10 Jul Athlete Spotlight: Heptathlon Competitor Madaline Kenyon
One factor that typically separates amateur athletes from the pros is their ability to absolutely master a particular sport.
Yet, some high-level competitors raise the bar even more and strive to improve their performance in not just one type of event, but seven.
These individuals are known as heptathlon competitors, of which Madaline “Maddy” Kenyon is one of the best.
Heptathlon: A 7-Event Sport
“The heptathlon is a track and field that involves seven individual events completed over two days,” Kenyon explains.
These seven events include the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin, and 800-meter run and are split between two days.
Participants receive a score based on their distance, time, and height, with Kenyon revealing “my second day is typically my strongest as far as scoring the most points per event.”
That said, her results show that she’s a real contender overall, continuing to set records every step of the way.
Consistently Setting New Records
Calling her first heptathlon at the Miami Hurricane Alumni in Coral Gables, Florida in April of 2018 a “disaster” because she had tears in her left Achilles that left her unable to run or jump off, Kenyon shares that she fought through the pain and still managed to break the school record.
“I wanted to finish it, injured or not,” she says.
A few weeks later, Kenyon continued to battle injuries, this time a sprained ankle in addition to the partially torn Achilles, while competing in her second heptathlon at the Peach Belt Conference.
Like before, she improved her school record while also winning the conference title.
Kenyon has done just as well in heptathlons this past season. The first one she competed in was at Embry Riddle, where she qualified for nationals with a 700-point improvement over the prior year and, again, set a new school record.
The second was the Miami Hurricane Alumni meet, where Kenyon finished second, improving her score by 35 points and securing a spot in the top sixteen in the nation for nationals.
What made her want to compete in this 7-event competition?
From 400 Meters to a 7-Event Competition
“I used to be a 400m specialist,” says Kenyon. “I didn’t like just being a runner so, when I came out of retirement, I asked my coaches at NSU [Nova Southeastern University] if I could practice every event they thought I would be good at.”
Together, they decided that preparing for heptathlons would serve that goal. “I had to learn five new events in a short amount of time,” she says, adding, “I’m not the best at any one particular thing, but I worked every day to be just a little bit better than I was the day before.”
Kenyon’s training regimen consisted of practicing individual events six days a week and weight training for three. “My coach had me doing multiple events per day to make sure I have the time,” says Kenyon.
Though all of this practice made Kenyon better at all of the events, it also took a toll on her body. Enter chiropractic.
Improved Performance Through Chiropractic
“I was experiencing pains in my hips and feet from jumping and hurdling multiple days a week,” Kenyon says, “so I was suffering from several imbalances that I couldn’t correct on my own. I did my corrective accessory work during strength training and I saw my athletic trainer at least five times per week for rehab, but just the soft tissue therapies were not enough to fully fix my imbalances. I joke about needing seven hours of therapy per week just to make it to the next week, but it’s entirely true.”
It was at this point that Kenyon’s athletic trainer (AT) recommended that she see Dr. Spencer Baron, DC. “She trusted his knowledge and care to help me through my injuries,” says Kenyon. “He also used to visit NSU and provide chiropractic services as part of the sports medicine staff.”
When her season officially started, Kenyon treated with Baron every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. “My in-season schedule was hectic this spring so it was more important than ever for me to be able to perform from week to week,” she says. “And every week it seemed like something new started to hurt. His adjustments always left me feeling more balanced and controlled on the track between my jumping, throwing, hurdling, and running.”
The Next Chapter
After two years of competing at Division I and two years competing at Division II, Kenyon’s collegiate athletic career has come to an end, graduating from NSU just a short time ago. “But my overall athletic career is far from over,” Kenyon affirms.
“Eighteen years of athletics has turned fitness into my lifestyle,” says Kenyon, “so I’ll pick something else up in these next few months, after my body has time to rest.” That’s in addition to continuing her education as she works to earn her master’s degree in sport science at NSU, followed by a PhD in a narrower part of the field.
“I’m passionate about learning and I love doing research, so I’m thrilled for this next chapter in my life,” she says.
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