Interview with Kirk DeWindt

While Kirk DeWindt might be most recognizable from his time in front of the camera, he is more often seen helping people behind the scenes achieve their health and wellness goals.

He is an on-air personality on The CW23 Twin Cities and a personal trainer operating out of Lions Gym in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

In our recent interview, Kirk discusses his passion for running and explains his “quality over quantity” approach to training.

MMG: Kirk, thanks for sitting down with us at Man Meets Goat. For those unfamiliar with your story, could you start by telling us a bit about how you got into running?

KIRK: I grew up tagging along with my old man on my bike while he would go for his evening runs after work. I remember feeling like his little buddy and looking up to him as he trucked along.

It didn’t take much more than that to solidify that I wanted to do just like he did – run. My first real crack at running was a cross country meet my freshman year of high school.

I quit soccer after our first game because I didn’t start (ego problems).

The next day I showed up at cross country practice and they took me in with open arms. Two days later I had my first 5k cross country meet and competed on the J.V. squad.

I won by two and 1/2 minutes and my time would have placed me second in the Varsity race. From that point on I knew I was onto something.

MMG: So you stuck with the running and ended up competing at the college-level and were an All-American in track. What was that experience like? How did it shape your outlook on health and wellness?

KIRK: From a young age I realized working hard was accompanied by the satisfaction of accomplishment – I learned that from watching my dad run when I was a youngster.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that few experiences compare to achieving your goals after years of day in and day out diligence.

My first time being an All-American was my freshman year of college. I was seeded 17th (out of 18) going into nationals in the 1500, not expected to place or even make finals.

Lo and behold I was the last qualifier into finals and out kicked a senior in the last five meters for the last All-American spot.

I had never been in such an exhausted state of elation in my entire life. My future was sealed at that point – hard work, sacrifice, and diligence pays off.

Going out of your way to put health and performance first is a small price to pay when the reward has the potential to be so great.

MMG: Years later, you continue to compete in local races and took first and second place in quite a few this past fall. How does the experience of competing at the collegiate level compare to competing now? Do you approach it in the same way?

KIRK: Competing at the collegiate level has shaped my current racing in two ways. First, it’s put money in my bank.

Years of running is like slowly putting money in the bank. It’s there to take out when you need it.

Years and years of running has filled my bank account quite nicely, and that physical engine it has created is always there when I need it.

Of course I need to methodically train, but not as hard as I used to as my body is reaping the rewards of the hard work I’ve done over years of training.

Second, I train and race smarter. I know I can run half the miles I ran in college and still compete almost as well.

How? By training with the “quality over quantity” philosophy. Less miles, more intense. It yields practically the same result while allowing me to have a significantly better life/workout balance.

Competing as a post-collegiate athlete is fun. The pride and drive is still there without the pressure of performance really.

Competing now has become more fun than it ever has been. And, now that I’m 30, it’s nice to go out and run toe to toe with the young pups still competing in the NCAA.

Don’t ever lose your pride and drive – they will keep you moving forward and progressing.

MMG: Can you provide an overview of your training? What are you doing in addition to running?

KIRK: I workout seven days a week, maybe taking one day off a month or so. Here is a typical week of workouts for me:

  • Monday, I lift heavy in the morning – chest, triceps and core – and then rest in the afternoon;
  • Tuesday, I run a steady 6-8 miles in the morning and then lift heavy – back and biceps – in the afternoon;
  • Wednesday, I do an interval workout – 2-3 mile warm-up, 4 or so miles of intervals anywhere between 400m repeats to 2 mile repeats, and 2-3 mile cool-down – and then rest in the afternoon;
  • Thursday, I lift heavy in the morning – shoulders and core – and in the afternoon do an easy shake-out run of 3-4 miles;
  • Fiday, I run a steady 6-8 miles in the morning and rest in the afternoon;
  • Saturday, I do a long run of 10-12 miles in the morning and rest in afternoon;
  • And Sunday, I do an easy 4-8 miles in the morning.

All together in a week, I run 30-40 miles and lift heavy three to four times.

MMG: With your own training and training your clients, you seem to live inside the gym. But what do you do outside the gym in relation to your training? Do you follow a particular diet?

KIRK: When it comes to working out and diet I go by the “Rome wasn’t built in a day” philosophy, which means consistency TRUMPS short term ambition.

I’m always consistent with my workouts, but if I am tired I listen to my body. I rest. I don’t expect my body or fitness to progress overnight, I understand it takes time.

I do the things I know is best for it and sometimes its pushing and sometimes it’s rest.

Also, I’m not perfect with my diet. I eat well of course, but I don’t think a completely rigid diet would do anything for my sanity.

I drink alcohol, I eat fast food, I don’t always eat at proper time intervals, but it’s just that which allows me to not hate my life and continue with my fitness journey.

With my diet, however, I do stay away from wheat and dairy as much as possible as I can tell I feel more sluggish when eating it.

MMG: I am guessing that you are constantly on the move. How do you find balance between your work, personal life and your own training?

KIRK: Great question. I truly believe balance is the most important thing to becoming a well-rounded athlete.

If all I did was train all the time I’d be unhappy and ultimately quit. If all I did was attend happy hours and socialize I’d lose my fitness. So, a balance must be found to maintain my sanity and my fitness. F

or me, it’s scheduling my workout each day as if it’s an appointment that must be attended. From there you can still find free time to see friends, pursue relationships, etc.

As long as you get enough sleep and aren’t wandering through your day like a zombie, there is plenty of time to work, workout, and play each day.

MMG: As a personal trainer with a wide range of clients, what are some of the biggest missteps you see people make in their training?

KIRK: The biggest misstep is people burning out. They hit the ground running and can’t sustain it – ultimately giving up on their fitness path.

Again, the “Rome wasn’t built in a day” philosophy applies here. It truly is possible for people to be ‘too committed’ in the beginning, especially if they aren’t regular exercisers before coming to see me. You’d also be surprised with how many people expect immediate results.

Then, when they don’t see them in the first week they give up. It’s unfortunately common.

Also, I see many clients have the “all in” or “all out” mentality. I usually see it manifest in them being regimented and great on the weekdays with both their fitness and diet, then completely fall off the wagon on the weekend in both regards. That significantly slows progress and can be morally deflating.

Go out, have a few beers and pizzas with your friends, but your butt better be up and working out Saturday morning.

My rule is if I go out and have a night with friends my ONLY option is to run 8 or more miles the next day. Offset the extra calories, sweat it out, and be no worse for the splurge. Works every time.

MMG: As someone who regularly competes throughout the year in races, what is your best piece of advice to others who are training to compete?

KIRK: Recovery is JUST as important as hard days. Yes, you need to work hard as hell a few days a week, but in between those hard efforts should be moderate to easy days to allow your body to recharge for your next hard session.

If you’re a runner, do interval training and a long run each week. The other runs are just fillers to get in mileage and improve/maintain your aerobic base.

If you’re a lifter, lift HARD 3 or so days each week and go easy/light the rest. Your body will thank you and ultimately progress.

MMG: In the world of CrossFit, the term “goat” is used to refer to something that you suck at. What is your “goat” in the gym?

KIRK: Legs. Hands down. Sure they can go for miles (literally) but my raw strength could be better.

As a distance runner I was taught not to lift with my legs as it took away from the productivity of my running.

Now that I’ve been out of college for a while I’m back to working my legs. Slowly, but surely, they are coming around. BUT, they still need work.

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