We are lucky to have an inspiring group of Endos and Mike Given is the perfect example. His fitness journey is truly motivating—losing 90lbs, becoming a lifelong runner and raising money for cancer while preparing for the NYC Marathon. Makes you want to put on those running shoes, right?
Mike was nice enough to take some time out of his busy training schedule to answer a few questions for us:
- How did you begin running?
I had been running on and off for years, but never really kept with it. Two years ago I lost 90 pounds by eating better and less, doing lots of cardio exercise, and got in the best shape of my life. The gym and elliptical machine were getting pretty boring, so I started running again and haven’t stopped since.
- What has been your greatest running accomplishment to date?
Training for and racing my first 5K with my eleven year old daughter. We started the Couch-to-5K training program and did every single workout together, whether one of us wanted to lace up the shoes and get out the door or not. I’ve run over a thousand miles since then and finished races at much further distances, but this was my first real training program with a set goal in mind. Accomplishing that goal with my daughter and crossing the finish line together, made it extra special.
- Have you experienced any setbacks with your running goals?
I had an IT Band flare up in my knee about six months ago that sidelined me for a few weeks. When that got better I developed runner’s knee on the other leg. Looking back, I now view these developments as a positive, because they made me focus more on my running mechanics, proper stretching, and working core strengthening exercises into to my training. I haven’t had any aches or pains since.
- What was your motivation to become a charity runner?
My father was a champion of volunteerism, charity, and giving back to our community. He got involved in youth sports when I began Little League baseball, and then continued for the next thirty years as a coach, board member and league president. He also helped grow the program, so more township children could participate. He passed away far too soon at age 57, after a battle with cancer, I want to follow the example he taught me and be a similar role model to my own children. I am running the 2012 New York City Marathon in his honor and will to continue to do my part by running for various charities in the future.
- Can you tell us a little about the charity you’re running for in the ING New York City Marathon?
Fred’s Team was named in honor of running legend and co-founder of the New York City Marathon, Fred Lebow. While being treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 1991, Fred jogged down the hospital hallways, determined to run to raise money for a cure. Fred encouraged runners competing in that year’s New York City Marathon to solicit donations for each mile they ran. The response was overwhelming: More than $650,000 was raised to benefit Sloan-Kettering. In 1992, Fred asked for donations to his own New York City Marathon run, the final of his storied career before succumbing to brain cancer. Inspired by this one remarkable idea, Fred’s Team has grown to include thousands of dedicated athletes and novices alike, competing in hundreds of events worldwide, raising millions of dollars each year. Since 1995, the team has raised more than $49 million dollars to fund pioneering research that saves lives and brings hope to countless men, women and children.
- What has your training process been for the ING New York City Marathon?
I have followed the training plan laid out by my awesome Fred’s Team coaches. I did an eight week base building phase, followed by the main eighteen week program. The plan calls for three midweek runs, two cross-training sessions, one long weekend run, and the all-important rest day every week. The mileage increased slowly and peaked at forty miles per week, with two runs of twenty miles being the longest. I also incorporated 400m hill repeats and 400m/800m track speed workouts on alternating weeks.
- What has been your biggest challenge during training?
Going into this, I figured the biggest challenge would be a physical one. However, finding the time to get in all the needed miles, while still having time for your family and everything on our always busy schedule has proven to be the biggest challenge. Constant fundraising and striking a balance between asking friends/family to help out, and really annoying them is a close second!
- Who or what keeps you motivated and inspired on your running journey?
I have been lucky enough to have a big support network that has constantly kept me motivated and inspired, from family to online communities like Endomondo and my own Facebook page and blog followers. I’m also motivated and inspired by the great people in my local running club and my fellow Fred’s Team members. Finally, the greatest inspiration has come from all those who have supported me through donations or shared their own stories about how cancer has impacted their lives.
- Where is your favorite place to run?
It’s a toss-up, so I’ll give you two instead. The first would be the Delaware and Raritan Canal Towpath trail (NJ) every Saturday morning with the Raritan Valley Road Runners. The narrow trail is a great surface to run on (packed dirt/gravel/crushed stone) with great water views on both sides. The second would be the boardwalk down the shore in Seaside Park, NJ. I love running with the sun rising over the ocean as I look ahead at the path cutting through miles of sand dunes.
- What advice do you have for people who are new to running?
My biggest fear going into running was that I wouldn’t be fast enough or run far enough to be considered a “runner”. However, you soon learn that a mile is a mile and that if you run, you ARE a runner. The hardest part hasn’t been learning how to run faster, but rather, how to run slower and easier. So, my biggest advice to new runners would be to SLOW DOWN! A primary goal of training is to be cautious and not over train. Slow and easy keeps you uninjured, so you can keep running, accomplish all your goals, and have fun along the way. I’d also advise new runners to join a local running club and to start logging workouts in an online running community. The motivation, inspiration, advice, support and accountability will keep you going and it’s very rewarding to share and help each other out.
To learn more about Mike’s charity run and to donate, please click here.