Mike Wardian’s Road/Trail to Recovery

When I think of Mike Wardian, I think of a Greyhound. The dog, not the bus. Always twitchy, waiting to catch sight of something moving, ready to play chase to whatever that is. What I mean is that Mike loves to run fast and race hard. And, when he does, he does so without bias to distance, surface, or anything else. Except for a period of six or so months during the second half of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 when he was severely injured. Just like a caged dog is an awful travesty, so was an injured Mike.

In this interview, learn about Mike’s injuries, what caused them, his recovery, how he’s trying to be a smarter runner, and his picks for 2013’s best trail and ultrarunners. Oh and you should know that it’s impossible to interview Mike. I’ve tried several times now, over the years. He interviews himself, tells you what you were going to ask him anyway. Basically you steer him in the right direction and he runs with it. Again the Greyhound. Finally, hold out for the end of the article because Mike lists all his tips for navigating a big-time injury. Here’s how our interview went:

iRF: How are you?

Wardian: I’m feeling good, man.

iRF: Man? This is great! I saw you in February [when we got together to run in Washington, D.C.] and now we’re chit chatting on the phone.

Wardian: Yes, that was one of my first runs back. And I’ve been able to do some longer runs since then. It’s nice being able to run without pain.

Michael Wardian - DC - February 2013

Wardian and the iRunFar crew after the February run.

iRF: That is such good news! That is why I wanted to interview you. You’re always at the forefront of ultrarunning because you race so successfully and prolifically. Then, all of the sudden, you’re off the radar. I want to talk about your many injuries and your recovery.

Wardian: Since August or so [I’ve been too injured to run]… The last ultra I did was Western States. I ran the San Francisco Marathon and got third and that was the last race I did. I ran 2:27 or 2:28 and I felt super off. More off than I was for the rest of the year. You saw me before the 100k [World Championships in April of 2012], and things were kind of weird even then.

Jonas Buud, Michael Wardian, Marja Vrajic, Meghan Arbogast, and Giorgio Calcaterra

Mike Wardian and friends at the 2012 IAU 100k World Championships.

iRF: The lead-up to the injuries… I recall you saying you were battling plantar fasciitis at worlds, and that you were having issues with a couple other things. So there was already stuff going on last April?

Wardian: Yes, for most of 2012, it felt like my stomach was sort of loose and not all together. When I’d start a run, I’d have a sharp pain. I was going around asking people, “Hey, do you ever start a run and feel like your stomach is falling out?” and everyone is kind of like, “No??” I kept going to my doctor asking if I had a hernia or something and they kept saying no. Eventually, you just have to keep going back and saying, “something’s not right.” For me, I didn’t find out for a long time [that I did have hernias.]

I had five stress fractures and I had to stop running for them. They could see there was some “other activity” on the MRI, but they thought it was the healing from the stress fractures. I took the time off from the stress fracture, so I wasn’t really running. I was cycling and aqua jogging. My MRIs still never looked better. That’s when they figured out I had these hernias. They thought it was just two, but when they went in there to repair one on each side, they also found one in my belly button and two smaller ones on the left side. So I had two sports hernias and three inguinal. The one in my belly button wasn’t so small. I thought I had a super outie, but turns out it was a hernia.

iRF: Oh my gosh… so when you’d ask your friends, “Have you ever felt like your stomach is coming out?” your stomach was actually coming out. Did doctors have any explanation of how that all happened?

Wardian: Physical therapists figured out that I don’t have a great range of motion in my hips. My extension was zero and it’s supposed to be [more than zero.] Since I didn’t have long range of motion when I would follow through with my legs, I would tilt my body forward and put more stress on my pelvis and that’s how I’d get the extension rather than through the actual hip extension. They were saying, “I don’t know how you can run that fast with no extension.”

So now I’ve been doing that more to try to strengthen that area. I don’t want to get the same injuries. I’ve been building up really slowly. I think the most I’ve done in a week is 60 miles. I’m building up really, really slow and cycling a lot and hiking.

iRF: Retrace for me the string of injuries. Plantar fasciitis first last spring?

