A sophomore at Charlotte’s Ardrey Kell High School, Alana Hadley is 5 feet 5 inches and 110 pounds, with a resting heart rate of 50 beats a minute and a preference for pink and purple T-shirts. She consumes about 5,000 calories a day. Her parents’ grocery bill is enormous.
She also happens to be the top 16-year-old long-distance runner in the country.
High school sophomores do not tackle marathons. They do not run 110 miles a week. They do not get up at 5 a.m. for five-mile jogs to supplement their afternoon training.
Not everyone is a fan of her precocious path. She heard from critics when she revealed that she was logging 55 miles a week at 13, and now that her workload has doubled, the chorus has grown louder: should a teenager be running so much, so soon?
No less an eminence than Bernard Lagat, the Olympic 1,500-meter medalist, voiced his concern during an exchange with Hadley on Twitter last year. Lagat, 38, who is an advocate of rest and moderation, pointed out that her mileage exceeded even his own.
Hadley’s approach, though unorthodox, is not without precedent. In 1984, Cathy O’Brien competed in the United States Olympic marathon trials at 16 and placed ninth, finishing in 2:34:24. O’Brien said she ran about 60 miles a week during training. By the time she qualified for the Olympics in 1988 and again in 1992, she was logging more than 100 miles a week.
“I know what it’s like to have people be critical,” O’Brien said in a telephone interview. “It’s one of those things where, who’s to say what people are capable of doing? You could make the argument that this is no different than kids who play hockey at 5 o’clock in the morning.”
Is it unreasonable for a high school runner to be running this much and training for a marathon? what is the limit that you can do as a teen runner. Keep in mind how long she has been training for as well… I’m torn personally on what to think.