The Press Newspaper
Zack Powell has a 4.1 GPA, so he's a smart kid.
But try getting a teenager to get out of bed before the sun rises, especially in the middle of winter, and that can be an entirely different matter.
"At first it was rough," Powell said. "I had my mom wake me up at 5:15."
Things have changed since early December, when Powell, fellow Lake junior teammate Louis Szilagyi and Flyers cross country coach Ken Mysinger started their early-morning run in Walbridge, Millbury and Moline.
"Some days I'll wake up before my alarm goes off," Powell said. "At first it was work getting up early, but now I feel better when I get up and do it. I just feel better during the day and I know it will help me later on."
Szilagyi said he's always been sort of a "morning" person, so running with Powell and Mysinger before sunrise wasn't that big of a deal.
"It was a little extra to try to get up that early," Szilagyi said. "After the first two or three times, it just became normal. It's kind of relaxing and it gets me better for track and cross country. At first it was a little rough, but it's really become part of my morning."
They call themselves “The Breakfast Club.”
"We typically begin at 5:45 a.m. and finish before 6:30 a.m.," said Mysinger, who also coaches the varsity middle distance and distance runners for the Lake track team. "The temperature one time reached 17 below, but these two individuals, and at times others, have dedicated themselves to improving for track and cross country."
The Breakfast Club runs Monday through Friday. The last few weeks, as the weather has gotten warmer, other Lake athletes have joined Mysinger, Powell and Szilagyi on the road.
Powell and Szilagyi ran on Lake's cross country team last fall, and both run the 800, 1600 and 4x400 relay for the Flyers' track team.
"My times have decreased dramatically," Powell said. "I was pretty slow last year. In invitationals, with eight or more teams, I was always in the back. At our last invitational, at Liberty Center, I got second in the mile and third in the 800."
Szilagyi has already won 800 and 1600 events this spring. Since the end of last season he has dropped his time in the 1600 by more than 20 seconds, and by more than 12 seconds in the 800.
Szilagyi said the Breakfast Club runs have "helped me tons."
Mysinger said the idea to run before the start of school each day came about two years ago. He made an announcement at school that he was doing early-morning workouts because, for him, "if I didn't do it in the morning before school in the winter, it typically didn't get done."
Mysinger said there wasn't much of a response from students to join him each morning, when he would work out in the Lake weight room and run indoors at the school.
"This year I decided I'm just going to be doing my own thing, out on the road," said Mysinger, who ran track at Bowling Green State University. "I hated it indoors in the winter. I wanted to coach runners. That's what I do. Last year's response was poor, so I decided to do my running outdoors and when and where I want to.
"I invited my cross country runners. I told them I was going to do my morning run at this time. That's when it got going with Louis and Zack. They started with me this winter before school, around the first of December."
The trio began to run on Mondays and Fridays at Railway Park in Walbridge. They then started mixing up their morning run.
"I said if you're out there in the morning putting in the time, chances are your competition is going to be home sleeping. That's going to make you one step ahead of them. If nothing else, it's going to make you mentally tougher. It's given them a base to work with."
What do Powell's friends and family think about his daily 5:45 a.m. run?
"They all think I'm nuts," Powell said. "They're happy that I found something I enjoy. We all just have a good time. We joke around. It's like getting together with friends and running. It's not really work. We're just putting in the time and we've gotten a lot better."
Mysinger, 51, said Powell and Szilagyi have made "tremendous" improvement in the past several months.
"They are a coach's dream and a teacher's dream," he said. "I take a lot of abuse from them in the morning with the 'old' coach jokes, but it's been worth it for me, working with these two especially. At times I feel old, but we have a good time. The more people we have, the more fun we have. We'll welcome anybody."
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