Wardian: That started December 2011 right at TNF EC 50 in San Francisco was when it kind of started. It was painful all year really. Then the loose stomach and feeling off happened after the Olympic Trials in early 2012. I was still racing pretty well. As the year went on, I started getting weird leg pains which was some of the stress fractures. I got off the flight for Comrades in [June of] 2012 and I couldn’t walk up the stairs. I was freaking out because I just flew down there—how was I going to run this race? I didn’t know what was going to happen, but 2k into the race, it was like normal. I just started racing. I did the best I could. Even during Western it didn’t bother me too much. I didn’t even really notice it until I did the San Fran Marathon and everything was kind of weird but okay.

Michael Wardian - 2011 TNF EC 50

Wardian battling the field and PF at the TNF EC 50 in 2011.

Then in August I ran eight miles to work and couldn’t walk when I got there. It was the week before UTMB; I was supposed to go over for that. I went and got a massage because I just thought I pulled something in my butt. I had them digging into it and it was a stress fracture. I was about to black out. It was unbelievable pain like I’ve never felt before.

iRF: To the massage therapist, you’re like, “Keep working on it! Keep working on it!”

Wardian: I was! “Work it out!” We were supposed to fly out on Friday to the race and this was Wednesday. I was still thinking, “Maybe I can gut it out. If I can’t run that, then maybe I can run a marathon.” It was crazy. I couldn’t even walk from one side of the office to the other.

I think about it now and it was kind of like the first step to realizing you have a problem is admitting you have a problem. I definitely had to come to terms with something actually being wrong. I went and got an x-ray and that didn’t really show anything; I got a CT scan and that didn’t really show anything. Then I got an MRI and it showed a stress fracture.

I didn’t really know anything about stress fractures. I talked to a bunch of people. Mostly it happens to women. A lot of times it’s related to running high mileage and you’re not getting proper nutrients. Basically, you’re doing more damage than your body is able to repair.

The contributing factor is that I’ve always been really good at recovery. But we have had an issue with [my son] Grant having seizures. He was diagnosed with epilepsy in October of 2011. We were and still are waking up every couple hours to check on him. So I was never getting any proper block of sleep and still trying to do the miles and the racing and I think it was just too much. I didn’t have enough time for my body to recover properly between the workouts.

Then shifting my gait somewhat to take some of the pain away from the plantar fasciitis may have put undue stress on my pelvis.

iRF: The hernias are repaired; the stress fractures have presumably healed up. Is the plantar fasciitis healed now, too?

Wardian: It’s pretty good. I figured it would not bother me at all because I’d taken all that time off from running, but sometimes I can kind of feel it at various points. My stomach feels the best it has in a long time. My hips are holding up pretty well. It’s nice to be able to run and not have pain. There’s the pain of not being as fit as you’d like, but…

iRF: More mental angst than anything, right?

Wardian: Yes, when you first start back from injury, every run you’re on “high alert,” scanning for pain. Even when we were running [together in D.C.], the whole time my brain was being diagnostic. It’s not as enjoyable as if you’re just running and carefree.

It’s definitely taking a lot of patience to come back deliberately and not rush into things. I’ve strung a couple races together—I did a 50k last week and a marathon the weekend after. [Editor’s Note: Since our interview, Mike also ran last weekend’s National Marathon.] Those are my longest runs. It’s pretty minimal what I’ve been able to do running-wise. But it’s encouraging to be able to run near six minute/mile pace and feel pretty comfortable.

iRF: Talk about monitoring your comeback. Are you letting pain be your guide or a slow progression of mileage increase?

Wardian: I think a lot of us, especially me, I don’t know how good pain is as a guide because I was able to run for a really long time in quite a bit of pain and it didn’t seem that crazy to me.

iRF: Your internal regulator is set at a far higher level than most human beings.

