From Setbacks to Setting Running Records

06/30/2017 - 15:18

By Mary Marcia Brown

Devore.JPGSydney Devore may not be a name you have seen before, but it is likely a name that you will see again ... and again and again, as the twenty-five-year old Lakeland, Florida resident establishes ambitious running goals and crushes personal running records along the way.

Devore began running as a high school sophomore. At the time, she viewed the sport as "just another addition to [her] college application." It did not take long however, for her to realize that running was really going to play a special role in her life.

"As I progressed through high school, I continued to improve and it wasn’t long before I was being recruited by colleges both in and out of state. That was something I hadn’t even considered," Devore recalled.

With her body transformed, her social circle expanded, and her love of the sport in tow, Devore packed her bags and set out to attend and run for the University of Florida, because it was number one in the nation at the time. Sadly, tendinitis and a stress fracture struck Devore early in her college running career.

"I was a freshman when I got injured. I never even got to run an outdoor track season," Devore said.

She immediately turned to cross-training in an attempt to stay in peak fitness, but her emotions took the driver's seat -- and the wheel.

"After leaving the UF team, I lost all hope. I quit exercising entirely for almost a year," she said.

She also stopped running for four years. That changed when she moved back to Lakeland in 2015. Upon returning to Lakeland, Devore also returned to the helm of her victorious running vessel. She reached out to two ladies from her high school team, and they began running together a couple times each week. Soon after, Devore discovered the pub runs organized by the Lakeland Runners Club, and she decided to give those a try.

"I was surprised by how many people remembered me and I loved the welcoming atmosphere of the club. I didn’t feel any pressure to be the runner I was before. It was so nice to just run for fun," she said.

The fun began to fuel longer runs and more miles, as Devore resolved to run a half marathon. She raced her first half marathon in the fall of 2015 and loved the distance. Unfortunately, the joy was short- lived.

"I had another setback last fall when I got what I thought was a stress fracture in my second metatarsal. I ended up taking the whole fall/winter racing season off and had to miss my planned race in Savannah. On January 1st of this year, I started yet again, but this time I was better prepared and I had a plan. I increased my mileage VERY slowly and did almost all of my runs on trails. I started taking calcium and took better care with nutrition, stretching, and recovery. I did no speed work for the first three months and just focused on slowly increasing miles at a moderately easy pace," Devore shared.

Her strategic plan and discipline worked. She raced the Beach Halfathon in Fort Desoto, Florida in March and beat her personal record by 3 minutes, when she ran through the finish in a time of 1:25. A month later, she beat that personal best by running a 1:20 at the Star Wars Dark Side Half.

"I couldn’t believe it. To take 5 minutes off my PR in just a month was really exciting. It was this race that made me realize I needed to get serious. My body is still responding really well to the training and I am feeling like there are no limits right now," Devore said.

Certainly, no limits appear to be in sight for Devore -- and not just with the half marathon distance. In May, Devore decided to revisit the first 5k race she ever ran -- Lakeland's Mayfaire 5k. It was that race that originally sparked Devore's interest in running cross country in 2006. This year, she sprinted through the finish line in a jaw-dropping time of 17:15, which was yet another personal record-setting race.

"I thought it would be nice to see where my speed was at. Most elite female half marathon runners have some pretty impressive 5K times (sub 17 minutes), so I was curious where my training would put me in such a short distance," she said.

With the summer months now in full swing, Devore plans to ramp up her training to 100 to 120 miles per week, as she prepares to run the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in San Jose in October. Her hope, is to knock out a sub 1:18 finish in the half before, optimistically, qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Trials when she races the Houston Marathon.

“My “long-term” goal is to compete in Tokyo in 2020,” Devore shared.

The teacher, who has lived and taught in Busan, South Korea, backpacked across Southeast Asia with her husband, and who continues to be a voracious reader, also has some log-term personal goals. Not surprisingly, they are not void of the sport that holds her heart.

“I would like to own a running store/café where runners can gather, hangout, talk training and chow down on healthy local food. I would also like to coach other runners.”

Before then however, Devore is continuing to lace up, train smart, avoid any injuries and running setbacks, and set a surfeit of running records during her intended road to Tokyo.

(Editor’s note: After this story was written, Devore PRed once again at the Safety Harbor, FL BDR 5k race, placing First Overall Female with a 16:50.)

(The author Mary Marcia Brown is a runner, fitness professional, and Race Director of the TICK TOCK ULTRA MARATHON & TEAM RELAY in Lakeland, Florida. Reach her at or by visiting

Photo: Sydney Develop on the run ...

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