Michael Wardian, a North Face Endurance athlete and Ultra Runner, was kind enough to answer the top ten questions for endurance athletes.
Wardian started running and competing in triathlons in 1996 after finishing his lacrosse career at Michigan State University, where he played attack for the Division 1 team. Michael’s first marathon was the 1996 Marine Corps Marathon. With a time of 3:08, Wardian qualified for the Boston Marathon and has since completed more than 150 marathons, 60+ Ultra Marathons on three continents, twenty triathlons, including Iron Man Lake Placid.
Without further delay, top ten questions and answers with Wardian below.
1. Who was your Childhood inspiration? MRW: My Childhood inspiration was my Mom. I love my Dad too but I am a Mom's boy at heart and my Mom was an amazing athlete (my Dad was really good too though) and I wanted to be as good as she was at things. She was competitive too, so we had a lot of great games of Tennis, Ping-Pong, Racquetball, Golf, board-games, etc....She never would let us win so I was always driven to beat her fair and square.
If you are looking for a professional athlete, I was a lacrosse player growing up so like many lacrosse players from the 1980ties, I was a huge fan of Paul and Gary Gait, the Gait Brothers, they really dominated College Lacrosse and they were my heroes. I would spend hours in the backyard trying to do "Air Gait" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46hKXLA-8Jw). I got pretty good at it and even was able to do it a few times.
2. What's your favorite race? MRW: Wow, I have a lot of favorite races and events and I think of all the races that I would like to do and haven't even been to yet but out of the races I have done I have to say The Endurance Challenge races that The North Face puts on are amazing and of those races I think the San Francisco Championship Race in the Marin Headlands is just incredible. Getting to run on the cliffs overlooking the San Francisco Bay is just jaw dropping. If you haven't been out to the event, it is so worth going.
3. What's your favorite post-race treat? MRW: My favorite post-race treat, depends on the distance, obviously 5K-Marathons are different than say a 100K or 100 Miler but right now I am on a salad/wrap kick and I love Sweetgreens and I like their salads with Udo's Oil, seriously, tasty stuff. If I am not in the Washington, DC area, then I can normally go for a PowerBar, Muscle Milk, or something like that post-race. A lot of times I just want something besides water.
4. What do you hate about racing? MRW: I don't hate anything about racing. I love it all. I love the competition, I love the course, I love the challenge, and I love how I feel when I am pushing and also when I am crushed. I think if there was one thing I dislike about racing is not being able to race or not racing to your true potential.
5. What’s your best training tip? MRW: I think the best tip that I can relay is to be consistent. Being consistent is what I think leads to the most gains for people. Getting out the door everyday doing something, helps to keep your body healthy, active and ready for the next challenge.
6. Does Training improve or sink your love life? MRW: I think training definitely improves my love life as I am more energetic and excited about being alive and in motion.
7. What’s your most embarrassing career/race moment? MRW: I got a couple zillion embarrassing career/race moments, how much time to you have? Seriously, I have had my fair share of embarrassing moments racing as much as I do, there are times when you forget things (not often as I am pretty much dialed in but it happens). I recall at the Santa Barbara Marathon, I forgot my The North Face, Better Than Naked race shorts (they are my favorites and I only brought 1 pair) and I didn't arrive in Santa Barbara until around 1200 AM the night before the race so I could just go to the store and get another pair. So I go out of the hotel about 12:30am and try to find any shorts to wear for the race, I was going to buy a swim suit or something but I couldn't find anything at the Gas Station or Grocery store that was open so I end up in the lobby of the hotel before the race at 4:30am, asking anyone that looks like a runner if I can "borrow" some running shorts, well I got a lot of "No’s" but turns out the race director, Rusty a super duper cool guy, gave me a pair of shorts right before the start and I was able to run 2:21 in them, so it all worked out but I was completely embarrassed.
8. How do you push yourself through the pain? MRW: I am fortunate in that I don't tend to worry about "pain". I actually like to embrace the "pain" or I think of it more as discomfort, real pain, injury pain (now that I have had some injuries, I think I am learning) is different and I plan in the future to more aware of the difference between discomfort and an injury but either way, I am lucky that I can focus on my goal and overcome a lot of discomfort.
Sometimes, I will use a mantra, "Stay After It" or perhaps "Why not today", to keep repeating that over and over in my head as the pace gets tough and a lot of time those little sayings can make all the difference.
I also have a lot of experience gathered over the years and I know if you keep eating and drinking that anything is possible. You have to believe in your training and yourself and amazing things are possible.
9. Is winning everything? MRW: Winning is important definitely and I am very competitive person but my primary goal in anything I do best no matter what. I always try to break through what I think is possible and push the limits of what I have done in the past in order to keep evolving as a person and athlete.
Sometimes because of those objectives I end up winning the race/event/etc... but winning is not everything. If I came in last and set a personal best, I would be content but I would always be motivated to work harder to set another high goal and that goal might be to win an event while overcoming my personal limits. Always pushing what I think is possible is what drives me day in and day out.
10. What would you do if you were not a pro athlete? MRW: I am lucky that I am competing as a professional athlete but I also work full time as an International Ship Broker with Potomac Maritime, LLC in Washington, DC and my wife, Jennifer and I have two (2) terrific young boys, Pierce (6 years) and Grant (3.5 years) old. We have a busy life but I wouldn't change it for anything.