Saturday, October 25, 2014

Agon and the Reason Why Endurance Athletes Participate in Sports

Why Did You Start Running?

I run half marathons because running is fun!

by Kathleen Lisson

I was at a party the other night and the conversation turned to weight loss. The two women I was talking to both mentioned that they were going to start running to lose weight that they had gained since turning 30 years old. 

Thinking about this conversation after I left the party, I wondered how many adults start running simply because it looks like fun. 

I started running in high school because a friend asked me to join the Cross Country team. I kept on running on and off for the next twenty years because it was fun. I run here in San Diego because of the way a good run makes me feel.


  • I feel sweaty and joyful and good when I'm running and after I run. 
  • I feel strong when I get to the top of a hill or practice speedwork, even though I am tired at the end. 
  • I enjoy planning for races and running in groups. 
  • I feel happy and connected when I am around other runners who share my passion for the sport. 
  • If a sore muscle stops my running for even a day, I feel somber and look forward to getting healthy and being able to run again. 


According to Wikipedia, Agon refers to an athletic contest. French intellectual Roger Callois put forth a theory that Agon is one of four types of play in which human beings engage. 

One of the important aspects of play is that it is not obligatory. After all, if we 'have to' play, is it really playing anymore, or is it a job? 

By not tying play to a goal that I 'must' do, like losing weight, I am able to bring a joyful attitude to my workouts. Yes, I do train for competition, but I voluntarily sign up for races. I do not 'have to' race. 

Why did you start and why do you continue running? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter at @kathleenlisson

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