Let’s Get to Know … Kyle Konczal

Sometimes, finding time to squeeze in a run is hard! With family obligations, work, school, fitting in a social life, etc. sometimes the thing that falls by the wayside is running.

But with dedication and a desire to run fast, it’s possible to fit it all in. Just ask Kyle Konczal.  While working a full-time job and getting his MBA, he still found time to train for a marathon – and race a 21 minute PR with a 4th overall finish.

Read on to learn more about his typical training weeks, how working with a coach helped elevate his running and his favorite places to log miles in MKE!


Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Kyle Konczal

Age: 26
Team affiliation: Performance Running Outfitters & ThunderDome Running
Years running: 4 Years
Favorite workout: The Long Run. I love after a week of solid mileage, getting out on a 20-mile run with semi-tired legs and clicking off some solid mileage!
Favorite gear: Has to be my Nike Structures. I have been running in them since the beginning (13 pairs). They obviously have treated me very well!
Pre-race routine: I will be up about 4 hours before a race and will go for an EARLY morning walk around Wauwatosa. Shower, breakfast, relax with a cup of coffee and watch a few episodes of Family Guy. I find the humor to be the best way to calm the mind on race morning.
Favorite post-race treat: An IPA (India Pale Ale). My theory is any endurance effort deserves a reward!
Favorite distance to race: My favorite distance is the marathon. The physical and mental challenges one endures during this distance can become such an addiction to try to master!
Significant wins/placings: The 2013-14 Great Lakes Multisport Winter Run Series. In midst of one of the worst winters, I challenged myself to race both the 5k and 10k races. I survived the winter and took 2nd Place Overall in both the 5k and 10k Series.

20140322_100214_img_0173editPhoto by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

 Why did you start running? And … what’s kept you running?
In 2011, I began a weight loss initiative and after 6 months of P90X I needed to find a new challenge. My mother (Vicki) had been running a 5k every month for a few years and she challenged me to a 5k. I was back and forth whether to do it, but finally agreed upon it. I ran the Jingle Bell Run 5k at the Milwaukee Zoo. I found the challenge of racing to be quite entertaining. Shortly after the 5k, I signed up for my first GLM Winter Run Series.

What keeps me running is exactly what I fell in love with. The challenge of pushing myself physically and mentally keeps running fun. When I step up to the start line of a race, the excitement of running with others who love running as much as I do produces a positive sense of competition and enjoyment.

Fill in the blank: When I run, I feel _______!
Happy. When I go for runs, I disconnect myself from all of my daily distractions. I leave my phone and music behind to trek out to daydream and think. When I have an opportunity to run with friends, it is the best time to catch up and share laughs together. Running from a macro perspective provides me serenity and pure joy with every stride!

Who do you look up to in running? Do you have any role models?
I can never narrow down my role models for running as there are too many amazing runners! A few that currently influence my running are Timothy Olson, Fernando Cabada, Anton Krupicka and Kilian Jornet. These four have inspired me to trek forward and strive to continuously push myself further and farther into the world of running. There is so much to learn and experience with running, and they have opened my eyes to future opportunities and goals.

How long have you worked with ThunderDome Running and why did you decide to work with a coach?
I have been working with Matt Thull and ThunderDome Running for about a year. I ran the 2013 Lakefront Marathon and fell apart at mile 15 (Time: 3:13:57). I began talking with numerous friends who work with ThunderDome Running and they suggested that I inquire. Upon an initial conversation with Matt, I became quite excited. I proceeded to begin training for the 2014 Wisconsin Marathon under the guidance of ThunderDome Running.


In what ways has working with ThunderDome Running helped improve your running/racing?
Prior to working with ThunderDome, I was chronically in pain and lacked the logic of a proper training plan. Matt’s experience and guidance provided structure, which opened a new door and began taking me to new levels. The weekly training plans provided a structure that was safe but challenging, week in and week out. I began seeing improvements in my endurance and abilities but also my overall health. My body no longer felt beat up every day and I was able to bounce back quicker from workouts given the proper structure of mileage and pacing. Matt’s method is simple; he provides the training tools, workouts and support. To find success in working with ThunderDome Running, you need to have the commitment to follow, listen and communicate. Doing so has helped me reach new levels and continuously achieve my goals

Another improvement that came from working with ThunderDome Running was a focus on my nutrition. To be successful at becoming a well-rounded runner, you must do more than just put the miles in. You have to have a respect and understanding of the nutritional requirements. I began working with Annie of Fit With Food Consulting to gain knowledge and understanding of the marathoner’s nutritional requirements. Annie provided me with guidance of my daily nutrition to get me down to a goal race weight. More importantly, when training began to intensify, she leveled me out and guided what my body needed for recovery and preparation for race week nutrition.

