Change through challenge: the university course in running a marathon

Bobby Maximus, a strength coach and author, says it takes 130 hours to build a base level of fitness. He developed this idea through training high-performance individuals to achieve impressive feats of strength and conditioning. In his book, The Maximus body, he provides two examples of how one hundred thirty hours can be completed; through one meaningful hour per day, five days per week for six months or over twelve weeks, two hours per day Monday to Friday and one hour on Saturday. The vital part is 130 meaningful hours of training, and some attention paid to quality nutrition and recovery. Budget your time, set your schedule, and do the work. 

A college business module learning to run a marathon

Andrew Johnston, a GRIT and Business faculty member at RRCC and marathon runner, developed a similar idea but with a different target audience. Johnston created Change through Challenge, a 22 Week course for students that had never run before, with a final exam of running the Arizona Rock n Roll marathon. With a classroom session, a group run, and three individual runs per week; the training commitment probably came close to 130 hours. 

In Johnson’s introduction to business class, his students asked local business owners for their keys to success; the most frequent answer was developing character and life-skills including a passion for work, work ethic, persistence, determination, and grit. According to Angela Duckworth, who wrote the book by the same name, grit is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. As a keen distance runner, Johnston decided that his students’ best way to develop grit was to train for and then complete a Marathon, a challenge that, if you do not put in the necessary work and training, you are not going to finish. 

Starting a business is a big goal that often requires the creation of a detailed, written, and time-denominated business plan that breaks it down into small weekly tasks to achieve the goal… That’s identical to a marathon-training plan.

Andrew Johnston

Each of the 22 weeks has a Monday classroom seminar, a Saturday morning group trail run, and three runs per week that students do independently to achieve the weeks running goal. The Monday night seminar covers three elements; Diet, training, and the discipline of the week. The twenty-two disciplines include goal setting, the power of consistency, and dealing with setbacks. Each is then related to the students’ schoolwork, business, and life. The Premiss of the course; all the life-skills needed to succeed in education and business can be acquired and mastered through training for a marathon.

My Change through challenge module

These two examples of time-based courses have me thinking about my next challenge. Can I package a physical challenge into a module? In my work, we typically package modules into 200 hours of learning, and I like the idea of going beyond the base level that 130 hours suggests and achieving something more significant. As I will be teaching myself, it makes sense to make this a problem-based learning module where I start with an open-ended problem and work through a series of steps, with other people to solve it. As an endurance athlete, I will set myself a training target of at least 10 hours per week, giving me around 20 weeks to complete the challenge I set myself—more on this to come.

You can learn more about Change through challenge through Andrew Johnston’s Tedx talk. Let me know on Twitter if you want to start your 200-hour Change through challenge module, and we can all create a group.

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