University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Hometown: Mentor, Ohio
Education: Pursuing a degree in philosophy from Bowling Green State University
Married. Lives with wife, Sherri, and kids, Emily, 15, Anthony, 12, in Temperance, Mich.
Keith Soster has been off and running for over 25 years. Not only in the foodservice industry, where currently he is foodservice director for University Unions at the University of Michigan, but also in his spare time. Soster says running is his first love but four years ago he decided to try his hand at competing in triathlons, and he has completed one each year since. Soster speaks about how far his love of running has taken him.
“I’m up by 4:30 a.m. every morning and I train six days a week. I run three to four times per week and I alternate running with swimming, biking and lifting. I can train and still be at work by 7:30 a.m. I’ve always enjoyed running and I’ve done quite a few races and half marathons. My daughter is a swimmer, and I decided to start swimming as another way to stay in shape, especially in the winter when it can be difficult to get outside and run. I’ve done four triathlons, six half-marathons and too many 10ks and 5ks to count.
Before a triathlon, I will work up to what I’ll be doing the day of the race. If it’s a mile swim, then that is what I work up to. I was training for the Chicago Marathon last year, which was going to be my first full marathon, but I hurt my foot. I was out of the race but Chicago ended up stopping their race due to weather, so I’m kind of glad I didn’t do all that training just to have the race canceled.
It’s also important to get sleep and balance family life but I’ve included my daughter into my training. We did a relay triathlon last year with another friend and since Emily’s best sport is swimming, we split it up. She did a mile swim, my friend did the 26-mile bike ride and I finished with a six mile run. We didn’t win anything or even come close to the top, but it was the team spirit that made it fun.
My favorite part of a triathlon is the run. It’s my best sport and it’s at the end of the race, so I feel I can make up time that I might have lost during the other two events. I stay local and do the Sylvania (Ohio) triathlon each year. Between training and recovery, I need to be picky with the races I participate in because there are so many races out there. During the actual running season, there could be three or four different races in the area on any given weekend. So when you’re spending money on registration, you really have to decide which races you want to do. Also, I have to plan ahead because when I do a half-marathon, I need to take a couple of weeks off to give my body a chance to chill out before I hit something like a triathlon. I would like to travel in the future, but it’s important to remember that different locations have different climates and that affects your training.
My most challenging race was actually a half-marathon in Ann Arbor. It was the first Saturday in June and the temperature was in the 90s by the end of the race. The temperature, on top of the hilly course, took its toll on me. When you’re a runner, after awhile, you get in a zone and the stress starts to go away. You can use running for a couple of different things. You can use it to focus on what you want to work on during that day or you can put on an iPod and blast away some stress, or you can run with a buddy and just enjoy the company. I use it for a lot of different things, not necessarily to keep in shape, but when you run a lot you can eat more and being in foodservice, I certainly enjoy food.
I make sure my training becomes a part of my daily routine before I go to work. I think being active helps me to stay at a fast pace at work. The exercise helps clear my mind, and I get a lot of thinking done when I’m training. It sort of helps me to have a decision thought out so I’m not running in circles—at least at work.”