Friday, September 27, 2013


So a quick update on my training of the past two weeks, as the last time I posted, I was going through much frustration with my achilles injury that did not seem to be going away quickly.  I am happy to say that things are much improved!!  I started seeing a Physical Therapist who gave me exercises to work on both in his clinic, as well as at home, in order to strengthen my lower leg in the right way, while also speeding up the recovery of my Achilles.  I even went to see an Acupuncturist!  That has been quite an experience in itself. Getting poked with needles in various areas of the body in order to help my Achilles.  But hey…it seems to have helped!

The past few days I have been allowed, by Coach Gags, to run 30-35 minutes a day on top of the cross training that I was already doing. There is no pain and no tightness in my lower, which is a huge weight off of my shoulders, as I thought I would never be healed.  It will still be a few weeks until Coach will allow me to do any workouts, but at this point, running pain free is all I could ask for. Injuries are no fun!!

Over the past few weeks I have also had the opportunity to try a new form of cross-training in the form of the ElliptiGO.  I don’t know how many of you have heard of the rapid expanding movement that is taking over endurance training world, but these pieces of equipment are great! The easiest way to describe them is by saying they are like an elliptical mixed with a bike.  You stand on them (no sitting!) and are able to simulate running, just like a stationary elliptical that you see at the gym.  The difference is that the pedals are connected to a chain, like a bike, which allow the machine to move. They definitely turn some heads when you’re out cruising the mean streets of Princeton.

I was fortunate enough to try an ElliptiGO for the past week.  At first I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it. But from the first ride I was hooked. Using my heart rate monitor, I was able to track how much of a cardio workout I was getting.  Using multiple gears on the ElliptiGO, I was able to cater my workout to the type of terrain I was riding on.  It was a great way to get a great cardio workout in, while not having to stay stationary in a gym and lose your mind.  Also, you don’t have the impact of running on the ElliptiGO.  Muscles, joints, and ligaments all get a little bit of a rest from the impact of the ground.  It allows for your body to rebound quickly from day to day and for me, my Achilles to heal!

All in all in it has been a great couple of weeks training, thanks to my support team and the ElliptiGO.  I can’t wait to continue to progress and get back training with the NJ/NY Track Club soon!!

For questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post below or email me directly at!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Sponsorship Experience...

I think that my first two years in the post-collegiate running world have been a solid two years for me as an athlete.  Are there some goals that I did not achieve yet? Yes.  I will be the first to admit that.  But making a World Championship Final (2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships, 800 meters), running the World 'A' Standard more than once, and having a decent performance at the 2013 USA Outdoor Championships (7th place) are a few of the things that I pride myself on.  Two years ago, if anyone would have told me that I would accomplish these things and not have a stable financial sponsorship, I would have told them that they must not know anything about track and field.  Yet, here I sit, still training in my UConn track and field apparel, as the one who was so naive to think things would be different.

I'm not writing this for anyone to read it and say, "Aww, poor Mike.  I feel really bad for him." No.  That's the exact opposite of what I want people to take away from this post.  I want to open the eyes of the avid track and field gurus, those that my be a casual fan of the sport, and some who might have not had much interest in it until recently.

I have heard all of the reasons why organizations, mostly shoe companies, are not interested in sponsoring me.  And I understand that I don't fit the mold of every company.  But as an up-and-coming athlete, I don't think I'm selfish in saying the support of a company is huge in helping someone like me break out into the next level.  It's hard to compete against athletes that live comfortably and have every resource at their disposal, when you're trying to train and just keep your head above water (financially).  To make myself clear, I'm not saying that I deserve the money or support that some of the best athletes in the world get.  But I do believe that I have proven myself at such a level that I deserve to be supported in some way.

A survey completed at the most recent USA Outdoor Championships showed that over 50% of the distance athletes that completed the survey make under $20,000 a year.  And over half of those 50% make less than $5,000 a year.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?  These are the athletes that are fighting tooth and nail to succeed in their sport and they can't even make enough money to support themselves. 

Now the question is, do I fall under that category? Yes, I do.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm part of that overall 50%.  I take pride in what I do.  I have been working night and day for years to become the best athlete that I can be, not to say that other athletes have not done the same.  I respect and admire what every track and field athlete does on a day to day basis.  But I feel that I am not getting the most out of myself and my sport.  I have to face the truth that what I earn does not cover all my costs and I do have to work part-time.  I have a lot of school loans, as I started college with no scholarship at all, plus the cost of living is not cheap in today's world.  My wife, Katie, works 40+ hours a week as a Registered Nurse, and if it wasn't for her, we'd really be in trouble.  She is our savior, and I am thankful for her support every single day.  But I need to support her too, as she is my wife.  With that in mind, I work as much as I can so that we are able to pay the bills but also have a normal life full of family visits, adventures to see friends, or just a night out with her and I.  It's not easy waking up some days at the crack of dawn to run a 14 mile run right before working an 8-9 hour shift.  But it's what I have to do in order to fulfill my dream of running professionally.  Sometimes I think I must be nuts to continue this so called "dream."

