Devon Yanko: Hitting Her Marathon Prime!
Lesko: Devon! I'm excited to catch up on your plans. I know when we were co-cheering at CIM, you were just back to running after an injury. Now you're running free! This year it seems you have renewed energy for the marathon...how does your brain treat the marathon compared to an ultra? How are marathon goals different (other than, I'm assuming, more time-based than ultra racing)?
Devon: After spending a few years focusing on the challenge and the process of taking on the 100 mile distance again, I have become invigorated by swinging back the other direction and seeing what I can do at the marathon. I feel like I have a lot of untapped potential left at the marathon distance and I am finally back at a place where I am excited by the process of trying to see what that potential is. I am curious about what I can do at the marathon distance and feel far enough away from my goal to really be engaged with the work it will take to get there. I tend to pick my goals based on the challenge and immensity of the process it will take to “put myself in the position” to do something.
For me, the goals I have set out for myself in the marathon are big, hairy, scary, goals and I know that I can’t shortcut my way there. In comparison to my ultra training, marathon training is much more rooted in the details and discipline. Ultra running is in my wheelhouse and comfort zone, so I feel ready to execute in an ultra because going long is my jam!! With the marathon, it is the speed, not the distance that is my challenge. I know I can’t shortcut my way to speed and to having my body run fast for 26.2 miles. Thus, marathon training for me is much more intense and detail based. It is about executing specific workouts with specific paces instead of the much more “run by feel” approach to ultra running (given terrain/vertical/etc). Marathon goals are different for me because I know that in order to achieve them I have to be all in and do all the little things: disciplined diet, strength work, mobility work, physical therapy, rest, etc. I have to do everything right to be able to get exactly what I want out of my peformance.
Devon getting back on the road with the Hot Chocolate 15k
I have always been a process based person. I go towards new goals when I stop having a process to sink my teeth into and where it becomes too easy to get sucked into results. Thus, after pursuing the 100 mile distance for a few years, it is natural for me to want to try to go after my potential in the marathon again. I don’t think I’ve reached my potential yet and I am now in my marathon prime, so I am excited and curious to take on the process of becoming.
Lesko: Let's talk about team. What does team mean to you? Can you think of a time when team buoyed you? As an independent and fierce thinking person, what do you value most about team?
Devon: Before I was a runner, I played team sports and teams have always been central to sport for me. I feel like having a team or squad of training partners is essential to reaching goals. Whether that means having an awesome group of people crewing and pacing you at an ultra, or having a training partner to pull you through a hard workout, it really elevates the experience. I don’t think I could run at the same level as I do without support and team is essential! I think ultimately I value the unconditional support, the encouragement, and the belief in myself and my goals that a team provides and that I can provide for my teammates.
Lesko: You've really focused on the process goals recently (I'm thinking Leadville)...what have you noticed most about process goals vs outcome goals? Are there big differences or similarities?
Devon: I’ve always been a process based goal setter. I love the process of becoming much more than I enjoy the act of being. Becoming is the journey and being is the destination. Ultimately, arriving at the destination is thrilling, especially when you get where you want to go, but that is a short-lived thrill. After running my current PR in the marathon of a 2:38, I was over the moon and so proud, but at the same time was drawn back to the process and immediately wanted to set my sights on the next challenge. I feel that I underperform when I fall into the outcome goal trap. There is less curiosity and openness in that for me and I tend to mentally not thrive. That is one of the reasons I love being both a marathoner and an ultrarunner; there is an endless supply of process based goals to move between. And when I go towards the open end of the spectrum (like running 100 miles) for a while, then the other end of the spectrum becomes a wide open playground once I have satisfied my curiosity or process. If you look at the last 7 years of my career, I have fearlessly gone after the goals that challenged me the most even when it wasn’t the cool or popular option. The quickest route to failure for me (for me!) is through outcome goals. Yes, I have a time I want to run this year, but the process of becoming the type of person that can run that time is what I am invested in most.