FROM THE ATHLETE: KYLE MERBER
JACKRABBIT INTERVIEW WITH MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNER
Hoka One One pro middle-distance runner Kyle Merber (USA) took the time to sit down for a chat with JackRabbit to talk about his running career, staying injury free and the lightness of the Hoka One One Clifton 4
KYLES’S KEY RACE STATS
PR: Mile = 3:52:2
WR World Record Medley Relay: 9:15:50 Nassau, Bahamas, 2015
JackRabbit: Describe for us what a ‘day in the life’ of a professional runner might look like?
Kyle Merber: Life is good as a professional runner. Everyday I wake up, and my only goal is to improve my fitness. That means a good solid breakfast, and plenty of time to take in my coffee. I generally wake up early enough to see my fiancée off to work before having time to myself to get ready for practice.
We meet as a team with Coach Gags there watching over us. After crushing a workout, we will get some food before heading off to the gym for a lift. After that, it’s about 2pm and I am home with more or less nothing left to do except nap/recover/watch TV. If I have a second run I will do that just before preparing dinner.
Honestly, there’s nothing to complain about in my day.
JR: You’ve experienced injuries along the path of your running career. How have you physically and mentally overcome the injury/recovery and moving forward? Any advice for JackRabbit runners?
KM:Like many runners, I have been hurt. My success is contingent on minimizing these occurrences and managing them well when they do come up. In the midst of an injury, it’s all about being pragmatic and figuring out why it happened and what I can do to fix it.
If it’s serious enough to sideline me, then maintaining fitness in the pool, on the bike and in the weight room is key. That requires mentally being present in the moment and controlling only what I can, right now.
JR: What’s your perfect mile?
KM: My perfect mile is one that picks up as we go. I like to build into the pace to the point that the kick is already there and set up for me as we approach the final turn. No hard shifting of gears, just faster and faster each step. Ideally the track is lined with fans and they’re getting louder as we pick it up.
JR: You race both 1,500 and 5,000m. What’s a favorite speed workout we can share with the JackRabbit running tribe?
KM: The 1500 is certainly my specialty which requires a serious blend of strength and speed.
I like doing intervals at mile pace with the rep shortening as you go. Things like 1000 + 600 + 400 + 300 + 200 or just a bunch of 400s with a couple minutes rest.
JR: You’ve been running in Hoka One One shoes for a few years. Tell us about your experience and what this unique type of shoe has added to your running.
KM: I think like a lot of people, I was a bit hesitant on HOKAs until I actually tried them on. I came on with the brand in 2015 when they were just really breaking through and I was skeptical of such a game-changing concept. But then I wore them and I saw the light!
JR: You train with the New Jersey*New York Track Club. What does being part of the team and being coached by the legendary Frank Gaglinano mean to your training and your life as a runner?
KM: I knew I wanted to run for NJ*NY well before joining the club, because running under Gags was always the dream. Getting the opportunity to be exposed to such a well of knowledge and experience gives me so much confidence in the training and who I am as an athlete. He keeps things fresh and fun to the point that you want to do this forever.
JR: Most athletes have a moment in their early years when someone, it could be a coach or a more experienced athlete, inspires them. Who inspired you to be a runner?
KM: In 1996 after winning a gold medal in the Atlanta Olympics, Derrick Adkins came back to his old elementary school to speak. It just so happened that I was sitting in the crowd and got the opportunity to meet him and grab an autograph.
Right after that day, I went home and asked my mom to sign me up for track. I told him that story 12 years later when I was breaking into the national scene as a high school athlete. You never know who you may be inspiring in the crowd!
JR: As a professional runner, you become the leader, the one who inspires alongside being the athlete. Tell us about your involvement with the Hoka One One Long Island Mile and what that event means to you?
KM: The Hoka One One Long Island Mile is my baby. I was working for my co-meet director, Brendan Barrett, at Sayville Running Company while in college and we were thinking of ways we could connect the professionals, with the high schoolers, with the weekend warriors. Our idea is now held in my hometown of Huntington and is entering it’s third year.
We start with community miles, and the paces pickup before finally an elite men and women’s mile. Getting a chance to showcase the sport to young athletes in my own backyard is my own investment in the sport for tomorrow.
Hopefully people will walk away feeling extra motivated for their upcoming XC season. And I believe crowding the track and getting high-fives from Olympians right before witnessing a sub-4 minute mile can do that.
JR: What inspires you to lace up your track shoes day on day
KM: Some days I go out with my “runner hat” on and others I go with a “racers hat.” I love just going for a run on trails, feeling good, relieving stress, and talking away with friends. That’s often motivation enough.
But on workout days, it’s about getting better and challenging myself to see how good I can be. I like to say I am addicted to smaller numbers. How small can I get the numbers of my mile time?
It helps knowing that there is a reason for why I do it but it’s also for a better life that I want. To me, a better life means helping others and I can do that through my running.
JR: And finally, one question we ask all athletes. What are three songs that motivate you in life, sport and racing?
BM: If I could only listen to three songs for the rest of my life they’d be: The Scientist by Coldplay, The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra, Piano Man by Billy Joel
JR: Thanks Kyle!
EXPERIENCE THE HOKA ONE ONE CLIFTON 4
THE MAGIC OF THE MILE
FOLLOW KYLE’S LIFE IN THE TRACK LANE
Follow Kyle Merber, his running life and the Hoka One One Long Islance Mile event by following him on Twitter.