From Pain to Purpose: Man with AS Runs His First Marathon


The word “marathon” has become so ubiquitous that it is almost cliché. When people hear the word, they think of their favorite reality TV show played for 12 consecutive hours on a Saturday. Maybe they think of watching all eight Harry Potter films over the course of a weekend. To some, a growing number, this word means a run that marks a milestone for themselves, their fitness, and their determination. Not too bad for a run, named after a city, named after an herb.

David Tischler may have one-upped the old fennel namesake, though. He ran his first marathon in 2016, despite his diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

AS is a variety of arthritis, which mainly affects the spine, but it may also affect joints and internal organs. David, who has been dealing with the effects of AS since high school, allowed it to control his life. He was morbidly obese from lack of exercise and proper eating habits.

All that changed one day in 2013.

He could hear his children playing outside with their mom while he was still lying in bed. Realizing he had missed a full morning by oversleeping and lost out on spending quality time with his wife and children was the metaphorical wake-up call he needed. Later that day, David got on the treadmill to begin a journey that not even he realized would become a marathon.

He couldn’t run in those early days. He was severely overweight and required daily medication for diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure. But he stuck to his resolve to take better care of himself and become healthier. He started losing the weight pretty quickly, which helped him start running. As inspiration, he participated in a number of half marathons and 5K runs for charity.

A friend convinced him to train for a full distance marathon, 26.2 miles. The two ran together every Saturday morning. When the event came, his whole family participated. His wife, Beth, did the 13.1-mile distance. His children participated in the children’s distances of 0.8 and 0.35 miles.

His inspiration extended beyond his family, too. David Tischler won the Spirit Award from the race organizers for his inspirational display of strength and perseverance. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of David’s marathon-running.

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