Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's Behind Career Achievers' Love of Marathons? (Fortune)

Laura Vanderkam of Fortune Magazine wrote an interesting article that looks at the correlation of marathon and triathlon participation and high income households. Some interesting tidbits:
  • The number of U.S. marathon finishers increased from just shy of 300,000 in 2000 to 525,000 in 2011, according to USA Marathon. Roughly 2.5 million people participated in a triathlon in 2011, a huge leap from just under 1.5 million in 2008, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
  • In 2006, Mary Wittenberg, CEO of New York Road Runners (which stages the ING New York City Marathon) told the New York Times that her average runner's household income was $130,000. USA Triathlon says the average triathlete's household income is $126,000. (the Ironman guys once told me that the average regular Ironman athlete spends $22,000/year on the sport)
  • Studies have shown that pulling rats off of high exercise routines shows symptoms similar to drug withdrawal. 
Healthy? Not healthy? The article explores a lot, and concludes that as long as you have an identity outside of sports, you're likely okay. Definitely worth a read!


  1. I don't agree with a lot of what this article had to say.

    For one thing, I don't think a paycheck always shows how driven someone is. I work for a shitty company and in this enconomy, I'm unfortunately not going anywhere. My husband works at the same company. We both have graduate degrees, are motivated, are runners - working on our first marathon... but together we don't even make six figures and never will if we stay here.

    Also really disagree with this comment:
    When people become really extreme, they do get into this addictive pattern," says Kanarek. "If they're running when it's snowing, or doing ultras -- running 100 miles through Death Valley -- there's something else going on there."

    I'm sorry - how does snow and running an ultra = really extreme? Especially snow - sure a lot of people think marathon's and anything above that are just "insane" but snow? Running in snow? Seriously? ...

    What is "going on there" is that we ENJOY running... what is wrong with that? I have plans to do ultras one day ~ maybe not death valley but still ~ I don't consider myself extreme, just enjoying a sport I love!

    I consider it extreme to sit on your fat butt day after day doing nothing but watching TV - maybe she should analyze that lifestyle instead :)

  2. Interesting article. I'd think there would be correlations to education and amount of free time as well. Probably easier for a wealthy person with servants to train for a triathlon than a single working parent. Chris Kelley - Framingham.

  3. Too much armchair psychology for this Ph.D


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