to be the best in a conventional sport like running, sometimes it takes an
unconventional method like runners training together instead of one-on-one with
“In the past, the sport revolved around this idea that you need to be selfish with blinders on,” said Danny Mackey, head coach of the Brooks Beasts Track Club. “Part of our team’s narrative is proving that a group of track athletes can function as a team and win global medals. It’s very different from other groups. It’s not just a group wearing the same jersey logo but practicing together to help each other become better.”
idea of not just having a team to run with on race day, but to train with on a
daily basis is still not very common in the professional running world.
“In high school and college, you have a team environment, but when you become a pro, there’s not many opportunities to score as a team, so it becomes really individualized,” said Katie Mackey, a Brooks Beast who specializes in the 1500m and 5K. “The Beasts team recreates that college atmosphere – living, training, and having fun together. If it wasn’t for the Beasts, I don’t think I’d still be running professionally.”
To Danny, the idea of training as a running team versus training individually is a no-brainer since it provides athletes with benefits they wouldn’t otherwise receive – the biggest one being the camaraderie they develop during training that carries over to race days.
The Beasts like to think of themselves as a wolf pack – individually strong but able to succeed in attacking larger targets when they work together. And succeed, they have. The Beasts compete at top events across the world, and just this past year, they set a world record for the men’s indoor 4xMile.
This success is due in part to a team atmosphere that provides the
culture, challenges, and community the runners need in order to thrive.
A Culture To Succeed In
culture of a team can be described as the unifying characteristics of the
group. This is just as important as the individual athletes because without a
unifying element, there is no team.
to have fun, but when it comes to racing, we’re very serious and have huge
goals,” Danny said.
the beginning, Danny’s tried to create a unique culture with a lively,
uplifting, and competitive tone and to instill the importance of this into the
“The culture is super important because when we hit rough patches, the team can get out of them quicker by helping each other rather than solely relying on me,” Danny said.
many organizations, the culture begins from the top and trickles down to affect
every aspect of the team.
starts with me to a degree,” Danny said. “If you picture bumpers when a little
kid is bowling, that’s kind of like my job – to keep the team in the lane,
culture-wise. But if you have one person that’s not committed, it can eat away
at the entire team culture, so credit also goes to the individual athletes.”
his coaching, Danny has ingrained the importance of that culture into his team.
“When we’re recruiting people, we look for somebody who fits the mold of our team,” said Henry Wynne, a Brooks Beast who specializes in the 1500m. “Obviously, we want someone who runs fast, but we also want somebody who works hard and isn’t selfish. Team is the most important thing to us.”
Freitas, who runs the 800m and 1500m for the Beasts, has only been with the
team for six months, but even she clearly understands the importance of the
team culture and doesn’t take it for granted.
a good culture takes work from each person,” Marta said. “It doesn’t just
happen. We have meetings to build that
culture to try to be good teammates and support each other. It’s something that
immediately attracted me to this group.”
Challenges To Grow From
does the team provide a thriving culture for the Beasts, it also provides them
with unique challenges that allow them to grow.
coaching perspective, having a team of runners allows Danny to train them
together as opposed to creating separate workouts for individual athletes. Though the
Beasts don’t always compete in the same event, Danny will often have the them
run together during practice.
them run together to imitate the pressure of championship races where the
competitors are literally shoulder to shoulder while running,” Danny said. “I
want them aware of their surroundings.”
brings the best out of everybody,” Henry said. “When you’re feeling tired and
hear someone breathing on your shoulder, that competitive nature flares up —
no way you’re going to let that person pass. Then, during a big championship race when
someone comes up on your shoulder, you tell yourself, ‘I’ve done this a million
times in practice.’ So, you dig in deep and don’t let him pass.”
athlete’s perspective, team training can be beneficial for runners because it
gives them the opportunity to challenge, inspire, and encourage each other.
your teammates out there ripping it up and running extremely fast times pushes
you to become better,” said Josh Kerr, a 1500m Brooks Beast. “You say to
yourself, ‘I can do that. I’ve been doing the same training as them.’”
in Seattle, most of the time it’s raining, and some days it’s hard to get up
early in the morning to run, but having people hold you accountable to train
with them every single day makes it easier to get out the door,” Henry said.
“Nobody lets you slack.”
encouraging and challenging each other doesn’t just happen at practice. The
Beasts constantly push each other to keep going and not give up.
“Everyone encourages each other and builds each other up, and that’s not something you can find in every team,” Katie said. “We’re with each other in the highs — like watching a teammate run a PR, but we’re also with each other in the lows — like my teammate sitting next to me when I missed making the U.S. team by one spot. We’re on this roller coaster together.”
not going to have a great day every day, no one does,” Marta said. “But being
surrounded by a team helps. They help remind you why you’re here.”
A Community To Belong To
running community is a special niche group of people who understand each
other’s passion and can relate to both the highs and lows of being a runner.
Beasts acknowledge the importance of this community and hope to be bright
lights within it.
