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 hour 16 minutes and 20 seconds and was paid $500. End of story? Nope.
The day after
When I woke up the day after I ran my marathon it felt like someone had snuck in my bedroom and beat my legs with an aluminum bat. But I hobbled around and just laughed it off. I had 500 of my best friend’s dollars. Sore legs are totally worth that. I figured I’d rest a few days then get back to my normal running routine of around nine slow miles a week. Well, that didn’t happen at all.
I’m writing this after getting back to my apartment in Los Angeles from my first physical therapy appointment. I’ve been limping around for THREE MONTHS, too proud to admit I destroyed myself on that marathon. To give myself some credit, I didn’t want to go to a hospital during the coronavirus pandemic because of a self-inflicted injury. After talking with the physical therapist today, it turns out I gave myself a severe case of iliotibial band syndrome. For those who have never heard of it (me), it is described on Google as an overuse injury of the connective tissues that are located on the outer thigh and knee. What that actually means is when I try jogging it feels like there’s a knife in my leg. It’s not ideal.
I hate that I haven’t been able to run. I’ve enjoyed distance running my entire life. But the sad part is I’ve always been very average. Except for one time, when I don’t know what happened, but I was kinda good. On an October day in 2004 the gods smiled on my unathletic body. As a junior in high school, I ran a 17 minute and 30 second 5K and won a JV cross country race. That’s a 5 minute 39 second minute average and fully 4 minutes better than my previous personal best. My coach was blown away and I got bumped up to Varsity where I never ran below a 20 minute 5K again. I’ve continued to run casually ever since, but sadly that JV race has remained the peak of my running career.
What if I actually trained properly?
I used the ASICS Runkeeper™ app to track my progress for the marathon. I’ve been using it since 2010 because I like to see progress and regression. I usually just run three miles at a time sporadically throughout the week. Some months I get in the groove and can run under 22 minutes and some months I slack off and it climbs to 26 minutes. And now I just was forced (by stupid iliotibial band syndrome) to take three months off completely.
My marathon was picked up by several news outlets because during the quarantine people were accepting average feats of athleticism as entertainment. ASICS Digital reached out since I gave the Runkeeper app credit in a few interviews and we started discussing: “What if I actually trained properly?” At the very least my thought is, “I won’t break my legs like last time.” And at best my thought is, “What if I’m a marathon savant?” That’s when we decided to team up and put me through a 12-week training course offered in the app then repeat the marathon.
My goal is to run a solo marathon UNDER 3 hours and 30 minutes. That’s cutting 45 minutes off my last time. I know that’s insane, but so was running a marathon with no training. I love a goal and under fun pressure I feel like I can achieve it. Now as a 33-year-old man, I can hopefully beat the peak I set in my running life 16 years ago during a JV race on a golf course in Dyersville, Iowa. All I have to do is follow an app and hold myself accountable, which is definitely going to be harder than I think.
Follow his journey and train with Brooks in the Runkeeper app.