His motto as coach and athlete: If you want to run, then you don’t need to read 15 books about it and collect all the gadgets sold. Just go run.
Naturally, Michael has also himself tried a few things from the large pool of running trends: “I was vegan; I read ‘Born to Run;’ for a time I sought salvation as a runner wearing zero-drop minimal shoes; and in my cabinets there are any number of expired packages of nutritional supplements I have never used.” His credo today is therefore even more so geared toward honest, hard training. Super expensive equipment or clever nutrition trends can’t take its place. The GORE RUNNING WEAR® athlete tries to get this message across to his clients, whom he trains as a professional coach for their choice of everything from a half-marathon to a really difficult ultra. Among them are professionals like Michael himself who simply want to improve performance and ask him regularly for tips about truly useful products in his blog. Then there are those off-beat types who aren’t exactly high-performance athletes, like the Dutch artist Philipp who simply loves to run. He had Michael as a trainer for his goal of completing a 100k ultra – read about his experiences in the podcast “Läuft bei mir” (“Run with me”).
The finish line is the goal
In his work with clients, the question over and over is: How do you make the best runner out of yourself that you can possibly be? GORE RUNNING WEAR® athlete and ultrarunner Michael Arend asks himself that regularly too and trains hard for his goals. What motivates him as an athlete?
“For a long time I thought about how I should best answer this question. But it’s not really so easy: I run because I have fun doing it. And I also have fun setting demanding goals for myself, like a particular place or race time. For example, I want without question to run the Transvulcania under 8 hours. In the grand scheme of things, this kind of time is totally meaningless, but it would make me happy and therefore I train with that in mind.”
Run with him
His competitive highlights to date: A 2015 overall victory in the Zugspitz Ultra Trail. That year, the Transvulcania followed in the spring, and the terrain completely whipped him. It also opened the GORE RUNNING WEAR® athlete’s eyes to a totally new world of competition among international elite. In the fall 2016, Michael started the extremely difficult Ultra Pirineu in Spain. Fifteen hours and nearly 7,000 meters of vert through the Pyrenees pushed this ambitious athlete to his mental and physical limits, and he’s still unbelievably proud of this today.
Speaking of limits: How does a professional running coach get through all those exceptional situations during a run for which he also trains his clients. “Prior to the run, I think about all of the standard issues that one can normally see may happen: that point when after many hours you just want to sit down and not go another step. Or the moment when you now have a blister on your foot. It helps to have thought through these situations in advance.”
How pros stay cool
Nevertheless, every ultra run has unforeseen situations occur, even for an ex-soldier with nerves of steel like Michael. For example, at the Ultra Pirineu, he hadn’t estimated the long running time or the approach of darkness very well. Instead of a proper headlamp, he had a kind of a dim emergency light in his pack.
“Suddenly I was caught in pitch darkness in a storm at a waterfall with nobody in front of or behind me. I just felt my way forward and just kept thinking to myself: just one foot in front of the other. At some point you’ll have to get out of this. And that’s precisely what happened.” His promise to the runners who came upon him with the saving grace of headlamps: “If you stick with me and let me use your light, I’ll let you go ahead at the finish. At the finish, both crossed the line together, which was a super emotional moment for Michael.
Each to his own…challenge
When Michael takes on a competition, it has to truly click, and that’s how he functions in his work as a coach too. “I would never recommend any race to a client. You have to choose your own challenge. Otherwise you can’t really seize the challenge of a particular long run with all of its trials and tribulations.” If he hasn’t really psychologically finished up with a race, it can also happen that he runs it over and over. Like with the Transvulcania, which is again on his list for 2017. Then comes the Eiger Ultra and, in the fall, the Transalpine Run. And between all of those the races that he can catch along the way. At some point, Michael wants to also take on the UTMB. But only when he has finished up with the Transvulcania. Of course, we’ll keep you updated.
The coach recommends: Michaels favourite piece of running clothes
No bells and whistles, just pure function and style. This is why Michael loves the ONE GORE-TEX® Jacket from GORE RUNNING WEAR®.