Last year, Michael Aish improved on his 2012 DNF at the Leadville 100 by taking third at the race. This year, he’s taking ultrarunning more seriously starting with this weekend’s Sean O’Brien 50 Mile. In the following interview, Mike talks about what he’s been up to since Leadville, how he plans to train this year, and what races you’ll see him at along the way.
Michael Aish Pre-2014 Sean O’Brien 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Mike Aish before the Sean O’Brien 50 Mile. How are you doing, Mike?
Mike Aish: I’m good.
iRunFar: Last time we chatted you had just taken thirdat Leadville. What have you been up to since then?
Aish: Yeah. Nothing. I’ve been doing a little bit of snowboarding. I’ve been keeping somewhat fit, but I’ve only really just started training maybe the last week or couple weeks. You know, a lot of things going on, but I’ve been gived a good opportunity to really focus, so I’m excited about that this year.
iRunFar: You’ve literally been a professional runner before, running on the track and whatnot. Now you’re a professional runner again. You tried to step away for a couple of years.
Aish: It keeps getting me pulled back in. It’s been about maybe five years since I could call it my job. I was lucky enough that I got about 10 years out of that. Then I stepped away and got into real life and that sucked. So, I’m back. I don’t know it will turn out, but I’m back. Yeah, Mizuno has given me a great opportunity to help them with this new trail shoe and marketing. Hopefully I can do them proud.
iRunFar: Maybe in the past year and a half when you’ve been running ultras, you’ve kind of just jumped in and kind of done it…
Aish: I’ve been goofin’ around.
iRunFar: Goofin’ around.
Aish: I had a lot of fun with it, and I did it for fun. There was not a lot of seriousness in it. Now, I’m able to focus. I’ll put everything I’ve got into it. I do plan on being very serious and professional about it. They expect that of me, and that’s the way. This race this weekend will be a good benchmark just to see where I need to start. I’m not expecting great things, but I’ll give it everything I’ve got. Then from there, it will just be head to the grindstone and just work hard and see how it goes.
iRunFar: You, like a number of gentlemen in the field, are definitely shooting for a Western States spot tomorrow.
Aish: That would be the number-one outcome if I could. If I could get a start at Western States, I would be pretty pumped. Like I said, I’m just going out there. I think making the distance would be the first goal. I haven’t done anywhere near that long in a long time. We’ll see.
iRunFar: What else have you got definitely lined up for this year?
Aish: This year is going to be awesome if it happens. I’ve got Tarawera 100k. I get to go home and get some good food and hang out with the boys.
iRunFar: Get some real training in down in New Zealand.
Aish: Really looking forward to that one. Then Lake Sonoma—I’ve got a start there, so I’m pretty happy about that. Definitely back to Leadville this year. That’s something that’s personal. Man, third time has got to be a charm at that place.
iRunFar: You really want to nail that, huh.
Aish: Damn, I want to break that damn thing. Then if Western States could happen, I’d be really happy about that. I hear that UROC race is pretty neat; I wouldn’t mind having a crack at that one, too. Basically the goal is just to get out there and give it hell and see what happens. Train as hard as I can; try and be as smart as I can. I’ve learned a lot and hopefully I can put it out there and show.
iRunFar: This is really the first time you’re going to take it professionally as an ultrarunner. What do you envision your training looking like?
Aish: I’m one of those guys who is pretty sturdy. I don’t break very easily. I think the only thing that was really lacking from maybe Leadville last year was my nutrition. I think I’ll just keep pushing the training as I have and maybe put it up to that 200-mile mark. I love being out there. As long as I’m healthy, I don’t think it matters what I’m doing. I still want to take my couple days of per week that I do and get out there on one of my boards. It’s a snowboard and man, we just got some powder!
iRunFar: Here you are out in the California sun and you’re like, “I want to be back snowboarding some pow!”
Aish: Yeah, you know a lot of people go to the gym and do their yoga classes and I’m not that kind of person. I’d rather just kind of do something a little different just to refresh the mind and then get back out on the hills. I think I learned so much last year that I’m on a good track. Now it’s just a matter of getting more in and more in.
iRunFar: Having seen you at Leadville and following you there a couple of times—sort of the more competitive races you’ve run have been Leadville—you’ve been very aggressive running off the front. I know you’ve said you felt like you were jogging.
Aish: I’m learning. I’m learning.
iRunFar: Is that going to be your approach tomorrow?
Aish: Definitely not. Tomorrow I’ll be running from the back. If I can sweep up a couple people, that will be the goal. Like I said, 50 miles, I’ve been running at most maybe 20 miles. I’m going to have my fingers crossed and just hoping for the best. There will be no aggressiveness tomorrow from me. I’ll be just straight out seeing what I’ve got in the tank.
iRunFar: Best of luck out there, man. Great talking to you. See you around.
Aish: Cheers. Cool.