Running with fire: Cross-country runner dedicated to his dream


Noel Lee

Milan Lane Todorovic, a sophomore software development major from Belgrade, Serbia, is a cross-country and track runner for the VU Trailblazers.

Muscular legs, a pair of firm eyes and professional running shoes tell a dream of qualifying for the Olympic Games in the 800 meter race. That dream is getting closer.

Milan Lane Todorovic, a sophomore software development major from Belgrade, Serbia, is a cross-country and track runner for the VU Trailblazers. He shared that his long-term goal was to represent his country to enter the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020 or the next one in 2024 for 800m event. Only five seconds faster and he will be qualified.   

“As we don’t have runner represent Serbia in [the] Olympic games. Especially 800 meters,” he said.

The thoughts of being that representative drives him to eagerly run faster.

Todorovic is the captain of the VU cross-country team. He led most of the races throughout the season. He placed the sixth in the nation with a time of  1:09:56 and good enough to earn All-America status while leading Vincennes to a runner-up national finish in NJCAA men’s half marathon in El Paso, Texas on Nov. 23.

For him, running is the most important part of his life. He practices every day.

In the past 10 years, he has had a lot of experiences in racing. In Serbia, he won first in National Championship, and brought success to lead different titles in the United States.   

The pressure of maintaining time records to win and making improvements in meets are always in the back of his mind. However, Tordoroic stated that it was a normal part of being an athlete.

He said, “[Running] is not about winning, it’s about running as fast as you can,” because “racing is running against time.”

Indeed, crossing the line one second slower marks the fate of losing a medal. In order to ensure he achieves his goal – apart from never be late for practice, running miles daily, having correlated gym workout, and following the time limit assumed before the race – Tordoric said a strong inner motivating voice guides him the most in the races.

To deal with the physical hardship and inner struggles during the race, Todorovic said he always encourages himself by recalling the great results he did in the past. The strength he used to use during those races and motivational quotes pushed him run quicker. More than that, in facing the struggles of wanting to give up, he stressed to himself that “it’s going to be hard, but I can do it.”

“I think running hurts, but it’s also a lot in your mind. If you are strong in your mind, you can get there, you can run a very good result,” he added.

Therefore, as the leader of the cross-country team, he frequently promotes a positive mindset with his teammates through running together. He mentioned that although running is an individual sport, it was difficult to run alone. By running as a team, the shared motivation builds. Teammates push him run to faster and meanwhile, his speed influences the team. He was glad that such positive motivation led the team revamp and become better and better each day.

On the other hand, he also talked about the challenges of his busy schedule.

He stated, “being a student athlete is difficult.” Having class during the day, then straight to practice in the evening and heading to PE complex to work after supper is almost his weekday routine.

“The most difficult part is to take enough rest,” he said.

He tries to sleep as much as possible when he has free time, “to relax myself to prepare for the next practice and race.”

Having such a repeating cycle, Tordorovice chose to endure it and run forward persistently. He believes things will become a habit and will go well if he has a positive and responsible approach.

He was pleased that he could be an athlete in the U.S. because he was able to meet experienced coaches, have great training with a lot of runners who also like running, run with someone he had never met during races, and race abroad.

At the same time, he is thankful for all his friends and family who always discuss successful stories with him to support him back in Serbia. Their infinite support boosts him to trace his dream further.

Finally, in retrospect, Tordorovic said he never regrets choosing running as his sport to concentrate on. He found happiness, satisfaction and good health. He reminded teammates to stay healthy and take care of themselves to maintain good shape as better rest might take the team further.

He encouraged himself and the team at the end of the interview, by saying, “During your workout, you feel tired, legs being tired, your heart is tired. They are just temporary, […] through these pains everyday, you will [reach] some big goals, so your winning will be forever.”

As a Trailblazer, it is Tordorovic’s sincere hope he can carry his dedication to the next chapter of the Olympic field and achieve what he told himself: “You are worth it, it is worth to wake up early in the morning to run hard. Because I am here, I am proud of myself.”