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The Runner Who Wouldn’t Stop: The Epic Comeback of Shadrack Kipchirchir

Updated: Oct 11, 2022

Shadrack Kipchirchir

Courtesy Scott Simmons.

“You only have two choices when you are down. Either you get up or stay down there. I chose up, and I am up stronger than before.”

It’s true. Sometimes we allow setbacks to take over our story — to knock us down and out of the race. But if we want to be successful, we often need to realize that we can still take control of our life, even when we’re kicked in the teeth. It can come down to one simple decision. As Olympian Shadrack Kipchirchir put it: “Either you get up or stay down there.”

And Shadrack couldn’t be a better example of how to get back up. In early January, Shadrack won the crown at the USA Track & Field Cross-Country Championships in San Diego.

In fact, he’s using a new tool in his training regimen to improve his performance (more about that below).

Winning isn’t a unique experience for Shadrack. He holds the fourth-fastest time in the U.S. 10,000-meter run and he’s won six U.S. titles. He’s even won the cross-country championship before.

However, Shadrack suffered the first major injury of his career in 2021, right before the Olympic Trials. It kept him from making his second Olympic team — a setback that would make most athletes want to throw in the towel.

But Shadrack made a decision. He got back up. And not only did he roar back to victory … he’s already planning his next one.

Shadrack’s Long Road to Recovery

Shadrack overcame a major obstacle in 2021. Dreams of joining the Tokyo Olympics were dashed when he tore his calf.

“I was feeling some kind of pain at the beginning of the year while I was in Africa training. I was feeling pain in my left calf. (In Kenya), there’s no medical personnel who can see what’s going on,” Shadrack said in an interview. “ I ran Gate River Run, and I remember I fell down about a mile into the race. I had my right hip and my left leg overworked.”

He went on: “After that pain, I came home and made an appointment at the Olympic Training Center. They checked it, and it was a tear. I had been training through it in Africa, and I thought it was just normal soreness. I had never been injured since I started running in 2010. This was all new to me.”

Then the Olympic Training Center broke the news to him. They said he needed to rest for six weeks. “I remember sitting there crying. It was really tough for me.” Shadrack said. “We started the rehab process. I was fortunate to get all the support from the Olympic Training Center — the doctors there, the sports medicine team, the strength team, sports science team and even the psychology team were focused on me.”

It wasn’t only six weeks, though. When they assessed the leg in May, the tear was filled with blood. Shadrack had to admit he was on a long road to recovery. And he wasn’t seeing the Olympics.

But he didn’t let that keep him down for long. Shadrack focused on his health and trained back up. He went to the training center every day from May to New Year’s Eve. Sometimes, he even went twice a day for rehab and strength and conditioning. And when he felt ready, he came back with a bang … winning the first competition he’d entered in 294 days.

After his win, Kipchirchir told USATF.TV: “I was really frustrated, but I held onto a lot of hope, like I’m going to come back. When I got better in November, I believed in my training, and I’m really excited just to be at the start line. My goal today was just to be racing more again and it was nice. I love this course, and I’m glad I won.”

And now Shadrack, under the guidance of two-time Olympic medal winning coach Scott Simmons in Colorado Springs, is setting his sights on the rest of the year…

‘I’m Going to Give It All I Have’

“I still have unfinished business on the track … I’m going to go to the track right before the season ends, and I’m going to give it all I have. Once I go to the marathon this fall, I don’t have to regret anything. I want to just go all-out this spring and go forward toward the world championships.”

Clearly, Shadrack has a mission on his mind: He’s gotten back up, and he doesn’t want to let anything knock him back down again as he takes on 2022.

That’s why we’re excited for Shadrack to team up with us at Using’s rapid cortisol test, Shadrack and his coach are now monitoring his cortisol levels to ensure training goes smoothly.

Your body produces cortisol (the stress hormone) daily to regulate your sleep-wake cycle, among other functions. But it’s also an essential part of your body’s flight-or-fight-or-freeze response. When you’re stressed (physically or mentally), your body produces more cortisol to help you focus and react.

This can push athletes to incredible feats. In fact, studies show that optimal cortisol levels can significantly improve athletic performance. But too much stress can also start to work against them, leading to overtraining, injuries and more.

That’s why recovery is vital for athletes. And that’s where real-time cortisol testing can help. With it, athletes have a unique look into their body’s stress levels. And they can tell when it’s fine to push harder. And when it’s time to rest up. That’s the true path to victory.

Of course, Shadrack isn’t simply winning for himself this year. He and his wife are expecting a baby in April. He says that he’s performing for them. “I got hurt, and I’m back stronger than before, not just for the joy of running, but I’m doing this for my family,” he said. “I’m running for them.”

If you’re looking to join Shadrack in controlling your cortisol and taking your performance to the next level, request access to's rapid cortisol test.

Before you go, we have one more question for you: How can we get better? Here at, our goal is to gather the best information to help you understand the science of stress. If you think we missed anything in our research, please let us know here.


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