Latest Tweets

Kyle's Running Perspective Posted on January 13, 2014

As 2013 was drawing to a close, I looked back in my running log and found that I had run 4, 487 miles (86.2/week) this calendar year. This was the first year I had ever gone over 4, 000 and this was the first year that I was actually happy with the way I ran in a long time. But as 2014 was drawing nearer, I reflected not just on the successes of the past year, but also on the misery of the years prior. See, running hasn’t always been fun and games for me. In fact, at one point, I almost just quit the whole thing and left Missouri for a fresh start. 2009 (sophomore/junior year) was my first year of running (after quitting soccer) and it was probably the most fun I have ever had – mainly because of the success our track and cross country teams had. 2010 (junior/senior year) was a good year, too, but that was the year I first started to doubt myself.

Even though I ran at the sectional track meet and won the Paul Enke Invitational, I also had to stand by as the alternate on the eventual all-state 4x800 squad and finished 51 places worse than my junior year at the Cross Country State Meet. But 2011, the year that I would graduate from Ft. Zumwalt North high school and have one last shot at an all-state medal and a school record (my goals since my freshman year of track), as well as the year I would start college, turned about to be the worst year I had, and still have, ever experienced.

I could probably write a novel about the year 2011, but I will try to keep it brief without skipping too many details. It started with my declaration in November 2010 that I was going to work harder than I had ever worked that winter and was going to turn myself into, as my coach put it, an “Oxygen Monster” (a declaration that would lead to serious isolation and abandonment from my friends who had moved on from the sport). I was going to log 1, 000 miles in 15 weeks in hopes of improving my stamina, lung capacity, and heart strength in order to prepare myself for the track workouts that spring that would improve my speed. My goal for that track season was: either a school record in the 3200m run (9:31.52) or an all-state medal. Or both. Both would be nice, too.

I did accomplish that goal as I finished with 1, 002 miles, and that season I won my first 6 3200m races and entered the District race with a 9:42. I won that race and took third at the sectional meet which qualified me for the state meet.

Day 2 of the 2011 Class 4 State Track Meet currently ranks as a runaway #1 on the list of the most depressing days that I have ever had to endure. That afternoon in May, in perfect overcast, 75 degree weather, after finishing the fastest 8 laps I had ever run, I had no idea what place I had gotten and had completely forgotten what the school record was exactly, but later I would come to understand what had just happened:

9:31.87, 10th place. I had missed the school record by 0.35 seconds and my last shot at an all-state medal by less than 4 seconds (the young man who got 8th, a junior, had earned his third medal of the weekend). The top 8 in this race was the fastest top 8 in any state 3200m race since 1984. This was the first and only time that I have broken down and cried in public and not cared about what anyone thought. The devastation was real, unmanageable. The demon had said hello.

So that was the biggest failure, but couple that with a lonely and stressful summer preparing for the only college to which I had been seriously recruited – an expensive, D-III school in central Illinois – and I was not in the best state of mind heading into my first season of college cross country. And it showed. My coach ran me into the ground as he bumped me up to 80-100 miles a week immediately, running about 90% of it hard and about 75% of it by myself. I got a mild concussion in a cross country race and ran the two worst and most embarrassing races of my career at conference and regionals. The transition to this college, from which I would eventually transfer, was not helpful either and I struggled with a pretty bad bout of depression by year’s end. By the time 2012 had rolled around, I had very much contemplated quitting the sport altogether and moving far away to start all over somewhere else.

But I didn’t. And now here I am in the best shape of my life, running 105 miles a week like it’s nothing, running times of which I am extremely proud, and finishing workouts I never thought I could have finished. I’m here to tell you that you can improve your situation if you truly want to do so.

It all starts with a spark of motivation. The burnout you’ve been experiencing is only temporary, but you’ll need to make changes in your routine so that it doesn’t happen again. Personally, I made a complete change in scenery. I moved back to Missouri after finishing out my freshman year and made the decision to transfer to D-II Maryville University in Town and Country and just that gave me the motivation to work toward improvement. I found training partners on the team and started to develop camaraderie with these guys. I realized that the accountability was something I needed. Soon, I started to think about my strengths and what kinds of goals I could develop specifically to myself. I began to think about the 10k race and where I could go with that. I looked to the future – to the mileage I could work toward. I even started to look past college to marathons and ultra-marathons and that spark of motivation turned into a full on lightning bolt of drive and enthusiasm! It all starts by packing together the little snowball (a change of scenery, a training partner, a new race focus) and rolling it down the hill. Watch it gather steam and grow larger and larger until you can’t wait to lace up the shoes and get out the door!

Thank you for reading. I hope to have inspired you with my story. These are all true events. How sweet it is!



*Kyle Deeken is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*

by Mark Spewak

There are no comments.

Post Comment