Wardian: Or maybe I’m able to override it more. So I’m trying to err on the side of caution. It’s kind of textbook, but I don’t want to increase more than 10% [a week]. Even in February, I was going to run a marathon and if I did it would have been 70 miles for that week. The day before, I was doing a shake-out run and something hurt, so “Nope, not doing it.” I just ran a couple of hours easy instead. I’d rather miss one race than miss six months again.

When you’re injured, you lose your peer group—your running support system. No one really wants to be around someone who’s hurt.

iRF: Contagious maybe!

Wardian: Yes, everyone’s like “I don’t want that.” You feel isolated. It was nice because I met some people, stress-fracture friends, in the pool. I had a little support group. But you lose touch with your normal running group because they don’t want to tell you about how their running is going because they don’t want you to feel bad. You don’t want to tell them about your injury because that’s just going to make them feel weird. I was lucky because I was able to stay involved and crew for some people. My brother did his first marathon and I was able to go out and support him and do some training runs with him on my bike. I went to some races and crewed for the first couple people.

I did some things I’ve always wanted to do. I biked the Skyline Drive. It was 105 miles and 10,000 feet climbing. I’d always wanted to do it and because of running, I hadn’t. It didn’t bother my stress fractures or the hernias. I did a lot of hiking with the family because that didn’t bother my stress fractures either.

I was able to help out with the kids’ coaching. I’m coaching [my son] Pierce’s single-A baseball team. We’re the Tigers.

iRF: And now, what’s Grant’s status? Is he stabilized? Medications?

Wardian: He was diagnosed in October of 2011 with epilepsy and he had a bunch of seizures up until April, right after I saw you at 100k Worlds. In fact he had one when the family picked me up from the airport from worlds. It was sad. We were in and out of the hospital and back and forth. Since last April 21, he hasn’t had a seizure as far as we know. We haven’t been able to monitor him 24/7, but it seems like he’s been seizure-free.

We’ve been able to take some trips as a family again. We went to Disney in Miami. We’re going to go out to Big Sur for the marathon. In 2011 and 2012, we were on pins and needles. We still are a bit and there still are a lot of logistics involved in going anywhere. We have to take rescue medicine and his normal medicine. But he’s been great and the meds don’t seem to be adversely affecting his learning or his personality. It’s always on your mind, though. Even if you just drop him off at the playground… if he has a seizure at the top of a slide that would be really bad.

We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of his last seizure. After two years, if he hasn’t had a seizure, they start taking the medicine away to see if he’s going to have a seizure again or not. It’s a big deal. Some kids outgrow them—70% will actually outgrow them. That’s the light at the end of the tunnel. All in all he’s better.

iRF: It’s really good to know that. You have a healthy family. You have a healthy body. You have what sounds like a new framework for how to stay healthy…

Wardian: I hope so… that’s the goal.

iRF: Future forward, what are you going to race this year if all systems remain a go?

Michael Wardian - UROC 2011

Wardian leading UROC in 2011.

Wardian: While I was hurt, I had a lot of time to think about stuff. One of the things I promised myself when I was hurt, I was going to run the R2R2R in the Grand Canyon. My brother and my friend, Andy, and I are going to go out there in May and do that just for fun.

I’m going to do some marathons—Big Sur (April), TNF EC 50 in D.C. (June). I’ve got 2 races for The North Face in Ecuador and Costa Rica (80k’s) at the end of June. I signed up to be considered for the USA Track and Field trail team which has a race in Wales.

I’m in Burning River 100 at the end of July. I have my name in for UTMB, but I’m not sure if that’s going to pan out. It just depends on how my body is at that point and if it’s going to work out scheduling-wise. Then in September, I’m one of the elite guys for UROC, so I was going to try and maybe do that. Then, in October, World 100k’s again? That’s a big race for me. I’d like to really do well there and seek redemption for not doing as well there last year. And TNFEC 50 San Fran at the end of the year, subject to everything going well. If I can do some marathons in there, that’s always something I like to do. Instead of doing 50 races/year, it will probably be a lot less than that.

iRF: Last question, fun question. You’re an avid fan of the sport. Even when you were in the throes of your injury, you were following along and cheering for people. I want to know what you think is going to happen in ultrarunning in 2013. Big races, breakout runners. What are your picks for this year?

