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Why Did You Run Your First Marathon?

Posted by Filed Under: Marathons, Races & Racing

Minutes after a friend and I finished our first marathon, he said something to me that I will never forget and sometimes think about. He said “at least we ran this without having to!” I did not understand what he meant so I asked him to explain. He said that some people who decide to run a marathon do so because they get diagnosed with a terminal disease or because someone close to them just passed away. He was basically saying that some people run their first marathon after they get a “wake-up call” of how short life really is.

So, this beckons the question “why did you decide to run your first marathon?” Did you get a “wake up call”, go through a divorce, get convinced by a friend to do it with him or her, have a big life change, or did you just want to “check it off your list”?

What got me to the start line was a revelation that just hit me one day. I had just completed a Masters Degree of Education in Canada ahead of schedule. Because of the freedom I had at that time in my life, I decided to do a six month stint in Kyoto, Japan to teach at a High School and University before returning back to my regular teaching job in Canada.

A good friend and I went to Japan together because he had also completed the same Masters Degree and he had past experience with living and working in Japan. So, after about a month in Kyoto, I felt I needed to run marathon. “Why not,” I thought. Up to this point I had run two miles three times a week, so the next obvious step was to run a 26.2 mile race. I convinced my friend to do it as well, so we both signed up for the Osaka marathon which was 4 months away. We also signed up for the Takatsuki half marathon because we had heard it was good to run one half ways through the training as marathon preparation.

To make a long story short, we downloaded a marathon training program from the internet and away we went. Because of our busy schedules we rarely trained together for the next 4 months but we finished both the half marathon and marathon together achieving very respectable times. The years following I went on to run twelve more marathons (before knee surgery) and my friend never ran another one.

So that’s my story, what’s yours? Tell us why you decided to run a marathon!



15 Comments
  1. Perry on June 14th at 9:16 am

    I started running in ’92 to tire out my new puppy when I got home from work. 15 minutes a day.

    In ’96 I ran my first 5K. I didn’t even know they existed. Then a girl who I dated in high school said she ran a marathon and suggested I might like to do it. My sister (who had run in college) also had a desire to run a marathon.

    So, we did. In 1996 we ran (and I juggled) the Chicago Marathon.

    Why? It just seemed like it would be fun.

  2. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on June 14th at 9:20 am

    My first marathon was in December of 2000. During cross country season, I had been sidelined with a stress fracture and tendonitis but had spent a lot of time in the pool, the weight room and on the bike. Towards the end of the season I was running again, but I had nothing vested in the season.

    In November 2000, I moved down to Florida for 6 months, and decided to take the level of fitness that I had and see if I could run a 3 hour marathon. I was on pace +/- 2 seconds through 17 miles, and at 20.5 I walked through a water stop and killed my time.

    In 2003, I signed up for the Maine Marathon. About 9 weeks before the race, I realized that I needed to start running again. Nine weeks just isn’t enough time.

    I got hooked, though, and have run 9 marathons in 8 states since then; I have been averaging 2 marathons per year and I don’t see that changing at any point in the near future. I just enjoy running them.

  3. Adeel on June 14th at 11:07 am

    I followed along with the Chasing Kimbia site in the fall of 2006 and that, along with a lot of young American runners like Dathan Ritzenhein running their first, made marathons exciting in a way that they hadn’t been to me.

    I was running a lot this winter anyway, and I wanted to see what it would be like to run hard for 42 km. It wasn’t a divinely-inspired decision, but the training and the race were both a lot of fun.

  4. jank on June 14th at 11:22 am

    Why? ’cause I’m a complete and total bad-@$$.

    Honestly? As an excuse to lose weight.

  5. Mark Iocchelli on June 14th at 11:23 am

    I had returned to running in a group/clinic setting. Then, everyone around me started training for half marathons and full marathons so I just followed along.

    That, and setting the goal was good divorce therapy.

