- May 15, 2023
Antar Johnson, if you follow him the smile says it all as he is a man living his best life through running. Even if you’re not into running he inspires us to do our best to simply be happy each day. We only have one life so why not make the best of it and make sure to smile each day to live with purpose. Antar Johnson is a prime example of just that as he shows us how he carries that over into running and how he’s also used that to tackle all 6 world marathon majors.
MSM: Let’s go all the way back to the beginning before the marathons before the running. We all have that moment in our lives when fitness becomes a lifestyle. It’s usually because of something that is life changing. For me I like to call it a fork in the road where we have a choice to either continue the side of an unhealthy lifestyle or become more aware of the self-care that it takes to become better both mentally and physically. What was this moment like for you and when did you know it was time to make a change?
Antar: I realized I would have to change my lifestyle after having a physical shortly after my 45th birthday. My doctor told me I would need to start taking blood pressure medicine with my sedentary job and epicurean lifestyle. He said to me once I started taking this medicine, I would be on it for the rest of my life. The doctor also told me that if I exercised four times a week, I should not have to be on blood pressure medicine. Additionally, I would decrease my chances of developing hereditary diseases such as diabetes and congestive heart failure. The doctor told me the choice was mine. That day, I left the doctor's office knowing I would not fill that prescription for blood pressure medication. Instead, I was going to change my life, start being more proactive about my health, and become physically active. However, it took me a while to figure out that my activity of choice would be running.
MSM: YOU are now a 6-star World Major marathon finisher. For those that may not know this is indeed a big and major flex in the run game and it’s not something that many achieve. The World Marathon Majors consist of Berlin, Chicago, Tokyo, NYC, London & Boston, 6 races spanning 4 different countries. Let’s get into how you got into marathoning. To run a marathon is not something you just do. It usually starts with an inquiry then explodes. What made you want to tackle the marathon?
Antar: I recall watching the New York City Marathon several times while in college, thinking that was something I'd like to do one day but probably never could. Becoming a marathoner was a gradual transition for me. I went from doing extreme home cardio workout programs to running obstacle and mud races. None of these races were longer than a 10k. Eventually, I had an epiphany that what I really liked about obstacle racing was running and not crawling through mud and barbwire. I started with 10k's and quickly moved on to the popular DC and Virginia 10-mile races. I moved on from obstacle and mud races to run my first half marathon, the DC Rock & Roll Half.
During that race, I remember seeing a sign near the end of the half marathon race. The poster was located near a course fork and addressed the racers, marathoners and half marathoners, instructing them about the race split ahead. The sign read, "Are you full or half crazy?" I tried to laugh when I saw the sign, but it was near the 11-mile, and I felt like I was dying. I thought, “I am barely going to be able to complete this half marathon; I'll never be able to choose the other path and become a full crazy, a marathoner.” At the time, I thought I reached my maximum potential as a runner. I did not know how to build up my endurance to run past the 13.1 distance. Eventually, I was asked by a mentor who knew I did a lot of running how many marathons I had run. Embarrassed, I had to tell him I had not run a marathon before, only a few half marathons. At that moment, I told him I would run a marathon before my next birthday. I was 47 at that time and only had six months before my next birthday. I learned organically, through trial and error, how to train for a marathon. I trained by myself, logged my miles on my running app, and kept increasing my frequency of runs and the distance. One week before my 48th birthday, I completed the Delaware Coastal Marathon, my first 26.2-mile race.
MSM: There are marathons and then there are majors which have a different vibe all together. Take us through the feelings of running that first world major and crossing the finish on the last one. Also, when did you know that you wanted to capture all 6 marathon majors?
Antar: A few of my friends who are go-getters, highly motivated, and achievers are runners, some of whom had already started their journey to Six Stars by the time I completed my first marathon. I did not feel I was ready or worthy to run with them in the World Marathon Majors (WMM), so I continued to train and run in Washington, DC, in races such as the Marine Corps Marathon. After running the Marine Corps Marathon and running under the course's time limits, I learned about myself and running.
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