Wardian: There are so many guys who are so good now—and girls, too. I’d like to think that Tim Olson is going to have a good year again, Hal [Koerner], Lizzy [Hawker]

iRF: You’re listing your team here!

Wardian: I’m following the party line.

iRF: TNF blood through and through.

Wardian: One of my teammates from Marathon Guide—Trent Briney—ran a really good race at JFK. Mike Foote, he’s a really solid runner. I think Lizzy is just amazing. I’d like to see Kami [Semick] race well.

iRF: Again your team! She’s been doing really well on her side of the planet.

Wardian: Yeah, I know. She’s just so solid.

I think it would be nice to see Devon [Yanko] run well this year. I feel like she has a lot on her plate. Ellie [Greenwood] is always unbelievably studly. I hope she runs well. One of my friends from Marathon Guide, Camille [Herron], is going to do Two Oceans this year. She’s run maybe in the 2:30’s as a marathon runner. There’s also that girl from JFK, Emily Harrison. I’ll be curious to see how her year goes.

iRF: She in for Western.

Wardian: I saw that. Then, some of the guys from the 100k team are really good runners, too, Dave Riddle. An international guy, Ryan Sandes. I got to run with him last year and I was super impressed with what a good runner he is. That dude is solid. Younger guys, Jordan McDougal. I don’t know if you have seen that kid run, but he can fly and he’s not afraid.

Mike Wardian’s tips for treating and recovering from injury

As promised, Mike sent along his tips for navigating the complex and muddy waters of injury. Direct from the Greyhound’s mouth:

“1) Learn as much about your injuries as you can. Don’t just take an experts’ advice for fact, as lots of things are up to individual doctors.

2) If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t it and get it checked out until you are confident in the answers you are getting.

3) Write down your questions before going to the doctor’s/expert’s office. I would even fax the questions (for some reason doctors don’t use email for the most part) before your visit because it gives the doctor a chance to check what you are going to say (because if you ask them in the office they are going to hedge).

4) If you have health insurance, learn what the costs are for each doctor/expert and what you are going to be responsible for, what your deductibles are, and if you have “co-insurance.” The costs add up quickly. If you don’t have health insurance, ask if they will give you a discount for paying with cash; you will be surprised at the reply a lot of times.

5) My first question was, “I know I can’t run but what can I do?” I learned that I could swim, cycle, and do non-weight bearing exercise, so I threw myself into those and maintained a good degree of fitness.

6) Mind your intake of fuel during the recovery process as with the decreased exercise the amount of calories needed will also decrease.

7) I suggest trying to figure out if your diet was giving your body what you needed or if you were perhaps lacking something that could have led to the injuries. I feel like my body was working well but since the injuries I have looked at my diet again and made some tweaks that I think are helping me a lot with recovery and also with staying healthy going forward.

8) Find ways to stay engaged and passionate about the sport. I couldn’t run but I was able to crew people, volunteer, and speak about past races. There are plenty of ways to be involved that don’t have to do with actually racing.

9) Do something that you have always wanted to do. I had always wanted to bike the Skyline Drive, 105 miles in Virginia. I did it one week after getting diagnosed with five stress fractures. It wasn’t going to hurt the stress fractures and delay the healing so I did something that had always taken a backseat to my running.

10) Fix any weaknesses. Because of the stress fractures I had a lot of time to think about why I got injured and how to avoid injury in the future. I reached out to a physical therapist (Fast Track in Falls Church, VA; they are great) and worked with them to figure out where I had issues and I am working to improve those areas and become stronger all around.

11) STAY POSITIVE… eventually things are going to get better, and you will be stronger for it.

12) I also used an “Alter G” treadmill (they allow you to run with a percentage of your body weight) during my comeback and will continue to use it to help with my fitness as I get stronger. I also plan to incorporate additional cross training into my schedule/training plan to avoid the chance of overuse issues with just running.”

Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com's Managing Editor and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.

There are 41 comments

  1. Charlie M.

    2:34 at the National Marathon after more than a year of disabling injuries. 5 hernias, 5 stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, son with disabling seizures. Shows not only the fortitude of the man, but the power of running to overcome just about anything. I have no doubt that he will continue to put one foot in front of the other. What an inspiration. Also, where does one buy an Alter-G, and how much does it cost? Under $100? :)

  2. Dean G

    When did Mike start running in Hokas? I just saw them congratulate him on his most recent marathon. Seems like more and more elites are joining their fold.

    1. Meghan Hicks

      Dean, I *believe* Mike's using them as a recovery tool to give his bones a little extra cushion as he makes certain his fractures are totally healed. He's The North Face's and Marathon Guide's (and many more sponsors') athlete, though.

  3. Brad D

    I was lucky enough to be Mike's chauffeur and tour guide at a speaking engagement in February and he is the REAL DEAL folks. Our running club learned so much during his speech at our annual dinner and more people got to learn a lot more during our club run the following day. The injury time off is just a blip in what he has done and what he'll do in the future. GO MIKE GO!!!!

  4. Tara F.

    I had the privilege to go on a short run with Mike a couple weeks ago. He is a SUPER guy who had nothing but positive encouragement for a novice, short distance runner like myself! Glad you are recovering and running well!

  5. GMack

    I sympathize with Mike's injuries (been there, too), but the descriptions had me smiling:

    5 hernias + 5 stess fructures = feeling "off."

    Injury pain to the point it makes you nearly "black out" = "maybe I can run a marathon."

    Can't "walk up stairs" = I'll go ahead and run Comrades.

    (Ultrarunning. Not for wimps.)

  6. Nate

    Any idea where Mike got his surgery done? I've had an MRI that indicates a sports hernia with no signs of a regular hernia, but haven't found a doctor yet that is too familiar with them – only regular hernia specialists. I've had lower ab pain for the last 2 years and eager to get rid of it!…


    1. Zack

      I had a type of hernia (basically a birth defect where a band came off my large intestine only to reattach 6 inches later, creating a loop that the rest of my intestines could become trapped in, resulting in intestinal blockage) and was operated on by Dr. Kent Sasse in Reno. He's a leading expert on bariatric medicine (http://www.sasseguide.com/blog/about-dr-kent-sasse/)–not to imply I'm overweight, 5'10" 148 lbs. I couldn't recommend him more–I've been symptom free since the surgery.

  7. Michael Wardian

    Thanks everyone for the comments and I really appreciate the kind words and I am so so excited to be running again and feeling better. I couldn't have done it without the support of my family, friends, work, sponsors and the running communtiy and I suspect there will be some ups and downs but I am looking forward to the challenges ahead.

    Herewith some replies to some questions:

    Nate: Herewith my surgeons details:

    Virginia Hernia Institute

    G. Kevin Gillian, MD

    8988 Lorton Station Blvd

    Suite 202, VA. 22079

    p. 703-372-2280

    Doctor Kevin, Gillian is really good and he takes insurance which was something that I was looking for. He also does it without cutting you all up, 3 little holes. There is another guy in Philadelphia called William Meyers that does a lot of the pro athletes football guys, hockey guys, etc.. but he doesn't take insurance and is really expensive ($5,000-$15,000) but gets you in and out quick but not cheap, he did a few guys and I know and they haven't had any issues. Those the two best guys I found in my research but I know that there are others out there. I would suggest talking to a lot of doctors until you are comfortable with what they are saying and that they understand what you do (not many people get that we are going to be running for 50 miles or 24 hours or up Mountains, etc…)…

    By the way, I am so sorry about your pain, it just is the worst because it feels super uncomfortable but without a big thing coming out of your stomach some doctors just suggest rest (that didn't work for me)…

    It is a lot more common than you think and you are not alone…Good luck getting it looked at and taken care of.


