For some, learning to run a marathon may be a New Year’s resolution. For others, learning to run a marathon will be part of their class this spring.
Assistant professor of exercise science Brandon Dykstra will be teaching an experimental course that will end with students running a marathon.
Much of the classroom component will be the same as the basic KIN 100 class, Fitness for Life, that Dykstra teaches, but there will be an additional component of learning to run a marathon.
“Implementing the marathon in class initially sort of came as this idea, ‘Oh, it’s fun to run, and it'd be fun to have a group that runs,’” said Dykstra.
Right now, there are two main reasons not every Taylor student may be able to take the course.
First there is a fee, and this doesn’t look like it will change much in the future. Because the class ends with everyone running in a marathon, students pay a fee that covers transportation, lodging and registering for the race itself.
While Dykstra said the $200-sum fee won’t go down much in the future, it is not too bad. given that anyone who wants to race in a marathon by themselves would end up paying about the same price anyway.
The other issue shouldn’t be one for long. Even though the class is “experimental,” meaning the school is not sure whether they will teach it again, Dykstra is hopeful that Taylor will want to offer it every spring. After he sees how this spring semester goes, he will make a formal proposal to submit to administration.
Dykstra is confident that it can work well, because he has seen it run successfully at other schools.
“I actually got the idea when I was a graduate student at Ball State, in the human performance lab,” said Dykstra. “And not when I was there but several years ago, they did a marathon class, and so they still kind of talked about it, and they published research articles based on that class. And I believe they got the idea from a gentleman at Northern Iowa.”
While the roots of this class are research based, Dykstra has a different vision for the class. He said that in the future, he may come up with some projects that could be done around the class, but right now, he wants to just teach it as a class.
This semester, every one of the 15 slots in the class have been taken, some of them by kinesiology students, but none by marathon runners.
For those non-marathon runners, a marathon may seem like a very big endeavour, but Dykstra designed the course so that non-runners could take it and succeed. Unless a student gets injured or has other extreme circumstances, they are required to run the marathon at the end.
“As thrilling as aerobic walking sounded, I thought that being able to say I ran a marathon at the end of the semester was more my thing,” said junior Kim Ferrell, a student who signed up for the class. “I’ve only ever run a few miles at a time for my own workouts, but the whole point of the class is to train us. We get an entire semester to work our way up to running 26 miles.”
Dykstra believes that most people can run a marathon, they just need good training and the willingness to put in the work.
Running is the goal of the class, and Dykstra will be doing a lot of the training on that end, but he will be bringing in some faculty to talk to the students about how they do endurance sports and what that means to them.
Dykstra said not only is running good for us, but as God’s creation we can bring him glory as we run and use our physical bodies as well as possible.
He hopes that the class will take off and engage many students well.
“Running a marathon, specifically, is something that for most individuals is an extremely challenging endeavor to train for, but it's something that frankly, I think 99% of people can do physically.” Dykstra said. “They just have to work at, be committed to it, discipline (and) train.”