It feels like this winter will never end and the wacky weather continues to push the boundaries of our sanity but, fortunately, spring is just around the corner. And with spring comes marathon season!

It can be intimidating to register for an event for the first time but, whether you’re a beginner or returning to running, here are some suggestions for getting fit and having fun.

Getting Started

If you haven’t seen a doctor recently, it’s a good idea to have a quick check-up before embarking on any new fitness plans. Once you are ready, prepare yourself by gathering some basics. Invest in a good pair of running shoes, comfortable workout clothes and a water bottle. Check for paths in your area and map out your run. If you can’t or don’t want to run outside, invest in a treadmill or join a local gym. Start slowly and gradually work your way up to running for longer distances. A quick Internet search will also yield great results for walking/running plans for beginners.

Useful Apps

A smartphone can be your best friend if you decide to take up running. There are some very useful resources, including the popular Couch Potato to 5k Runner app, that can help you get in shape for a race. The Shoedometer app will let you know when it’s time to replace your running shoes. You can also give back to the community by using Charity Miles have money donated to a worthy cause for every mile run.

Pump Up the Jams

Walk by any fitness class and you’ll notice that music is blaring and people are moving to the beat. Boston Magazine cites research that shows that music of a certain tempo actually helps people run faster. With music libraries and subscriptions such as Spotify, it has never been easier to create the perfect playlist.

A word of caution – make sure that you can still hear what is going on around you when you are wearing earbuds during a run. Many models allow ambient noise to be heard by the wearer regardless of how much bass is bumping in their music.

Fun Races

Gone are the days when the main motivation for running was completing a race. Nowadays, there are so many “fun” events geared at attracting a wider audience. There are events that allow you to get doused with colored chalk (The Color Run), escape zombies (Run For Your Lives), show your true grit (Tough Mudder) or get in the holiday spirit (Jingle Bell Run). Search your area for local themed runs and have fun!

Classic Marathons

Ready for the big leagues?  Some of the most notable marathons include the New York Marathon, Napa Valley Marathon, Big Sur International Marathon, BMO Vancouver Marathon and the Great Wall Marathon in China. Of course, there is also the Boston Marathon which, in light of last year’s tragedies, will be more meaningful and emotional than ever.

While it can be intimidating to get started, we all have to start somewhere. Pick something fun, commit to your good health and run your cares away.