Collin Smith: In it for the long run
When Collin Smith competes in 5K or a marathon, his mindset is always the same: How can I run better than I did last time?
“You plan your strategy going into each run,” Collin, age 26, said. “You have to adapt to the course itself. I’m always thinking about the next mile and how I’m going to attack it.
“Especially here in Kansas, where the weather changes every hour. I’ve run through downpours and in 40 mph winds,” he said.
“When I run through the Flint Hills, I’m in an environment I’ve never seen before. It’s cool to put on a pair of running shoes and see God’s creation from a new perspective.”
Hydration for the long haul
While Collin had used hydration drinks and protein powders before, he always felt he was missing something. “So I did the research and found TruLabs,” he said. “I like it because it simply replenishes the minerals and vitamins you lose when you sweat. No artificial flavors or colors, and it tastes good.”
Collin prefers Orange Hydrate and Pina Colada Pre-Workout. “I’ve recommended it to a few people. And I always share them when I have one handy,” he said.
Starting on a new sport
Collin ran sprints in track and field in eighth grade but made the cross-country team all four years of high school. “I didn’t know I was capable of running that far.”
“I had no idea I was going to keep this up. I just ran to push myself further than I thought I could. Whatever comes next, I’ll push myself more. It’s all about finishing,” he said.
Collin and his wife Amber have been married for two years. “She’s my biggest cheerleader, she’s there for every race” he said.
He and his father, a military man, have run through mountains in Colorado, the California forests, the Florida beach, and Washington DC in the Army 10 Miler.
A physical advantage
At Washburn University, Collin earned a BA in Health Care Administration and now works as a physical therapist assistant in an outpatient clinic in Topeka, Kansas.
“But I was interested in the mental aspects of health,” he said. So he studied for a Master of Science in Sport and Performance Psychology from the University of Western States. Between his work and his studies, he started running marathons.
“I have been running faster, so now I’m focusing on further distances. Your body is going to fatigue, so you need to figure out your pace so you don’t burn out before finishing,” he said.
The ultramarathon challenge
On Sept. 9, 2023, Collin participated in his first 50K ultramarathon (31 miles), the Iron Will, in Junction City, Kansas. He finished third, running for a hard-to-imagine 5 hours and 42 minutes.
“The first lap, mile 1 to 20, was good. I was on pace and feeling good,” Collin said. “The last 10 miles were more of a struggle.”
“I kept telling myself, ‘You can do this.’ And at Mile 27, I knew I’d already run farther than I ever had,” he said. “I kept that up all the way to the finish.”
“At the end of a race, you’ve done something that you thought was impossible,” he said. “It lets you know that nothing is impossible,” he added, crediting the quote to ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes.
“Running, biking, hiking, getting out into nature. There’s a whole world to explore. It’s just a matter of making the effort.”