My name is Brooks Wheelan, I’m a comedian, and about three months ago I bet my friend $500 I could run a solo marathon with no training under four and a half hours. Two days later, slightly hungover, I jogged out my front door and did it. I ran my marathon in 4 hours 16 minutes and 20 seconds and was paid $500. End of story? Nope.

Getting Started

I’m four weeks in and I have a long way to go toward my 3-hour and 30-minute marathon goal. I had to take five months off from running after I hurt myself with the initial marathon, and when you combine that with pandemic-eating and -drinking, it makes for one unhealthy idiot. But I will say that my training plan has really helped hold me accountable to my goal—I just finished the “preconditioning” cycle of my 12-week plan. The final run of that training was 11 miles and I did it on my initial marathon pace, and there is no way I could have gone another 15 miles! Not ideal, you guys.

The road ahead

I’m not there yet, but I am proud of the recovery I’ve made from the IT band syndrome and the fact that I have not missed a single day of running. When I signed up for six days a week of running, I didn’t think about how my life is not normal at all right now. I would even say it’s chaotic. My job as a comedian is to bring crowds of people together and make them laugh (i.e. spew particles into the air). Well, that job doesn’t exist right now. So I’ve been using my time to go camping around the West. When I’m camping, I usually give myself a break from working out to drink some beers with friends, but no breaks are given with this app! 

That means waking up at sunrise while camping in Saguaro National Park so I could run while temperatures were still only in the high 90s. It also means I went for a few runs while camping in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park which sits at a nice and comfortable elevation of 8,600 feet. But if I’m being honest, I would say those have been my favorite runs of these four weeks though. The “I would never be doing this if I didn’t have to”-runs. Those are the miles you can really be proud of.

Life is chaotic

Not only is my life chaotic right now—so is the world we live in. There was an entire week that Los Angeles was filled with smoke. I had to literally brush ashes off of my car before I drove it. The air quality was so bad that news anchors recommended not walking your dogs. But I gotta run a 3:30 marathon, meteorologist Dallas Raines from Channel 7! (Real dude, check him out.) So while dogs had the day off, I was putting on my mask and heading out for a jog. I will say I enjoyed those less than the National Park runs, but they got done.

Going into this, I knew that if I was going to actually run this marathon under 3:30 and not injure myself in the process I needed to change two things. First, I needed to stretch before and after running. I’ve been doing that and it’s been incredible. I stretch for 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after. I haven’t had a single IT band syndrome inflammation creep up which has been awesome. The second thing I needed to change was my diet. Well, this has been a big fat “nope” so far. I keep lying to myself about it. Saying I’ll just buckle up the last four weeks. I’m not a nutritionist but I doubt that’s how you get healthy. If your doctor said, “Eat and drink literally anything you want for 11 months, then buckle up for 1.”—get a new doctor! That’s what I’m going to focus on for the next month. Maybe we didn’t need 10 beers to watch election night coverage, well, maybe we did. I’m going to give myself (and you) a pass for that one. But maybe not 10 beers for Sunday football. Yeah, that’s an easier and more believable goal.

I’ll check back in with everyone in four weeks and let you know what’s going on. We’ll only be one month out at that time and if I’m still in the shape I am today… we are not looking good. But I’m confident I’m going to be in much better shape. The progress I’ve made in the first four weeks has honestly been incredible. So if I see those types of gains in the next four weeks we might be looking realistically at a 3 hour and 30-minute marathon. Follow my progress and hold me accountable. Running that dumb marathon on a bet and hurting myself turned out to be one of the best/worst ideas I’ve ever had. I’m a professional athlete now!

Follow his journey and train with Brooks in the Runkeeper app.