“What makes the
Brooks Beasts unique is our mission to give back to the community,” Katie said.
“In Seattle, we have an open environment for runners who come into the city for
competitions or training camps, and at meets, athletes gravitate toward our
team. They’ll hop in with us while we train, and it’s totally accepted.”
being a part of this larger running community, the Beasts, with their unique
culture, have integrated a family vibe. This tight bond is vital to the team’s
“If you look at special forces, there’s a reason why platoons are a certain size, because you want that family dynamic, that camaraderie,” Danny said.
know that the team is more than just competing together on race days. It means
having each other’s backs and knowing they’ll have yours.
“We compete for the same spots on the U.S. team and our jobs are on the line, but there’s enough room for us to be on the podium together,” Katie said. “We’re here to build each other up, be family, and compete against other top athletes.”
races everyone is fit and trained professionally, so it’s the little things
that make the difference – being surrounded by a healthy environment, learning
to take risks,” Marta said. “Having a team’s support gives me that extra step I
need to be able to achieve something great. I’m in a prosperous environment. I
can take risks and grow from them because my team is here to support me, not
judge me. I cannot stress how important that is.”
“In one weekend, one person may be racing
in China, while another races in Belgium, and somebody else is in LA,” Henry
said. “It can get lonely traveling by yourself, but you know you have your
team. When you finish a race, whether it went well or not, you have text
messages from 12 people giving you support.”
more than willing to lend a listening ear if an athlete wants to talk, but he explains
that having teammates allows them to empathize with each other and further
build the team chemistry.
different perspective when you talk to a teammate,” Danny said. “They’ve
experienced what you’re going through and can encourage you to keep going.”
Brooks Beasts are proof that training as a team is beneficial to all athletes.
And as runners across the globe prepare to leave their mark on the world’s
biggest stage in 2020, the Beasts are training together hoping to make it in
If you’re going to buy a new pair of running shoes, it’s best to get an expert’s opinion, which is why we talked with David Ribich and Katie Mackey, two members of the Brooks Beasts Track Club, to get their thoughts on the new Ghost 12. As professional athletes, these two know what they’re talking about, so without further ado, here’s four reasons to buy the new Brooks Ghost 12 running shoes.
1. There’s no break-in time required.
If you’ve done your fair share of
running, you’re familiar with the break-in process of shoes. It usually takes a
couple days of wearing them around the house before they feel comfortable
enough to run in. Right out of the box, shoes can often be stiff and harsh on
your feet but not the Ghost 12s. This is because of the unique upper made from
engineered mesh and Brooks 3D Fit Print which uses a screen-printing process to
add strategic stretch for a seamless structure.
“They form to your foot,” David said. “They’re one of those shoes you put on and don’t have to get the blisters or the sore feet. They feel good right off the rip.”
2. It has a perfect balance of cushioning.
As mid-distance runners, both
Katie and David want some cushioned comfort but also want structure to keep
their paces up. With durable cushion near the heel and a more responsive layer
near the forefoot, the Ghost 12’s dual cushioning gives runners a just-right
“The Ghost is the shoe I do the majority of my training miles in because it’s a good, cushioned, neutral running shoe,” Katie said. “It gives protection to my feet when I’m pounding out all my base miles.”
3. It’s versatile for miles.
Designed with traction pads for durability, lightweight
mesh for speed, and responsive cushioning for comfort – these shoes are ready
for anything, and both Katie and David testify to this point.
it’s for a 40-minute run, or a 16-mile run, the Ghosts are my shoes,” David
“It’s lightweight enough that I can hop into a hill workout on the roads or do a quality long run in it,” Katie said. “And sometimes I use it in place of a training flat.”
4. It’s got a good record.
The Ghost shoes have been renewed 12
times with slight changes throughout the years to make each rendition better
than the last. So, if you liked a previous version of the Ghost, chances are
you’ll love the Ghost 12. In a sport where minimal gear is required,
it’s best to know that you can count on your shoes to be the best at what they
do – enhancing your run and protecting your feet. The Ghost 12s will do just
“The Ghosts have come a long way. I remember running in the Ghost 10 in college,” David said. “They’ve gotten incrementally better.”
To shop all other Brooks running shoes, check out eastbay.com.
Katie Mackey is a member of the Brooks Beasts Track Club. Her most recent accomplishment was placing second at the 2019 USATF Indoor Championships 3000m.
DON’T consider skipping your warm-up.
says, “As you move during warm-up exercises, a little bit of fluid gets in
between your joints, helping lubricate and protect them. If you just get off
the couch and start sprinting, your body isn’t prepared and you’re more likely
to hurt yourself, but by gradually warming up, you reduce your chances of
DO consider skipping during your warm-up.
opening exercises you should feel loose and ready for a bit more dynamic
activity. Skipping is a step above walking and stretching and a step below
running – a versatile, dynamic warm-up activity.
gives two reminders regarding skipping drills:
sure you land with your whole foot on the ground and that you’re not just
coming down on your toes. You want to feel the rolling through the foot motion,
which is important because it affects how everything moves all the way up.”
sure your arms are relaxed and that you’re tall through the torso.”
