Khadevis Robinson—known as “KD” to one and all his friends and fans—is an amazing success story. Born and raised on the wrong side of the tracks in the tough inner city of Fort Worth, Texas, he has grown to become one of the top international amateur and professional track stars in the world.
Over the years, KD has racked up an astounding record of accomplishments. He is a four-time USA Outdoor 800 meter champion, a four-time USA Indoor 800 meter champion and the 1998 NCAA Outdoor 800 meter champion. An Olympian, a world record holder and an American record holder, he helped the USA 4×800 relay team break the 24-year-old world record and 20-year-old American record in this event with a registered time of 7:02.82 at the Memorial Van Damme meet in Brussels, Belgium, on Aug. 25, 2006. Robinson ran the fastest leg of all competing teams in the relay with a time of 1:43.8.
KD’s story is all about setting star-high goals and never giving up on going for those goals, no matter what life throws at you.
Khadevis grew up knowing difficult times. He saw friends go down the wrong path and lose their way and even their lives to violence, drugs and crime. During his high school years, he lost his closest role model when his stepfather died. Khadevis persevered. Originally setting his sights on a career in pro football, he was a football standout in high school. But in his junior year, a broken wrist forced him to look to another sport. That sport was track and field. Through it all, he never lost sight of his dream—to give it his all and be the best he could possibly be.
When asked how he picked the 800-meter race as the event to compete in, he told Natural Vitality Sports, in typical KD style, “I asked the track-and-field coach which was the toughest race—which event did others not want to compete in—and the coach said, ‘the 800 meter race,’ and I said, ‘That’s the one for me.’”
Why is the 800-meter event such a bear to compete in? As KD describes it, “It combines sprinting speed, aerobic endurance, pace strategy and energy control. Both the aerobic and anaerobic systems are being taxed to the maximum endurable level. And if you are not feeling the lactic acid burn as you come around the last turn in the last lap, you haven’t been going very fast. And if you don’t feel like lead weights have attached themselves to your legs or you are carrying a concrete block on your back by this same turn, then you just may have a chance of winning, because that is where the suffering begins and ends.”
That feeling of lead weights attached to your legs as KD describes it is the lactic acid buildup that commonly occurs at about 600 meters into the race. To avoid this, KD explained, “You have to really save as much energy as possible in the first lap. In the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter race, you stay in your own lane throughout the entire race. In the 800-meter you start in your own lane and break into the inside lane with the rest of the runners after the first 100 meters. That transition into the pack can be done very efficiently or can waste a whole lot of energy and cost you the race.”
When asked to further explain his strategy for running the 800, KD said, “You have to settle into a relaxed, even pace as soon as possible. You start out strong for the first 100 meters to gain a good position as you smoothly merge into the pack without losing speed, breaking your stride or getting boxed in by the other runners. By the 200-meter mark you better be into your rhythm, relaxing your shoulders and concentrating on your form while saving energy. This usually means your first lap split is fast but not an all-out sprint, say between 52 and 54 seconds for a world-class pace, yet you are able to conserve enough energy to really pour on the gas in the last lap and hang tough to the finish.”
KD trains intensively twice a day, five days a week, combining distance workouts with speed work, weight training and muscle confusion drills. The training is aimed at reinforcing speed and building muscle memory and efficiency without losing aerobic conditioning. The goal is to be able to function over an 800-meter distance just a little below the athlete’s aerobic red line. This is the athlete’s maximal or near maximal oxygen uptake or aerobic capacity, the maximum capacity of an athlete’s body to transport and use oxygen during the race, which in essence is a measure of the athlete’s individual physical fitness. The higher an athlete is able to raise his/her maximum level of oxygen uptake, the faster he/she will be able to cover the 800-meter distance and maintain his/her target speed. Being able to hover just below this red line is a crucial part of energy control and is the difference between the body shutting down its power too early and thereby losing the race and maintaining it throughout the race and crossing the finish line first.
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Recovery is as important as training because recovery enables your muscles to physiologically adapt to increased training intensity. KD attributes his recoveries from hard workouts to Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm® Sports Bath, which relaxes his muscles and detoxifies any lactic acid buildup, allowing him to work out even harder.
For overall health KD uses Organic Life Vitamins® (OLV). He says, “It has everything I need and takes the guesswork out of what vitamins and supplements to take, and I feel energized when taking it.”
For cramp prevention, KD takes Natural Calm Plus Calcium and says it also helps him “adapt to the jet lag and different time zones when traveling to national and international events.”
World travel is something KD is no stranger to. He has traveled the globe as an Olympian and as a US national champion. Sometimes he won, sometimes he didn’t. But Khadevis always performed with the heart of a champion, using the lessons he learned about life from his family, friends and the spirit of track competition.
He will be traveling again this season as he prepares himself for the 2011 World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea. “Dream, Passion and Challenge” is the theme of this event, and KD has proven his passion for the sport both in his accomplishments and in extending his passion to training others.
As he explained, “Sometimes we get so caught up in getting things for ourselves that we forget to learn and serve. In my favorite book there is a phrase that reads, ‘In all your getting, get understanding.’ Sometimes the best way to actually get is to give, or shall I say, serve.”
KD lives by that motto, as he has spent the past decade not only training and competing himself but also coaching other athletes of all age levels. As a coach, KD uses everything he has learned to inspire and motivate children and adults alike through education, track-and-field camps, clinics and lectures. He co-founded a non-profit called the Youth Track and Running Club (YTRC), where he has trained coaches for over four years and where he remains an active board member. http://www.ytrc.blogspot.com.
While his sights are set on the World Championships this year, he has added another challenge to his already full schedule. KD has recently been named the assistant track-and-field coach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). UNLV has transformed itself from a small branch college into a thriving urban research institution of more than 28,000 students and 3,100 faculty and staff in one of the country’s fastest-growing and most enterprising cities.
KD will be in charge of developing the middle and distance runners as well as the UNLV Rebel cross-country team.
“We are very fortunate to have Coach Robinson join our staff,” said head coach Yvonne Scott. “He brings with him a wealth of talent and experience but, most of all, his passion for the sport and commitment to the development of young people. We are truly excited to have him help move our program to the next level.”
For more on Khadevis Robinson, visit www.khadevis.com.