If you’re like most people, you dreaded running the mile back in eighth grade PE. You cringe at the thought of waking up early to get some kilometers in before the start of the school day. The idea of running a marathon- that’s 26.2 miles- is nearly unfathomable.
Eleanor Paul (12), a two-time marathoner, is clearly not like most people.
At age 17, she’s managed to do what most don’t accomplish over the course of a lifetime- twice! More surprisingly, she’s never even been on a cross-country or track team. Eleanor started running casually with her family in December 2018, and hasn’t looked back since. Though she originally intended to start her career with a 5k (3 miles), she soon realized that she was capable of pushing herself a bit further. After making a spontaneous decision to run a half-marathon, she chose to go all the way. Just three months later, she’d run her very first full marathon in under five hours.
Eleanor is currently training for her third major race, the LA Marathon, which will take place on March 8th. The course stretches from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica.
I asked her how she finds balance between distance training and being a full-time student. Her schedule is demanding: runs can last anywhere between 45 minutes and 3 hours, sometimes both before and after school. When it seems hard to continue, her love for running carries her forward.
“For me, running is a release,” she said. “It’s a special time of the day when I can truly clear my head and feel refreshed.”
This work ethic carries over to her studies. She is fluent in Spanish and French, and plans to study Culture & Media and Global Affairs at The New School in NYC.
However, her road to athletic success hasn’t always been as easy as she makes it look. Eleanor has faced her fair share of challenges; in November 2019, she was diagnosed with epilepsy, a neurological disorder that causes seizures. The side effects of the medication that she takes include drowsiness and muscle soreness- two conditions that obviously have an adverse impact on a long-distance runner.
Nevertheless, she perseveres with an outlook that is admirably positive.
“Having epilepsy has made me more grateful. It has taught me to appreciate the highs when running is going well and it has given me a better attitude to deal with the lows when running is not going my way.”
No matter how she places on race day, it’s abundantly clear that with such positivity, Eleanor will find success in whatever she does.