Secrest pushes through the pain
Stars and Stripes May 15, 2008
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Kelis Secrest has a personal take on the distance runner’s "no-pain, no-gain" credo.
For Secrest, 17, it’s "no pain, no satisfaction."
"As much as it hurts while you’re running, it feels good to be able to say to yourself later, ‘I ran a good race.’ " the Ramstein junior said before a workout on a breezy, sun-drenched Tuesday here,
Secrest has run plenty of good races since he arrived in Europe from Cheyenne, Wyo., last summer. To his surprise, he won the European Division I cross country championship in the fastest overall time of 16 minutes, 21.96 seconds for the 5,000-meter course. And in his first track season in a Ramstein jersey, Secrest has posted Europe-best times in the 800 (2:02.40), 1,500 (4:15.81) and 3,000-meter runs (9:19.77).
"Last year, I didn’t think I was all that fast," Secrest said. "I was glad that I did what it takes to improve. It was a lot of hard work."
In Secrest’s case, hard work is 62-66 miles per week in the offseason, along with other exertions.
"A couple of times a week I’ll do a lot of push-ups and sit-ups," he said about his non-running workouts. "My family is really active. We do a lot of biking and swimming."
Secrest credits the patriarch of his active family with getting him started in running.
"In seventh grade, my dad said ‘You look like you’d make a good distance runner,’ " Secrest said of his father, Justin, a former high school record holder in Ohio. "When I started and saw my times, I wasn’t so sure. But I kept running."
Secrest’s coach, Dennis Edwards — whose sons Danny, a 2006 Ramstein grad, and Kevin, a Ramstein senior, and nephew Patrick, the 2002 European 3,000-meter champ from SHAPE, have had success in distance running — said off-season conditioning is the key to success.
"He works out a lot on his own," Edwards said of Secrest. "That’s pretty much characteristic of all the good runners we have in DODDS."
Secrest’s engine needs a couple of distinct gears in order to manage the speed-heavy 800 and 1,500 as well as the endurance-weighted 3,000.
So does he have a favorite among the three?
"Each one has its strong points and its weak points," Secrest said. "The best thing to do is keep running. After everything goes numb, there’s not much else you can do."
Edwards thinks that Secrest’s special talents steer him toward the middle-distance events.
"He has good 800 speed," Edwards said. "He ran 2:02 last week, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes under two (minutes) at Europeans (May 23-24)."
Secrest, who’s hoping to attend the Naval Academy, said breaking two minutes is one of his goals for the season.
So is winning every race he runs. But he’s taking nothing for granted in any of his events, despite his edge on paper. "At Europeans," he said, "all the runners are as good as you. Anyone can take it."