Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
The Massachusetts native wants to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
Nate Jenkins isn’t your typical elite runner. Whereas top competitors like Dathan Ritzenhein often weigh less than 125 pounds, the North Andover, Mass. resident tips the scales at more than 160. But weight has never stopped him.
At the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in New York City, he put forth an incredible performance, coming in seventh overall and placing ahead of 2004 Olympic silver medalist and eventual ING New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi.
Since then, however, Jenkins has struggled with injury. He started losing coordination in his right leg. The symptoms got worse, and by 2010, he couldn’t do anything longer than a 4-mile race.
“It took forever, but I finally figured out that the coordination loss was a result of a herniated disc in my lower back,” he explains. He says that thanks to surgery in January 2011 and his recovery routine, his nerves are back to pre-injury levels.
“I can get my nerve function to keep improving with the right workouts,” he says.
Jenkins’ comeback is definitely in full swing. At the competitive B.A.A. 10K in Boston this past June, he finished 12th in 30:59. But Jenkins’ eyes are on the longer distances again — that’s his sweet spot.
“I’m trying to get back to the marathon,” he says. “I’m physically capable of doing the marathon workouts now.”
His drought will end at either the Twin Cities Marathon in October or the California International Marathon in December.
“I’d like to reach some sort of standard for the [2016 U.S. Olympic Trials],” he says. “But I haven’t run a PR in a long time. I think I can possibly get back to the shape I was in at the  trials.”
Some Of His Favorite Things
Favorite Local Race: Trav’s Trail Run, a 3-mile cross-country race held in May in Newburyport, Mass. joppaflatsrunningclub.com
Favorite Marathon-Prep Workout: “I’d say a specific block, so you do a 10K in the morning — light tempo, like 85 percent marathon pace — followed up by a 10K at marathon pace.”
Favorite Post-Run Eatery: La Carreta, 139 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, N.H. lacarretamex.com
Favorite Runner Hangout: Mine Falls Park in Nashua, N.H.
“It’s a great place for a run; you can do anything there. It’s got everything there and it doesn’t have horse flies.”
Favorite Racing Flat: Saucony Shay XC 2
Favorite Runner Ever: Australia’s Rob De Castella, 1983 world champion and former world record holder.
“He was a bigger guy like myself. He was a pure marathoner and he embodied the ‘no-nonsense’ workman’s ethic without too much flair.”