COLUMBIA – The repeated thump of shoes hitting pavement fills the cool air and quick, steady breaths match the sound of the lime green running shoes.
Faint music blares from Hayden Legg’s ear buds as he runs through parks and neighborhoods on his five-mile trek down Forum Boulevard.
“Saturday is an easy day,” he said, referring to his five-mile run.
Legg is a member of the Missouri cross country and track teams and runs around 110 miles per week during peak training. He has been running since third grade and hopes to progress to marathons after graduation.
Legg began running in third grade at his elementary school’s after-school running program. His brother was already participating in the program and, in true little brother fashion, Legg decided to participate and was involved until fifth grade.
He ran cross country and track in seventh and eighth grade but almost did not continue the sports into high school. He originally planned to play soccer and baseball, but his brother and friend decided to run cross country, which made him switch as well.
“It worked out for me,” Legg said.
Due to his high levels of endurance, Legg focuses on long distance races during the track season, like the 5K and 10K. Training for these races includes countless miles as well as weight training.
“I run anywhere from 90-110 miles a week,” he said. “Sunday is a long run and we do 18 miles.”
Racking up the miles directly correlates with racking up the shoes. A typical pair of shoes lasts 300-500 miles but Legg gets roughly 700 miles from his shoes. With running at least 100 miles per week, he goes through about eight pairs of shoes a year.
“My favorite shoe is Nike Structure,” he said. “They last a long time; they’re a neutral shoe and are not meant for someone who pronates or supinates. They’re just comfortable.”
While running in 60-degree weather is ideal, he also likes running in colder temperatures.
“I like going out when its like zero degrees and snowing,” he said. “People think I’m crazy and that’s always fun.”
Legg is dedicated, but he says the best part of running is when the run is over and the pain has vanished.
“Finishing and knowing that I worked hard and did something that most people don’t do is the best part.”