What does a typical training week look like for you?
My training for the 2014 Chicago Marathon has seen an increase in weekly mileage to range from about 60-75 miles. An average week looks like:

Monday: Recovery/Glue Mileage
Tuesday: Glue Mileage w/Strides OR Off Day
Wednesday: Workout Day
Thursday: Recovery/Glue Mileage
Friday: Glue Mileage
Saturday: Glue Mileage w/Strides
Sunday: Long Run

Many runners have difficulty fitting everything in – family/friends, work, social life, training, etc. How do you make time to train?
Marathon training is a huge time commitment, and sometimes sacrifices need to be made in both social and running lives. Training for my first two marathons was daunting; I was balancing a full-time job, pursuing my Masters and marathon training. Because I am a “Morning Person” I usually will get up at 4AM and get in a run before heading off to work. After work, my nights consisted of spending time in the classroom or doing homework. In June of 2014, I completed my Master’s program which provided me greater time to focus on running and family and friends. I even snuck in a vacation!

What running goals are you looking to tackle in the next few years?
I try not to look too far beyond my current goal race, which at this time is the Chicago Marathon. Next spring I will be running my first Boston Marathon. I am very excited for this race and hope to have a really solid performance. After Boston, I am considering a pursuit of a 50-miler in the fall of 2015. I recently vacationed in Colorado and spent some time in Leadville, the host city for one of the oldest ultra marathons in the United States. I fell in love with the mountains, Leadville and Colorado during this trip. I dream that someday I will run the Leadville 100! Far off goals/dreams; for now, my eyes are set on Chicago and Boston.


What race has been the most memorable for you?
The 2014 Wisconsin Marathon stands out to me. This was my first marathon training with ThunderDome Running and I came into the race healthy and in the best fitness I have ever been in. I struggled late in the race and was caught by another runner. We worked together for 5 miles pushing and motivating each other. (Ever grateful, Brian!) At mile 25, my friend Griffin was yelling like crazy and cheering me on, and at that point I dropped the hammer. When I turned the final bend, my Dad was there cheering me on and I saw the clock click over to 2:52. The emotion of my accomplishment ran over me. I PR’d by 21 minutes and placed 4th but moreover I met my Boston Qualification by 13 minutes! My mom, dad, aunt and uncle were all at this race to cheer me on and celebrate this amazing experience.

WIMar2014 1

Do you have any favorite Milwaukee races?
My favorite race is the Brewer’s Mini Marathon. The course is gorgeous and the route takes you through some of the historic and unique locations that make Milwaukee. My favorite part is running through Miller Park with the crowds in the stands cheering everyone on. It makes this one race not to pass on. I have run the Brewers Mini every year since the inaugural run in 2012. With marathons just weeks away following the Brewers Mini, racing has not been the best option in 2013 or 2014. Last year, I was given an opportunity to pace the 1:45 group. I had such a great time talking and motivating fellow runners, and it became one of the most memorable experiences in my running career. I will be out there again this year pacing the 1:40 group!

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
I live and train mainly in Wauwatosa. With the amount of running I do in town, I like to have a change of scenery. I love running downtown along Lake Michigan and on the Oak Leaf Trail. With the wide variety of trail options, it is an ideal location to run!

What makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
What makes Milwaukee a great place for runners… is the runners. The running community is full of amazing, supportive and inspirational people. We are all unique and have our niches, but differences never matter because we come together to run. I run a number of Badgerland Striders events throughout the year, and the community of runners that organize these races are wonderful! They put on great events that bring together runners from across Southeastern Wisconsin! They also have awesome, cost-effective races that are high quality, and they sure know how to host an after party!

Any other comments?
“A runner must run with dreams in his heart.” –Emil Zatopek

No matter your speed, the distance or the number of races you have run. Continue to strive to reach your running dreams. Running is not easy, but that is what makes it so much fun! #RunLove

Thanks for chatting with us, Kyle! To connect with Kyle, you can follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kjkonczal

If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at keeprunningmke@gmail.com if you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Let’s Get to Know . . . post.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

One thought on “Let’s Get to Know … Kyle Konczal

  1. Reblogged this on runMKEkonz and commented:
    Let’s begin my new blog… with my friend Sun’s blog (Keep Running MKE) about my running, training, goals and life balances!

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