Tunde Akinyeke “Humility is cool, self-doubt isn’t”

Tunde Akinyeke looks to have many perspectives as a runner as he’s lived in various states and cities which is pretty dope to see because we’re always curious as to how being black while running in various cities is for us. As different as each state is we still face the same issues and concerns which we’ll get to. Tunde is an educator a college professor which in today’s environment is a must for young black students to see. Tunde is setting the example from both an educational point of view and in the running community.

MSM: What is pretty darn cool about you is that you are an educator, currently still in the college area I believe? That's amazing, for me when I was in college, anytime I saw a black college professor, albeit young or old, I always gravitated towards that professor as a student. I just felt more comfortable that my concerns and thoughts were more received and understood as a student. Do you feel a sense of that as a current college professor? 

Tunde: A lot of my students confuse me for a graduate student or a TA, so I’ve been told that they feel more comfortable with me than with other professors. I started teaching in Seattle where there weren’t many Black students, so I was excited to get to teach at an HBCU, especially since I’m a two-time HBCU alumnus. 

MSM: Once your students realize that you run consistently do you ever get a fun challenge from any of your students. If so, did you win, I would hope so? Lol.

Tunde: One of the courses I teach is Men’s Health where we talk a lot about diseases and predispositions that affect Black men. Most of my students don’t challenge me when they find that I run long distances. Since I’m taller (6’5), I do get a lot of challenges to hoop. I don’t hoop as much anymore because I’m afraid of turning an ankle and having setbacks within my training. 

MSM: Let's get a little bit into your running background. Was running something that’s always been a part of your lifestyle? What was it that made you gravitate towards running early on?

Tunde: In high school I was forced to run cross country to get in shape for basketball season. I hated it at first but eventually I learned to tolerate it. After high school, I didn’t run seriously for a long time. In October 2014 after dunking on this dude the rim snapped and my finger suffered a compound fracture. I still have a titanium plate and 4 screws in it. I was sidelined for close to three months. No basketball or weights. The only physical activity I was cleared to do was running. That day I signed up for the Miami Half Marathon in 2015. I haven’t stopped running since.

MSM: Running track and running long distance are two different beasts. In your younger days you were on the track but as you’ve gotten older, I see you’ve transitioned into the distance. When did you know that you wanted to tackle the half marathon and marathon distance?

Tunde: I think because of my long legs and height, I never really had the turnover to be great at shorter track distances. After that Miami Half Marathon, I ran an ok time of (2:01) but I really didn’t know anything about distance racing. I ran in air maxes and during my training, I ran every single run on the treadmill because living in Portland I refused to run in the rain. I knew I could do better. The half marathon is my favorite distance because it allows me to have hiccups during the race and still recover and it's not so long that I have to spend a good portion of the year training for it. In about 8 days from now I’ll be running my fourth marathon and I just love the dedication and commitment required to do well at that distance. The race itself is negligible. I’ve fallen in love with the build.

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