciated and supported by Pierre de Coubertin, the father of modern Olympics.

The 2004 summer Olympics marathon was designed on the traditional routes from Marathon to Athens. It eventually gained popularity after that and was made a part of the women’s Olympics in 1984. The record for men’s marathon is 2 hours 6 minutes and 32 seconds while the women’s record stands at 2 hours 23 minutes and 7 seconds. The distance for the modern marathon was finalized by International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) in 1921.

Evolution of Marathons

The growth and popularity of modern day marathon is contributed towards the victory of Johnny Hayes in 1908 summer Olympics. One of the most aspired honors in the field of marathon running is Boston Marathon which is held annually since 1897. It attracts the attention of runners form across the globe. Some of the other premier marathons are held in different locations such as London, Tokyo, Amsterdam, New York city and the likes of it.

Formats

Marathons comes in all shapes and sizes-Each with their own difficulties and thrill. In spite of the proficiency level one can always choose form the below mentioned type and be a part of the fun.

10 KMS (6.21 Miles)

10 kms, most commonly known as the 10K run is one of the smallest of this kind. It is considered as the best distance and goal for amateur runners who are aiming at long runs. With a few months of training and regular maintenance, one must be able to achieve the goal of 10K. In case of professional runners, these kind of runs prove to be a practice session and helps them prepare for the more distanced ones.

Half-Marathon (21.1 Kms or 13.1 Miles)

After the 10K run comes the half marathon which usually covers a distance of 21.1 kms. It can be considered as the middle sibling and has a more serious nature. Runners aiming to crack the half marathon must take thing more seriously and start practicing more vigorously. It is important to build up a base of fitness before officially competing in half-marathons. This will help in avoiding the fatigues and burnout which can eventually lead to some major injuries.

Marathon (42.2 Kms or 26.2 Miles)

The “BAAP” of all the races. The first marathon is usually a turning point the lives of most runners. There is no short cuts to this one. It requires some serious preparation and if not done properly can prove to be a stressful and long event. However, the sense of achievement once you finish your first marathon is exquisite. The training should stretch over 6 or more months and must be taken extremely serious if you are aiming for the finish line. Your body may become stiff after the 35Km mark and may try to give up. Try to chat with your fellow runners and relax your mind while the run.

Ultra-Marathon (above 42.2 Kms)

It ranges from 50 -100 Kms and can go higher till 100 miles mark. They can be staged and timed events and can be considered as the father marathon. It usually affects your body and mind and opens you to the concept of pushing yourself harder. Try your hand at some of the ultra runs to enable your body to new flexibility and analyze its potential.

Now lets list down some of the most famous marathons around the world. These marathons are recurring annually.

Boston Marathon (April)

The Boston marathon is one of the famous names in the history of marathons. It is one of the oldest marathons and witness the participation of runners from across the world. The first Boston marathon was held in 1897. It stretches across some famous landmarks and a grand finish in the city. The standard for qualifying and participation is quite high and the participants have to abide by it at all times. It is witnessed by almost half a million of the world’s population and they cheer each runner with equal enthusiasm.

Athens Authentic Marathon (November)

It is one of the biggest events in Greece and follows the original course of 26.2 miles to commemorate the legend of the Greek soldier. The race stretches from the beauty of Athens covering the tracks of Pheidippides. It is one of the toughest course with almost 30 kms uphill and participants from across the world become a part of this historically rich event.

Marine Corps Marathon (April)

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Also known as the “People Marathon” is one of the largest races in the US that does not offer a prize money at the end of the race. It celebrates the practice, commitment, courage and honor of every participant. It is recognized as one of the best race for amateur runners and beginners. 1976 witnessed the first MCM race and has evolved into a series of different races namely the “Historic half”, “Semper 5ive”, and a kid’s race. Famous celebrities were also a part of this race managed by the U.S. Navy.

Great Wall Marathon (May)

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Come All, Come Now and be a part of the toughest races in the history of marathons. It challenges its runners to cover a track of 5,164 steps of the Great Wall of China. The race welcomes runner from around the world and are cheered by the Chinese villagers. It has gained popularity over the years with more than 3000 and increasing entries every year.

Dublin Marathon (October)

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This race dates back to the 1980s is really boosted by the Irish climate. Many runners states that the environment is encouraging ranging from 53-59 degrees Fahrenheit. The course covers the flat and scenic beauty of Dublin City Center. The weather is usually the high point for every runner and the cheering also encourages the runners.

Rome Marathon (April)

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The hub of all the marathons and the tracks lay all over the city and pass the city’s most historical points and sites. The course is usually flat and you have to thank the architect for the cobblestone streets for the race. It starts from the Via dei Fori Imperiali, continues through the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Saint Peter’s Basilica and finishes near the Coliseum.

Did you know?

USA’s Fred Lorz who won the 1904 Olympics has actually cheated in order to run the race. He took a lift from a car for 11 miles and then running near the finish line. This was immediately discovered and he was disqualified from the race. The title was then awarded to Thomas Hicks who survived the severe temperatures of 32 degrees to complete the race. He was able to survive the race on Brandy and strychnine.

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Prepare for the Next Marathon

The experience of your marathon is always special. It provides the spice of mystery and the nervousness of your first attempt. The three P’s namely preparedness, patience and perseverance can help you succeed in your first attempt. In spite of all the thrill and nervousness, the marathon is a different ball game all together. Therefore it becomes extremely important to spend some time and planning towards the practice and preparation for Marathons.

Strength Training

Strength training are often ignored by marathon runners thinking that it help them cover the extra mile. But, maintaining a strength training regime catalyzes the success rate in marathon. This kind of training helps you in avoiding muscle breakdown and build endurance for the long distance race. It should be perfectly paired with the running schedule to gain maximum results.

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Grab the right pair of Shoes

Choosing the right pair of shoes can help you go that extra mile. The shoes should be light weight and must be able to provide support to your feet during the run. If the shoes are new, wear it to a test run to determine its fit and effects on your foot. The test run will help you to understand if the shoes can result in blisters or sore feet so that you can avoid it and buy a new pair.

 

Half-Marathons – Your best Critic

If you think you are fully prepared for your first marathon, its time you test it by participating in a half marathon. One month prior to the actual race is a good time to head out to the race track. It trains your body and mind to cope with the stress of the actual race. It provides a small window to rest your body and relax before the original one.

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Keep yourself hydrated

Long races can lead to dehydration and the consequences can be drastic. It is important to hydrate yourself during the run. During the practice period, you must use energy drinks and gels to hydrate yourself. Before starting your race, you must be aware about the aid stations along the entire race course to time your breaks accordingly.

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So gear up with your running shoes and your dose of hydrants to cross the finish line in your next marathon. It is important to prepare well for a marathon as the will a lot than practice to finish it off. Courage, focus and sheer will help a lot in winning the race and succeeding in the most challenging courses. It is often a test of you will and hard work while most of the marathon races.