The Best of What Marathon Running really is and how to begin

What is marathon running today? At the 1896 Olympics in Athens, which was the first organized marathon, there were just 17 athletes on the start line! The winner from this first race finished in a time of 2:58:50. Marathon running has come a long way since then. Today this would be a normal finish time for a skilled amateur, but it’s almost an hour slower than the fastest elite runners crossing the finish line today. 

what is marathon running
Eugene Marathon is the Pacific Northwest’s largest marathon and takes place each spring on the last Sunday of April.

We have gained a lot of experience over the years and now also understand a lot more about the science of long-distance running from the many City marathons that gather thousands of participants and spectators. From the health aspects to the psychological motives.

History Of Marathon Running

The history of the marathon dates far back to a Greek tale of the Battle of Marathon. The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC. According to the legend, the brave courier Pheidippides ran barefoot from the city of Marathon all the way to Athens. The distance between Marathon and Athens was approximately 40 kilometers.

Phedippides ran the distance when he had to report on the Athenian army’s victory over the Persians. After delivering the message, he died! but the legend lives on about the amazing runner of the Athenian army.

When the first modern Olympic Games were planned by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, one of his friends who was a historian and member of the French Academy suggested a race from Marathon to Athens.

The idea was accepted even though the ancient Olympic Games in ancient Greece had no longer running distances than about 4 km. The marathon race at the first Olympic Games became a success. The 40 km long race in 1896 was won by the ‘home runner’ Spiridon Louis who thus became a national hero.

what is marathon running
Statue of Pheidippides along the Marathon Road


There is doubt as to whether the Story of the brave runner Pheidippides is true. However, there was allegedly a messenger named Pheidippides. But he was just out on a longer run. A run from Athens to Sparta, where he fetched assistance for the battle against the Persians. The distance between Athens and Sparta is 245 km.

what is marathon running
Two women in the Spartathlon race which takes place in September of every year in Greece.

So, the Spartathlon goes in the footsteps of Pheidippides – with another interpretation of the story. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens!

The route is a historic ultra-distance foot race that takes place in September of every year in Greece. It’s one of the most difficult but also most prestigious and satisfying ultra-distance races in the world because of its unique history and background.

What Is Marathon Running

Countless marathon races are held every year around the world and in particular major cities. A marathon brings together runners from all over the world and thousands of spectators for a mass event. A City marathon is much more than a race today, it’s a big event with a lot of media coverage that the whole city gathers around in preparation and execution.

A City marathon is thus a course that lasts only a short period with large crowds of spectators, participants, and support units around a huge media-covered event. Everyone feels involved no matter of role, nationality or running skills. We are all together as a part of a big event – and we are being seen on a big stage.

Roads are closed to traffic, which provides optimal conditions for a good and controlled race. Exercisers and running enthusiasts arrive to the city and are accommodated in hotels and other ‘bed and breakfast’ places to chase their best time in the race and get an unforgettable running experience.

Since Marathons are mainly organized in big cities they hereby also get the most media attention. Participants with different running experiences from many different nationalities take part in these races.

So, Marathons are therefore not only limited to elite sports but many ordinary joggers and exercisers of all ages as well as sports practitioners also complete a marathon in their lives.

what is marathon running
Runners on the waterfront at Paris International Marathon

Marathon running – distance today

Today’s marathon distance of 42.196 km was arranged for the first time at the London Olympics in 1908. The route of this marathon was adapted for the British royal family. The race started at the royal residence Windsor Castle and it finished at the Royal Box in the Olympic Stadium. To make the route fit with this planning, the distance had to be adjusted.

The route was 26 miles and 385 yards, which corresponds to 42.195 km. With this, the new marathon distance was introduced, and in 1921 the distance of 42.195 was officially approved by the International Athletics Federation.

