16 year old marathoner Alana Hadley opts for the road less travelled

Alana Hadley, in just her second marathon, executed like a veteran and secured an Olympic Trials berth. (Photos courtesy of the Hadley family)

According to the Track and Field News all-time lists Alana's performance was the #5 all-time by a U.S. Junior Runner (age 19 and under) and fastest since 1984 when Cathy O'Brien set the current record of 2:34.24.

MileSplit - You had some difficulty in your first marathon attempt last Spring. What adjustments did you make, if any, this time around?

Alana - I didn't really do too much different training wise when preparing for this marathon compared to the last one just a few small tweaks.  However I was definitely in better shape and feel as though I was much more mentally prepared for the Indianapolis marathon as I had the experience and knowledge gained from my first marathon.

MileSplit - What is the marathon training like for a 16 year old that allows you to remain healthy but capable of running such a great time?

Alana - Marathon training for me is just like marathon training for an elite runner, just because I’m 16 doesn’t make me inexperienced in training as I have been running for 10 years now.  I don’t overdo my training and make sure that I am doing the little things I need to insure that my legs and body have fully recovered between runs, so that I remain healthy and injury free.

MileSplit - Were you surprised with your performance at the Indianapolis Marathon after just two attempts at the distance? 

Alana - I was slightly shocked, mostly in happiness, after I crossed the finish line because I had to process the fact that I had accomplished a goal that was very important to me.  However I knew that had done the proper work physically and mentally to excel in the marathon distance, so I was confident going into the race that I could succeed if I was able to put 100% effort into the race, even if it was only the second time I had done a marathon.

MileSplit - What got you into running competitively on the roads rather than on the track and XC course?

Alana - I started out running on the roads so that is where I have always felt the most comfortable.  My first race was a local 5k on the roads when I was 6 and I kept running races mainly on the road until around 7th grade.  The running on the road is what got my passion for running started and I probably always will love it more than running on a track or a cross country course.

MileSplit - It must be very exciting to be able to compete directly with professionals at such a young age. Who have you met and has anyone given you any advice?

Alana - I have had the privilege of meeting many professionals at different races; some include Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, Paula Radcliffe, Shannon Rowbury, Evan Jager, Matt Tegenkamp, and my personal favorite Joan Benoit Samuelson.  Many have given the advice of following my dreams and to keep up training smart and to keep up my passion for the sport, also to most importantly have fun with it.

MileSplit - It has been reported that you have accepted the prize money from some of these races you have competed in. Are you planning on continuing a professional career in running from this point forward? If so, are you excited… nervous… a little of both? 

Alana - I am planning on continuing a professional career from this point on, as I want to focus on the longer distance races, such as the half and full marathon.  I am definitely very excited about it because I am taking the steps towards making my dreams come true as I want to make a living as a professional marathon runner.

MileSplit - Who has influenced you the most so far in in your life? What do they mean to you and your success? 

Alana - My parents have definitely influenced me in my life as they have always supported me 100% in the way I have chosen to go about my running.  They have made me feel confident in taking a path not many people take.  They mean everything to me and my success and I enjoy showing them how much I appreciate their support.  Some of the runners I look up to like Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, Paula Radcliffe, and Joan Benoit Samuelson have also influenced me in my running as I have seen and heard of their dreams coming true through all the hard work they put into their running. 

MileSplit - What is your favorite past performance in any race and why? 

Alana - My favorite performance in any race is probably the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon because that is a race where I felt I almost perfectly executed my game plan going into the race.  I feel that I trained the hardest for this race out of any other as getting a trials qualifier was super important to me.  It was definitely the race where I felt the most emotional after I finished as well; I just felt such overwhelming happiness at what I had accomplished as I was crossing the line.

MileSplit - What are some of your favorite memories from traveling around to all these different road races?

Alana - Some of my favorite memories from traveling to the different road races are getting to meet all the different runners at the races as well.  Each runner has a different story and I love getting to talk with other runners and hearing about them; I have been able to meet many professionals that way.  I also love going to the different places and exploring a little with one of my parents; especially in New York City. 

MileSplit - What are your long-term goals in running?

Alana - My long term goals in running are to be able to make a living as a professional marathon runner.  I also want to be able to represent the USA in different Olympics and World Championships.