Here’s What A Former Running Prodigy, Now 20, Has To Say To The Haters

By Theoden Janes
The Charlotte Observer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A very thoughtful article on the consequences of posting hurtful comments on social media. While this piece is crafted through the experiences of a young marathon runner, the lessons learned are universal.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.

“I was done, I didn’t find joy in running anymore and wanted to get myself put back together. Something that my dad had shown me, a love that we shared together was utterly destroyed by a bunch of people who use their free time to destroy people and tear them down. People who are cowards and (don’t) even have the balls to post with their own name.”

These are the words of Alana Hadley, written in a blog entry she posted last Friday.

At one time, Hadley was the talk of the local running community because she was so darn young, so darn fast … and because her training was so darn unorthodox for a kid her age: By age 13, she was logging an average of 55 miles a week, winning races, rarely taking a day off, working out under the watchful eye of her father, Mark Hadley.

Alana Hadley had just turned 13, in fact, when I first met her back in 2010, while writing a front-page profile about her for the Charlotte Observer. She was still playing with Legos, still keeping dolls on a shelf in her pink bedroom, still watching “Dora the Explorer” with her then-5-year-old sister, but also beating almost every adult she’d line up against at a local 5K.

And already, there was skepticism. Most of the cynicism was some variation of this:
“When a kid has a special talent, it’s really difficult for parents to back off and to keep the right perspective because they want to push and push, and make sure their kid gets the most out of that talent,” Greg Dale, director of sports psychology and leadership programs at Duke Athletics in Durham, told me at the time. “We’ve seen many times where athletes burn out and don’t do well, and get injured, and are washed up as a result of parents pushing them way too hard.”

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