by Team Snapbac
When we dream of becoming a professional athlete as children, it is often because we fell in love with the game and idolized a player. Athletes are superheroes when we are young, and as we aspire to follow in their footsteps, we learn that it’s true. Dedicating your life to a game, a sport, to being the best, means pushing past your human abilities and demanding more from yourself. It’s not an easy road, and that is why we seek out athletes who are breaking down boundaries and finding their way to success. That is why we spoke with Deivid Valdez, and this is what he had to say.
When we asked Deivid about his childhood and the sports he loved, it wasn’t the story so many of us have. He didn’t spend his time and his daydreams on a particular athletic ability or a particular individual’s journey.
“As kid in the Dominican Republic most of us have one option only: baseball. I wasn’t good at it, so I just kept to my books and homemade concrete gym in my backyard.”
It wasn’t sports that inspired Deivid. It was health, and as he wasn’t in love with his nation’s pastime, he found a convenience in running.
“My aunt used to have some really good books about health and family, and I loved reading and learning the importance of physical activities. Later on, when three of my grandparents died of cancer, I became more active as a way to try to become a stronger and healthier man. Running seemed to be a good way to achieve that.”
Through his determination to be healthy, he is now a competitive runner, but as a young man, he hadn’t set out to be an athlete. He had other dreams entirely.
“I wanted to be a teacher; my father wanted me to be a doctor. But I was always active and had a small collection of American football cards. I think if I had had the option I would have gone that route.”
Yet, Deivid is now an exceptional runner, and his journey has been a long succession of athletic achievements. Even without the goal of being a pro-athlete, physical conditioning was in his nature.
“I started running as a way to stay healthy. I used to have concrete and wood gym at home and running was a complement to stay lean. When I moved to the United States, I started training, lifting weights mostly. Later on, I became a personal trainer as a way to supplement my income with something I enjoyed and loved. In college, I took running, weightlifting, swimming, self-defense and CPR as electives just because I enjoyed them.
My friend GG came up with the crazy idea of running a marathon and convinced me to do it. After that, I was hooked and couldn’t stop running.
I started with a number in mind: 26.2 miles under four hours, and then I trained really hard. I went from 185 pounds to 165 in four months and finished that first marathon in 3:58:59.”
This is Deivid’s superpower! He may not have dreamed of being Carl Lewis or Jesse Owens, but a true athlete feels the stirring inside, and when he let it out, running became a lifestyle. As with all dedicated athletes, he didn’t do it alone.
“I have come to meet an amazing community of runners; everyone in different levels and different stages of life, and it’s very motivating. We have a saying, ‘Every pace has a place.’
I also have a son who is 15, and a daughter who is 13. They both like sports, and I dream that one day I get to run a marathon with them. For now, they like running shorter distances and practice other sports as well. I like to think that my journey and lifestyle motivates them to be better human beings.”
Deivid’s passion and dedication has taught him a lot about being a better athlete and a better person. He has some great advice and life lessons to share with others who aspire to live their dreams.
“Fear is a liar. Sometimes we stop pursuing our dreams because of fears. It is never too late to set a new goal. Two years ago, I had a meniscus tear and thought that because I was 38 years old, that was the end of it, but I acted quickly and got it fixed, and six months later I ran the Chicago and the New York City marathons and achieved personal records in both. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. There is a genuine community of people out there ready to help you reach your goals.
I stay focused on my personal goals. I am honest about my personal situation, and I adjust my plan constantly based on results. Adjust the plan, not the goal!”
Being a great athlete is not all lofty stories and postcard inspirations. Deivid has put in a lot of hard work and developed a lifestyle and routines that allow him to balance a home, a job, a family and his passion, running. Here are his pro-tips to stay focused on the goal.
When planning your individual workouts, what is the most important thing to remember?
“I make sure to pack my bag the night before with the proper gear, plan my nutrition, warm up, train hard and cool down, eat well and rest. Post workout, I like a good stretch, a warm shower, wholesome food and a nap or just hop on my bed and watch tv while icing my legs.
If I experience pain or an injury, it’s instant rest and hot and cold compresses. Depending on the injury or pain, I also use a foam roller and keep training at a lower intensity. I believe in active recovery. I am never not moving.”
They say, "You are what you eat." As an athlete, how important is diet to you?
“Very important. Nutrition is very important. That’s what guarantees fast recovery, stronger muscles and overall health.
I try to keep a balanced diet throughout the year. I don’t feel restricted because I have made eating well a part of my lifestyle. When I am actively training for a particular event, I make sure I eat at the correct times, not skipping meals, minimize alcohol and stay hydrated.”
Deivid’s dedication to health and running is obvious through his words and lifestyle, but there are other commitments that he has come to support and give his time.
“I am devoted to sharing awareness about health issues. Every year I raise funds for Movember, a non for profit that educates men about prostate and testicular cancer and mental health.
I belong to Adidas Beyond, a group of mentors that work with high school students in New York City. We run with them and teach them techniques like breathing, mindfulness and the gift of giving. These skills will help them be better human beings.
I help organize Run the Bronx every year. This is a 5k, 10k and 2-mile fitness walk in the Bronx. The Bronx ranked 62 out of 62 in New York State counties for poor health. This event also raises funds for scholarships for Bronx Community College students.
This year I was also invited to be part of the organizing committee for a new annual 5K to take place in my hometown, and the advisory board to initiate an Olympic weightlifting team. To me this is all very special because it will bring many other sport options to kids to choose from.”
Deivid Valdez is a man of many talents and through diet, exercise and a well-rounded lifestyle, he has become an inspiration to so many around the globe. This is what it means to be an athletic superheroe!