Will a contract solve all of my problems? Absolutely not.  Here comes the second part of my thoughts on sponsorships.  Financially, the support of a company, whether it be an apparel or non-apparel company, makes things a little bit easier.  Athletes can get all of the training, rehabilitation, gear, and travel that they need to succeed.  Yet once the races have been won and the teams have been made, who knows this other than the avid fans of the sport, or the athlete's friends and family?  What I'm getting at is that track and field needs to market their athletes better.  That's the responsibility of the athlete and the companies or organizations that support them.  Not many athletes in the sport have marketed themselves the right way or built their brand to the point where their brand and their achievements fuel each other as one cohesive unit.  That's what I am trying to do with the help of Starting Line Designs.  They're providing me a platform and support to build my brand, and get it out into the community.  My hopes are that my brand can help me support myself not only during my competitive career, but also in my future endeavors.

Until then, I'm going to continue working day after day, week after week, to become the absolute best athlete that I can be.  I don't know if I will ever get a sponsorship.  But I will put every effort into supporting myself off the track as well as on it.

Before I sign off, I want to acknowledge the support I have received during my relatively short professional career so far.  My wife has been the greatest supporter anyone could ask for.  She was willing to follow me to New Jersey, away from family, and help me fulfill my athletic dreams.  New Jersey/New York Track Club has also been instrumental in my successes on the track since college.  Brands that I support are Swiftwick and 110%.   I believe in their products, and they have helped outfit me with some great gear.  The New York branch of Nike has been a recent addition to the support system for NJ/NY Track Club, providing us with shoes as well as opportunities to go out and help build the foundation of the running community in the tri-state area.  Finally, USA Track and Field and the USATF Foundation have been very helpful in providing grants for a lot of up and coming athletes that need a little bit of extra support to break out.  Thank you so much to all of them.  I literally would not be able to do this without you.

For questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post below or email me directly at!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Training update

I just want to keep everyone updated on my training....or lack thereof.

My Achilles has been giving me problems for over a month now.  It's getting better but not as quickly as I would have hoped.  Luckily this time of year is really low key for me anyway, but I want to get back to full training as soon as possible.  In some of my earlier posts, when it first started, I assumed that it would be a relatively quick process and that I would be back to training in no time.  But things don't always go the way that they are planned.

Anyways, no more moping.  That's what I have decided.  My stubbornness hasn't helped, but I have quickly learned that patience is the biggest piece to the puzzle when it comes to rehabbing an injury.  It will heal.

So in the meantime, I have been cross-training like crazy.  I want to still work on my aerobic fitness even if that means I can't go out and pound the roads and trails.  Swimming is a daily necessity for me.  I know what some of you might be thinking...."I can't swim! That's not for me!"  And one year ago, I was thinking the same exact thing.  I couldn't do one lap in a Junior Olympic pool, without stopping and catching my breath.  After about 5 strokes, I would find myself hyperventilating and my training swim would quickly turn into a struggle to get to the wall during each lap.  My advice...keep with it!!!  I decided I needed to learn to swim in order to supplement my training.

Swimming takes pressure off of your joints and muscles but you can still get a good workout from it.  Believe me, it takes time to get the hang of it.  But once you do, it's a great way to get a little extra work in without beating up your body.  At the moment since swimming is my primary form of training, I swim twice a day for a total of 60-90 minutes depending on how hard I am pushing myself.

Other ways that I cross train is via the dreaded elliptical and the stationary bike.  Both are not fun for me.  I'm not a big fan of going to a gym, stepping on a machine, sweating like crazy, but not going anywhere.  I have come to accept it, but I still don't enjoy it!  Twenty to thirty minutes on those machines is a good way for me to get a second aerobic effort for the day, besides swimming 30-40 minutes that morning.

My advice to anyone going through an injury?  Stay positive, no matter what the circumstances are.  Negativity will only lead to laziness and a lack of motivation to get back to fitness.  Not to mention it will make everyone around you annoyed and you don't want your problems to become their problems.

So at the moment, this is my life.  I hope to be back on the roads soon, and the track soon after that.  I am still motivated as ever to get back into racing shape and mixing things up on the track.  This is just a slight hiccup in the road.

For questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post below or email me directly at!