asics Greenville Track Club-ELITE - a post-collegiate, Olympic-development program
The first question I was asked upon making the move to Greenville, SC was, “What does being a professional runner mean to you?” Bill Keesling (president of ASICS GTC-ELITE) presented that to me during our first meeting. I was stumped for a second and answered with what many think: treating it like a full-time job and representing sponsors in an extremely positive light. While this answer is not wrong, I have learned that it is not completely correct. It does not grasp the many facets and intricacies involved in the profession. During my 2.5 years on the ASICS GTC-ELITE team, I grew to fully understand and comprehend just what being a professional runner is.
As a professional athlete training is the priority. For me, training was a lot more in-depth as a member of ASICS GTC-ELITE than my prior experiences post-collegiately and collegiately. While in college, I considered myself “training” for about 2-3 hours a day. I don’t imagine that to be overly crazy or too little for any collegiate athlete. Once you make the decision to put everything in, that is what your life revolves around. Training as a professional took up all 24 hours of my day, 7 days a week. I was constantly thinking about what I needed to do to prepare for the next session--whether it was seeing PT, massage, recovery boots, part-time job schedule, what foods to eat and when, and sleeping schedule, amongst the countless things that everyone has going on in life. And this is what a lot of people don’t understand about professional athletics. Everything you do has an effect on performance. At times it is hard because you just really want to watch one more episode of a TV show before going to sleep or just swing by that fast food restaurant so you don’t have to cook. Priority on training and performance is tough, and it takes a lot of sacrifices in other parts of life.
Consistency and Patience
Nothing happens overnight. On race day we don’t just wake up and decide to have an amazing performance. For peak races, that moment is created from weeks on weeks, months on months, and years on years of work. Consistency was never something that was emphasized to me as an athlete until arriving in Greenville. It was a concept I understood but was never truly taught. It is amazingly important, especially if you want to succeed. Our emphasis is being consistent. A ruthless consistency. A mind boggling consistency. A consistency that only comes through pure dedication. A consistency in everything. And it is through stacking those weeks, months, and years that dreams and goals come to fruition.
Patience during this whole process kept me grounded, calm, and happy. Many athletes, especially runners, have an image of what they want to be. Everyone has their dreams and goals. More times than not, people forget where they are in the present and can only see what they dream of. Patience means to have the self awareness to recognize their current capabilities. Patience means to accept yourself as you are. Patience is finding joy in the small improvements throughout the whole process. I see consistency and patience as huge pieces of finding success--whether it is as an athlete or anything else.
No one achieves anything without opportunity and a support crew. Being grateful for these things shows that you have a deep appreciation for what you do. I consider my time with ASICS GTC-ELITE a blessing. I wasn’t even sure if I would get on the team. The organization took a chance on me, and gave me a great opportunity to pursue my dreams. For that, I am extremely grateful. I made many friends, enjoyed many experiences, and truly grew in my 2.5 years on the club. I want to take this opportunity to thank all my past teammates, friends, GTC, my coaches--Mike and Laura Caldwell, the staff at Performance Therapy--especially Tiffany, Elite Stretch and Strength, and the many others for trusting in me, believing in me, aiding me, and giving me one of the best experiences of my life. Special shout out to the current iteration of the team--Eddie, Annie, Emily, Calista, and Mackenzie. We built a fantastic culture in, arguably, the toughest time to be a dedicated athlete. I made lifetime friends, learned so much about not only the sport but also myself, and chased my ambitions and dreams without regret.
Through it all, mindset has been the key factor in finding, not only success, but also joy in being an elite athlete. I looked to embrace each and every experience. Good or bad, happy or sad, bitter or sweet. The mindset of embracing allowed me to open my mind and find meaning and value in all experiences. It’s simply amazing what a change in perspective and mindset can do. I found that I am able to be more accepting, more understanding, and able to take steps and progress towards any goal I have. If someone’s mindset was negative in any way, there is no way they would get through the thralls of this lifestyle successfully. My time at ASICS GTC-ELITE taught me that being a professional athlete was about embracing the priority, embracing consistency, embracing patience, embracing gratefulness, and embracing the run.
Victor Pataky joined ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE in August of 2018 and departed in December of 2020 to accept an assistant coaching position at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS. During his time with ASICS GTC-ELITE he ran personal bests in the 3000-meter Steeplechase (8:56.67) and the Half Marathon (1:07:05). He also coached the GTC's Youth Running Program--the GTC Rabbits.
GTC-ELITE was established in 2012. The program produced four qualifiers for the 2016 USA Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles, one qualifier/participant for the 2019 Pam American Games Marathon in. Lima, Peru and three qualifiers/two participants for the 2020 USA Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta, GA. The post-collegiate, Olympic development program is sponsored by ASICS, the 48-year-old Greenville Track Club, Joy Real Estate (Adopt an Athlete partner), the Borch Foundation, generous individual contributors and partnerships with Performance Therapy, Carolina Spine and Rehab, Roll Recovery products, FinalSurge (on-line training log), The ATI Running Academy, ElliptiGO, NormaTec Recovery Boots, Cocoa Elite recovery products, Stryd Running, Coach Bob Williams Pace Calculator, the DorsiFlex (stretching device), the MOBO board (balance) , On Pace Wellness (nutrition coaching) and LEVER Running. The club is a proud and active member of both the Road Runners Club of America and USATF.