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A Unique Offseason Running Plan Transformed Howard's Jordan Wood

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In my opinion, one of the most difficult feats to achieve in sports is the marathon. Nonstop he has traveled 26.2 miles. It never takes a break (unless you choose to change your pace) and uses almost every bone in your lower body. I personally don’t know many people who can commit to doing that.

Imagine training for a marathon while playing Division I basketball in a demanding college. It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

When Jordan Wood signed Howard from San Antonio, Texas in 2020, he didn’t expect to run a marathon during his college basketball career. His goal was to become a professional basketball player.

But after a tough season, head coach Kenny Blakeney came up with an idea to change Wood’s basketball journey.

“I trained for a marathon, so I came up with this crazy idea for him to train for a marathon,” Blakeney said. I don’t care what you do about basketball all the time. I really want you to work on this. I really thought it would help me overcome my fears and challenges to unleash.”

Wood has shown he can be an All-League player at times, but he reaches his full potential on the court. A late bloomer who graduated high school, he chose HBCUs Harvard and Howard over PWIs like Columbia, Cornell, Iona and Tulsa.

When Blakeney was scouting Wood, he comped him to NBA All-Star turned Butler legend Gordon Hayward. An anonymous NBA scout said Wood has more potential than anyone on the Howard program.

It’s time to get to work and prove those people right.

“Up until January or so, me and Coach Blakeney were banging heads,” Wood said. “I think he saw that I was struggling and wanted me to do something tough. At our exit meeting, he told me two things He wanted me to be shredded down to 200-205 pounds (lbs) and he wanted me to run a marathon.”

Since then, Wood has not played an organized basketball game. Instead, I am working hard toward my new goal of completing the International Peace Marathon on September 10th in Washington, DC. The race will require you to go up and down the Georgetown waterfront on a breezy Saturday morning.

It was hard to start training. Wood, like any 20-year-old getting ready to run a marathon, wakes up frustrated: in week one, he ran his three runs and completed nine miles. Three weeks after he raised his run total. Then he got into the habit of running a different benchmark each time, he did six times a week.

What was once a hassle is now a mental and physical reward and a part of his daily life.

“You can definitely see the progress since when I first started,” said Wood. “It really helped me to believe in my own abilities and to know that I could push myself to the limits that I never thought I could.”

Heading into Saturday’s race, Wood cut down to 205 pounds, saying he’s the strongest and leanest he’s ever been. On the basketball court, he said he could count on his hands how many times he got tired during practice this summer.

Mentally, he is confident in himself. Exactly what the coaching staff wanted from this experience: for him to grow.

“Now I believe I can do anything. I’ve done crazy things like run 20 miles,” said Wood. “Speaking of which, I don’t know any of my friends who have done that. It definitely makes me believe in myself more.”

Wood will be gearing up for his third basketball season at Howard after Saturday’s race. If he is having a strong season in Mecca, the coach he can thank Blakeney for his unconventional ideas and Wood’s embrace of it.