If you're looking to scratch "run a marathon" off your bucket list, you're not short on options. Several half-marathons and marathons are coming up in the Los Angeles area, including the Long Beach marathon and half-marathon in October, the Pasadena half-marathon in January, the Surf City half-marathon and marathon in Orange County in February, and the granddaddy of them all, the L.A. Marathon in March.
So, how to train?
"I could give you a book on running or you could go to a website and find a training program, but until you hit a wall in a marathon, you don't really know what you're doing," said Alan Culver, secretary of the L.A. Running Club.
For some, running and training is better when it's not a solo activity.
Here are four running groups in L.A. with which you can train for a half-marathon or marathon -- or just run -- and how groups go beyond just logging miles.
The "main mission" of L.A. Leggers is to train for the L.A. Marathon, President Suzanne Silverstein said, but runners also train for other marathons and half-marathons in the area, such as Surf City and Long Beach. But some are not training at all. They come to stay fit and catch up with friends every Saturday morning when they meet for a weekly run in Santa Monica. Going beyond: Before runs, there's often a talk about running topics, such as how to prepare for race day or how to recover from a running injury. Each year after the L.A. Marathon, runners come together for a celebratory party. laleggers.org
L.A. Running Club's tagline is "where friendship and fitness meet," and it couldn't be more true for runner Jan Yu, 39. Yu joined the L.A. Running Club in 2008 to get healthy and is now training for her ninth L.A. Marathon. Running is a stress reliever from her job as a manager at a fertility clinic, she said. "You also make friends with similar goals," she said, adding that she has taken vacations with friends she met through the club. Going beyond: When they are not running or taking vacations together, L.A. Running Club members host potlucks or travel together to events such as concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, Culver said. larunningclub.com
L.A. Frontrunners is a running club for LGBTQ people and their supporters. When L.A. Frontrunners began in the late '70s and early '80s, it was, in some cases, one of the only places LGBTQ runners could be open, President Angus Kennedy said. Because that is not typically the case anymore, the club has stepped up its running game to be more appealing to people who want to train for marathons or get healthy. Going beyond: Runners look for opportunity to eat together, including restaurant outings, picnics and an annual chili cook-off. "A lot of people say we're an eating group that runs," Kennedy said. The group also hosts charity fundraisers, and regularly goes on trips centered around upcoming races. They are planning an international trip soon, possibly to Portugal. lafrontrunners.com
Some people find running fun regardless of whether they are part of a group, but others have to be enticed with a community and social events, running club director Bob Morris said. "We find that when you run with a group, it's easier than running by yourself, he said. A Snail's Pace has a running academy, which has structured training, and a running club that is more focused on giving people a chance to network with other runners, he said. Going beyond: About 40 runners came to a pool party at Morris' house after a Memorial Day race. asnailspace.net