Paavo Nurmi was born on June 13, 1897 at Turku, Finland. He always liked running with his friends, mostly for long distances. By the age of 11, he was able to run the 1500 m in 5:02 mins. He had to leave school at the age of 12 to work in order to support his family. His first job was being an errand boy in a local bakery. His next job was pushing carts up the steep slopes in Turku. Although he stopped running, but regularly pushing weights helped him strengthen his back and leg muscles. He was inspired by Finnish runner Hannes Kolehmainen, and joined the sports club Turun Urheiluliitto as a pass time.
His ambition was to run at the Olympics but till then he earned money for his family by working at the Ahlberg & Co. Workshop in his neighborhood. Next he joined the Finnish Army where he got appreciation for his abilities. With more time for his training, Nurmi started setting faster times with each new day. In May 1920, he set a national record in the 3,000m.