Former BYU runner goes TikTok viral after year-long journey to becoming professional athlete
BYU cross country alumna Makenna Myler went viral on TikTok after her husband, Mike, posted a video on July 26 detailing her journey through pregnancy, to the Olympic trials, and most recently a professional partnership with shoe retailer ASICS.
The video, entitled “Prenatal to Pro Athlete” has been seen more than 5 million times on TikTok. It gives a raw, inside look at Myler’s life over the last year and a half as she continued to run and train throughout her pregnancy. One part of the journey was Myler running a mile in five minutes and 25 seconds when she was nine months pregnant. The video of the mile run by itself was viewed almost 3 million times on TikTok.
“People are really supportive and inspired by what we’re doing, and that makes me feel really good,” Myler said.
She said connecting and inspiring other people has always been a motivation for her running.
Myler is originally from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, and ran for BYU from 2011-2014. She helped the Cougars qualify for nationals during her time in Provo and earned All-West Coast Conference and All-Mountain Region first-team honors in 2014.
Myler left BYU before current head coach Diljeet Taylor took over and led the Cougars to a national championship, but returned to Provo to train with Taylor and the BYU squad on several occasions. She explained why she believes Taylor has been so successful in her short time at BYU, including the unique opportunity and advantage of having a woman and former competitive runner coaching the women’s team.
“Having a female coach, I think it’s a pretty big deal (because) there’s just like a cycle that you’re going through, that a woman really understands,” Myler said. “She really knows what to say to get you to run faster and she really does have this belief in you. When you are surrounded by a culture of women who want to succeed, that starts adding up.”
Myler’s career has continued on an upward trajectory since graduating in 2015. She made the U.S. national cross country team in the 2016-2017 season and ran at the Olympic trials in June of this year. Myler finished in 14th place at the trials, just outside of qualification, but could draw enough attention to earn a professional contract with ASICS in mid-July.
On July 23, Myler ran her first road race as an ASICS athlete, setting a new course record for the Deseret News Half Marathon in Salt Lake City. She earns bonuses on top of the base contract salary for finishing in the top three at championships and for beating certain times. She is also required to post on social media a certain number of times a year with ASICS gear.
Despite the milestones Myler has reached over the last year, she insists she is less focused on the achievements and money, and more on the person that she is becoming through her training and racing.
“I feel like I’m becoming someone who is connecting with people more and there’s just all these opportunities that are opening up, and these doors open up when you start involving yourself in something that you’re trying to get better at,” Myler said. “I think that’s a really, really big deal and provides a lot of fulfillment. There’s just a lot of doors to keep open and connections
Myler said she has noticed improvements in her physical, mental and emotional health when she is regularly running and working toward a goal. She is focusing on listening to her body, embracing her reality and being present for those around her.
This dedication to her craft has taken her a lot of places so far, including a year of training in Australia with the Melbourne Track Club in 2020. She returned to the U.S. in the fall of 2020 to have her baby and currently resides in Highland, Utah. With a professional contract secured, Myler plans to run a full marathon next and has the long-term goal of making Team USA in the marathon for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.