Malcom Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule states that it takes 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" to become an expert in some field or subject. By these numbers, Mike Willets likely surpassed the threshold for what us mortals would call "expert," a long time ago.
I recently spoke with Mike about his love for running. In speaking with him, I learned that he ran 108 full marathons. "I am a 50 stater, meaning I have run a marathon in every state and I am 8 away from going back through." For those of you keeping track, that would be 2,829.6 miles - just in full-marathons. He also mentioned that he ran some uncountable number of half marathons. That fails to bring to light the absurd amount of miles in training that it would have taken to make that happen.
Are we at 10,000 hours yet?
You may recognize Mike's name because of the sponsorship agreement that Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital has with the Happy Half Marathon. Mike and his team are continued supporters of our race and vital to our success every year.
He currently works as the Director of Sports Medicine at Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital. Prior to that, he worked as a teach and athletic trainer at South and Springfield High Schools for many years. For many of us in the area, he is a familiar face who has helped a countless number of student athletes during his time.
You might wonder how someone with such a busy schedule might fit in training for multiple races a year. "I go into the clinic in the morning and I have a break in the middle of the day and that is when I do my running," Mike said. Taking those moments of free time to go for a run is a great way to ensure you stay race-fit all year. In fact, that was his biggest piece of advice for runners of any level - especially beginners.
"I tell all beginning runners to start slow and be consistent," he stated. In addition he expressed his concern over folks that make a New Year's resolution to "become a runner," and are burnt out by the end of the month. "So many people quit before their breakthroughs. People try to break through on every run and get discouraged before they hit those 'big events.'" Mike also suggested switching up your training in order to optimize your performance. Weight training and bike riding are both great ways to improve your runs. By sticking with it long enough to keep improving and not expecting to PR on every run, we can all progress until we get to the level that we are trying to reach.
It's a (half) marathon, not a sprint.
Although Mike is an expert runner, he loves coming back to the Happy Half Marathon. Since hearing about us through his friends in the Springfield running community and former Race Director, Alex Loehrer, he has been a huge proponent of the Happy Half. The community of runners that we have built is one of the things that keeps him coming back. He also noted the atmosphere at the end of the race with family and friends and our DJ all there to welcome the runners into Yellow Springs, is one of the highlights every year. Our negative grade course is another selling point for Mr. Willets.
In speaking with Mike, there were an abundance of lessons to be learned. Lessons about life and about running. How to work hard and train consistently in order to optimize performance. Mike Willets is an inspiration to anyone looking to become a better runner. Anyone who has been discouraged or burnt out due to overtraining. You can get back on the right track and with the proper amount of time and dedication, become an elite runner.
Best of luck and keep training!