Tired Legs, Unrealistic Expectations

Let’s talk about this video.

Key points: relatively fit non-runner trains with a coach for 10 weeks and then runs a 3:30 marathon (five minutes faster than her Boston Qualifying time.)

First, major kudos to Michelle. She should be incredibly proud of the training she put in and what she achieved. It’s huge and nothing I’m about to write should demean that.

But let’s talk about what this means for other people. Because while this was a personal journey for Michelle, it’s also a Buzzfeed video, which means millions of people will likely see it.

And they could come away with some very unrealistic expectations. So just to make sure we remember…

  • 10 weeks is not a safe or healthy training time for a marathon for most people–most training programs expect anywhere from 18-30 weeks, depending on your fitness level.
  • Which is another thing: Michelle may have been a new runner, but she was already in good shape. Aerobic foundation and core strength both help a lot in running.
  • Also: Michelle had a professional coach overseeing her accelerated training. If you’re crafting a training program without that expert insight, you’ll probably struggle more.
  • This was an exception. This was not normal. This was very hard, but much faster improvement than most runners experience.
  • Oh, and in case you didn’t know: Michelle is also pretty young. Age is another advantage.

If you’re a new runner, please, please, please do not go scheduling yourself for a marathon in 10 weeks. Your experience will likely not go as well as Michelle’s did. Congratulations to her, use this as motivation, but don’t expect the same results.

I’m going to go run my 10 minute miles now, which are still normal even though I’m on the 7th week of training.

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