Former Twinsburg runner Ryan Adkins is a name that most people know of when talking about the HS running scene in Ohio. He holds PR's of 4:20 for 1600m, 9:20 for 3200m and 15:18 for 5000m. We were able to catch up with Ryan to talk about his high school career, how his first year at Butler went, and much more! Many thanks to Ryan for chatting with us!
MileSplit Ohio: Let's start from the beginning Ryan. When did you first start running, and do you recall any of your childhood races/meets?
Ryan Adkins: I first started running in 7th grade as a part of our middle school's cross country team. I don't have many specific memories from that time, but I do have a fun few pictures of race results from times I raced against some guys that would be my future competitors and friends, such as the Spartan Invitational hosted by Boardman High School in 8th grade, where I competed against runners like Arizona State's Vinny Mauri and Ohio State's Giovanni Copploe.
MileSplit Ohio: At what point did you realize you would be able to compete at the level you're at now? What has the journey been like, and what do you think has been the most difficult thing to overcome if anything?
Ryan Adkins: I think the moment the idea of running in college went from a sort of abstract idea that I hadn't given much thought to a very real and important decision was the Nike Midwest regional meet my sophomore year. I finished 16th overall in a race that puts the best athletes from 5 states together. Finishing that high on an NCAA championship course in Terre Haute and having Evan Jager shake my hand as I walked across the awards stage really set me on the path to wanting to compete a the D1 level. As far as the journey goes, it hasn't always been the easiest path. I had a lot of struggles between my sophomore year of track and junior year of cross country regarding my physical health, but I think the most difficult aspect to overcome was the mental side of things. I came off an incredible high finishing 6th at the state meet in cross country as a sophomore and then fell backward to 24th as a junior, and that took a serious toll on my mentality as a racer. It took a long time for me to regain that drive and desire to race hard again.
MileSplit Ohio: Let's focus on your high school career. Take us through your 4 years of competitive high school running. What were some ups and downs?
Ryan Adkins: I think the high points were the times I got to compete at the state meet, whether in cross country or in track. I also loved having the chance to compete twice with my teammates at the regional meet in cross. Being able to toe the line with a team makes the race that much more meaningful and I'm glad I got the opportunity to do so. For the lower points, I would say being injured my sophomore year of track and then iron deficient my junior year of cross were some pretty tough points. I felt sidelined and not being able to compete to your full ability is one of the toughest burdens for someone as competitive as myself.
MileSplit Ohio: What is the most memorable race and or meet from your high school career?
Ryan Adkins: My most memorable race would have to be the Nike National meet my senior year. It was an unbelievable and unforgettable experience the entire weekend, and then getting an opportunity to compete against the country's very best was just a spectacular experience.
MileSplit Ohio: Moving onto the end of your junior year, and the beginning of your senior year, what was the college decision process like for you, and what schools did you look at other than Butler?
Ryan Adkins: I started pretty early on in the beginning of my junior year looking at colleges. I wanted to be able to find the right fit, and I knew that I was going to be really busy given that I completed all three seasons. I started contacting coaches, and when I was traveling to race at the Nike Midwest regional meet as a junior I stopped on Butler's campus to take tour and actually saw the one person I knew on campus, former Hudson runner and my current teammates Blake Roberts, and he took the time to give me the behind the scenes tour and put me in contact with the coaching staff. That was a really impactful moment for me personally as Blake and I didn't know each other that well at the time, but he still carved out time during Parent's Weekend to take me around campus and give me an idea of what Butler is all about. Butler ended up being 1 of 2 colleges I took official visits to, although I toured many more and talked to other coaches. The other campus I visited officially was the College of William & Mary.
MileSplit Ohio: What ultimately made you choose Butler? Was there something in particular that caught your attention?
Ryan Adkins: A number of things ended up helping me make my decision. Academics were an extremely important part, and Butler is a great school with small class sizes that really appealed to me. There is a definitive sense of community on campus that I enjoyed being a part of for the small time I was visiting as well. And then on the athletics side, I really bought into Coach Roe's training philosophy and vision for what I could be as a runner in his program. He sold the idea to me of building a contender at the national level, and of training with runners who have already had success at that level such as Euan Makepeace and Barry Keane.
MileSplit Ohio: You ultimately redshirted your freshman year at Butler, what was that like and what was the training like?
Ryan Adkins: Redshirting for me was all about learning my body's limits and forming the building blocks for future training. I worked hard at improving my running form and getting stronger to prepare myself for when the team would need me to contribute. Redshirting was a tough thing for me to do particularly because racing is my favorite part of running and it was hard to keep motivated while not having that to look forward to, and I owe a lot to my teammates for keeping me engaged.
MileSplit Ohio: What do you think separates you from everyone else, and what do you plan on doing to have a successful college career?
Ryan Adkins: I think one of the larger reasons for my success is the mental drive I have in races to not let anything stop me, whether it is weather or course conditions or the talent of my competitors. I've always believed that the greatest obstacle that any runner can have is believing that there is somewhere he/she should finish in a race once the gun goes off. Speculation and predictions are fine before the race as part of a strategy but the moment the gun goes off I have always thought that you need to believe that you can win the race no matter your competition, and I think that mentality has served me well. The main things that I think will dictate the success of my career are my ability to work on my body and stay healthy, and my ability to train/race with my teammates and feed off of their energy to make myself a better runner. I intend to keep myself disciplined with my diet and my weights regimens, and to focus on healthy competition within my team.
MileSplit Ohio: Let's ask a few questions outside of the running world. What are some things you like to enjoy when not running?
Ryan Adkins: I really love watching and attending all different sporting events. I'm a huge Cleveland sports fan so anything Browns, Cavs, or Indians related is a big part of my life. I also like to cook and try out healthy recipes, and I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking or cycling.
MileSplit Ohio: Favorite pre-race snack, tradition, etc.?
Ryan Adkins: My favorite pre-race snack would probably be peanut butter graham crackers and some fruit, and as traditions go I have worn the same long sleeve shirt before every meet since my freshman year of high school, and since I competed unattached a few times this year I actually got to continue that tradition for those races.
MileSplit Ohio: If you could do a sport other than XC/Track, what sport would it be?
Ryan Adkins: Without a doubt it would be basketball. I played through my sophomore year of high school until stopping to train for indoor track and have some really fond memories of it. I am a massive Cavs fan and attended the 2016 championship parade which was a ton of fun.
MileSplit Ohio: Any final comments? Shout-outs?
Ryan Adkins: I just want to give thanks to some of my close friends and teammates throughout the years that have supported me so vigorously and not given up on me even when I felt like giving up on myself, and of course I would like to give thanks to my parents and coaches for the important roles that they have played in getting me to the point I am at today.
Related Links -
- INTERVIEW: Ryan Akins after Legends Meet Victory
- COVERAGE: Adkins Representing Ohio at 2018 Nike Cross Nationals