Marathon Running Facts Overview

  • First marathon race: The Olympic Games in Athens 1896
  • Distance: 42,195 (since 1908)
  • in 1912 the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was founded in Stockholm. It was decided that the IAAF should standardize methods of time measuring and recording world records.
  • In 1921 the distance of 42.195 was officially approved by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
  • In 1984 women’s marathon was introduced to the Summer Olympics. Joan Samuelson ran the marathon distance that year and holds the title of first-ever women’s Olympic marathon champion.
  • The World Marathon Majors (WMM) started in 2006. Championship Competition for marathon runners held in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. These marathons are considered to be the biggest and most prestigious marathons in the world.
  • The New York Marathon is the largest marathon in the world and was completed in 2016 by more than 51,000 runners and up to nearly 1 million spectators.
  • Eliud Kipchoge is the current world record holder for the marathon distance: 2.01.39, set in Berlin in 2018. In 2019 he ran a marathon in under two hours, as the first in the world. In an unofficial attempt, he finished in 1.59 .40 in the city of Vienna, Austria.
  • The women’s world record in a marathon is currently held by Brigid Kosgei. On October 13, 2019, in the Chicago Marathon, she ran in a time of 2:14:04

What is marathon running for you?

As you know now, the Marathon has evolved a lot and especially from being for the few dedicated long-distance runners to being for everyone who wants to challenge themselves, run several times per week, and complete the many training kilometers.

Joggers who participate in marathons do not run to win, but often to reach the time they have set as a goal before the race, or simply to complete. So, completing a marathon is within the reach of most people.

If you prepare properly and invest commitment, patience, will, and mental toughness in the process as well as follow a personal training program. With those prerequisites, a couch potato can transform into a marathon runner in about 26 weeks.

Marathon training is thus about the journey toward running your chosen marathon. You learn a lot about yourself in the process. How you deal with adversity, as well as how you celebrate personal victories, are just some of them on the journey to complete a marathon.

Marathon Running – Why Distance Running Is Great

what is marathon running

Marathon training is mainly about endurance, fitness, and running economy. Completing the long runs in the marathon training program gives you more endurance and optimizes your body’s combustion. Endurance, along with fitness and running economy, is the 3 elements that determine how fast you can run a given distance.

The 3 main aspects that determine your marathon running speed 

Running economy is an expression of how efficiently you utilize energy when you run. Fitness refers to how much oxygen the body can absorb, i.e., how big an engine you have. Endurance is about how well your muscles use the oxygen they get.

If you have great fitness but poor endurance, you will be able to deliver a lot of oxygen to the muscles, but the muscles will quickly tire and lose the ability to utilize the oxygen.

Good endurance is particularly important at distances from 800 m to the marathon. An 800m runner with good endurance is often able to run the first 500 meters quite effortlessly before he starts the sprint.

Your fat combustion improves

In addition to strengthening the endurance of your muscles, the long runs also improve the fat-combusting ability of your cells. The way the body supplies the muscles with energy changes significantly during your long runs (LSD).

At the start of the long run (Long Slow Distance LSD), the muscles are supplied with energy from the body’s energy stores in the form of glycogen – the body’s high-octane fuel. Gradually, combustion switches from glycogen to fat.

Fat is a less efficient source of energy, and when the body’s fat combustion starts to take over from glycogen combustion, many of us will run slower and with more effort. This is what happens when you meet ‘the wall’.

Long runs train the cells’ ability to combust fat so that this combustion becomes more efficient. This reduces the risk that you will have to slow down when running a marathon.

Reduced risk of injuries

The many kilometers from your long runs make the body tougher. The long-term work on the roads means that tendons, muscles and bones gradually become stronger and more durable. This means that the risk of overload injuries in the knees, calves, hips, and feet decreases.

In this way, you can train more continuously and safely, while at the same time, you can increase the intensity of the training because you are now more resilient and stronger.

Final Thoughts

Today, city marathon events attract thousands of runners from around the world. From world elite runners to everyday running heroes, who come to the city to find the best setting for good running experiences – regardless of pace and level.

Thousands of spectators show up to follow the race event, experience the atmosphere and be part of a mass event with great media coverage. they cheer and support their favorite runners and those who stand out in inventive ways. Marathon running is much more than just running a race!

The marathon training itself is very healthy if you manage it in the right way, and it promotes a natural healthy lifestyle. So, if you combine marathon training with an attractive city marathon as a goal in the future, you get a very good cocktail.

That gives you meaning and direction in a period of your life, with a great marathon goal and You as a participating runner. Afterward, you have new and strong cards on the hand for other things you want in life.

Can a normal person run a marathon?

Anyone can run a marathon if they find their current running level and follow a personal training program. Today everyone can sign up for a marathon. It’s not only limited to sports. You can even follow a pacekeeper with a calculated km time written on a balloon.

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