Mike Foote


Age: 30
Running Stats:
2013 Races and Results:
2013 Races and Results:
Zane Grey 50M- 2nd Place
TNF Lavaredo Ultra Trail – 5th Place
Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc- 5th Place
Endurance Challenge Chile- 1st Place (Course Record)
2012 Races and Results:
Chuckanut 50K -8th Place
Lake Sonoma – DNS due to Achilles injury
Big Horn 100 – 1st Place New Course Record
Bridger Ridge Run – 3rd Place
Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc/ Chamonix, France- 3rd Place
Ultramaraton de los Andes 50 Miler/ Santiago, Chile- 1st Place
North Face 50 Mile Championship- 18th Place

What is your favorite ultra that you have competed in, and why?
I have been inspired to race in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc the last three years so I’ll have to go with that. The competition, the length and difficulty of the course is one where I have confidence. The over the top celebration of Mountain Running is novel and exhilarating for one week out of the year. It fills me with inspiration and excitement before heading back to the much quieter trails of Missoula, MT.

What is your educational background?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in education. Graduated from the University of Montana in 2006.

You have an incredibly varied background. Which part of your resume’ translates best to the world of ultra?
Yeah, I’ve had a few adventures over the years. I was ski bum in Colorado, a raft guide in Montana, a baseball and football player growing up in Ohio. I try and think sometimes about the things that have led me to running ultras. The best I can come up with is, a high aptitude for short term memory loss, a high tolerance to pain, a love for open spaces, and a craving for adventure.

Is there a race you always turn to as inspiration when training?
No. I try and choose objectives each day that inspire me. Whether it be a familiar trail I run a few times a week, or a new peak to bag, this feels more natural to me than thinking about a certain race all of the time.

Is there one portion of your training that you think universally translate to all runners?
Consistency. The more consistent I can train, the better I am, and the better my relationship is with running. Not to be confused with “more miles”. Simply getting out every day doing what I need to do to be a better runner.

The Ultra scene is changing rapidly—more money, more sponsors—in your estimation is this improving or hurting the running scene?
This is a question on many people’s minds right now. It’s not as simple as good or bad for the future of trail running. I think with more money, sponsors and competition in the sport there is, in part, a shift in values and motivation to train and race. However, the sport is still young and impressionable. Athletes have a very strong voice in the sport right now, as do sponsors, race directors, media and bloggers. If the sport still promotes, advocates and inspires folks to get out and explore open spaces, or develops and strengthens the running community I’m all for growth. We can all cast our votes by attending races and supporting brands we feel align with those values. With those actions I believe the sport can grow while maintaining its roots.

Describe the moment your realized that ultrarunning was your true passion?
I’m not sure I could identify that moment. It’s been such a process over the last 5 years. It started with long hikes and days of peak bagging in Glacier Park in 2006. I ran my first ultra in 2009 and, although I did well, I was still pretty unsure about spending so much time in the pain cave. Only in the last year or two have I felt truly committed to the craft. The more I do it, the more I love it. Currently, I am more dedicated than ever to long days in the mountains. I hope this is telling of the years to come.

What aspects of your training do you have difficulty with? How do you overcome those mental obstacles?
Like many people, I’m not the best at prioritizing recovery. I succumb on a daily basis to a busy schedule with work, coaching, social obligations, etc. This year I have tried to plan my day better to include a block of time post run to stretch, do some core, eat, and relax. This helps me to feel better the next day (when I actually do these things!)

Are you technology driven or do you run by feel? Or a combination of both? How much do you explore all of these options? Are you a “keep it simple” person or do you like to see what the new technologies can deliver?
I probably fall somewhere in the middle. I run with a GPS watch because I like to know elevation change and distance. I don’t really look at it for much more than time during my run and I never think about pace outside of a workout. I keep a hand written running log and like to look at changes over the years in the miles I run, or the workouts I’m doing leading up to the same races. That’s as far as I go. I have never worn a heart rate monitor. I think that the technology available to us today can be used well as a tool, though I try to limit myself so I don’t lose the important sense of running by feel.

As an elite athlete do you think your training becomes as much a mental exercise as a physical one?
Elite or not, I think anyone who is serious about their running would agree,that training is both mental and physical. Maybe, now that I have done well in the sport and various races, I put more pressure on myself. Managing that self-imposed pressure and channeling it in a healthy way to train well and keep things fun has been a mental exercise for sure. Perfection is in the process. Right?

During a race—cuss words or words of encouragement—and how do you use these mental pokes to push it to the next level?
I’ve given myself a few pep talks late in a race that have included an expletive or two. There are times when you need to treat yourself well and there are times when you need to give yourself some tough love. I believe in both, the art is in knowing yourself well enough to use the right words at the right moments.

Getting lost out on the trail is no fun but in hindsight is there a time that it happened to you that can be considered humorous now?
Oh yeah, I’ve had some great adventures that way. A few days after running Western States in 2011 I was going to go for a 30 minute run on a new trail I saw next to the road while driving to Glacier Park. I ended up on a 22 Miler that took me to the other side of the mountain range. I had to borrow water from a mountain biker and hitched a 45 min car ride back to where I started. That set back my recovery just a bit!

Is there a difference between sports becoming life and sports being part of and enhancing one’s life? In other words, how do your balance your life as an athlete with your life outside of athletics?
My relationship with this balancing act changes all of the time. Most of the time, I feel like I strike a good balance with life and running. I am involved in my community, I have a day job, I coach a High School XC team. Some days I feel like I sacrifice too much for my running, however, there are times when I feel I’m not sacrificing enough to run to my best potential. Training can get in the way of life and life can hinder training. It happens to everyone. It all blends together at some point and it is just life. I’m rambling, because it is not an easy answer. Perhaps being aware of this juggling act is a step in the right direction.

What does the next 12 months hold for you? Do you work on a long arc or just take life as it comes?
Phew. Next 12 Months?? My family knows me as the guy who doesn’t look for plane tickets home for Christmas until a couple weeks before. So no specific plans for 2014 yet. I want to race more mountainous 100 Milers and spend more days in the alpine training. This is what fuels me and inspires me. In general though, I’m happy with the direction of life. So I am crossing my fingers for more of the same.

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