Marathon guide: How to choose the right race

There are so many options and there’s lots to consider when it comes to picking the best marathon for you

As you may have seen from our recently published marathon guide which bulges at the seams with superb events that are spread right across the whole of next year, runners are now very much spoiled for choice when it comes to running 26.2 miles.

The wide range on offer is an undoubtedly wonderful thing but having so many options can also be a little overwhelming, especially when it comes to reaching a decision about which start line to make a beeline for.

With that in mind, here are some things to consider that might help you to make up your mind.

Home or away?

Location, location, location. How much travel would you want to involve in your marathon plans?

You can find a race in just about any country on the planet if you look hard enough, while on British shores there are many fantastic events to lace your trainers up for that won’t rack up the air miles or bring potential jet lag into play.

Would you prefer to run just a few miles from your front door or is there a destination you’ve always wanted to visit, a race you have always wanted to take part in, that will help motivate you to put in the training?

Setting a date

It’s important to work out at which point in the year a marathon will work best for you.

Opting for a spring race will mean training in the depths of winter, which can be a great incentive to get in peak shape in tough conditions, while an autumn event will give you more daylight hours and warmer temperatures in which to prepare, though that might mean also juggling your summer holiday plans with your session plans.

What works best around work and family life, too?

Plot your course

Think carefully about what you want from your marathon experience. Is chasing a PB at the forefront of your mind, in which case you’ll want a fast and flat course that helps get that big box ticked, or do you want to tackle a notoriously tough route which is chock full of ‘undulations’?

Do the big city marathon crowds drive you on or drive you to distraction? You may love running in the company of tens of thousands of others or prefer something a little smaller, with room to stretch out right from the word go.

You might even want to ditch the tarmac completely and tackle a trail marathon in the middle of a mountain landscape.

What’s important to you?

Entering a marathon isn’t something to be taken lightly and you’ll be investing a lot of time and vast amounts of energy in completing whatever goal you choose to set for yourself.

Perhaps take a moment and write down a list of what’s important to you about this journey and your reasons for doing it. It should help to clarify your thinking.

Remember that no-one else will be covering the distance for you so make sure you’re lining up for the race you really want to run.

» This article was first published in our latest marathon guide, included with the October 31 edition of AW magazine, which is available digitally here or to order in print here

» For more on the latest athletics news, athletics events coverage and athletics updates, check out the AW homepage and our social media channels on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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