DON’T ignore your body.
says, “Mentally go through a checklist and take note if you feel any weird
pinching or if there’s a particular motion that causes an unusual reaction. If
you do feel anything unusual that’s a good indication that maybe you should
take a minute to stop and do a few specific stretches targeted at that muscle
area until it feels normal. Your body will give you a lot of useful clues for
preventing injury and staying healthy, if you’re listening.”
DO work out with a friend.
doing stretches one at a time with your workout partner so they can watch your
form and give feedback.
says, “They’ll be able to spot stuff that looks wonky that you may not pick up
on. There’re times my technique is getting a bit sloppy and my teammate will
walk by and point something out to improve. You don’t get those benefits
training by yourself.”
DON’T forget why you run.
says, “I always feel better after a run. We live in a culture where there’s
distraction at your fingertips, so to get out there and totally shut off all
distraction is just relaxing. I never return from a run and regret it.”
In 2013, Danny Mackey was hired as head coach of the newly formed Brooks Beasts Track Club in Seattle.
With years of experience as a
competitive runner and a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and
Biomechanics, Danny’s earned the respect of his team with his knowledge of
science and sport.
“I’m not a scientist; I majored
in Econ,” joked
Henry Wynne, a 1500m Brooks Beast. “The science stuff is Danny’s job, but
I trust him enough to train hard and give my best.”
“When an athlete asks Danny why we’re doing something, it’s not just, ‘Because you’re told to.’ He knows exactly why we’re doing this and working on that,’” said Josh Kerr, a 1500m Brooks Beast. “It makes you much more confident.”
Danny’s training methods work on
holistically improving his athletes so that come race day, they are the best
version of themselves: strong, fast, passionate runners ready to win.
Throughout his coaching career, Danny’s
noticed that many runners don’t implement strength training into their
workouts. But he believes strength training is critical for professional runners
for multiple reasons.
“The first thing strength training helps with is injury prevention,” Danny said. “Running is very hard on your body. So if there’s a weak link in the chain, it’ll come up at some point, and something will get hurt. But when you’re structurally stronger, you can handle an 8-mile tempo run like our team does.”
“The other main reason for
strength training is that there is a direct performance benefit because you’re
able to generate more power,” Danny said. “Every race comes down to a kick, the
last centimeters, and being in the weight room helps you build strength to
generate power to sprint.”
Before he turned
professional and began training with Danny, Kerr didn’t regularly integrate
strength training into his workouts. Now, after joining
the team and implementing Danny’s advice, Kerr is convinced that strength
training is crucial for professional runners.
really does make you feel more stable and stronger,” Kerr said. “It’s
definitely a beneficial part of our program, and I think we have the lowest
injury rate among the professional teams because of that strength program.”
encourage people to just start somewhere, even if you’re just in there for 10
minutes,” Danny said. “Anything will help.”
As mentioned earlier, races come down
to who has the endurance and speed to give a little extra oomph during the
final stretch. Altitude training helps professional athletes gain that edge
above their competitors by increasing the efficiency of their run. *
For the Beasts this means heading to
altitude camp in Albuquerque which is at an average elevation of 5, 312 feet
above sea level.
“We usually head to altitude camp twice
a year for like four weeks, and that’s enough time to gain the benefits,” Danny
said. “Now, one of the simple benefits is gaining time in a hypoxic
state which just means there’s less air available to breathe.”
Since air gets thinner and air
pressure drops as your go higher, your body works harder for each breath you
“This causes stress in your body
and an increase in red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body,”
Danny said. “So when you go down to sea level to race, you have the ability to
carry more oxygen, which should translate to being able to run faster.”
Train Because ______ .
Seeing the bigger picture is an
important part of distance running, both during competition and during training.
Danny has woven this idea into the Brooks Beast culture so that both he and the
team remember why they run.
“The team is big on finding your
narrative and what story you’re writing day-to-day,” Danny said. “When that’s
happening, you can get more out of your body.”
Every runner has a reason
why they run – to win, to feel good, to look good, etc. Danny is no exception.
“I run for a couple reasons,
one is because I’m big on raw and simple,” Danny said. “You can run anywhere,
and all you need is a pair of shoes and two articles of clothing, three if you
“Another big reason I run is
to challenge myself,” Danny said. “Having milestones is a basic human need,
something to strive for and try to achieve. When I get home from a run, I’m
proud, and no one can take that away from me.”
The last reason Danny gives
for running is the mental health benefits.
“Running is a meditative thing
for me,” Danny said. “When I’m running with no music, just breathing, I’m aware
of what my body’s doing. I’m in a better state to be a better coach
and a better friend. All of those other things happen because of running.”
Why do you run? Share your story on social media using #WhyIRun. To find out why the rest of the Brooks Beast team runs, check out the Run Like A Beast video series.
*It is important to note that without proper preparation altitude training can be dangerous, so be sure to consult professionals before engaging in activity at higher elevations.