Runners can’t resist the lure of an epic marathon. This year, nearly half a million runners across the country will approach a starting line to experience the agony and ecstasy of running’s premiere event. A marathon isn’t just a road race; it’s a chance to discover what it means to be a hero.

The 26.2-mile race can be merciless and unforgiving. As marathon legend Bill Rodgers once said, “The marathon can humble you.” Before impulsively deciding to tackle a marathon, consider the following questions to determine if you are truly ready. Glory doesn’t come cheap. You’ll be running 4 to 6 days every week for several months leading up to race day.

Your longest training runs may take up to 3 hours to complete. Even post-run rituals of stretching, foam rolling, icing or napping take up significant time. Fitting training into a busy schedule is one of the biggest obstacles for most runners. Our Run Faster plan will ease you into track workouts to boost your leg and lung power—and your finishing time at the next 5K or 10K race. You’ll also develop a sense of “pace awareness,” that is, how your legs and lungs feel when you’re pushing the pace, which will help you avoid the most common racing mistake: going out too fast.