Johnny Gregorek during training (© ASICS)
Your body is capable of doing a lot more than your mind will tell it it's capable of.
And knowing that is a huge element to push yourself a little further, and make the sacrifice that you got to make if you want to be at the highest level.
I wasn't necessarily trying to become a professional runner. I run because it comes naturally to me. I could tell it's what I was born to do.
My parents had a high school cross country camp. And so I was really drawn to that. And I remember traveling around in the vans going from meet to meet. And I think I just really enjoyed being a part of it.
I'm doing some sort of training two to three times a day, seven days a week. Most of my work is centred around being a more powerful, efficient runner. 12 or 13 miles is usually the amount that I'll end up covering.
A huge part of athletic performance is listening to your body. Oftentimes as athletes we're expected to show up and just get everything we can out of our body, win the race.
And that's it, it's as simple as that. When in fact, you know, the mental side of approaching a sport is just as important as the physical.
And it requires just as much training.
My brother Patrick was a runner as well. We were always competitive, but he was always kind of a nice reminder not to take it too seriously.
Patrick really struggled with depression and anxiety, and it's such a difficult and horrible disease. I still feel his spirit with me every day and trying to honor that spirit I thought well why don't I try to run a really fast mile in blue jeans. A joyful and fun thing that sounded a lot like my brother.
And so when the day came and I ran the world record of four minutes and six seconds for the blue jean mile it was really just a beautiful and powerful moment.
I want to thank my little brother Patty. He inspired me every day and I love him. I miss him. And this is for him. It's for anyone else who's out there struggling. I would hope that Patrick's story encouraged people to get involved and spread awareness themselves.
It's the highest honor to be able to represent your country. And in order to do that I'll have to bring together every ounce of physical and mental preparation that I've done over the past 11 years in this sport.
It's a long, long path in that everyone's path looks very different. Just don't compare yourself to others.
Just try to be the best version of yourself every day. I think knowing that you have a support system of people who will love you and care about you no matter how you run is incredibly important.
Happiness is only real when shared.
So it's that shared happiness that I'm seeking, that drives me.
Images and video: ASICS
Bust out your denim for Mental Health Awareness Month and help Johnny and ASICS raise awareness for mental health here.