Run SMART coach Mike Smith dishes on everything from his recent trail racing success, what keeps him sane while training, capri tights in Germany, the new Pearl Jam album and much more…
Run SMART: You recently won the TransRockies Run in Colorado and now the Windstoppers Trailrun in . Is trail running your new focus and did your training change significantly to prepare for these races?
Mike Smith: I would say that trail running is something I am curious about and exploring right now. It’s been so much fun thus far and right now that’s the name of the game for me. If I can be competitive, keep it fun, and give the training the time is needs then I think I imagine I’ll keep pursuing it. It feels like a rebirth of sorts for my running, so much of it for so many years was in this certain box, and this feels so outside that box. It feels like growth vs staying stagnant and unsatisfied.
The training surprisingly isn’t to different. I have already learned some things I will have to change in the future as far as the technical aspects, the downhill running and ways to better prepare the body, but for the most part I apply the same core principles that I use with my Run SMART clients on myself. I am my greatest experiment! Both the TransRockies and the Germany race were won off of consistent mileage, 200/400 meter work for the neuromuscular and mechanical benefits, 4 mile threshold runs, and a long run. People laugh when I tell them that I was running 200’s on a track for these long distance trail races, or 4 mile tempo runs at paces way faster than I have to access in a race, but I know what works and know why it works.
Run SMART: What’s the running scene in Germany like and was there anything different about your racing experience there compared to the U.S.?
Mike Smith: Lots of capri tights on the dudes. Lots of gear! I was the least dressed runner in the race. On the starting line I have shorts, singlet, hat, socks, shoes. The dude next to me has: trekking poles, no I am not joking. Maybe that’s not a Germany vs US thing as much as a difference in running background, trail running has lots of gear. I am sure I have a lot to learn, maybe some of it will be the hard way. Everyone I encountered was completely and utterly warm, friendly, encouraging and welcoming., camelback, compression socks, Garmin, heart rate monitor, hand held bottle, arm warmers, and some people used
Run SMART: If you had to pick out a few things you’d like to attribute your recent success to, what would they be?
Mike Smith: The biggest thing is enjoyment. I made my training fun, that doesn’t mean I didn’t suffer plenty, but I ran with people who were positive, encouraging, supportive, we ran in places that were scenic, adventurous, challenging.
Next is balance. If I wanted to go stay out seeing some music, or drink a beer, or eat a bag of gummy worms, I didn’t have some inner struggle/guilt thing. , literally, during my training I went to the Wine Loft with friends and watched music and drank a bunch of wine. That is part of the balance that keeps me sane, and keeping me sane allows me to train, and if I am allowed to train then I can race very well. Some people need balance in the other direction, more commitment, keep in mind this is my own unique balance, I am probably against the norm as far as runners go.
And lastly, consistency. My training was very consistent. The 4 mile tempo started this summer UGLY. Ask Vince. But each week I was faster by 5 seconds, 10 seconds. Well after a few months, now it’s fast. “The secret is that there is no secret”. Consistency. I was a guest speaker at a college class a few weeks ago and I told them out of intensity, duration, or frequency, choose frequency first, then let the others come. We do that wrong all the time.
Run SMART: Do you have any long-term running goals you’d like to share?
Mike Smith: You know, the longer I do this, the more I understand how much it is woven into my life but it’s importance is always changing. When I have kids maybe I can only run once a week. Or if I get really into golf or rock climbing or competitive eating, maybe running isn’t really in the plan. I have “quit” like 3 or 4 times and I am only 29. I am not going to think of it as quitting anymore, instead I recognize that I will always run, sometimes it will be a high priority, and sometimes not. That being said, it’s hard to nail down goals because I have no idea how long I’ll be in shape to reach them. Here are some ideas: 1) break 2 minutes in the 800 meters, this is not a joke. 2) run a really great Boston marathon sometime in my life 3) conquer the world of trail running 4) run inside the Grand Canyon lots more 5) keep learning.
Run SMART: What was the most delicious beer you drank in Germany?
Mike Smith: I am not kidding, they were all amazing.
Run SMART: Which song off of the new Pearl Jam album, Backspacer, do you love most?
Mike Smith: This is a successful return to some core roots. My first listen to “The Fixer” would have me wondering what the hell was going on, but my goodness that jam is catchy. The album is a great balance of raw energy, with some of Ed’s solo sampling (“Just Breathe“). It’s weird, as my musical tastes change, I feel attached to ideas more than the sound, I can’t explain it. When I listen to Pearl Jam I feel like I am visiting with old friends from home.
Interview conducted by Run S.M.A.R.T. Founder, Brian Rosetti