Why Run Marathon? More Than Checking Off Your Bucket List.

Does everyone have a bucket list? Not necessarily, yet the proportion may surprise you. According to a survey on over 3,000 participants across the United States by Stanford Medicine in 2015-2016, a staggering 91.2% of the participants have a bucket list!

While “Run a Marathon” is a popular bucket list item for many people, does every runner know what drives him to take his first marathon run? For me who ran my first 26.2 miles 21 years ago, I can’t recall what was on my mind in taking part of it, and I didn’t have a bucket list either.

Out of curiosity, I did some search on Google recently to see why others want to run their first marathons, finally got 3 reasons that I believe is what motivated me 21 years ago. Here they are.

Health & Fitness of The Body

Running is a popular exercise good for cardiovascular fitness, helps to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol level low, and improve your immune system. Through training for running a marathon, you can build up your muscle strength and get a better body shape.

Ever heard of the stories of gals transforming from fat to fit, or guys with asthma get relieved after running for some time? I don’t mean that running or training for a marathon is a magic potion for health problems, yet a dedicated training of several months for the race will definitely be beneficial for the body. Take a picture of yourself before and after that 4 to 6 month training, then you may be shocked to see the difference.

Well-Being for the Mind

Besides the benefits to the physical body, running is good to your mental health as well. It helps to reduce stress, clear your thought and recharge your mind. Some runners may experience a pleasant state of relax, joy or even euphoric, after running for a certain period or distance, also known as “Runner’s High”.

Prolonged period of training helps to build up your mental toughness that’s essential for the race. The benefits can last long after the race as you have built confidence to tackle something grueling and developed persistence to keep going in rough time.

Sense of Accomplishment

Finishing a marathon seems like a far-fetched goal for most people, some stats show only 0.5% of the U.S. population have run a marathon. It’s a personal challenge that make you feel good about yourself after achieving it.

There is a saying “The person who starts a marathon is not the same person who finishes a marathon.” It could be a life changing experience to set your marathon goal, ready for the sacrifice to spend time on the training, and build up your discipline to accomplish something extraordinary.

Some Other Common Reasons

Bragging or show off – is it good to show off? Read this quote: “1% of the population will run a marathon in their lifetime; it’s their obligation to talk about it so the remaining 99% will know what they are missing.” As the one of the few who cross the finish line of a marathon, don’t bother it’s bragging or show off, it’s what you deserve and your obligation too!

To socialize & make new friends – being part of a training team or running club, and to connect with fellow runners during the race is a good time for social animals like human.

Sense of belonging – running a marathon seems like a community of allies with common goals: to cross the finish line by encouraging each other to keep going when it’s tough, greet them for their success and they greet you in return, or hug each other even when your bodies are filled with sweat and tears may be.

For a greater cause – sometimes marathon races are connected with raising fund and awareness for charity, a campaign to “Run For a Cause”. Taking part in charity can be a motivator for you to join and your booster to persist towards the finish line.

Lose weight – training for a marathon is rigorous, it’s an effective way to shed some pounds from your body through seven month training for the race.

Step out of comfort zone – perhaps your life is boring, need something to beat yourself up. Marathon is right for you as it’s extremely tough and daunting.

An inspiration to others – you are a role model to your kids, direct reports, friends and those around you, why not show them anything is possible by walking your talk in things like “Running a Marathon”.

Simply enjoy the run, no special reason – seems like me in 21 years ago, there might be some hidden reasons in your subconscious that you don’t realize at the time. Never mind, and no need to push too hard to dig out, it’s fine to go for the race without a reason. Looking back some years afterwards, you might find your reasons that make sense to you.

Go Check Off Your Bucket List

Being a marathoner can be fun, as long as you enjoy running, want to be healthy and stay fit, have craving to prove yourself in something that only a minor portion of the population has accomplished. Find your own reason to sign up for the race, figure out what keeps you wake up early in the morning to go for the training, and what’s in your mind to keep going towards the finish line while your body is telling you to halt.

