Our next athlete in the Chaski Athlete Spotlight Series is Jerry Lanning, coached by Kyle Masterson. A Colorado native but currently living in Boston, Jerry inspired us with his positive attitude and candid reflections on past failures that now serve as motivation for his future goals. We are so excited to see Jerry continue to grow as a runner as a part of Team Chaski!
Who has inspired your running journey the most and why?
My high school coach and the experiences I had in high school set the groundwork for what inspires me to run. After being part of a successful high school team, I am constantly inspired by the physical feats others accomplish on a daily basis and would love to replicate my own version of those feats and experience that same joy.
I’ve been around some great runners: a teammate of mine won the state championship, a friend of mine completed a 100 miler, and coaches and friends running in the Olympic Trials. Seeing them cross these milestones off their lists inspires me to cross my own milestones off my list.
Have you ever been on the cusp of quitting this sport? Why, and what brought you back?
I wasn’t just on the cusp of quitting, I did quit the sport my freshman and sophomore year of college! I didn’t really make a conscious decision on why I quit, but I started playing ultimate frisbee with the college team at CSU and I really enjoyed playing a traditional team sport again (something I hadn’t done since middle school), so I rode that wave for a couple of years.
During my junior year, the frisbee team started to get really good and competitive. Since I was just there for the fun of the team and I didn’t really want to commit what was needed to be a competitive frisbee player, I started to look elsewhere.
Naturally, I started looking for things that sparked my interest and I found the running club. I still remember (vividly) the first real run I did in years. It was three miles, and I barely made it a mile before stopping, then I barely made it half a mile before needing to walk again. From that point on I decided to come back fully into running.
How long have you been running, and why did you first fall in love with the sport?
I first started running my sophomore year of high school. Ironically I also quit the sport that same year during xc season because I was also in the marching band and managing both became nearly impossible. I came back for track season, broke 5 minutes in the mile, and fell in love with the sport from there. I re-fell in love with the sport during my junior year of college when I completed my first marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon.
Is there something about Chaski that you’re especially drawn to?
The support the coaches offer and the community feel that Chaski offers. The coaches are all on the same page and have bought into Chaski’s ideals which align with my ideals.
What are your long-term goals for yourself as a runner?
I’d love to qualify for the Olympic Trials… However I’m a long way off from the Trials, so I’ll start with breaking 2:30 in the marathon :). One day I hope to run the Hardrock 100 and Western States as well (even though in the short term I’m not interested in ultra marathons).
What has been your most meaningful experience as a runner?
Winning the Providence Marathon in 2018 and (more importantly) running 2:30:01 at the Providence Marathon. It was just such a validation that I had made the right decision to walk away from frisbee and pursue my running career. I consider it my best running accomplishment, and it’s something I accomplished after my return to running. It also re-inspired me to pursue some more aggressive running-related goals knowing I still had something in the tank that I didn’t know I had.
Have you had any running setbacks (such as an injury or big change in life) and if so can you tell us about it?
I had the most significant set of injuries of my life prior to joining Chaski. I had some knee problems after hyperextending it badly. I tried to run through the knee pain which led to some foot problems, and this caused me to take ~4 months off. Prior to this, I had another knee problem in the NYC marathon which interrupted my training for Boston the next spring. This led to two of the most disappointing races in my life.
Looking back, I didn’t handle these disappointing races well. I took a step back from running for a bit as I needed time to heal and I needed some clearer headspace to clarify what I wanted to accomplish in the sport. Heading into the NYC marathon I thought that I was in the best shape of my life, but I ended up running the worst marathon of my life. It was essentially a full year and a half of disappointing races/injuries.
I needed someone to help guide me back into some form of health and fitness so I could be in a position to accomplish my goals. I am very glad that Kyle is my coach because I finally feel like I’m on the path to a sub 2:30 again after that path seemed so far away only a few months ago.
Favorite place to run?
Highline Canal Trail in Denver
Favorite race of all time?
Bucket-list race you haven’t done yet?
Favorite workout you've done since starting to work with Chaski (or before)?
3x(Mile, 800, 400) (down the ladder?)
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?
Super Mario 3D All Stars (Nostalgia in video game form)
How has a failure or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
Easily my “Favorite failure” is my disappointing finish at the NYC Marathon. It not only humbled me and motivates me to this day to go back to NYC for a shot at redemption, but it was also a really fun race despite having to walk a significant portion of it. Also, the beer at mile 23 helped.
What has your sport taught you that you may not have learned elsewhere?
Discipline -- getting out the door when you might not want to, or when mother nature tries to persuade you to stay inside. There’s nothing like the running grind to teach you discipline.
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why?
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” ~Pre
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
Going to graduate school taught me a lot about myself beyond just what the books taught me.
What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
A game called Crokinole. It’s absurd to buy a nice board, but I love it anyway.
In the last five years what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life (and your running)?
Being studious and reading things other people might not read (ex. documentation in code). I’ve been better about not getting distracted by small things as easily. This extends to running as I’m more disciplined and one bad run doesn’t derail me as easily as it has in the past.
What advice would you give a young ambitious runner dreaming of running professionally? What should they avoid?
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do it. Avoid falling into the pitfall of thinking, “Well I’m not them so I can’t do it”. With the right mindset it may be within your wheelhouse, but without the right mindset you’ll never achieve what you set out to achieve.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your area of expertise?
Let’s do this the quick and dirty way. We do this all the time as programmers and it always comes back to bite us in the butt.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
Hit the reset button, walk away from the computer, don’t think about running, take a shower, clean the dishes, make your bed, just do something that requires absolutely no thought and is entirely unnecessary for you to do right now.
It’s like rebooting the computer when it has a problem. When you’re ready, come back to what you want to accomplish and reprioritize your list. Oftentimes, you’ll find the thing that was distracting you isn’t even on the list anymore.
Chaski athletes: if you would like to be featured in the spotlight series contact us here.