By Ryan Graney
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
After winning the Big 12 Championship and finishing just short of a national championship in the 800 meters in 2009, Tevan Everett knew he had found his niche on the track. Having spent most of his career as a 400-meter runner, Everett had the speed element of the race down but needed to build his endurance. Over an eight-month span, he would develop that element as he focused on training specifically for that race.
During the time between the end of his outdoor season until last weekend, Everett had not taken part in a competitive race. After exhausting his collegiate indoor eligibility last year, Everett had the opportunity to compete unattached at certain indoor meets. However, he and his coach, Texas Assistant John Hayes, had come up with a plan and they were going to stick with it.
Everett admitted that there were times when he wished he had competed during the indoor season. Being a competitor, he had hoped to showcase his skills against the nation’s best.
“The worst part of the eight months was seeing the U.S. Indoor Championships and knowing that I could’ve been there,” Everett said. “I was very confident that I could’ve made the U.S.A. team had I competed indoors.”
Looking back, the senior understood that not competing during the indoor season was part of a process to make him the strongest runner he could be. The eight months he spent away from competition allowed him to train and develop in the best physical shape for an 800-meter season.
“This year, I feel a lot more confident in my training which has allowed me to endure heavier workouts, more intervals designed for 800-meter-specific running,” Everett said. “I’m starting to adapt to my training. It takes a long time to adapt to this kind of training.”
The senior realized that on top of the physical differences in the two races, his mindset on the track had to be altered as well.
“The year before last, when I was running with the sprinters, I didn’t develop the feeling of how an 800 runner was supposed to run or the different tactics of the 800 race,” Everett said. “The 800 meters has a lot of different types of runners, all the way from distance to 400-meter sprinters.”
Everett needed to combined speed and endurance if he wanted lead the field.
“You’ve got to bring both to the table,” Everett said. “There’s a lot of muscular endurance, speed endurance. If you don’t have both of them, you’re not going to be best suited for that race. Last year, I relied on my speed. I saw that if I got the endurance down, if I got the strength down, then everything would come together and I would become a really good 800 runner.”
Everett, a five-time All-American and 11-time All-Big 12 selection, knew that with a full season of event-specific training, he would only improve on his success.
“Really, that race [NCAAs] allowed me to know that I was there for a reason and the place that I had taken wasn’t a fluke or by surprise,” Everett said. “I knew that if I could keep training and gaining more experience that it would become more natural to go out and run 800 meters as opposed to relying on heart and relying on my speed. That’s the difference here now. I’ve gained the experience. I’ve gained the confidence. I’ve gained the training. As those things progress down the season, they’re going to allow me to see better performances.”
While some athletes may be tempted to abandon the process, Everett stuck with the plan this offseason. His discipline was not unnoticed by the Longhorn coaching staff.
“It’s easier to work with an athlete who understands the process,” Hayes said. “Really, if you look at it, with the layoff that he’s had in the last few weeks, the U.S. championships wouldn’t have done him any good anyway. The whole thing is going to work out nicely.”
Earlier this month, Everett was scheduled to take the track for the first time this season at the Texas Relays. However, a minor Achilles injury sidelined him for that event. His first competitive race of the season came last weekend, as Texas took on Arkansas in a dual meet. Everett bested the field with a time of 1:50.56.
“Each week, it’s going to get better and better for him,” Hayes said. “You’ve got to race, and there’s no substitute for that. From last weekend over the next two months, you expect to see drastic drops in his time.”
The All-American is thrilled to finally have a race under his belt for the 2010 season.
“You want to see performances to really get motivated,” Everett said. “If you run fast, you feel like the work that you’ve done has paid off.”
Now that he has been able to see the results from his eight-month training program, Everett can take a step back and appreciate the long process.
“Sitting down with coach and really talking and discussing it, I understood that it was all a part of the plan that I didn’t run indoors,” Everett said. “It was hard at the time, but I definitely appreciate it in the end.”