Story by Casey Baumberger
Photo Courtesy Drake Athletics
Drake University distance runner Brogan Austin took the competition by storm at this year’s Missouri Valley Conference Championship. He won his third consecutive 5,000-meter race with a time of 14 minutes, 13.68 seconds. Austin also managed to clinch a win in the 3,000 meters with an impressive time of 8:16.89 en route to being named the Championship’s Co-Most Valuable Athlete.
Austin is a talented athlete, but he has had his fair share of hardships.
“Anemia forced me to take six weeks off of running completely this summer. The first week off was a nice break, but after the second week, I got really self-conscious. I could feel myself getting weaker, and I just wanted to train,” Austin said.
Austin’s bout with anemia forced him to find other ways to train over the summer.
“Rehab training was awful. It was mentally depressing and frustrating because I had no idea what benefits biking had for me,” Austin said. “The only way I know how to get better at running is to run, and not being able to do that was a little scary.”
During his rehabilitation training, Austin transferred all running workouts to the exercise bike. Every three miles biked is equivalent to running one mile, so his workouts became long, tedious and repetitive.
“The worst day was the day I had to spend six hours nonstop on the bike,” Austin said.
Austin began running again at the beginning of August, but he was unable to compete during the fall cross country season.
“It was upsetting to not race because with distance running, each year is better than the last, but I knew I needed to be healthy,” Austin said. “I bided my time and kept training. At that point, I was thankful for being able to run and not having to bike anymore.”
Austin pushed himself hard to fully recover from his illness and finished a successful competitive indoor track season. He set a new Drake record for the 5,000 meters with a time of 13:59.71.
Head track coach Natasha Brown describes Austin as “an incredible athlete.”
“He is very focused and determined, which is what helps him be so successful. If you give him a workout, he will do it to the letter and often at a higher intensity than you ask him,” Brown said.
Austin holds himself to a high standard, but he is a team player through and through.
“He can and does talk to anyone on the team. He’ll sit with the sprinters on the bus and talk to them about their events, and then he’ll sit with the jumpers and do the same thing. He gets along so well with everyone,” Brown said.
Teammate Erica Bestual said Austin is always ready to help.
“He’s very helpful. I know a lot of the first-years on the men’s team look up to him, and he’s always ready to give advice to anyone who asks,” Bestul said.
For Austin, the amenia was almost a blessing in disguise.
“Having anemia was not fun. But it did teach me to really listen to my body and has helped me to find the fine line between pushing through the pain and over training,” Austin said. “In a way, it helped me to improve my running.”