Running can be a solitary sport. The runner, the road or track, inside their own heads.
It can also be a pack sport — competing against others, jostling for position, wanting to dominate.
For Dartmouth freshman Kyle Dotterrer, the first has led to the second.
Specializing in the mile and two mile, Dotterrer spent his first three months on campus running on the school track and campus roads nearly every day with his teammates. Come December though, Dotterrer was in so much pain he couldn’t run.
“I was using my left leg a lot more than the right,” Dotterrer said. “Making tight left turns on indoor tracks can do that. By putting more stress on my left leg, patella tendonitis developed in my left knee.”
The physical therapy sidelined him for the winter indoor season. Being confined to rehabilitation at Dartmouth’s Zimmerman Fitness Center for one month also challenged Dotterrer’s mental fortitude.
“Riding the (stationary) bike was awful,” Dotterrer said. “The bike was off to the side, facing the opposite direction of the windows. I like to be outside. I’m inside riding a bike, staring at the walls.
“I had to picture my teammates out on the track and the roads. They were getting all this work in together. I could have been out there getting faster with them. On a bike it takes two to three times longer to get the same aerobic benefit as running. I was feeling sorry for myself.”
Finally, in March, he was able to run full time. With what Dotterrer described as a month of good running behind him, he made his return to competition April 19 at the George Davis Invitational, hosted by UMass Lowell.
The two-mile event had 12 runners. Instead of just being happy to compete, Dotterrer dominated the race, winning by 17 seconds.
“I was feeling like I was in pretty good shape coming in (to the race),” Dotterrer said. “I ran my own race. From a mile in, I ran it alone.”
Not only did Dotterrer win the race, his time of 9:28.11 is the fastest collegiate two mile in the country.
“I don’t know if I can explain it,” Dotterrer said, adding that different training methods — such as the stationary bike and running shorter distances — played a part in his record-breaking time.
“The time injured gave me an opportunity to reflect on what might have been causing the (injuries),” he said. “(Now) I don’t train as hard as I use to. I got worn down doing the same thing over and over again. Incorporating other kinds of training — riding the stationary bike and running different intervals — other than traditional runner training complements runners really well.”