Athletes today have a bevy of international race opportunities at their fingertips now that groups like Rock'N'Roll have entered the international stage and added marathons and half marathons in iconic cities like Lisbon, Madrid, Oslo, Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Dublin to their race roster.
Just think about it. How would you like to run 26.2 miles along Portugal's rugged Atlantic coastline, hotfoot it past the castles and cathedrals in Scotland, or finish your race in the historic Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid?
If you're considering doing a marathon, here are five very good reasons why you should do one abroad.
1. The Best Marathon Distraction Is: A great view! Running 26.2 miles is no easy feat, but completing the race is much easier when you're distracted by landscapes and vistas you've never seen before. The miles will fly by when you're dashing past a historic monument or jogging along a new stretch of coastline. You'll be so distracted by the "oohs and ahhs" of the course, it will be much easier to ignore the "ouches and ughs" you're feeling in your legs.
2. The Challenge of the Unknown: You won't know the twists and turns of the course the way you know you're typical running route, but running outside of your comfort zone is a thrilling challenge. You'll be forced to take each hill one at a time, allowing you to really run your race and depend on your training.
3. The Camaraderie: I ran the Lisbon marathon this year. While Portuguese is not my native language, I knew that the crowds screaming "Força, Força" as I jogged by were words of encouragement. The smiles from fellow runners, who were enduring the same challenges I was, bonded us without anyone uttering a single word. Just chalk this one up to a feeling you'll only get in a foreign country.
4. Make a Vacation Out Of It: Do you even need an excuse? As long as you're overseas, you might as well make a vacation out of it! Tack on an extra 5-7 days to take in the sights of the area or just kick back and relax. You've earned it.
5. Indulge Without the Guilt: You just completed a major athletic endeavor, which means you can chow down and imbibe on whatever you're little heart desires. Enjoy all the pleasures of the local fare without the tiniest pang of guilt.