    GMACK…yes, that was a little crazy but I was thinking it is only 26.2 Miles I can gut it out for that long but that is still really far and Marathons are such a great distance because they challenge you in a lot of ways, especially when you are really pushing. I am so happy I can run them again.


    Thanks Tara, Doug, Brad, Eric, Dean, going to be a fun year and for many years to come.

    I am hoping to be out there with a white beard charging up and down mountains and throwing down marathon times….there is a 100 year old age group record I have my eye on.


    If you have any additional questions I can try to answer them here or you can try me at mwardian@rocketmail.com


    Thank you again.

    1. Nate

      Wow! how great of you to write back so quick. I appreciate the kind words.

      I've tried the rest thing and that didn't work for me either – I actually think it made it feel worse for whatever reason. And I did physical therapy for 6mo which I think helped with some inbalances, but didn't really make the pain go away. Now that I've exhausted all avenues I think it's time to go under the knife/laparoscopy and get this thing taken care of.

      Thanks again for giving me the info on your doc. I live in NM, but I wouldn't mind making the trip to go with someone who knows what they're doing. By chance has anyone else who's reading this have any luck with surgery out this way?


  8. Carter Ficklen

    Great interview. Glad you are back running again. I remember seeing you at colonial 13.1 and shamrock 26.2 a few years back. Very inspirational to see a runner excel at an elite level while balancing family and work challenges. I enjoy your instagram posts of your travels. Best of luck for a great 2013!!!!!

  9. olga

    Loved how detailed the interview went! You're one crazy dude, Mike, but we love you exactly for that – just please don't take off 6 months due to injuries again! Be healthy, here is to more great years!

  10. Joe

    Interesting info about the restricted leg extension contributing to the hernias and stress fractures. One thing that was not discussed is what caused the PF (which seems to have played a causal role in the subsequent injuries). What do you think caused the PF?

  11. Michael Wardian

    Nate, good luck finding a Doctor up your way and I might suggest calling the Doctor that did mine and asking him who he would recommend as I think he is a good guy and would probably steer you in the right direction.


    Carter, thanks man and I hope to get back to those races in the future, I didn't have the fitness to try the back to back this year (Rock & Roll USA & Shamrock) and I am trying to space some of the longer stuff out a little right now till I know all is well but hope to do some more fun stuff too and appreciate that about the family, they rule and fun trying to balance everything. Somehow I am the "head coach" of Pierce's baseball team so things are going to get even more interesting….(6 year-coach pitch little league)…Have some friends helping so think it will be possible and I am also trying to asst coach on Grant's blastball team…….lots of running around for all of us…my wife, Jennifer makes it all happen and helps us get it all done…total team effort.


    Olga, thank you so much and I don't want to end up back in the "penalty box" anytime soon…trying to be careful….


    Joe, Thanks for the thoughtful comment, they "think" that the limited range of motion caused the hernias, not the stress fractures, if that was not clear I apologize. They think because I didn't have good extension that my body was trying to find that extension through my lower stomach, abs. It is conjecture really because I already had the hernias so makes it easier to come up with a cause…I think it definitely could be that but not an exact science; however, I am being good about trying to increase that range of motion to make sure that doesn't happen again.

    Regarding the PF, I really don't know what caused that but tend to think it was related to not recovering (sleeping in little blocks and not fully, like when you have a newborn…if you have kids you probably know what I mean) and I found out during all the testing that I at some point had torn a tendon in my big toe on the same foot that I have the PF and again this is after the fact, the Physical Therapist thinks that due to the limited range of motion (they are big on that in case you don't see a pattern) of my big toe, it was putting additional stress on my PF and that is probably what caused the PF.

    Hope that helps to clarify.



    1. Joe

      Thanks for answering my question, Mike. Now I'm curious about the cause of those stress fractures. Any idea where they came from?

  12. Brad Koenig

    Thank you Mike and Meghan for sharing.

    Mike, I took your advice and just made an appointment with a well known sports doc who caters to many runners in my area. Hopefully it is nothing, but something just "doesn't feel right". It probably is nothing, but I don't want to take any chances with a focus race that is rapidly approaching in mid July.

