Chicago Maroon: How long have you been a runner?
Kiko Wemmer: I guess I started running in fifth grade. It was for the “National Physical Education Standards” test, or whatever it’s called. I ran the mile in 10:45, and I threw up afterward. My second time running was in sixth grade for the same Standards test. I ran that mile in 9:30 or so. I think I only dry heaved for 15 minutes after that one.
But if you were actually wondering, I started seriously running during eighth grade track and field. Even though long-distance running can be painful (and perhaps lame compared to other sports), I came to like it because I got out of it exactly what I put in. When I trained, I got better, and I liked the results.
Running is also accessible; it’s a working man’s sport. There are no politics involved when my coaches put a varsity roster together, and I don’t need any equipment other than a decent pair of running shoes—maybe a super supportive sports bra if I was better endowed. I also loved practices, because it’s like productive socializing time; our team can just run and talk for days.
CM: Did you always know you’d run in college?
KW: Not at all. I didn’t even decide to join my high school’s cross-country team until a week before the season started. I thought I wanted to be a sprint swimmer, because I was naturally better at it and more of my friends were on the swim team at the time. When I joined the cross-country team, all of my swimming friends admonished me for joining the “running cult.” I’m not sure what that was all about, but they were probably right. Runners do some weird things sometimes.
CM: Do you follow any professional running? The Olympics?
KW: I casually follow the Olympics, but I’m not a die-hard professional running fan by any means. I have mad respect for those freaks of nature, but let’s face it: Long-distance running isn’t that exciting to watch—especially when you don’t know the runners personally. My exception would be a professional 5K; that shit is magnificent no matter who is running it.
CM: Who do you model yourself after—do you have an athlete, or non-athlete, role model?
KW: I model myself after people I know—my parents, friends, teachers, etc. Professional athletes and Nobel Prize winners are amazing, but they seem so untouchable. I can’t ask them what they think about Yeezus, or why they care about the things they do. All I have are stats, quotes, and whatever personas the media provides for me. When it comes to regular people, however, I get a better sense of what’s important when money, glory, and fame are not the biggest parts of the equation.
CM: What do you think about on a long run? What is your internal monologue like?
KW: When I’m running alone, sometimes I play out conversations I had earlier in the week and reflect upon them. People are pretty neat, and they have a lot of profound things to say even when they don’t think they are being that deep. Sometimes I think of songs and poems I’d like to write down later. If I have a project due or a busy week ahead, sometimes I plan them out in my head. Sometimes I just think about how much I don’t want to be running right at that moment or how much running sucks, but that only lasts for the duration of a miserable run. I may hate running at times, but I don’t think I’ve ever regretted a run after it was finished. On the other hand, I took today completely off and it was awesome.