From baller to marathoner: Meet Mike

Meet Mike, a relatively new runner who has come a long way in a very short time. On his blog, Mike says he has gone from "an overweight nearly sedentary lifestyle to 1 year later running a half marathon, then a marathon." I first met Mike on Daily Mile at some point last year and enjoy reading his tweets (@MichaelRunner) and his new blog (michaelrunner.blogspot.com). Last week he asked if I'd be interested in doing a guest post about injuries, so click here to check that out. Meanwhile, here's a Q&A I've done with him. I hope you enjoy! marathon, runningQ. In a relatively short time you’ve gone from losing weight to your first marathon. What was the motivation to get off your butt?

A couple friends invited me to play pickup games of basketball at the YMCA during the winter and even though I was terrible at it I had a lot of fun. It was great to do something competitive again after such a long time since playing organized sports in high school. I was overweight and not too "street ball" savvy, and after the first few games I suffered horrible soreness and blisters, but I kept going back.

Then I noticed I felt better after playing and my pants felt just a little bit looser. Just as I was really getting into it the summer was approaching and the YMCA's hours would change to an early closing time. Those of us with kids wouldn't be able to play after the kids went to bed so my friend Corey suggested we run some stairs at the parking garage and try to get in better shape. We did that once or twice then the idea of running the 5k portion of a local team triathlon came up.

We switched to running to get ready for that race and the rest was history, though it did take a few months for running to become a habit. Now its something I actually crave.

Q. Unfortunately you’re also dealing with a first, an ITB issue. Welcome to the club. What has that been like for you?

It's been good and bad. In some ways I think my body was probably ready for a rest. I have also been working on different methods of cross training and strengthening my core and non running muscles, something a lot of runners, including me, neglect. It can also be a pretty big bummer during those times when a run would just help to clear my head.

I get a little stir crazy and sometimes depressed. It's really tough when you can't do the one thing that has made such an impact on your life. I've been distracting myself by doing some blogging and I'm busy with an accelerated Economics class right now that's pretty intense. So to sum up, being injured sucks when the only thing you really want to do is go for a run.

Q. For anyone just starting off, what’s the first piece of advice you’d give to others?

I'm no expert, but the first thing I'd recommend to a new runner would be to go to a running shoe store and get properly fitted for a good pair of running shoes. Everything else you can figure out later.

I thought I was gonna save some money so I bought my first pair of Reebok running shoes at Marshalls for $35. After a few runs I was having terrible calf pain and it wouldn't go away, in fact, it got worse with every run. Then I decided I'd better get a more expensive pair so I went to Famous Footwear or some such store and tried on every pair of running shoes, determined to find the perfect pair. I ended up with a nice looking, supportive feeling pair of Adidas for about $80. These were some sweet shoes and my calves were felling a little better, but now my feet were hurting worse with each run.

By that time I'd run my first race and knew I was serious so I told my wife, I'm going to Fleet Feet and paying any amount of money they ask for to get the right footwear. They did a video gait analysis on the treadmill -- for free -- and told me I need a stability shoe so I got New Balance MR760ST's and EUREEKA! No more pain. I ran more 750 miles in those babys (yes, I keep track of everything) and I still have them. Oh, and the proper shoes for me were a size and a half SMALLER and EE width.

Q. How has the online community helped your journey so far?

Has it helped? Corey and I ran together for a few months in the beginning until both of us were consistent enough that we'd just go out and get it done. I've only run with anyone else locally a handful of times. The online community is where I have learned EVERYTHING I know about running. I started off listening to running podcasts and learned a ton from Run Run Live, Dirtdawg's Rambling Diatribe, Run Digger Run, and many more. Then I started using Twitter and realized I could have questions answered as they came to me.

These two outlets got me where I am today and that's no exaggeration. Chris Russell (Run Run Live) gave me advice for my first half marathon on Jan. 1, 2010, and drove from the Boston area to pace me in the Wineglass marathon in Corning, N.Y., on Oct. 3, 2010. Not only did he pace me, but he made a 10 minute video of before, during, and after the race. What a gift!

I've also run on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., with Ted from You Don't have to Run Alone and Matt from Run Digger Run, both great guys with great podcasts. Mike from Dirtdawg's Rambling Diatribe allowed me to stay at his house in Michigan when I drove out for the Lose the Turkey Fatass 50k that he put on. I DNF'd, but I had a great time. There are a lot of amazing and supportive people taking advantage of social media including David and this great blog!

Q. Have you developed any rituals or superstitions yet?

I am about the least superstitious person you will ever meet and I don't think I really have any rituals to speak of. I try not to change things that work. When I try something new I do it during a training run so I don't have problems during a race.

When I first started running it took me forever to get out the door. I had to have my mp3 player loaded up with the right podcasts and all the right clothes and gear ready to go. Now I run with an mp3 player less than 50 percent of the time. The only thing I always have is my Garmin 305 and heart rate strap. I LOVE data and looking at my stats from each run and comparing them to other similar runs. Perhaps a little insight into why I'm a Public Accounting major.

Q. Do you have any destination races in mind?

I'm not sure if these counts as destination races, but I wanted to run the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinatti, the Vermont City Marathon in Vermont and the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. this year and they're all about 6ish hours away. I've thought it would be pretty cool to do the Ironman Kona, but that may be a little ambitious for a runner who's still pretty new. I'm back in school full time right now and I don't have the budget available for real destination races so I haven't thought much about it. Of course I live in driving distance of two of the biggies, Boston and New York City.

Q. Dead or alive, who’s someone you’d like go on a long run with, and why?

This is a really tough question. I don't really know many of the most "famous" figures in running. I've read a few good books that mentioned some of them, but the runners I admire most are the ones I actually know. Running the marathon with Chris Russell was like running with a celebrity. And its not that far off. The guy knows half the running community and has interviewed many icons of the running world. He interviews the race director of the Boston Marathon every year!

I guess Emil Zatopek stands out in my mind as someone I'd like to spend some time with and learn from. He won the gold in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters and decided to run his first marathon AT THE OLYMPICS. He was also known for training in work boots and gave a gold medal to another runner because making him happy was more important than having a medal.

If you’re interested in being a guest blogger or doing a Q&A, please contact me by filling out the form on the Contact page.

Previous Q&As and guest posts * A Q&A with Steena, October 2010 * A Q&A with Steve Spiers, June 2010 * A Q&A with Half of Jess, June 2010 * A Q&A with 265andfalling’s Steve, April 2010 * Chrohn’s doesn’t mean can’t, December 2009 * But I did it anyway, September 2009 * Are we really born to run?, August 2009