Katie Mackey raced to an eighth place finish in the 3000m at the World Indoor Championships earlier this year, securing herself as a top competitor among the world-elite. But, if that’s all you know, then you don’t know Katie. She is a dynamic health advocate, youth wellness leader, family-focused, faith-driven individual, and of course, a force on the track. We caught up with Katie to talk about her ‘pit crew’, what keeps her pushing day-in and day-out, and more.
AthleteBiz (AB): It is so refreshing to hear you repeatedly emphasize how important your training partners, teammates, husband/coach and Brooks is to your personal growth and athletic success. Can you share more about how all these factors have combined to bring you where you are today?
Katie Mackey (KM): Running is often portrayed as a solitary sport, and of course it can be that way at times, but I really believe that if it wasn’t for the Brooks Beasts I wouldn’t be enjoying what I’m doing enough on a day to day basis to still be professionally running 8 years after I started! I’m a big believer that to get the best out of yourself consistently over time, you need to be having fun. My teammates make the grind of training something I look forward to every day, even if my body isn’t feeling great or I don’t feel super motivated. And chances are, if I’m not feeling great, someone else is and they can encourage me that day, and when I have days that I’m feeling good I can encourage them. When you’re training for hours together every day without phones or any distractions, and living together for weeks at altitude camps, you get to know each other on a deep level and can really come alongside each other in a unique way that I love. It’s like a family. There was nothing more rewarding than watching Drew work so hard at practice and then put it all together at Worlds to bring home that silver medal! The excitement and energy just bleeds into the team and brings the best out of everyone.
I think the thing people love about sports in general is that it pushes you out of your comfort zone so that you can see what you’re really capable of. Failure to achieve goals, pain and suffering are all catalysts to look at your motivations and what you’re doing that works and doesn’t work. I think the growth that causes transcends sport, and will make you a better person in your relationships, job and life outside the track. It has for me! And I wouldn’t have been able to grow the way I have without the people who come around the Beasts and support us- especially everyone at Brooks, the Beasts Head Coach Danny, mentors like Dan Pfaff, our team nutritionist Dr. Kyle Pfaffenbach, sports psychs, physiologist Dr. Corey Hart, the therapists who have kept me healthy like Dr. Kevin Rindall and Brad Ott, I could go on and on- without an amazing “pit crew” of selfless individuals who have supported me, there’s no way I would have made it this far!
Shop Brooks Shoes and Gear at Running Warehouse – purchases through this link provide direct support to Katie!
AB: You created and led a wonderful camp in Seattle called Kickin’ It With Katie. You’ve described it as a Girl’s Sports Confidence Camp. Are you excited to bring your own heightened self-confidence and insights to the next camp?
KM: Yes!! The camp I put on in the fall for local high school girls is one of the highlights of the year, hands down!! We stay at an airbnb all weekend and go for some runs together, take a tour of the Brooks Headquarters, do a Q&A with the rest of the Beasts and a workshop with the Women’s team. After missing making the Olympic team in 2016, I had to really sit down and ask myself “why do you run?” I realized that there are so many things I love about my job- the pursuit of goals, competition, traveling, and even training, that I had drifted away from my original reason for running, which was because I feel like running is a gift that God gave me to serve and give back to others with. I had always thought that I needed to achieve something, like being an “Olympian” to make a difference. I remember thinking, what if I could go back and talk to myself when I was in high school? I’d have so much to share! I’ve been very lucky to have the support crew here with the Beasts that I do, and I wanted to bring girls together for a fun weekend where we can talk about the important skills you learn through the platform of sport that they will use for the rest of their lives- resiliency, confidence, and healthy respect for your body.
AB: Your Dad stole the spotlight in the family earlier this year with his celebrated running streak milestone. Now that you’ve made a USA World Championship team and finished #8 in the world, have you regained bragging rights in the family?
100,000 lifetime miles for @kevin.follett!!! Although I’ve always given him tons of crap for his meticulous log keeping, it’s pretty cool to know that we’ve run 2,387 of those miles together, making me #1 on his “Follett miles” list of lifetime running partners! Probably my biggest running accomplishment to date #forrealdoe #proudofpops
KM: Haha! I don’t know about that! It was awesome to be a part of something that he had been working towards since before I was even born. My dad started keeping track of his miles in high school with the hopes of one day reaching 100,000 miles. Whenever my dad and I are together a part of the day involves going for a run (and from the time I started running with him around age 7, it’s usually the highlight of the day because it is the time we get to catch up without any distractions and just enjoy being outside). It is so inspirational to see this huge lifetime goal of his come together because I’ve seen how uneventful the process could seem at times, but his dedication made it happen. It was just step-by-step, day-by-day, run-by-run. That dedication is the same type of dedication that I hope to bring to my own running career, just doing the right thing day after day, one workout building on the other until something really special happens.