Can Anyone Run a Marathon?

people running the LA marathon
Harry How/Getty Images Sport

With the proper training, it is possible that anyone who is in good health can complete a marathon. However, it’s a huge physical and mental endeavor and is not something to be taken lightly.

Training Is Essential

It’s tempting to watch a marathon, see people of all ages and body types and think, “Hey, I could do this.” But it’s important to remember that most people who run a marathon have been running for years and gradually built up to the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Only someone who is incredibly fit could decide to run a marathon on a whim.

The average marathon participant has reached that point after months of training to get themselves physically and mentally prepared. And they’ve all been checked out by their doctors, who gave them the medical clearance to train for and complete the race.

Time and Dedication

If you’re healthy, willing to make the commitment to the training, and also prepared to make financial and personal sacrifices, then you might be ready to take on the challenge.

Most marathons require you to be at least 18 years old, although for some the minimum age is 16. And, of course, you need to actually like running, at least a little!  It's often recommended that someone interested in completing a marathon first try running a shorter race distance. This may be a 10K or a half marathon, but it will give you a good idea whether or not you enjoy it enough to train for a full marathon.

Training for a marathon requires a huge commitment of time, as well as physical and mental energy. You need to decide if you're ready to commit to doing everything it takes to prepare for the challenge.

A marathon training schedule is a big endeavor and many people compare it to having a part-time job. You'll need to be prepared to make some sacrifices, such as spending less time with friends and family and making sure you're eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep.

Before you eagerly sign-up for a marathon, you should ask yourself these eight simple questions to determine if you're ready to take the plunge. These include questions about your experience, health, and commitment to the time involved.

The Ups and Downs

The thrill of completing your first marathon is an unforgettable experience. Many people also love that exhilaration from pushing themselves in their everyday training. However, there are always some surprises along the way, too.

For instance, some people, including family members, may not actually support your training if they feel like it’s interfering with your family life and commitments. For this reason, you should be ready to deal with some nay-sayers and explain why you want to do it. 

Also, if you think that marathon training is a sure-fire way to lose weight, you may be surprised ​that this doesn’t always happen.

A Word From Verywell

There are many factors to consider before you decide to run a marathon. Keep in mind that those runners you see on TV went through a lot more than 26.2 miles to get to the finish line. Think things through and run a couple smaller races first. If you really like it and are healthy enough to get medical clearance, then go for the big one!