Mike is a life-long childhood friend that I treasure. Although we rarely see each other, there is a special connection with those you grew up with-especially in a small town! It is no surprise to me that Mike is a hard-working man, devoted husband and father, and coach to the next generation. I am continually inspired by his efforts to love his family and strive toward taking on challenges. Following his marathon journey with his Facebook posts are inspiring to say the least! I am so grateful that he agreed to this interview. Mike is the perfect guest writer for Habitude Fitness. I know each of you will enjoy and be inspired by his journey!
We have known each other for a while…one could say, forever! Growing up you were always an athletic kid and in the off-season you and I often shot some hoops or went for runs together. Could you tell us how this transformed into being a marathon runner as an adult?
Honestly, I wish I knew. Its something I always thought would be an amazing achievement but never made it a realistic goal. About 5-6 years ago I reached the heaviest weight I’ve ever been. I was 5′-9″ & 235 pounds… I was a mess. I started doing P90X just to shed some of the garbage and mixed in weight training as well. After a couple of cycles I started to notice a huge difference but got bored with the routine. I began subbing out some P90X days to go on 3 mile runs, while still focusing mainly on lifting. The first few times out were rough, much like the runs we used to go on; run a mile- walk a quarter-mile and so on. I began to get more comfortable with the routine and reached out to a friend to see if she’d be interested in doing a 1/2 marathon. This was supposed to be my ONLY 1/2 & afterwards I’d hang up my running shoes. I just wanted to be able to say I did it. She grudgingly said yes and from there I was hooked! The day after the race I was already looking for the next event three weeks later.
How many races do you run in a year? Do you have a favorite that you always look forward to?
I usually try to squeeze in about 3 per year (all ½ or full marathons). Most races take place in the spring and fall so it makes it tough to do any past May since football takes up a majority of my fall time. The race I enjoy the most is by far Glass City. I know I’m biased since it’s my local event but being able to train on a majority of the course is priceless. “Vacation races” are great but driving home to your own shower and relaxing after the race is a nice added bonus.
What does your training schedule look like in the off-season?
I try to convince myself there is no off-season. I may not go out for a 16-20 miler on the weekend, but I try to stay as close to race shape as possible. During the fall I’ll get on the track before football practice starts or I’ll run to the school before Saturday morning film. My goal in training is to try to take as little time away from family time as possible. No matter the season I’ll try and do as many early morning runs as I can.
How do you balance work, family, and the time commitment to training?
I guess I kinda jumped the gun on that question! Early morning runs, mixing in a run after work before the kids get home, during Sunday naps…if I have a chance and there’s nothing on the calendar I’ll try and make it work. It also helps to be lucky enough to have a spouse that is understanding of my goals. We all have to have our “me” time, I just prefer to take mine on the road.
What type of cross training, stability and mobility work, or stretches do you do to stay in shape and refrain from injury?
Not nearly enough! I have my pre/post run routine but I rarely cross train. With only having so much time available I try to do what I enjoy the most and that’s run. As far as injuries go, I just try to listen to my body. I found out about a year ago I have a pretty high-grade of arthritis in my knee-so if I feel I have to take some time off I will (even as stir crazy as I get).
What types of things do you use to motivate you, especially when the training is tough?
I find inspiration in a lot of things; outside motivation such as Team Hoyt, Terry Fox, the wheelchair division in races, and the idea of qualifying for Boston. Internal things like the doctor looking at me like I’m crazy when I ask if he’ll drain my knee because I have a ½ marathon in 4 days. Or going for a run when it’s -20 or 102 and knowing you’re the only one outside at that time. All good stuff.
You told me that your last race was both humbling and inspiring. You also mentioned those two beautiful kids. Can you speak to that experience a little, what you learned, and what you desire for your children?
The family and I traveled to Athens Ohio for a marathon. The kids were battling a stomach bug all week and were nice enough to pass it on to me. Along with that it was 83 degrees that day. Normally I’d be happy with that temp in April, but not on race day. I’ve never stopped or walked during a race before, but due to these compounding issues I did both on that day. At mile 23 I was stopped by the medics. They took my vitals, and decided to pull me. Never in my wildest thoughts would I ever DNF (and probably would’ve continued had they given me the option). I immediately looked at it as a failure and was upset with myself for “letting it” get that bad. Truth of the matter is I probably learned a lot more from this race than I did the 2 marathons I’d finished before it. Hydration, race day prep, knowing when enough is enough, what kinds of races I’m geared for, these are all things I took from race day.
Attached are pics of one of my stops along the course where I was able to interact with the kids. Had it not been for moments like this I would’ve considered the trip a complete waste. My hope is that they see me doing something I love and apply that to whatever they fill their lives with. I want them to know there will be down days-but it only makes the good days that much better.
When I asked you if you were interested in this project, you said you had to come clean:) You told me that you really didn’t consider yourself the healthiest person out there. You commented that you like to do things in moderation. “I still reach for the ice cream, but I put it in a “condiment style” bowl as opposed to a normal dish that I grew up using.” I LOVE this example. Balance and moderation are key to living a full and healthy lifestyle. Do you have any tips for others out there looking to create balanced healthy living?
I consider myself a completely average guy. I don’t strive for a 6 pack and actually wish I were able to put on a few extra pounds while keeping my splits where I want them. I don’t get caught up in counting calories or denying myself the things I enjoy. With that being said I never go overboard. I try to do the little things like you mentioned. Things like never buying pop or sugar laden products, reaching for almonds or a yogurt as opposed to a box of cookies, eating thin crust pizza with veggies instead of a pan meat lovers. It’s not a lot but it’s a lot of little things that add up. To me, there’s nothing worse than walking away from the dinner table feeling worse than you did before you sat down!
What are some of your new goals in regards to your race season for this year?
I started writing this interview before Glass City (4/27/14) and decided to wait to answer this question until after. My old marathon PR was 3:47:19. After Athens I was thrown for a loop and didn’t know what to expect or even shoot for. I decided to try to run around an 8:20 pace & if I had anything left in the tank at the end I’d let her rip. I’m extremely proud to say that I was able to crush my PR with a 3:38:01! It’s nothing close to the elite runners but that’s perfectly fine with me. I always tell myself to run my own race and to not get caught up with the runners around me. I go out there in a race against my former self.
Boston qualifying time for my age group is 3:05. It won’t happen this year but I know without a doubt someday it will!
Get Better Every day!
Your Friend and Trainer,
Mike and Cassie