Deciding to Run a Marathon

First, it's important to cover the wrong reasons, in my opinion, to do a marathon:
-My friends are doing it -- This, more often than not, turns out bad.  Friends get overwhelmed with other things or get injured and then you're alone and thinking "why did I sign up for this?"
-It's on my bucket list --  Marathons take hours upon hours every single week for a minimum of about 5 months to train.  This is not a decision to take lightly and just "check" off your to-do list.  You really have to have your heart 100% in.
-I ran a half, so it's the next step -- Maybe.  It might be.  But there's also absolutely nothing wrong with sticking with the half distance for awhile and getting really comfortable in your new mileage.  If you are gung-ho and "all in" to push for the full marathon after your first half, then, by all means, go for it!  Just make sure you are aware of the dedication it takes.  The 26.2 miles is nothing compared to the 20+ weeks of training.
-I want to lose weight -- I hate to share this, but very few people lose weight during marathon training unless they are paying strict attention to their diet.  Strenuous training and really long runs will make you a ravenous beast throughout the majority of training, plus your body adapts and starts storing fuel for your runs.

First Marathon - White Rock 2010

When you come to the place in your running where your heart really

desires that 26.2 distance, there are some things to consider...
- Are you willing to dedicate anywhere from 5-10 hours a week for 4-6 months to your training?
- Are you willing to give up late nights in order to get your runs in?
- Are you willing to skip social activities in favor of running?
- Are you willing to give up activities on days your body needs to rest?
- Are you willing to listen to your body and give it the proper nutrition and hydration?
- Are you willing to potentially lose toenails, chafe in mysterious locations, sit in tubs of ice, and go through multiple pairs of good shoes?

Don't get me wrong, you do not have to give up your entire life to run a marathon.  Many people train for them while juggling jobs and children and social activities.  But there will, no matter how you schedule it, be times that you have to make choices for or against training.  And 4-6 months is a long time to be dedicated to making the right decisions for the sake of your training.  It's hard, it takes dedication, and you have to, deep down, *want* to do the marathon.
Jen and Me after RnR San Diego 2011

With all that said, the satisfaction of completing up to 6 months of training, and then successfully running 26.2 miles and crossing the finish line still standing is something you just cannot explain to those that have not been there.  It is amazing.  It is emotional.  And if you gave your whole heart to the effort, you'll likely want to do it again!  And for me, I want to run a marathon again (Oct. 30) and again (Dec. 4) and again (Jan. 1) and who knows how many times after that!