3 Tips on How to Pick the Right Marathon

Two friends doing a running session to prepare for a marathon.

by JP Slater

Whether it is your first marathon or you are a seasoned road warrior, there is a lot of thought that should go into picking which marathon is best for you! Choosing a good course, on the right day, the right terrain, with optimal weather, etc. … all these things play into how you will perform come race day.

closeup shot of runners legs at a marathon.

1. Picking a date
The first step in choosing a marathon is picking a time when you want to run. Looking at a calendar and looking at different dates somewhere, hopefully at least 8-12 weeks in the future, will allow you to set a better training table for yourself. A marathon is a physical and mental test on your body, so making sure you allow yourself enough time to prepare is crucial in solidifying the best performance come race day. Picking the date will also address many race day factors, such as weather! So looking at a marathon in the middle of summer will have a much different result and barriers than picking a marathon in the dead of winter! Therefore, when looking at the date, think about which type of weather you would like to endure.

2. Choosing the right course
Picking a date will help narrow down which marathon you should run! Though sometimes if you are set on running a specific venue, the date of your race may already be set. But whatever the case choosing the right course is important in maximizing overall race day performance. Whether you’re king of the hill or you prefer the flat open road, choosing a course that plays into your running strengths is important. Marathons like Chicago or London can be courses where you are looking to blaze through the course with some of the fastest times in the world there each year. Or a marathon like the Los Angeles marathon where you face a little more of a test running through some of the hillier areas of Los Angeles, choosing a course you like is important.

Couple is running into the sunrise.

3. Setting a realistic goal
Once you’ve looked at all courses and dates, now it’s time to look at yourself! One of the biggest disappointments people face in racing is setting unrealistic goals. Of course, everyone would love to run the world record, but it is not always plausible. So looking at your training timeline, your base fitness, and the course you have decided to run your marathon is very important in setting a realistic goal for yourself. One of the best running quotes is from 4-time Olympian and Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi, who said, “I realize that winning doesn’t always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself.” So when looking at your upcoming marathon take into account all the factors and set a realistic goal. You should be aware of what the weather will be like on race day because whether it is hot, cold, windy, dry, snowing, etc…. these will all have impacts upon your race time! Along with weather look at the terrain. Did you choose a hilly course like Los Angeles, or are you going out there to try and run a PB on a course like London!?

When it is all finalized and you have selected which marathon you are going to run, it is now time for the fun part! You have the date in your sights. The light is at the end of the tunnel and you are ready to go on the journey of a lifetime. So throw on some running shorts, a nice comfy shirt, lace up your shoes and get out there for a run! It’s time to go have a blast and get one step closer to your goal, whatever that may be!

About JP

JP Slater

JP Slater was born and raised in Los Angeles, Ca. He attended UC Berkeley, where he was the captain of the Cross Country and Track and Field teams. JP has the third fastest 10,000-meter time in Berkeley school history. After finishing school in 2014, he started racing professionally. JP has been involved in competitive running for over 10 years and will continue to race on the elite scene for as long as he can stay competitive. Slater says: “I’m super into eating healthy and living a healthy active lifestyle.”


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