His senior project? 26.2 miles

Prior to this summer, the farthest Derek Schutte had ever run was a 5K.

So it might have seemed sort of crazy that the Columbus East student decided to run the Mill Race Marathon for his senior project. The 26.2-mile distance is more than eight times the length of a 5K.

“I honestly don’t know why I chose that,” Schutte said. “I thought it would be a cool, unique project to do. I looked it up and said, ‘Why not?’”

The concept of running for a long period of time isn’t new to Schutte. As a high-level soccer player, he’s used to running for 80 to 90 minutes, albeit in short bursts and not continuously.

But when Schutte began training for the marathon in early June, he noticed long-distance running was a little different than running in a soccer game.

“The first time I went out and ran, the next day my legs were as heavy as could be,” Schutte said.

“They felt like cinder blocks. Then, as I got into shape, I just started running. I would run 10 miles, and I used to think 10 miles was a ridiculous distance, and now, it’s an easy run for me.”

Three weeks ago, Schutte ran 16 miles. After that run, his IT band tightened up and caused friction on a bone in his knee, and he had to take a week off.

But Schutte was back at it last weekend, running 21 miles. He is now tapering for the Sept. 26 race.

“I’ve been using soccer as the shorter mileage run, then I’ll do my longer runs over the weekend,” Schutte said.

Schutte plays soccer for the Indiana Fire Development Academy. The team practices from 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays at Westfield’s Grand Park, and its first game was there last weekend.

The Indiana Fire play in the Mid-America Conference, which includes 11 teams from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. League games run through November, then the Fire goes to Florida for the Developmental Showcase in late November.

Practice resumes in January, followed by league games in spring and tournaments in June.

“It was easy over the summer because I had plenty of time to balance, but now that school has started and soccer, it’s more difficult to find time to go out and do the runs,” Schutte said.

Schutte plans to play college soccer and has his choices narrowed down to two or three schools.

He wants to go into business and entrepreneurial studies.

“I’ve been trying to figure out the mixture of my education and soccer,” Schutte said.

Beyond that, Schutte’s experience and level of play might be high enough that he has a shot at playing professional soccer.

“I love soccer, so I’m going to keep doing that as long as I can,” Schutte said.

“If I have an opportunity to play at higher levels, I’ll take them. If not, I’ll just keep playing at a level that’s not as high.”

Even if he doesn’t meet his goal in the upcoming marathon, Schutte has noticed big benefits from the miles he has put in this summer.

“I definitely have noticed that I’m more physically fit,” Schutte said.

“I’ve been able to run longer and not get tired as easily. It’s definitely helped for soccer.”

Getting fit

Name: Derek Schutte

School: Columbus East

Year: Senior

Training for: Mill Race Marathon

Did you know: Schutte has played soccer for the Indiana Fire Developmental Academy the past four years.

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.