Stack bounces back from tough 2011-12 track season


Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State

Dani Stack (left) and Meaghan Nelson participated in the women’s 5,000-meter run. Stack finished fourth with a time of 15:57.20, and Nelson finished third with a time of 15:51.89.

Mark Specht

Dani Stack is no stranger to success.

The senior cross country and track athlete was an All-American in 2011 after finishing fourth in the 10,000-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and has received All-Big 12 honors in academics and athletics multiple times in her five-year career at Iowa State.

Stack has been reclaiming her confidence, though, after it began to wane last year as she faced a steady stream of health issues and briefly lost her desire to run in the summer.

“It was kind of a one-thing-after-another sort of injury, I guess,” Stack said. “I probably wasn’t taking care of myself as well as I could have been.”

Stack said her injuries included plantar fasciitis, a hip injury and some nutritional issues.

“I just wasn’t in a good place mentally,” Stack said. ”I was probably trying to focus too much on the results rather than the process that I was in at the moment.”

Because her focus was off, Stack was running farther and faster than she should have been.

“[Stack has] seen success because she’s worked really hard, and conventional wisdom says ‘if I work even harder I’ll get even better,'” said ISU coach Corey Ihmels. “Sometimes you get to a point of no return and I think that’s what we dealt with last year.”

Stack ultimately took a three-week break from running and said she came off of the break recharged and “back to a place where [she] was happy about running again and enjoying it.”

Ihmels gave Stack goals that weren’t at all related to running to help take her mind off the sport.

“I was putting too much emphasis on my happiness in just running, and kind of losing sight of that I’m not just a runner; I’m a person,” Stack said.

Assistant coach Travis Hartke said Stack has “set herself up to have a pretty good year” in track. Stack got off to a good start by winning the 5,000-meter run at the Holiday Classic on Dec. 7, 2012.

“Maybe even though the fitness may not be there right away, it may be I don’t know, but she’s definitely in a better spot understanding what it’s going to take to sustain this throughout the year,” Ihmels said.