Runner Faces Unusual Hurdles in Quest for Sub 3:00 Marathon


Stephen Eubanks is a typical 2L Coaching client in many ways: he took up running later in life, got himself started and ran some races, and wanted to take his training to a new level with the help of his coach. What makes his quest for personal bests unusual is the fact that he used to weigh nearly two hundred pounds more just three years ago.

In July of 2004, Steve weighed 325 pounds as he prepared for gastric bypass surgery, performed in Philadelphia by Temple University Hospital. Unlike many patients who undergo this procedure to help lose drastic amounts of weight, Steve did not expect it to be a magic pill that would cure his weight problem forever. He resolved to work as hard as he could to use the boost that the surgery offered to change his lifestyle. Within two weeks he was actively moving around, and four weeks later he was vigorously walking and gradually transitioned that to running.

As the pounds rapidly came off, Steve trained more and began to focus his training with the goal of completing a marathon, which he sucessfully did in November of 2005 finishing in 4:08. By then, he had dropped his weight down to the mid 140s where he has remained since. But that time did not satisfy his thirst for improvement, and he has resolved to push his times down and has the ulitimate goal of running under 3 hours for a marathon

Anyone who has trained for the marathon knows that the buildup is very challenging, and the 26.2 mile distance itself even more of challenge. People like Steve who have undergone bypass surgery, face special challenges in training and the race itself. With a shortened intestine, the surgery makes it difficult to store glycogen, the fuel that gets runners through the first twenty miles of the marathon. There are also problems absorbing iron, a critical element for training that allows the body to transport oxygen to the muscles for them to work and create movement. These obstacles have not detered Steve. Instead, he has made modifications to his intake of calories during training runs and races to make up for the calories that normal people can store.

For many people, the progress that Steve has made would be considered more than enough and they would rest on those accomplishments. But Steve continues to press on at the age of 51, chasing personal bests and working towards his ultimate goal of a sub three hour marathon, along with the guildance and support of his coach Lowell Ladd.