Ultramarathoner Mike Wardian with running gear, tips and more

Fall is marathon (and half-marathon) season, and we’ve got the running gear and marathon tips you need straight from one of the most elite runners in the world.

To complete your first or fiftieth 26.2-mile run, the handbook is here with insider tips from ultra-marathon champion Mike Wardian. Since 1995, the runner has run more than 300 marathons and ultra-marathons, set Guinness World Records, run seven marathons on seven continents in seven consecutive days and, this summer, completed the “Forrest Gump”, jogging across the continental United States in 61 days.


“It was actually a very long time coming,” Wardian said in a chat with The Manual. “I had seen Forrest Gump all those years ago and it was like, ‘Man, that’s crazy cool.’ Once I started running it was just such a distant dream.

It just goes to show that you never know what’s going to happen next. All you can do is take the next step and see what happens. So fill up those water bottles and tie your shoelaces. It’s time for a fun and focused series of tips on how to train for a marathon from a long distance superhero.

Equipment is good…up to a point

When people start a new activity there is a natural urge to want to run around and buy new things. And why not? It’s fun to have new equipment. This habit can get expensive, quick and, to be honest, all you really need to train is a quality pair of running shoes and some absorbent clothing. However, as you advance in the sport and get further away from your runs, you will want to start upgrading your running setup.

“A hydration vest is a really good investment because people get into it a little bit more,” Wardian said.

Nathan Quickstart 2.0 6L rear hydration vest.
Nathan Sports

The ultra-marathoner will often use a Pinnacle four-litre vest.

“It’s small but nimble,” Wardian said. “You can have a soft flask in one pocket and your phone, money and AirPods in the other. I’ll use it when I’m running around the neighborhood. I can even put poop bags and a ball in it for when I run with the dogs.

Wardian used a Pinnacle Running Belt on his trek across the country, which allowed Bluetooth headphones, a cell phone, cash, and Garmin tracker storage. It also works if you’d rather go shirtless than wear a bulky cardigan. In this case, there are water bottles that it is designed to hold while you run.

“It’s pretty North American, but the portable water bottles are pretty easy to use. And it’s something that allows you a lot, a lot of flexibility,” Wardian said.

Wardian is sponsored by Nathan Sports and vouch for the carriage of a number of its water bottles, which range from quick-cap flasks, which provide runners with “just enough water” to large hydration bottles. ‘one liter.

Follow the marathon training program

The marathon training schedule is fairly typical across the sport: four days of racing during the week followed by a long weekend race, with mixed cross-training on holidays and tempo races rapid and sustained stroke changes that help your body push its high-end endurance). Since Wardian began training in 1995, he has followed a similar regimen.

Mike Wardian at the Eventua Gravity Haus Ultra Marathon.
Mike Wardien

“The first time I raced, I just wanted to qualify for Boston,” Wardian said. “Since then it’s refined a lot, but a lot of the processes are the same as you’ll traditionally see – easy runs, then a longer run with paced runs and hill training.”

The purpose of training is to extend your mileage and time. Progress is as simple as repetition and steady, gradual increases in distance and speed.

Strength and cross train

Training for a marathon takes a lot of time and dedication. It’s not easy to find the space or the motivation to hit the gym, but it can make a big difference.

“What’s really helped me is having added strength and mobility elements over the last five or six years,” Wardian said. “It really made a big difference, especially as I got older.”

Your goal with strength training for a long run isn’t that different than it would be with a regular gym routine. People want to increase muscle and tendon power, which, in turn, can help make running easier, reducing running time and increasing running rates.

Pickleball players.

Cross-training is another aspect of preparation that can get lost on the long road to a marathon. What cross-training means is working across multiple disciplines. Cycling, swimming, hiking, weightlifting, and any other activity that promotes endurance and athletic prowess are going to help your running skills in an incidental way. Cross training also discourages the body from getting stuck in a rut of doing the same thing all the time. In recent weeks, for Wardian, that has meant jumping into America’s fastest-growing sport.

“I learned pickleball in 2021, and now I want to try to turn professional,” Wardian said. “I went from not even knowing what the sport is to knowing all the top players and spending four or five hours a day working on my game.”

