When Mike Foote last ran the Hardrock 100 in 2015, he finished second. In the following interview, Mike talks about why he’s more excited than nervous for this year’s Hardrock, how his training process has drastically changed from two years ago to now, where he can improve on his 2015 race, and what not to worry about during the race.
Mike Foote Pre-2017 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Mike Foote before the 2017 Hardrock 100. How are you, Mike?
Mike Foote: I am well. Thanks, Bryon.
iRunFar: This is not Montana.
Foote: This is not Montana. We are definitely no longer in Montana. This is Colorado.
iRunFar: It’s hot down here in Durango.
Foote: It is hot, yeah. It’s hot in Missoula, too, though. I’ve been avoiding the heat by getting up in the alpine a lot lately. I’m excited to not be in the heat.
iRunFar: You’ll be getting up in the alpine this weekend.
Foote: Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to be hot.
iRunFar: Are you excited for another go at Hardrock?
Foote: Yeah, this will be my third time. I’m like a lot of people; I love this race. I usually get really anxious, and I’m definitely anxious, because you should be before a big race like this, but normally when people ask me if I’m excited, I’m like, “Well, I’m kind of nervous,” but I think this year I’m kind of excited.
iRunFar: Why? How have you moved from nervous to excited?
Foote: Nervous is still there—there’s a healthy amount of anxiety and fear as there should be. I think that’s an important thing to have going into something like Hardrock. I think it’s just all about framing the whole experience. I’m really excited to spend time with good people. I’m excited to be in the alpine. I’m excited to hopefully be able to avoid a few storms. It’s just a really amazing experience. I look back at the last couple times I’ve run Hardrock, and they’ve been so, so positive. To be able to get the chance to do it again, unlike a lot of other people who don’t get the chance, I’m excited.
iRunFar: Two years ago you ran here, same direction, 25:45-ish, second place, do you feel that fit again?
Foote: I do, yeah. The only difference is last time, I came down to Colorado a few weeks early and hung out at altitude. This year, I’m going for the exact opposite approach of just showing up last second and hoping for the best which I’ve actually seen and hear anecdotally that go really well as well for folks to just not get tired at altitude. I just didn’t want to leave Montana. I was really enjoying being home and training there and feeling really good.
iRunFar: Right now, you’re even staying in Durango?
Foote: Tonight, yeah, but I’ll go up to Silverton tomorrow.
iRunFar: It’s still only two days that you’ll be up there.
Foote: Yeah, I’ll be up there less than 48 hours before the race.
iRunFar: Which is kind of the approach—either two weeks or two days.
Foote: Exactly. I’ve run up at 10,000 feet and felt great, but I haven’t lived at 10,000 feet like a lot of people.
iRunFar: Have your test pieces around Missoula gone any better than two years ago? You said you’re about equal, or could you even be in a little better fitness this year?
Foote: I honestly don’t do the test piece thing so much. I probably should. That would probably be good for me.
iRunFar: Just stuff you do…
Foote: Yeah, to be honest, my process has just been so different than two years ago. Two years ago, I was working with Jason Koop doing a lot of shorter, harder workouts coming into all this and doing all that and a lot of VO2Max work. This year has been kind of longer workouts and less frequent which is just… I’m just kind of doing my own thing. That’s been a fun process. We’ll see. For the last year I’ve been doing that and enjoying it. It worked really well for my ski mountaineering season. This is my first big race since ski season. I did a race a few weeks ago, the Old Gabe 50k in the Bridger Mountains outside of Bozeman.
iRunFar: You beat Andrew Miller and Mike Wolfe.
Foote: I just felt good which is so important. Yeah, I just felt really good, and I’m hoping to carry that momentum in. I had a good training block the last month.
iRunFar: What does that look like for you? What does a week look like, let’s say?
Foote: A couple big days, everything from four to ten hours, and then a hard steady state effort like, I’m going to run for 1:15 up to one of my favorite mountains in town and just push it really hard. I’m training around 20 hours per week, 100-120 miles per week. Nothing insane—I haven’t done anything that’s just been in sane, but I felt like it’s just been a steady increase. Sometimes that’s the best.
iRunFar: And you haven’t raced much. You don’t have to take the taper and the recovery. You can keep rolling.
Foote: It took awhile. The transition from ski season—I finished the Pierra Menta stage race in mid-March—and unlike some people who can transition super quick, it took me awhile to get back into the running thing. I wasn’t really feeling like myself until late April or early May. But, the last couple months have been better.
iRunFar: Do you think in terms of actual race execution you can improve on anything from two years ago?
Foote: I got lost for just under an hour.
iRunFar: That’s a good way to take an hour off your time.
Foote: Yeah, so I’m trying to upload a GPX track to my watch and things like that.
iRunFar: Where did you get lost?
Foote: Coming out of Telluride up to Oscars.
iRunFar: The Wasatch Basin fiasco?
Foote: Yeah, everybody got lost. I’m looking forward to not getting lost. I’m really looking forward to that. I go out really conservatively in all my races. All my best races have been that way, so I’ll probably do a similar thing this year. I don’t ever think you can go out too conservatively in a race like Hardrock. It’s so important to feel good in the latter half. I’ll probably not be trying to mix it up up front, but do my thing.
iRunFar: You’re not going to be up there hanging on Kilian’s [Jornet] shoulders?
Foote: No, that’s never been my thing. Let’s be honest. I think that it’s just really important to just mentally not get worked over by weather and things like that. We’ll probably get stormed on a few times, and that will wear us down. You just have to roll with it.
iRunFar: Do you feel that way about the race in its entirety? Do you try to push and fight and race the whole way, or do you specifically try not to do that for awhile?
Foote: I try not to do that for awhile at least in 100s. I love and keep going back to sit races, and they’re short and intense and you go out and hold on for dear life for a couple hours. That’s fun, but that approach will not work for me at Hardrock.
iRunFar: At Telluride, you still have many, many hours to go.
Foote: Hours, even though the distance might seem short, you have hours. So, yeah, if I can feel good in the latter half of the race, I’m going to roll. Setting myself up for that success would be huge.
iRunFar: Who is rolling with you, your crew and pacers this year?
Foote: I’ve got my girlfriend, Katie, who is going to be here crewing me, and then Luke Nelson is going to pace me from Telluride. He’s coming down from Pocatello and will hopefully be some good support for me.
iRunFar: Nice. Seems like a good crew.
iRunFar: Best of luck out there, Foote, and enjoy.
Foote: Thanks, yeah, of course.