Most people will never run a marathon. Some will do it just to be able to say they’ve done it once, and cross it off their bucket list. Others will run a marathon once a year, or less frequently, sort of making a hobby out of it. And then there are those who are more serious about it, and who make running marathons a part of their very existence, running several per year.
But one Belgian man decided to take it a step further, and to break the record for most marathons run in one year. Over the last year, he has run 365 marathons—one per day.
Stefaan Engels had asthma as a child, and was told he must avoid exercise and all strenuous physical activity. He decided to go against doctors’ advice, and became a runner. He’s now 49 years old, and already holds a record for having run 20 triathlons in one year. After that accomplishment, he wasn’t ready to go back to his daily life, so he decided to take on the one-a-day marathon challenge.
He attempted it once before, but had to quit after sustaining an injury just 18 days into the endeavor. There was no stopping him this time, though. He ran a total of 9,569 miles over the course of a year, running in marathons in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, and the UK. He said he did it in part to inspire others “by showing that if I could run a marathon a day for an entire year, that anyone could run or bike a little each day or do something about their weight problem.”
Engels credits his accomplishment to running slowly and keeping his heart rate low. It was about finishing, not racing. He now plans to take some time off from running and allow his body to rest.
You may not want to run one marathon a day for a year, but one look at a marathon calendar will show you there are plenty of marathons around the country to take part in. The weather has been extremely cold and snowy in much of the country lately, so if you can’t run outside, it’s easy to do your marathon training on a treadmill.
Regardless of whether you plan to run one marathon or several, always check with your doctor before you begin training.