An Interview with Dylan Wykes

May 24, 2016 Posted By: Barbara Mitchell

 

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Earlier this week, it was revealed Dylan Wykes would not be showing up in Ottawa this coming weekend. This would have been his last chance to qualify for the Olympics, after battling smalls injuries that kept him from qualifying already. Inside the CBC Sports article, he commented ” … that’s sport, that’s the marathon. I think that’s the beauty of it. When you hit it right, it’s really special because it’s so hard to get it right.” (source: CBC.ca)  Every runner, no matter where you fit into the race, can understand what this feels like. Months of training can be sidelined by an unlucky case of the sniffles at the wrong time, or worse an injury.

Dylan is many things, an Olympian 3rd fastest CDN Marathoner), a father and a husband. He’s also put coach on that resume. He’s resilient, determined and has never given up on his dreams. What happened was unfortunate but he was kind enough to answer a few more questions and tell us more about his coaching venture.

  1. This year started out with the hope to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.The whole family made the journey to Arizona back in July 2015 and basically moved there on a temporary basis for you to train. When you got back in December, were things still on track during that time and after?

DW: At the beginning of the year I was battling some injuries that started back in late 2015, when I had to drop out of the Fukuoka marathon. The injury that held me back there (post tib tendonitis) resolved after some rest and treatment. But some other injuries flared up, related to the same underlying issue. So my training wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked in the early part of the year. I would train well for a few weeks, but then things would start to unravel. In late February, early March I was at a point where I knew things really had to start to come together if I was going to get in the necessary training to try to qualify for Rio. As it turns out things took a turn for the worse with the virus, which I initially thought was just a bad flu, but turned out to be a strain of mono.

  1. You’ve been sidelined with a few injuries since your last olympics, but yet you cross trained back to health to begin the process all over again. In retrospect is there anything you would’ve done differently?

DW: Looking back now I think I would’ve backed off on the cross-training and focused more on rehab. I had a few stress fractures and my mentality was always to let that heal but never let the aerobic engine lose fitness. I cross-trained like a mad man sometimes and was obsessed with staying aerobically fit. But there were some more global issues with my body that probably lead to the stress fractures which I chose to ignore. In hindsight I wish I had put more faith in my team of physios and chiros and sport med docs and put all my time and energy into rehab, instead of the cross-training.

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  1. You are one of the hardest working and most determined athletes I’ve come to admire. Where does that never quit determination come from?

DW: I’m all about having big goals and dreaming big. When I have those goals and dreams it gets me really focused and determined. When I’m training with a particular race in mind there won’t be a training session I do where I don’t think about that goal at least a dozen times. I just find it super motivating and I never seem to tire of chasing a singular goal. And I’m really really stubborn, as I’m sure my wife would attest to. This all probably makes me sound like a crazy, overwhelming lunatic. But I think I’ve done a good job of balancing when to be focus and when to switch off and be a normal human being.

  1. I read in an article you said “Sport can be so fulfilling and yet so devastating”. This resonated with me so much. What advice do you have for other runners and how to deal with the ups and downs of sport.

DW: Running is a beautiful sport for so many reasons, and one of those reasons is that you can constantly measure yourself and better yourself. That is where the fulfillment comes from in the sport, no matter if you are running in the Olympics or trying to complete your first 5k race. I think everyone should continue to recognize those little achievements and milestones that they hit, again no matter what level they are training or competing at. When you lose sight of the little things and all the little positives along the way on your journey, it’s hard to not have the ‘downs’ be completely devastating. When you get to the elite level there are so few places to make gains and improve that it can be hard to find those positives. And in some ways that is why when you do hit it right and have one of those ‘ups’ it is really really exhilarating and satisfying and can help sustain you through the next ten ‘downs’ in a row before you hit that next great one.

Also, I would tell people to share the experience with those around them. Whether people are able to recognize it or not, everyone has a support system of some sort that helps them. For me the closest support has been my wife. But there also so many others out there like my family, coach, sponsors and training partners…I could go on and on. But anyways, it’s important to share both the ups and the downs with you support network. That can really help you deal with devastation of the lows and exhilaration of the highs.

  1. You’ve proved you are one of Canada’s best at the Marathon, however, as someone who has watched your career, I’ve wondered if maybe you are even better at another distance. Working with your coach does this conversation ever come up?

DW: I think I could have been a lot better at the half-marathon distance. However, it’s not an event in the Olympics, so I was never willing to focus on that event. After a while my body starting breaking down with the training I was trying to do to be a marathoner – constantly trying to hit high volume (180km + per week) took it’s toll. I believe the training for the half marathon would’ve suited me better – training like a 10,000m runner sometimes and like a marathoner at other times.

  1. Now that you’re a parent, what advice will have for your daughter if she decides to grow up and be a runner like her dad?

DW: Well, I’m hoping she’ll be a tennis player, but if she insisted on being a runner….I think just to enjoy the journey. Too often we get caught up in chasing something and forget to take a step back and enjoy the whole process. All the little milestones along the way should be celebrated and not just seen as a natural step or part of a bigger plan. Of course I’d have lots to say about how to train properly and develop as an athlete and all that, but no one is going to listen to their dad about those sort of things ;)

  1. As you recover fully from Mono, what is going to be your next goal? Will you take a bit of break or go after something else?

DW: I’m really trying to give myself a good break right now both physically and mentally. Having Rio slip through my grasp is something that I’m still dealing with and imagine I will be dealing with for a while, from the mental side of things. But, I know I’ll get the itch to train hard and compete again. Even this past week I ran 5 days in a row and could start to feel things coming back together and almost feeling like myself again out there running. Immediately my mind starts spinning ideas of goals I should set and races I should target. But, I have to rein myself in for the time being and try to really listen to my body. If everything goes smooth I’d hope to be racing again this fall and would love to race the Canadian XC Champs in my hometown – Kingston, ON.

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  1. Tell us more about your Mile to Marathon coaching services and how we can find you and follow you.

Well Mile2Marathon is a coaching service that I launched a few years back with my buddy Mike Woods (He is the Canadian Junior (under 19yo) record holder for the 1 mile and now amazingly has transformed himself into a professional cyclist for ProTour team Cannonade-Garmin). He was coaching a group of runners in Ottawa and I was laid up with an injury and had some free time so he asked me to help out with his group. I immediately really enjoyed it. Being able to help people try to achieve their goals is a fun and fulfilling process. Until now I’ve kept the business going in a modest capacity, mostly coaching people online and just letting things grow organically through word of mouth. I’ve coached people who never ran before and just wanted to complete a race to elites who are trying to win big races. Recently I’ve decided to poor a lot more time and energy into building Mile2Marathon - trying to reach more people and help as many people as I can reach their potential as runners. I’ve brought on my good friend Rob Watson to be part of the team and we really want to try to have a big impact on the running scene in Vancouver and all of Canada. We have groups that meet in Vancouver a couple of times per week and we are working hard to make those bigger and better. It’s been a lot of fun and hopefully we can have a reasonable amount of success with it and reach a lot of people and pass on the knowledge and love of the sport that we’ve gained over the years. People can follow us on instagram and twitter with @mile2marathon or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mile2marathon)

Thanks again to Dylan Wykes for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m wishing all the best in this down time and hoping Mizuno will get to catch up with him again at the Kingston XC Nationals this November in Kingston.

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