As well as an extra racing outlet, pickleball will help Wardian’s quickness and high-speed stamina while fueling his competitive fire. You don’t have to go pro, but mixing alternative sports into training is key to auxiliary development.

To play games

Competition not only helps humans develop healthier bodies, but floods the brain with soothing, euphoric hormones and allows for better oxygen flow, which encourages calmer, sharper minds. Of course, the opposite is going to be true – training the brain to help the physical realm. In order to hone his racing tactics, Wardian relies on an old board game.

“I ran like it was going to be a really long game of classic chess,” Wardian said. “It’s a three to four hour game. There are all sorts of time controls that dictate the different ways you play. I thought about my run across the country very strategically.

Campers playing chess outside.

The ultramarathoner wanted to average 50 miles a day in 12 hours. In order to have the energy to accomplish this, Wardian consumed five to seven thousand calories a day. This would allow him to continue without exhausting himself. He perfected this offense with internationally renowned trainer Karl Meltzer and his father, Dick Wardian, who watched Wardian’s progress every day in a motorhome. There was cold weather, warm weather and wet weather gear on hand. There were first aid supplies, ice and anything that could reduce possible accidents.

“If something goes wrong, or can go wrong, it will go wrong. I just wanted to limit the chances of things going so wrong that they would derail what I wanted to do,” Wardian said.

Along the way, the motorhome got stuck in the mud for half a day, Wardian “blew” his hamstring while dodging a car, and there were a few angry drivers who weren’t not happy to have a runner pounding the pavement with them. Because Wardian approached the task with a chess-like approach, he was able to overcome these obstacles.

Stay healthy and watch your back

Danger is one of the things you don’t always associate with running. However, with cars racing behind and ahead, chances are some people just won’t see a random racer on the road. Be sure to wear something shiny and/or light-reflecting. Wardian also reminds us that street sharing may be a foreign concept to some.

“In rural areas, where they’re not used to seeing people doing this, sometimes they don’t know how to deal with it,” Wardian said. “I was thrown a half-eaten burger. People yelled at me, intentionally went over the white line.

Motorway traffic
Alexander Popov

He had to be conscious at all times, and even sometimes that wasn’t enough, like when the rear-view mirror of a tractor-trailer passed over his head.

“I’ve been in some pretty tough situations – on top of some mountains in bad weather, bad visibility, locked in a cave with space cover and wondering how this is going to end,” Wardian said. “Feeling the draft and seeing the mirror pass over my head was scarier.”

Avoiding cars and random objects was a tough pill to swallow, but there was no other way for Wardian to achieve his dream – he had to accept the dangers.

“The first few days were really scary. I was jumping off the road all the time. On day three, I thought to myself, “There’s no way I could go 3,200 miles east to west and 1,000 miles north and south, jumping off the road,” Wardian said.

If you’re not crossing the country from west to east, it may be easier to avoid busy roads, but if you’re driving 25-100 miles a week, you’ll need to assign asphalt sections to drivers. . Staying aware of your surroundings should alleviate most potentially dangerous situations.

Although you don’t have to worry about drivers if you’re running a marathon, they are something you need to be aware of when training.

Encourage and connect with others

Where these creepy interactions were memorable, they were also rare. Wardian mostly found compassionate souls on the road.

“For every wicked person, there would be eight who would stop to offer help and offer water.”

By putting yourself in new, sometimes uncomfortable situations, the best and the worst in people often shine through. It is unlikely that Wardian could have accomplished this enormous personal challenge without the help of others.

“I spent 80 to 85% of the days alone. The days I had people made things so much better,” Wardian said.

Mike Wardian runs the Hard Rock 100 in Colorado.

This included his wife and two boys stopping by to visit. There were runners joining Wardian for a few hours, sometimes full days, even friends returning for multiple legs of the journey.

“My goal was to see the country, do good for others, and connect with the running community,” Wardian said. “It was just great to have the chance to connect with people and learn more about them, and be part of their journey because they are part of my journey.”

The personal and community rewards are found at the end of the trek, but it can take months to get there. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first or fiftieth marathon, or if it’s a 10k or 50k you’re training for, take the time to connect with others and share the goal.

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