    Good advice. Thanks, man.

    By the way, I know exactly what you mean about sleep. I have 3 boys, all under the age of 7. The best sleep I get these days is while flying the red-eye home immediately after a race ;-)

  13. Michael Wardian

    Joe, I am not sure where the stress fractures came from but the way I understand it basically, you get stress fractures because the body doesn't have enough time to heal between session and the way the body heals, mostly, is during sleep, so not sleeping well can have a big impact (no pun intended) on your recovery. I was still running well on little sleep and I am lucky I don't require a ton of sleep but still you need quality sleep so not getting that quality sleep I think could have been the cause of the problem. Also, I looked at my diet closely and I think I was doing well but tried to make some tweaks to add some additional stuff that I hope will keep me running well going forward.


    Brad, yes, sorry you are having to deal with that I am not a big fan of going to the doctor especially if the doctors are not runners but better to get checked out and see so you don't do more damage if something is out of place… Hope is is nothing.

    Funny about the sleep, I agree with you, sleep is something that is not in abundant supply for most parents so really can't complain as goes with the job…I wouldn't trade it for the world.

  14. mark lofquist


    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! It's very motivating to have such a great athlete be so approachable.

    Lately I have experienced some groin pain during running. I'm afraid it might be a hernia :(. Too bad I moved away from NoVA, I'll need to find a good Doc/PT out here!

    Take care, and so glad to see you back at it!


  15. Mary Ellen

    I really appreciated this article. I ran the Lower Potomac River Marathon a couple of weeks ago. Since it had several out and back segments, I was able to watch Mike glide over the course as he went on to win it. I did not know that he was coming back from injury until it was mentioned at the awards ceremony. This was the first marathon I had been able to run since herniating a disc in my back in December of 2011. I was not able to run again until last October, but like Mike, I could ride a bike, and also rode on Skyline Drive. I can also relate to being tuned into every little weird pain or ache you feel as you start to be able to train again. It is almost like you think you are are going to break if you are not paying attention. He is certainly an awesome elite athlete, and I certainly am not :-), but I thought it was interesting that our responses to our injuries were similar, and that we wound up in the same race on our comeback trails. I wish him all the best!

  16. Thomas Abbey, SFG, C

    Hey Charlie,

    Not sure where you are located, but the Alter-G that Mike has been using is available for public rental at our location in Falls Church, VA. If you're local and interested in checking it out, give us a call (703-237-3930). Our rates are listed at this temporary link (our webpage is being revamped): [broken link removed].

    happy running!

  17. Michael Wardian

    Mark, Ah man, I so very sorry to hear that and I really do hope it is not a hernia but I will say, if it is a hernia, it hurts a lot for a few weeks but does heal pretty fast. I am a few months out from it so memory is dulled a little but seemed like the recovery is going really well and much nicer having the issue taken care of. Let me know how it goes for you and if you have any questions along the way, just shoot me a line.


    Mary Ellen, glad you enjoyed the article and next time we are doing the same event come on over and say "hi" would be an honor to meet you and get to share some recovery stories and want to hear about your ride on Skyline Drive, I saw a bear, super close, probably one of the coolest experiences I have had, I was like a moth to a flame I just keep riding right at it and it stopped in the middle of the road near "big meadows" (I think that is the rest area), realized afterwards that I probably should have backed away but it was just so neat to see one up close and not behind a fence. Anyhow, that was cool and some of those long descents were amazing and I liked the climbs too, hope to do that again at some point, super fun.




    1. Mary Ellen

      Thanks for your reply. The coolest thing I saw on the drive was a humongous rattle snake that was stretched out almost all the way across it. As I was approaching it, it just looked like a limb across the road. I did not stop when I realized what it was….just went around the tail end :-)

  18. Thomas Abbey, SFG, C

    excellent article! Mike, i'm amazed about a few things, one of which is that you're really taking time to respond to your fans. A pretty solid measure of an awesome human. On top of that, to compete at the level you have, with the injuries constantly accumulating and still hold priority on being a great dad……..just awesome.

