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New running season may be the perfect New Year’s resolution

Every year, many Americans set a health-based New Year’s resolution. Why not try running this year? With the kicking off of the “running season,” it seems as though it’s the perfect time to consider getting involved with some marathons this spring. Although the idea of running a marathon may seem frighteningly hard, the steps taken to prepare for marathon running are great for improving your health. Along with these physical benefits, many marathons help the public in many other ways.

First, what is a marathon? A marathon is a long-distance foot race with the official distance of around 26 miles. Usually this is run as a road race. Annually, there are more than 800 marathons organized worldwide. Approximayely half-a-million runners in the U.S. participate in marathon events every year. Most participants are not running in marathons to win. It is more important for most runners to recognize their personal finish time, and compare their own placement within their specific gender and age group. Most runners are just out to finish. Whether a novice or an experienced runner, these events can serve as a challenge.

Though it may seem intimidating, training for marathon running is rather simple. The processes taken during this training will gradually increase mileage over a long enough period of time to allow both the cardiovascular system and the musculoskeletal system to make the necessary adaptations to complete the marathon distance. There are alternatives to the 26-mile normal marathon standard. Some events offer 10-mile or even five-mile races. These are good to invest in while training yourself to handle the longer marathon runs. Many training programs last a minimum of five or six months, meaning that if you’re new to the whole marathon scene, you may not be able to participate in upcoming events. Don’t let this turn you away. The training, and later the participation in marathon events, will greatly improve your health.

While there are potential injuries in any sport, running offers many benefits. Some of these include potential weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle mass, increased bone density and an improved emotional state. Running can assist people in losing weight and staying in shape. Different distances and speeds are necessary for different individual health and fitness levels. New runners will take more time to get into shape, but the key is consistency and a slow increase in speed and distance. Running will also have psychological benefits as many participants in the sport report feeling a euphoric state, often referred to as a “runner’s high.” It has been said that this so called “high” may result in the body producing and releasing endorphins in response to prolonged participation in the sport. In fact, running is the usual recommended therapy to treat people with clinical depression and people coping with an addiction.

Not only do marathons offer health benefits to those participating in the run itself, most marathons donate proceeds to certain organizations or charities. For example, the Mississippi Blues Marathon offers a portion of its earnings to the Mississippi Blues Commission. This marathon is sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Sheild of Mississippi. With the marathon starting in the heart of the Fondren district of Jackson, the attention of nearly 2,000 runners, including runners from 38 states and nine countries, will help benefit Mississippi and the Jackson area. A few good places to find more information about marathon running, and upcoming events, visit www.marathonguide.com, www.mstrackclub.com, and msbluesmarathon.com.

Contact MBJ staff writer Leslie Galloway at leslie.galloway @ msbusiness.com .

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