5 Important Traits Of A Marathon Runner


By Kirsten Cowart

Back in 2014, Glenn Geher Ph.D. ran a marathon in the coastal New Hampshire area. As a research psychologist, he compiled some fascinating traits of marathon runners that he learned from the painful and difficult journey of running his 8th marathon.

Whether or not you are a runner, there are valuable lessons that we can all learn from his experience.

Here are the 5 lessons he shared about the psychological effects of marathoning:

1. Marathoners are task-oriented in life.

People come from many different backgrounds and have many different perspectives in life, but something that marathon runners have in common is that they are ‘task-oriented.’

People who are focused on tasks rather than time or relationships are primarily motivated to complete their goals. For example, if your 5 pm whistle blows and you are time oriented, then you will say to yourself, “I will finish up my work tomorrow.” If you are task oriented, then you are likely to keep working until your task is finished, no matter how long it takes.

2. Marathoners show all the signs of conscientiousness.

Conscientiousness is a trait characterized by showing a strong tendency to be reliable and diligent; conscientious people tend to keep things on task and organized. If you are low in conscientiousness, then you tend to be generally disorganized, whereas if you are high in it, then you are often hyper-organized. Good or bad, marathon runners have a tendency to be high in conscientiousness.

3. Being a marathoner demonstrates a lot to yourself and others.

There are many behaviors that you have in life that demonstrate who you are to yourself and others (see Miller, 2000). Running 26.2 miles at one time is an incredibly difficult challenge that demonstrates many specific qualities. When you complete a marathon, you show yourself and others your incredible levels of dedication, time and energy management, self-sacrifice and more.

4. Marathoning allows extreme people to connect with people just like them.

Just like all extreme activities, marathoning attracts a specific crowd of people. What is awesome about doing an extreme activity is that it will attract people who are very similar to you. For example, skydiving is probably going to attract people who are similar in mindset, perception and taste for adrenaline.

Marathon running is an extraordinary example of camaraderie. This highly social activity helps you find friends in pretty much anyone running at the same pace as you are.

5. Marathon running betrays the natural human tendency to never be satisfied.

The passion that drives you is at the core of who you are. If a person is satisfied, then he/she is not likely to push harder or seek more. Conversely, if you aren’t satisfied with life or this world, then you are likely to push hard in order to satisfy those needs.

This is how we and many animals evolved as a species. Dogs will often work very hard to get the praise of their owner or to get a yummy treat. If you have a Buddha-like mentality, then being satisfied is already at the core of your being and the passion of wanting change doesn’t motivate you (see Hill & Buss, 2007).

When you complete a marathon, it is satisfying. You get a medal, you make friends and you get the internal satisfaction of knowing that you completed something extraordinary.

Even though Glenn Geher has run 9 marathons, he will say “that’s enough for me” after each one. So even though he is satisfied, something deep down motivates him to do it again. This probably means that the satisfaction of running a marathon is short lived.

Have you ever run a marathon or know someone who has? Did you feel that Glenn’s analysis was correct? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.



Arana, J. M.; Chambel, M. J.; Curral, L.; Tabernero, C. (2009). The role of task-oriented versus relationship-oriented leadership on normative contract and group performance.Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 37 (10): 1391

Hill, S. E. & Buss, D. M. (2007). Evolutionary theories of subjective well being. M. Eid & R. Larsen (Eds.) The Science of Subjective Well-Being (pp. 62-79). Guilford: New York.

Miller G. F. (2000). The mating mind: How sexual choice shaped the evolution of human nature. London, Heineman.

Nettle, D., & Clegg, H. (2008). Personality, mating strategies, and mating intelligence. In G. Geher & G. F. Miller (Eds.), Mating intelligence: Sex, relationships, and the mind’s reproductive system. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Tversky, A. (1977). Features of similarity. Psychological Review, 84 (4), 327–352


Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201510/5-psychological-lessons-marathon-runninglleader_34 (1)

Kirsten Campbell
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Kirsten Campbell

Kirsten Cowart is a writer and researcher that has worked in the spiritual, mental health and medical fields.Kirsten enjoys studying and experiencing the benefits of yoga, meditation, nutrition, herbalism, organic gardening and alternative health.She worked hard in 2014 losing over 40 lbs. and has since maintained a healthy lifestyle.Follow her to learn more about her journey on Twitter, Facebook & Youtube!
Kirsten Campbell
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