Alana Hadley/How much is too much?


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.



She also happens to be the top 16-year-old long-distance runner in the country.


In other news, I was talking to some other runners about this on my run this morning. I predicted she would have a hard time breaking 3 and it looks like I was right (she finished in 2:58). She ate it hard after the halfway point according to her splits. I guess a 16 year old can’t just come out of nowhere in her first marathon and run an olympic A or B standard. Imagine that!

Let’s answer your burning question:

Is it unreasonable for a high school runner to be running this much and training for a marathon?


This shouldn’t require too much head scratching.


Think of it this way. Human bodies are not meant to run marathons in the first place. Now imagine said body is a developing teenager who more than likely does not get enough rest. I’d imagine the answer is no.


Apparently she only “ate it” due to a hamstring pull resulting from tripping in a ditch.


110 miles a week jesus christ… I read about her in Running times a few years ago when she was running around 60miles which was still pretty crazy for her age, but I thought to myself, maybe that is just something that will work for her(The female Cam Levins at a much younger age).

Really 110 miles seems to be way too much even if she has worked up to it over the last 3-4 years. And to be running 110Miles as a female and to only run 2:58 isn’t that impressive even accounting for her age and inexperience. Her father used to be her coach is he still doing that? I think he is crazy… What is even the benefit of racing a Marathon at that age???

The marathon will burn her out, ruin her developing body, she won’t win any prize money, she won’t have experience at race distances that she could get a full scholorship for(or the PB’s), and so on. She actually had very good times on the road for like 5k and 8k a few years ago she should be developing speed imo and doing qaulity work not a pile of miles.

Mostly the number 110 Miles and 16 year old girl just don’t add up in my head.


Technically, the human body was made for long distance running. That’s why we sweat, run/walk on two legs, and can’t run very fast sprints when compared to other animals. We wouldn’t have survived as a species if it wasn’t for our above average endurance.


^^ While this is true, the human body wasn’t made to race 26.2Miles on hard pavement.


True, and that’s while I’ll stick to track:D


hahah and thats what Hadley should be running on too, a track. She should be running 1600-5k atleast until her last few years of college. Nothing is wrong with the odd road race but why is her dad trying to push a road racing career at the age of 16.

Putting all these miles in is crazy. I can’t think of a single marathoner that didn’t start out on a track running respectable times before increasing mileage and race distances. Even the Africans that just suddenly appear on the world marathon scene have some awesome track times.

It is going to be hard for her to gain speed at an older age, even more so after putting in years of 100+ mile weeks. Makes way more sense to hone it while she is still young imo.


Maybe what she’s doing is too much. Maybe it isn’t. We’ll all have to wait and see. I’d rather have the balls like her to go for it starting at a young age instead of just being some other no name 16 yo 30mpw runner. I respect what she’s doing. That’s how great things are accomplished. Just ask Gerry Lingren.


I can agree with that but only to a certain extent. First of all she is female not a male. Big difference in developement during teenage years. Of course you are right and none of us will truly know how this is going to turn out until we see the end result. My own opinion is that it won’t work out.


Incorrect. Our athletic ability is nothing compared to our intelligence. That is why our species survived, nothing related to our overly exaggerated endurance.


Unlike on the sub-4 thread. I categorically and absolutely agree with Maul here. This is insanity and borders on child abuse.

Why Why Why?

So you can get in the Times?

This sucks because she clearly has talent and desire. Too bad we;ll never know how good she could be.

P.S. Cathy O’Brien was a superstar high school (and I believe college runner) at normal hs distances. What has this kid done at 5K or 10 K for instance.


16:5x and 34:5x I believe


Yes, our intelligence is the biggest component of our survival, however our endurance was necessary to get past the hunter-gatherer stage of humanity. Watch this. It’s quite interesting.


Yes, because Lindgren had such a great post-collegiate career.

He’s also not anyone’s Exhibit A for general psychological wellbeing.


Like Maul said, we weren’t designed to race 26.2 miles, although I’d argue that the surface, whether it’s pavement, cross country, track, or whatever, isn’t relevant. We weren’t designed to race 26.2 miles period. We were designed to migrate and such, not race.


Here is Mark Hadley’s training website:

Actually some pretty good stuff in there


While I respect her for having the motivation to be out running 110 miles a week, it is still definitely too much for a high school girl. I don’t care how “slowly” her father says she built up to this. There’s no reason she couldn’t be seeing some similar results at a lower mileage.


^ Yeah and I wouldn’t consider going from 55Miles to 110 in 3 years time for a 13 to 16 year old female “slow” either. I could see her being at 80Miles or something even that much is pretty crazy in my mind.

Looking over his training website his philosophy is quite good in his workouts page he clearly likes the “stamina” category which is fine for a marathon program. However the strength training isn’t very good or in-depth imo… Other than that I think his program is good, if individualized for each athlete. In his daughters case I just can’t fathom how he would think 110miles is good though, but maybe it is something that will work out for her(I Doubt). Like 99% of other people would crumble from that work load at that age…

The training is probably taking a major toll on her mentally and physically…