Interview with Ultra Runner Ken Michal

Ken Michal is an Ultra Runner. I just learned something: Ultra Runners are crazy – unadulterated crazy – but a hell of a lot of fun; and in this podcast we meet this ultra runner, Ken Michal, who’ll tell us all about it.

Look, I’m a sprinter by nature, so I can only wonder about this crazy distance ultra running stuff and what drives a person to want to do this sort of thing for this long. Ken’s going to tell us all about it and why.

This is a man who just plain likes endurance training, and then running these super long events where he gets lost in his mind. Why? Because the races he runs have titles like “HURT,” “48-Hour Races,” and other insane names that say to a guy like me, “Run,” but run away from this – which I do!

On many occasions, his races take him into the night, all nigh. Here he tells a great story of just that, a nighttime run that heads into the darkness of night, over difficult terrain, where he gets lost, and has to figure his way out of trouble.

He described stumbling into an aid station two-thirds of the way through, in the darkness of the first night, hands numb and shivering uncontrollably. He had been running or walking nearly 24 hours and had another cycle of sunrise and sunset to go. He finally reached the aid station seeking warmth and sustenance only to discover that it was … gone. Everyone had packed up and left. All that remained was a bag of cold boiled potatoes, some cans of Coke and a porta-potty.

Fun, huh! Well he loved it.

To me, the kind of training one has to do (let alone the actual events!) to be an ultra runner implies a few things:

  1. The running is motivation to run away from something one wishes not to face,
  2. One has preternaturally high energy levels that only ultra running can manage,
  3. One actually just plain likes this stuff (I understand this the least!).

Either way, I don’t completely understand the ultra runner athlete’s inner psychology because anyone crazier than a sprinter is, well, off the map. These folks are off the map but in a way that I deeply respect. You’ll learn why when you listen in.

And Ken LOVES this stuff. He laughs a lot when talking about it, is giddy when thinking about training, and loves competing so much that sometimes he comes up a tad bit short on training because, like quarter horse, he just wants to get out of the gate and run.

Ken is a happy dude, an infectiously joyful man. You’re going to really love his stories, and especially him. Come on in, check him out.

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