Why I Run a Marathon Every Year

Every since I ran my first marathon in the Falkland Islands in 2012, I’ve run at least one marathon per year.]

What was meant to be a one time event has become a hobby, a habit, and a passion.

It started as a one-off . . . the idea of becoming a marathon runner was something that was deeply ingrained in me.   

I’ve never had a bucket list, but something about completing a serious physical endeavour really appealed to me.

 * * * 

As with any big challenge, running a marathon takes up a lot of mental headspace.  When you’re preparing for your first marathon, the last thing you are thinking about is the possibility of running more in the future.  You just want to get through that first challenge, then you can relax.

That’s how it was for me, at least. 

But once the dust had settled – and my legs recovered – after that first event, I started to look around for more challenges.

Instead of becoming a tick box exercise – a “one and done” marathon runner – the experience taught me that I was capable of mentally and physically challenging events – and that I got some deep satisfaction from training for and completing them.

And with that, I decided to start the habit of running a marathon every year.

* * * 

Unlike other resolutions or habits, running a marathon every year doesn’t need daily practice or much willpower to complete.

It’s a long-term challenge, and when you have months to prepare for something like a marathon it gives you purpose and direction, rather than being a burden.

It’s a habit that requires me to maintain at least some minimum baseline fitness all the time, because I always know that a marathon is a few months away. 

(Having said that, after running so regularly, each subsequent year actually feels easier to achieve and less of a big deal – even if I haven’t been running so often.)

* * * 

Some years have been easy to complete, and I’ve ended up running several – sometimes dozens – of marathons, usually as part of running multi-day ultramarathons.   

Other years – like 2019 – took more effort.

I’d spent most of the year focussed on more functional fitness, and hadn’t done much distance training. 

In the end, due to other commitments and putting it off, I ended up running my 42.2km on the 30th December!

Why I Run a Marathon Every Year 1

A Habit For Life

Running a marathon each year isn’t a do-or-die commitment – it’s something I’m hoping to continue, but if some circumstances change or I can’t do it, it’s not the end of the world.

But having a long-term, slow burning habit in my life definitely helps keep me on the right path.

Each year I know at some point I’ll have to gradually rack up the miles, get into training mode again, and focus on my health for at least a few months.

It’s something I hope I carry on for decades to come.

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Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of MarathonHandbook.com. His work has been featured in Runner's World, Livestrong.com, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and playing with his two tiny kids. More at his bio.

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