"I wanted to blow people away and make it look like we were having so much fun at track practice. If I show you the highlights, it’s going to inspire you."
ON COVID-19 AND RETIREMENT FROM TRACK AND FIELD
I’m definitely more of a social runner. The best training I had was when my Atlanta Track Club teammate Ricky Romero and I were crushing workouts, hanging out, and being around other runners. I get my energy from other people.
During the winter months [of quarantine], it was just me going on my runs. I wasn’t happy. It’s hard to run well when you’re not loving the sport or looking forward to practice.
"The pandemic probably killed my career. It wasn’t great for a lot of people. There’s nothing I could have done about it, but I’m not bitter."
It didn’t work out and that’s alright; that happens in running pretty often. I had a great high school career and I’m proud of my college career.
ON HOW HE BECAME A TIKTOK INFLUENCER
Becoming TikTok famous was the perfect storm of being bored one summer and having a lot of built-up energy. My girlfriend was an intern at Microsoft in Seattle, so I was just a “stay-at-home dad” playing Minecraft all day.
"In 2018, I downloaded TikTok for a month and had fun with it. TikTok was extra not cool to have back then. But, I went all in. I was obsessed."
Everything I thought about was, “what’s my next video?” I kept experimenting, found a formula that worked for me, and started hammering out as much content as I possibly could.
ON THE KEY TO MAKING VITAL TIKTOKS
TikTok is just a frenzy for attention.
"You have to understand how attention works; what information is important and what’s not. Most information isn’t important."
If you want to keep someone’s attention, the rule of thumb is to have motion on the camera every second. If a joke is especially funny, throw it in. But comedic timing is important. Having longer videos is a disadvantage, so I try to make every three seconds have a purpose.
ON USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO MARKET HIMSELF AS AN ATHLETE
I wanted to go pro [in track] for at least a year, to make the 2020 Olympic Trials. I realized I had to get some followers on my Instagram [to get noticed]. At the end of each TikTok video, I told my followers to follow me on Instagram.
Once it started happening, I wanted to prove that I could be valuable to a brand. I did a few clothing drops, selling t-shirts and long sleeves, and they crushed.
Mizuno, the sponsor of my pro team [Atlanta Track Club], took notice. They sent me free things just to make TikToks about them. That’s valuable! If you have that mind of marketability, it’s worth the work you put in.
ON INSPIRING YOUNG RUNNERS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
I’ve always loved to make people laugh. That’s why I fell in love with TikTok. There’s a brand of humor that I could contribute to.
I also got a lot of inspiration from YouTubers who put highlights of the best parts of their lives into the shortest videos possible. I wanted to blow people away and make it look like we were having so much fun at track practice. If I show you the highlights, it’s going to inspire you.
"I had plenty of messages from people saying, 'I saw your TikToks. Track looks like so much fun, so I tried out for my team and made it.'"
And those people are still on their teams today! I think it’s awesome that I've helped get people into the sport.
ON DEVELOPING A RUNNING VIDEO GAME WHILE BALANCING A CAREER AND CREATING CONTENT
Since I have a background as a software engineer, I’ve made a few video games before. This [running] one is going to take place on some Google Maps that I import into animation software.
You can’t make a realistic, fun running game. So it's not going to be realistic. I don’t know if I’m going to add asteroids or make it like Mario Kart. It’s going to be some sort of ridiculous...
I think back to my sophomore year, which was my breakout year in college. That season, I had homework projects, nonstop. I took on a part-time internship doing software engineering. I hated every second, but that was my most successful semester.
That’s always how I’ve been.
Atlanta Track Club gave us a few supplements. Iron, which I don’t need to take because I have hemochromatosis [editor's note: hemochromatosis is a condition where the body has excess iron]. Two pills of Klean Athlete SR Beta-Alanine a day, which is an amino acid your body produces naturally to help with lactic acid. I take zinc because it helps with immunity and testosterone. I have Vega Sport Premium Protein chocolate protein powder. I have a little shake of that right before bed and sometimes after workouts.
I also like BPI Sports Best Aminos branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) right after a workout along with some sugar. It’s predigested protein, which is good for telling your body to start the protein synthesis process. It’s found in all sorts of animal protein, but higher portions accelerate the rate of protein synthesis. If you don’t eat as much meat, it’s especially important.
DEALER'S CHOICE: WHO WOULD BE YOUR DREAM TIKTOK COLLAB?
Skweezy4Real. I can’t describe his content cause I won’t do it justice. I don’t know what we’d do, but he’s so funny.
About Avery Bartlett
5-time All American and multiple school record holder at Georgia Tech. 100,000+ followers on TikTok with over 5 million channel likes. Former member of the professional track club Atlanta Track Club, sponsored by Mizuno. Co-host of Running Things Considered podcast.