Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Is a healthy weight needed to run a marathon?"
I'm 28. I want to run my first marathon. I would at least like to try. I am not very fit. I've been practicing. Can I still try? Do I need to be a runner?
Running a marathon is a good goal, one that can help you get fit as well as testing your psychological and physical resolve. Running a marathon requires significant dedication and training, however, and should be undertaken with plenty of training time (at least 6 months if not a year for an inexperienced runner) to prepare. Training for a marathon typically involves short distance runs every day of the week, with a day for a long-distance, slower paced run (usually a weekend day) and a day off (usually a weekend day). The distance for the long runs increase every week until you reach near-marathon distances. The short weekly runs can vary in type and intensity to avoid repetitive stress injury. Training schedules are readily available online. Joining an organized training program, such as one of the for-charity training programs, can be a fun and motivating way to get linked into a community of people who are training for the same goal. There are medical risks associated with running a marathon, and these are heightened if you do not allow sufficient time for training. The most common are injuries to the joints or muscles, which can be quite serious. Furthermore, there are risks of life-threatening problems such as hyponatremia (too little salt in the blood, often caused by a combination of dehydration and drinking water rather than salt-containing fluids like gatorade) and rhabdomyolysis (damage to the muscles leading to kidney failure, also associated with dehydration). Also people with certain conditions, such as heart or lung conditions, should not run a marathon. Only your doctor can determine if you have a health condition that would prevent you from running a marathon; if you have concerns, you should consult with your doctor about the risks prior to attempting to run a marathon.
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