Ever find an activity at a young age that you fall in love with, but then life happens and you have to leave those things on the back burner? Well that was sort of the case for track runner Jeff Mack. Discovering his talents on the track at a young age, Jeff grew an intense passion for the sport, but ultimately he was faced with some tough decisions that deterred him away from taking the professional track path. However, years later he was able to pick the hobby back up, showing us all that it’s never too late!
“I truly love the sport and all that comes with it. The pain, sweat, and soreness is an afterthought once you have achieved personal goals and excellence!”- Jeff Mack
Jeff Mack discovered his niche early on in life. He realized around 5th grade that he wasn’t as big as the other kids but he was faster and could jump hire. Inspired by his uncle, he decided to take his talents to the track. “During my 5th grade I wasn’t a big tall husky guy blessed with early size. But I found that I could jump farther and sprint faster than most of my schoolmates. My uncle was also a really big influence, he was a past high school track and field standout. I remember being at his high school meets as a five year old watching him run. Later on and a little older, I would ask a million questions about track & field. He would give me tons of information by explaining the races as we watched televised meets together. From then on I would use a combination of skill and what I knew as I played and raced against friends,” Jeff recalls.
From there, Jeff went on to run track for his high school. With an amazing coach by his side, Jeff was set for greatness. He was so good; he began to attract many college offers. However, there was a slight bump in the road. “Unfortunately, I passed on running collegiately due to a couple of reasons. Basically during my teen years I worked part time to help take care of my needs and to contribute with home finances. My hard working mother was honest and told me and my sister that money for college was unavailable and that we would have to work for it if we wanted to attend. Well, after placing top in the county and being a state finalist in three events, letters from colleges came in. I was under the impression that the cost to attend a university was out of my reach. Not to mention during all the years of working I had forgotten to take the SAT. The University of Florida, Appalachian State and University of South Florida all sent letters and I never responded due to being unprepared. My coach urged me to at least see what the universities were offering but being in fear of hearing the high dollar tuition fees and all… it really tugged at me. Through it all I still knew that a degree was highly necessary. So instead I decided to attend ITT Technical Institute for a degree in Electronics Engineering. Upon graduating with an AAS degree hand…I was excited to get back on the track,” Jeff explains.
Although Jeff passed on the collegiate track experience, that did not mark the end of his track career. He went on to discover an alternative route, Master Track. “Masters Track is comprised of male and female individuals ranging from ages 30 to 100+! Athletes are paired in age increments of (5) years; in example 30-35 or 55-60. These athletes compete at various levels and have different goals. Some have the ability to compete at higher levels where others may compete once again for the sheer joy of the sport. All races and competitions are conducted under USA Track & Field guidelines. Currently I am ranked as one of the top sprinters both nationally and internationally. There are also American and National records for every event. I am very close to breaking the American 100 meter record,” Jeff says.
At the age of 44, Jeff is still one of the best. Master Track has offered him great opportunity so far. The most rewarding? A shot at the Olympics. “Being invited to the 2012 Olympic Trials was the most rewarding feeling! The nation’s top 40 and up Masters Athletes were invited to compete in a packed Hayward Field in Eugene Oregon! I was treated just like the pros with credentials and all! First class everything! Took photos with fans and even signed autographs! Totally reached one of the pinnacles in the sport,” Jeff exclaims.
Jeff doesn’t plan to let up anytime soon. He has plans to continue to run and even expand his career. “My next venture is to help motivate and guide others to conquer their goals to the fullest of their possibility! I willing to travel all over to prove and show that age and excuses should not dictate your destiny!!”
What advice would you give to a person today who wanted to get serious about competing in masters track?
Expect to be driven and pushed! A runner can decide to have a full scheduled season or run in nearby local meets. If the athlete pushes themselves they can be the top in the country in the masters rankings! Possibly even earning notoriety! You may run independently or choose to run with a track club.
I would say that 20% is being mentally prepared. Being prepared to deal with heavy sweating, body exhaustion and the will to ignore muscle soreness from the result of lactic acid burn. It is also best to have a set schedule or routine in place. Any distractions or deviations from your routine may compromise your training and performance.
Why do you think a person’s mindset is so integral to their success?
I feel that you really should be connected to all of your inner thoughts that pertain to your goals! I would say that you should be almost somewhat slightly addicted to what you want to achieve. This is usually referred to as being, “Driven”. In today’s society there are lots of distractions and if you are easily dismayed or your thoughts are all over the place; your success may take longer than you think.