August 1, 2014
Photo by Scott Markewitz via
Photo by Scott Markewitz via

Lifestyles: Can't Stop, Won't Stop with Michael Wardian

Ultra-marathoner on the road to excellence 

By Megan Schneider | | Twitter

World-class athlete Michael Wardian easily can run two marathons in a day. The whopping 26.2 is no challenge. Wardian holds the world record for the fastest indoor marathon and the fastest indoor 50K. He also ran the fastest marathon dressed as a superhero, Spiderman, as well as the fastest full and half marathons on a treadmill.

Wardian discovered his unrelenting spirit as a lacrosse player. He started playing the sport as a fourth-grader in Vienna, Va., and went on to play at Michigan State. He now coaches sons, Pierce and Grant.

"Lacrosse is an amazing sport and definitely gave me some gritty, hardnosed determination to keep pushing when things don’t go as you expect." 

What was your proudest moment of your lacrosse career?

Accomplishing my lifelong goal of scoring against Syracuse and playing in the Carrier Dome. I grew up dreaming of playing for a Division I team, and the pinnacle of that dream was to score in the Carrier Dome.

Did lacrosse provide you with any training to prepare you for your marathons?

Lacrosse is an amazing sport and definitely gave me some gritty, hardnosed determination to keep pushing when things don't go as you expect and to be open and adaptable to changing tactics if something isn't working. I loved being a part of a team, but also having a role in that team, during lacrosse. That has helped me on my path to being an elite endurance athlete and working with other elite athletes on various teams.

Why did you pick up long distance running after you stopped playing lacrosse?

Running is so accessible. I enjoy being in motion, and the longer I ran, the more I enjoyed it. But with that said, I don't mind doing any distance from one mile up to 135 miles. At this point, I might look at doing longer races in the future. I am always exploring what I am capable of and trying to expand my limits.

How many races do you compete in?

Normally between 40 and 50 each year. I also set goals for various races and to qualify for different USA world teams. This year, I am lucky enough to represent the USA in both the 50K and 100K world team competitions that will take place in Doha, Qatar, and I am working to qualify for my fourth Olympic Trials for the men's marathon by running sub-2:18:00 or the marathon distance. I also would like to win the USA men's masters marathon championships at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

What is your most memorable race?

The 2007 JFK 50 Miler. I won the race, but more importantly, I qualified for my first USA 100K world team. That was always a huge goal for me.

What is your most memorable international race?

One of my most memorable events is the Marathon Des Sables in Morocco. You have to carry everything you are going to use for six days and you cover 250K (about 150 miles). When I was 25 years old, one of the youngest athletes there, I finished 25th overall and as the first American. I knew at that point that I had some talent and I just wanted to see what I could do with it.

Describe your training regimen.

My training is pretty normal for an elite marathon and ultra-marathon athlete in that I try to run between 70 and 90 miles per week. In the past, I was doing 100 to 120 miles per week. That is made up of some speed work (tempo runs, track sessions, fartleks, progression runs, etc.), strength training including hills and then longer base-building runs. I have not been lifting much, but I am starting to, as I would like to be stronger. The most important thing about training is to be consistent. Get your body used to running often. Don't overload your body with a lot of miles on one day and then give it nothing the next day. Our bodies are incredible and amazing. With work and proper training, they will adapt and excel.

This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Join US Lacrosse today to begin your subscription!

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