Hello, my name is Mikenna Vanderheyden and I am a mid-distance runner currently attending West Virginia University.
I created this page as a way to share my running experiences with others and to give insight as to what the life of a NCAA student athlete actually entails.
To open up and begin this blog I have decided to share with you all why I run and what helped me to become the runner I am today.
How I Got to Where I am Today
Okay, lets rewind to grade 10… I was a soccer player; I’m not talking like I did it as a hobby… no no no soccer was my LIFE. I was set on a goal of going NCAA for this sport and was doing everything in my power to make this happen. At this time running for me was something I didn’t really take seriously, it was more of a social outing for me, somewhere to meet others who enjoyed similar things as I did. And lets be honest, who didn’t love to miss class to go to meets!
I didn’t actually think about pursuing track and field seriously until a soccer teammate of mine- Victoria Kyriakopoulos mentioned one day that she thought I could maybe take this whole running thing to another level. I thought about it that spring and after my soccer team folded I decided that maybe it was time to move on and try something new. So with a huge risk, I switched gears and put all my focus into running.
I’ll save the rest of that story for another time… but long story short things really played into my favour and here I am today, a NCAA runner in the Big 12 Conference. (That’s something I never thought I’d say)
Why I Run
I’ve always had a passion for running but it goes much deeper than just something I was good at.
Many people don’t know this but high school was a tough time for me. I struggled to make good friends (not just friendly people) and found myself alone most of the time. I didn’t really go to social events and was really caught up in sports which took much of my free time. To be honest, I was the kid who ate my lunch in a teachers class near the end of high school just so I wasn’t alone eating alone.
At school people weren’t really the nicest . I just wanted to fit in… or at least blend in with others and be apart of conversations or be included in plans. But quite often I found myself left out unless someone wanted something from me.
Running for me was the escape to reality. I could be myself when I ran and just let all my emotions go… I was able to forget about what was going on that day or how I felt and be with myself. It helped me to forget about things people said about me, or let go of stress.
I can really thank running for being the reason I survived high school and to this day all those reasons stand to be true still.
Running began as a passion and is something that I have since turned into a serious endeavour.
I wake up every morning and cannot wait to go for my run, I love the feeling of the ground beneath my feet and being able to push my body to its limits.
While I have found people in West Virginia who I can call good friends and who I can lean on when I need support; running is still something I love… not because I am good at it, but because of the energy and life that it brings me.