  6. Bill Blank on June 14th at 11:49 am

    I ran my first marathon to test my limits, to see how much pain I could endure, to fill in holes left in my becoming-a-man process that resulted from avoiding military service during the Vietnam war, to become as strong as I could, to astrally project, to enhance my sexuality, to experience god, to transcend my body, to let go of fear, to provide a space in which to listen to the still small voice, to undo my own weak flabby body image, to become the athlete at 30 I couldn’t be at 20, to do something few others would ever come close to, to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, to meet my inner demons, to know what it’s like to plan, complete, and implement a significant project all on my own, to be cool, to figure out how my body works, to see what else was out there, to become a role model, to strengthen my intuition, to find out what they never taught us in school, to learn what it means to say, “I did it because it was there.”

  7. lisa on June 14th at 12:05 pm

    I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. Glad to say I’ve been smoke-free for over 5 years now. Working on my first marathon in November. Started as a goal a couple years back when I realized I had a hard time running a mile without stopping.

  8. txrunnergirl on June 14th at 2:36 pm

    I was never a runner in my life. I had a list of things I wanted to do before I turned 30 and run a 5K was one of them. Yep, right there in between “travel to Egypt” and “learn to surf”. I had a friend who ran a 5k the year before, while I walked it…I vowed to be able to do that the following year. And I did..then I was hooked. 3 miles turned into 4, 4 turned into 5…I had a crazy friend who was training for the Houston Marathon and when I made it to 6 miles, she said “You know, it’s only October..you should train for the 1/2 marathon!”. So, that’s what I did. I printed out a training schedule from the web and trained for and ran the Houston 1/2. In my cotton socks and t-shirt, too…no gu, no fuel belt, nothing. I was so clueless. The next year, I joined a group and trained for my 1st full. The rest is history!

  9. MrStylz on June 14th at 4:21 pm

    I ran my first marathon simply to challenge myself.

    I’ve run 10/26 years and I like goals to work towards. I always want to push myself beyond what I have already done. Next step? Ultra-marathons – why not.

  10. Jon (was) in Michigan on June 14th at 7:52 pm

    I have no idea. I tried running the first one because a friend of mine had run one. But I never made it to the start line. Then it took me a year to finally make the second one, but I barely finished.

    Can’t imagine why I’d do another. I’ll let you know.

  11. Fran on June 14th at 8:23 pm

    I wanted to run a marathon before i turned 30. It’s just one of those things in life that I wanted to cross off my to-do list. I never thought it would lead to another item of “qualifying for Boston” that would eventually be added to the list. Trying to do that before I turn 35.

  12. Steve in Maryland on June 15th at 5:29 pm

    I ran my first marathon as part of the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. I received the “wake-up call” you spoke of. I lost my 8-year-old son, Jake, to leukemia in 2001. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2003 in his honor. I am still running and have completed seven marathons, all for him (and for me. I found running to be good for grief therapy).

  13. Jeanne on June 15th at 6:35 pm

    Because for three years beforehand, I had to walk with a cane due to a debilitating back illness. Once the PT told me “You’ll never run,” well, that was that.

    then a friend told me about gallowalking, and yep, that’s how i finished the first one.

    I was the fat kid who was always picked last for all the school teams.

    I had something to prove to myself, and I proved it.

    go me!

  14. eliza on June 18th at 3:47 pm

    My dad used to take me to watch the annual marathon in my hometown, and I noticed how much they impressed him. He told me that marathoners are very special people, because there’s no faking it, no getting lucky, no cutting corners and no coasting on someone else’s hard work or talent — they either finish or they don’t. That impressed me too, and I wanted to honor my dad for teaching me about real achievements by pushing myself toward the ultimate goal. It brought us closer and made me a runner for life!

  15. sarah on June 19th at 8:45 pm

    Because it was there, basically. I just wanted to see if I could finish. It still feels awesome to think that I did.

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