Marathons growing in popularity among health-conscious
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Marathons growing in popularity among health-conscious

Running a marathon requires a commitment to training.

Who's got the time or inclination to run a marathon? Well, it seems quite a few people do. In the last five year, the sport has experienced a surge in popularity.

Clare Voiten, who juggles two businesses – Scarvelli Café and Gulliver Jam (an online jewellery business) – has been running marathons since the '90s. She believes the recent trend in marathon running is driven by health-conscious people who are seeking to achieve something a bit out of the ordinary. She doesn't believe, however, the sport is limited to athletes.

"Everyone says they can't do it, but it's a very achievable thing to do," says Voitin. "I don't know that you have to believe you can do it, you just have to commit to the training." The training, Voitin claims, isn't as gruelling as you might think. Runners usually start training six months prior to the marathon and gradually build up their mileage over time.

Voitin has found time to write a book, Food for Thought ... Love and Life: From Paddock to Plate, which she is self-publishing this year. It ties in with the paddock to plate theme that links her family farm to the cafe. With so much on her plate, literally, what motivates her to run?

"If I exercise in the morning my productivity during the day is double," says Voitin. "It's incredibly therapeutic. I just do things better, faster, clearer. I also eat healthier." Aside from the elation of completing a marathon, Voitin says that running provides some much-needed time out from her busy life. She also hopes that it demonstrates to her children that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to.

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Lyn La Canna, co-owner of John Batman Group – a business that supplies hospitality products and services, describes herself as "not particularly fit or healthy" prior to running. In 2006, she signed up to participate in Run for the Kids in response to a friend's sick child who had to undergo treatment at the Royal Children's Hospital.

"A couple of weeks later I thought, what have I done?" recalls La Canna. "How am I going to run 15 kilometres?" La Canna, who had young children at the time, trained on a treadmill at home and did indeed complete the run. Next she participated in a half marathon (21.1 kilometres) and then worked her way up to a full marathon (42.2 kilometres). La Canna has now run the Melbourne Marathon twice, completed London and New York, and astoundingly ran second in the women's section at the Antarctica Marathon in October this year. La Canna says that marathon running is a personal, something you do purely for yourself.

"[In Antarctica] no one cared where anybody ran," says La Canna. "It was just about finishing it in such harsh conditions." Similar themesto Voitin's underpin La Canna's motives to run. Setting a goal, committing to the training and then finishing the marathon provides an enormous sense of achievement. She also believes she is healthier, both mentally and physically, when she's training.

And how does marathon running translate to other areas of her life, such as career?

"You just become really aware that you can achieve a goal, that it's just a matter of putting a plan in place and doing it," says La Canna.

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