Mike V.: Ex Marathon Runner To A Fitter And Stronger CrossFitter

Mike has been a member at CrossFit 201 for over 5 years.  There’s no hiding that he is an ex long distance runner, as he crushes all running workouts.  His best Boston marathon time was 3:19!!! Any time he’s in a class I’m taking, I make sure to warm up my running real well to keep up with him! (Coach Stacey).
He started CrossFit after he developed plantar fasciitis, and wanted to stay active.  This was the first time he was introduced to lifting, and he fell in love with it.  Taking CrossFit classes has drastically improved his fitness as well as quality of life.  He recently turned 52, and is now in the best shape of his life.  Adding Coach Stacey’s nutrition coaching into the picture, he was able to drop 23 pounds in 12 weeks, something he thought would never be possible.  This, however is only the beginning of a new journey.
Now that he has a better understanding of how to fuel his body and Coach Stacey on his side programming his weekly macros, he is unstoppable.  The journey doesn’t stop at 12 weeks, this is a lifestyle change.  He started with eating more food than he was used to (weird how that works, right?).  Over the 12 weeks, his macros were cut little by little based on data he reported back to Coach Stacey: morning weigh ins, sleep, performance, measurements, and how he was feeling in general.  He will now be eating more food than where he started, all while keeping his new body weight.
Talking to Mike is an inspiration in itself.  His love for fitness, nutrition, and people in general shines through every time he walks through our doors.  He shows up on days with the hardest looking workout, days where most people decide to take off.  But not Mike.  Mike will show up with a positive attitude and a smile, and kill the workout.  Read his interview below and get ready to be inspired!
How training at CrossFit 201 impacted your fitness physically, mentally, and emotionally?
201 has been such a positive experience for me.  The community of people here are so supportive and friendly, and working out with the same people daily and pushing each other and yourself is something that just doesn’t happen when you work out alone.
The coaches here are just all so awesome…they never EVER make you feel inferior in anything that you do, and it’s so clear that they all just want to help you to do the best that you are physically able to be. That feeling of support carries through all hours of the day, from the minute that you leave until you’re back the next day for more. 201 inspires confidence in yourself 24/7.
How has your training at CrossFit 201 enhanced the quality of your life outside of the gym?
I feel like I have so much energy at all times.  I’ll come down the stairs and hop over our dog gate from the second step onto the floor. Our backyard is on 2 levels with a rock retaining wall, and I’ll climb or jump up the wall and jump down instead of walking around the wall.  I wonder how long that I’ll be able to do it, because I just feel like a kid.  I just feel like there’s no obstacle that I can’t deal with.  My fitness inspires my confidence, and 201 is at the core of it all.
What can you now do that you couldn’t do when you first started?
I was a runner and never EVER did any kind of lifting.  I’ve heard so many people tell me that as we get older, we need to also do some type of strength training as well.  201 was my first ever entry into the world of weights, and every lift that I’ve learned is new to me.  After 5+ years of being here, I’ve come a long way, but I still see that there’s  plenty of room to grow.  I never climbed a rope in my life either, and the first time I ever did was at 201!
Can you share a little bit of your story and how fitness became a part of your life? What motivated you to start and what keeps you coming back?
I was an overweight kid, and I loved to eat.  I’m such a sweets person, and dessert is my kryptonite.  I began running in college as a way to lose weight, because I realized that by running, I could still eat my sweets and large portions and at least not gain weight.  But I was never thin.  My brother was a long-distance runner, and he challenged me to run a half-marathon with him when I turned 40.
I ran the NJ half-marathon in 1:39, and then he challenged me to run the full marathon the following year.  I did, and subsequently ran 5 more marathons.  I qualified for and ran Boston twice, with my best marathon time ever at 3:19.  My last marathon was Boston in 2013.  I ran with my brother and I finished in 3:43:55.  At the time, I was disappointed in my time.  But less than 20 minutes after I crossed the finish line and was walking back towards the finish line to go back to our hotel, the two bombs went off.  I think about that day a lot…if I were 20 minutes slower, I would have been right there at the bomb blast.  And 20 minutes slower over a 26.2 mile race is not that much slower.
I discovered CrossFit when I developed plantar fasciitis later that year and couldn’t run for 6 months.  I was gaining weight and was looking for something that I could do.  My son’s Franklin Lakes football team did an off-season training at 201, and my son really loved it.  I was intimidated because I never touched a weight bar, and it seemed like there was so much to learn.  Running was just easier.  But I gave it a try and loved it.  I feel challenged every day that I come, and I’ve often said that I have never felt as completely drained after any run, even a 20 miler, as I do after a great WOD.
The feeling of a great total-body workout just keeps me coming back for more.  And the fact that the coaches and fellow members are always so welcoming and friendly is the icing on the cake.  I don’t miss long-distance running at all, but I can’t imaging a time that I would not want to continue CrossFit.  I’ll continue here as long as I’m physically capable!
What pieces of inspiration can you share with other people to inspire them to make a positive change in their lives?
It’s never too late to make a change.  201 continues to teach me what good fitness really is, and Stacey’s 12 week program has given me a new understanding of food composition and portion size that I feel is really sustainable for life.  I’m 52 years old and have honestly never felt better, and I owe it all to the coaches and friends at CrossFit 201.  You all continue to inspire me.  Thank you.

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