As a seasoned runner, iFIT member Michelle “Mik” Cotton has used iFIT for over 10 years to prepare for marathons, Spartan® races, and more. Now, with over 200 races completed, Mik recently crossed off her first ultra distance race. Talking about her racing experience, Mik spotlights the role iFIT has played in race preparation over the years and offers her tips to those interested in getting started. Here’s her story!
How did iFIT help you prepare for your ultrarun?
iFIT’s workout series on difficult terrain with constantly changing inclines and declines on my ProForm Pro 9000 treadmill were the best. It helped me simulate constant changes.
What kind of adversity did you face along the way as you prepped for this race?
From December 2020 to February 2021, I was doing physical therapy for three foot injuries to get myself running again. The slow increases in speed and distance were more than difficult.
Also, my son has two rare diseases and asthma, so he is still in distance learning. My grandmother died right before Christmas, and I was trying to tend to her house while recovering from my injuries. On top of that, my husband almost died on Christmas morning, was diagnosed with cancer, and had emergency surgery. He was recovering at the same time, which made it difficult for PT.
This ultrarun was over 100 miles and 30 hours long. How did you prepare your mindset to reach the finish line?
I just go into my “hunting beast mode” (so I call it). I repeat to myself, “my race, my pace,” so I don’t go out fast like in a 5K. I “hunt” in a determined, steady pace for the finish line. I don’t concentrate on anyone else’s pace, number of miles at that point, or anything like that. I just stick to my music and pace to get it done.
For others interested in training for an ultrarun (or any other type of race), what advice would you give them?
It depends on your experience and the race you pick. I’ve done a bunch that I picked for location and other variables, while not allowing time to train properly. Even though I’ve never had a DNF (Did Not Finish), I’ve either done horribly or injured myself.
For this race, I made sure I prepped correctly, meaning keeping to my specific nutrition and hydration prep. I also logged all my miles and made sure I didn’t skip any training runs. The back-to-back long runs really did work to help me run on tired legs. I’ve done 10-hour races, but never a 30-hour race, so I made sure that I could keep going. My other main advice is don’t be hard on yourself. Everyone wants to podium their first time out or earn a PR every time.
There are other variables out there—sickness, weather, personal issues, or even not sleeping right the night before. These factors can rip the wheels off really quick. You have no control over them and have to admit when it is not your day. That way, you can come back stronger than before.
For example, my first Spartan® Beast Race was at Killington Ski Mountain, Vermont. This race is 15 miles with sandbags, obstacles, and more. I had my son just released from the hospital, barely made it up there, and had a stomach bug. I had no calories taken in all day and got sick along the trail. I finished, but I shouldn’t have done it. Another time, my first marathon was a downpour, and I hadn’t trained in the rain. I finished with an excellent time, but it could’ve been a disaster. Prepare for everything and know it can still be imperfect, but a learning experience regardless.
Who is your favorite iFIT Trainer?
Mainly Ashley Paulson, because she was absolutely amazing for the Boston Marathon® Series. Coach Pain because he’s an absolutely amazing motivator. I’ve followed him for years. I recently started with John Peel. He’s great and busts my butt every time! Tommy Rivs Puzey just because he’s sweet, informative, and an inspiration.
What is your favorite iFIT Series?
The Boston Marathon® Series, hands down. I’ve always had it and the New York City Marathon on my bucket list for a live race, but I can’t raise the money for a fundraiser or qualify. I registered this year for the Boston Marathon® and will be running it virtually on October 11 with iFIT. It’s the next best thing! I’d love to see NYC too and watch Ashley kick butt again!
How long have you been an iFIT member?
What do you like most about iFIT?
My son has special medical needs. Since he was born, working out has been incredibly difficult. I got my first NordicTrack treadmill in 2011 and it was one of the first iFIT machines. It helped me train for my first 5K that year, first half marathon the following year, and first marathon in 2014, all by mapping out the courses and running them over and over in training. It lets me know what to expect on the exact inclines and declines on race day.
The new workout series, like Everest: A Trek to Base Camp and others, are so much better. I can run anywhere now and still look after my son. My new ProForm Pro 9000 treadmill has inclines and declines, and my ProForm HIIT elliptical allows me to practice climbing to prepare for anything from a 5K to a Spartan Ultra®.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFIT assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment.
Opinions of iFIT members are not necessarily the opinions of iFIT.