What makes Johnny run?

John doesn’t think of himself as a jock or as a particularly passionate man… but he could have fooled me on both score


At 49, he is in the 9thof 13 weeks of training for his first marathon. He figures that by race time he would have clocked 650 training miles.

I don’t even like driving that far.

What makes a man devote so many hours and so much energy to such a project.  What, I wondered, makes Johnny run?

He tried to explain, over breakfast. His eyes dance with excitement, determination and.. . and passion.

“Running is what I do for myself,” he said. A casual 5k runner for the past 5 years, he see his upcoming 26 mile marathon as the “supreme endurance test” for himself

John is a man… so alive and with a dream.


He smiles and says, “My fantasy was that I could erase years… 50 sounds so old… by running a marathon.”


I can understand that thinking.

Are you also guilty of attempting to defy some birthday with some new accomplishment or new acquisition?

When he turned 42, John said he had celebrated the beginning of his middle crises…” in style.” He bought a sports car, because he saw it as a symbol of youth and vitality.

“Then, when I discovered the runner’s high and the joy of using the power of my body, I no longer needed the car.

Besides…” he explained, with a straight face, “running is much safer.”


He preaches the virtues of his new passion. “Before I started running, my cholesterol was over  350.” (Normal is between 150 and 300). He says his stress symptoms have disappeared, his weight has stabilized and his body feels in balance.


“Finishing the marathon will just be a symbol. Win or lose,” he  says, “ this will be a banner year for me.”



 Whatever your passion, living passionately requires guts and determination. 


**(This was first printed as part of my syndicated column in the DAILY PILOT,  in 1983.)

POST SCRIPT: IT’S MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS SINCE JOHN COMPLETED THAT MARATHON. John continues to live his life with determination. He is at an enviable weight and his cholesterol remains normal.



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