    Best of luck this year!

  19. Michael Wardian

    Thomas, thank you so much and so glad to be a part of the running community and look forward to seeing everyone out there.

    Yes, being a Dad is my "first" job, I am trying at being a good dad, but I know there are many better dads out there. I definitely think it is the hardest job I have because there are so many aspects of it but man is it awesome. I can't believe how cool our kids are (as mentioned we have 2 boys, Pierce-6 and Grant-4). They still are not perfect, not even close, but I love seeing them grow, learn, play, fight, sleep, get sick, loose teeth, go to the bathroom on the toliet (thank goodness, right, although changing diapers is not that big a deal), all of it. So happy that they are doing well and we are in a position to give them some neat experiences.

    Anyhow, thanks…sorry to ramble.



  20. Michael Wardian


    By the way, this is where I have been using the Alter G, they are super cool people and this is also where I did my Physical Therapy…I worked with Gavin and Kerri, both were terrific:

    They changed the name to the "Endurance Athlete Center" but can't locate that website:

    Herewith the original website:


    Fast Track Sports Club

    510 West Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22046

    Phone & Fax

    p: 703-237-3930

    f: 703-649-4233

  21. Michael Wardian

    Yikes, that is cool though….I also had my parents with me so it was really cool to see them and they set up "aid station" for me and I really enjoyed that day with them. I think they didn't think I could do it…which was fun and I wasn't sure as it had been a long time since I biked that far. They were so nice to come out and help with it.

  22. Fabrice


    It is great to see that you are on your way back. I hope all the best for you and if you still not sure about UTMB I tell you, ou must go there. It is probably the place that is saying this is what ultrarunning is about.

    If I may ask what race are you planning down in Ecuador with north face, they had a 50 last year and I wanted to go there but could not find the race website or link for 2013.

    Happy trails fabrice

  23. runner30

    This article and interview has a wealth of useful but basic information. I like the topic of eating and resting for best recovery.

  24. Bruce Warren

    Hi Mike

    A friend has just forwarded me this article after learning about my similar problems. I’ve just turned 50 and was hoping for a 2:45 marathon in a few weeks but my last 6 weeks training have been rubbish due to an abdominal problem that sounds similar to yours. I am trying to run through it but every run is painful, which sort of defeats the reason for running! I have really uncomfortable pains very low down in the abdomen, which can move about, feels like it is all moving south. The other strange thing is I have developed really awful wind, wondered if you also had this problem? The Doctor has been useless, says he doesn’t think it is hernias, if it hurts I should stop running! I am going back again and after reading this article will ask him to think again about hernias. I presume your hernias only showed on scans and not by feeling them?

    Best wishes for your future races.

  25. Michael Wardian

    Bruce, So sorry to hear about your problem and 2:45 would have been rocking. I didn't have the bad gas, if that is what you mean?

    Just a hollow feeling and a "loose feeling". Mine hurt the most as I started to run and if I would something like compression shorts it "helped" it but the pain was always kind of there and then if I coughed on a run…that was not ideal. Anyhow, I would suggest talking ot someone about "Sports Hernias", they are basically tears away from the bone so you don't get the normal stuff sticking out of your stomach that you do with an ingeniual hernia.

    Yes, unfortunately, you are probably going to need an MRI (which are expensive) and try to make sure that you do it "in network" if you have insurance as that will get you the best rate on it but again they are not cheap and finding a place to do it is not as easy as it would appear. I am glad to help in anyway possible. Cheers,Mike

  26. Michael Ogazon

    Truly an amazing individual…sorry I missed the opportunity of seeing him when he was in NYC at Northface…I did run in the same race with "Mike" on Long Island…it was a 50K…I am no match for "Mike" but as a runner of all distances I admire what "Mike" does and his accomplishements…his article and words of encouragement…how he deals with his daily situations is very inspiring and I enjoy reading and seeing what he does…

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