It’s awesome to check off the item “Run a Marathon” on your bucket list, yet most likely you will be excited to add a new item “Run Another Marathon” which continuous to stay there even it’s checked off again.

Then you might be curious what happened to me that 21 years after finishing my first race. Well… I finished 24 more and failed 4. Yes, I didn’t make it to the finish line in 4 marathons during these 21 years! That’s why every race seems like a first marathon to me, though I still don’t have a bucket list.

So, whether you’ve got a reason or not, go enjoy your “First Marathon Run”, and be proud to check off your bucket list!




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16 thoughts on “Why Run Marathon? More Than Checking Off Your Bucket List.

  1. Hey Brian, I have to be honest at my age I don’t think I’ll be running a marathon. I used to run all the time when I was younger and more energetic. My best friend that I grew up with has a son that runs marathons all the time. In fact he always runs the NYC marathon. And he always does well with them.
    I have a grandson on the way and maybe one day he’ll be running!
    Thanks for a very informative article Brian 🙂

    • Hi Rob,

      Thank you for reading my post. Running is good for health, and we read stories about running first marathon at 55 or 60. Understand you may not be targeting for a marathon, but can still run as an exercise so you can have more energy to play with your grandson in the future.

      All the best!


  2. Hi Brian, I would love to be able to run at this stage, even though I did not enjoy long distance running when I was young. I did all the other sporty stuff, but long distance was just not for me. Not I wish I could! Thanks for the great post!

    • Hi Mariette,

      Thanks for reading my article. Understand long run is not for you. Perhaps adding some brisk walking could be good to building a healthy body. All the best!


  3. I never run a Marathon in my life although more than a few times i was close in taking part. For various reasons it just didn’t happen. In my opinion if you want to take part, do it for yourself. Be it for personal health or for peace of mind or for just trying something new do it for a reason that will personally make you better. I think this is the number one reason everyone should be doing this.

    • Hi Strato,
      Thank you for leaving me your valuable comments. You were pretty close to one of your personal challenge that you will be proud of, why not consider again to take part in running your first marathon?
      Best wishes!

  4. Hi Brian,
    I was never big on running when I was younger. Even now for that matter. I used to play sports when I was younger, football, volleyball, etc. Now even if I wanted to run, my knee will not allow me to. I do however, enjoy watching marathons. I think part of me Envy’s them who do and can run. Thank you for the article.

    • Hi Tim,
      Thanks for your comments. Sad to know your knee problem on running, perhaps you can have some brisk walking or other exercise that’s good for your health.
      All the best!

  5. Hello Brian, this was a great read. I was always interested in participating in a marathon, especially since it usually be for a good cause such as ending cancer and AIDS. I love to exercise a lot, and jogging for a long period of time would be a excellent workout. I would also like to make new friends, and socialize with people with the same interests as me. Thanks again, and I wish you the best of luck with your site!!

    • Hi Ahmad,
      Thanks for your comments. Now you have your good reasons to run your first marathon, and you’ve jogging for a long period. I encourage you to take action to go for it.
      Best wishes!

  6. Great points about why marathon running is very beneficial! To be honest, I really haven’t considered marathon running much until I read you post. Very informative and encouraging to know that this could be a really awesome experience. I like the health aspects along with having a sense of accomplishment the most. Thanks!

    • Hi Jacob,
      Thanks for reading my post and give me your valuable comments. Running a marathon is a life experience, why not give yourself a chance?
      All the best!

  7. Hi Brian
    i didn’t reach that page of your post i taught you would give all these details on your about page for the marathon i finally found the reason here on this post thank you for this very informative post.

    I’ll check it again to your new post.

    • Hi Junior,
      Thanks for reading my post. You looks young and energetic, why not find your reason to run a marathon and go for it? Perhaps you will fall in love with running marathon after that.
      Best wishes!

  8. Thanks for the great article , it’s very informative for sure . i learned something you that running reduce stress and help mental health. I will try that for sure.

    • Hey Ahmed,

      Thanks for dropping by.
      Yes, running is good for mental health in reducing stress and clearing your mind, and they work best if you run in the morning. Why not try it out to see the benefits.

      Best wishes.


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