268 Miles in 3 Weeks: How Co-Founder Alex Pastorkovich Did It
1. Which races did you complete? Was this your first time? Have you done these races before?
I just completed my first Ironman Triathlon (which is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run), a 114 mile ultramarathon, and a half marathon with my lovely girlfriend Ashley. This was my first triathlon, but I have done half and ultramarathons before.
2. Why did you start running?
I’ve always hated running, or any form of cardio for that matter. I got super into fitness and weightlifting during college, and continued to pursue that passion post graduation. It wasn’t until the pandemic when all the gyms shut down that I started running. I figured I had to do something to stay healthy, and since the gym wasn’t an option, I thought what better excuse to focus on something I’ve always despised… cardio YUCK! Little did I know that I’d actually fall in love with the lessons, discipline, and mental toughness that comes with endurance sports.
3. How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
I’d say there are two reasons. First, there has not been one single time in all of my life where I have gone to train (especially when I haven’t wanted to) and after said “Damn… I wish I didn't go for that run” or “Damn… I should have just stayed at home.” I challenge anyone to think of a time where they’ve said that - probably not.
Second, I have become absolutely obsessed with the way I feel after a morning workout. I am in a better mood, way more alert, more productive, and feel accomplished. There is no better way to start the day. I promise you, there is no coffee strong enough, no nootropic effective enough to give you what that morning workout does. I definitely got into fitness for the aesthetic goals (which I’m quite certain the majority of us do), but man, the benefits stretch so far beyond that. These exercise “side effects” if you will, are what have me doing it every single day.
4. What did your training look like?
My training the past 2 years has been a lot for sure, but nothing unmanageable. I quickly found that triathlon training takes up a lot of time. Unlike training for an ultramarathon where you just have to focus on one specialty, with triathlons you have to get good at three. In the thick of training, on average, I was probably working out about 12 times a week. Everyday started with an early morning workout between 5-6am (weekends included), and then 4-5 times a week a second workout around 1-2pm. Each week consisted of 1-2 swim workouts, 2-3 bike workouts, 2-3 strength training workouts, and 4-5 running days. It was definitely a bit of a challenge to balance out having enough run days to get me prepared for a 100 mile ultramarathon, while also fitting in enough time in the pool and on the bike to get through an Ironman. I also didn’t want to lose too much of my strength and muscle composition that I’ve worked so hard over the past 10 years to build, so I tried to at least get in the gym a couple times a week to try and maintain as much of that as I could. I definitely knew that I was bound to lose some with all the cardio, and that was fine, but I do believe in having a good amount of muscle no matter what you are doing or wanting to accomplish.
All this being said, I am not a professional athlete, and I am not competing in any of these events to win first place. I simply do them for the fun of it, and for a challenge. I love doing hard sh*t. It's such a great way to strengthen your mind, body and build self confidence. You learn a lot about yourself and what you’re capable of with consistency, hard work, and a goal in your sights. However, since this isn’t my full time job and I’m not being paid for any of this, I never want these races to get in the way of anything that truly matters in my life. Sure I love doing these things, but my family, friends, significant other and business always take precedence over race fun. I do my best to fit in as much as I can, without having to sacrifice any of those other things.
5. What strengths do you believe you have that make you a great athlete?
I definitely wouldn’t consider myself an athlete. To me, an athlete is someone who is gifted in a particular sport and works hard to nurture that gift. I haven’t really found any gift like that within myself. I am just your average Joe who wanted to do something a little crazy, and put in the effort to obtain it. I truly believe we are all capable of accomplishing great feats like running 100 miles, we just have to want and believe we can.
6. How did you support your girlfriend to run a half marathon?
I am so proud of Ashley. Out of all 3 races this month, this one was by far my favorite. It was so incredible getting to see her accomplish something she never thought she’d be able to. It reminded me so much of the beginning of my journey. At the beginning of this year, 1 mile was her max distance. She wanted to be better than that, so she downloaded a free half marathon running plan and started implementing it. She started running a few times per week consistently, and slowly over the course of 10 months she got herself up to 13 miles. That is a TON of growth in less than a year, but it is completely possible. This is exactly how I started a few years ago too; barely being able to run a mile. I think sometimes we just need someone to give us that little push and tell us it's possible, then the rest we can do ourselves. She did this all on her own, and anyone else can too.
7. What advice do you have for someone that wants to get started doing this?
SIGN UP FOR SOMETHING NOW! Stop putting it off, don’t wait, you don’t need to “train more first,” do it NOW! Set some goal, obviously give yourself enough time, but challenge yourself. Whatever it is you want to do, pick a date to commit to, and stick to it (Pro tip: It's a lot harder to back out when you pay money for it, tell a bunch of people you’re going to do it, or drag friends in with you). For me, I sign up for races MONTHS in advance, so I know what my training looks like for almost a year. I jumped from 13 miles to 100, which is a little excessive, but also very possible if you want it. When you have that goal of “Hey, I’m going to do a half marathon summer 2023” or you want to do a triathlon, Crossfit competition, bodybuilding show, whatever it is, you have something to shoot for and keep you on track. That's what helps me on those days when I don't want to run too. When you have something coming up, it keeps you more accountable since you know you have to be ready by then. Make the goal of where you want to be, and figure out how to get there. I promise you, you will. Even if it's not the first time, you'll get a lot further than if you have a low or no goal.
8. What are key nutrients that you get in your diet?
There’s no question that these types of events and training put a ton of stress on the body. That is why I try to take EXTRA care of what I put inside my body. Above all else, I make sure that I am hitting my protein goal daily. With so much activity, I need to make sure that I am preserving as much muscle as I can, and making sure my body has enough amino acids to repair all of the damage I am doing to it. I do this through whole food animal sources like grass fed beef, eggs, chicken, through plant based protein powders (I’m lactose intolerant so I avoid whey), and through essential amino acid supplementation.
Secondly, I make sure that the majority of whatever I eat are highly nutrient dense foods. In order to function most optimally, our bodies need a wide variety of different vitamins and minerals. I try to stay away from foods that contain empty calories, and choose foods that are high in different micronutrients. They give you a lot bigger bang for your buck. Fresh fruits, vegetables, animal protein, organs, sea moss gel and/or capsules all pack a punch in terms of nutrients, and are included in my diet each day.
9. Why do you do things like this?
It’s funny, people ask me that all the time. My simple answer: to see if I can.
People will say “Why don’t you just do a regular marathon instead, why do 100 miles?” It’s the same reason people climb Mt. Everest and not just the hill in their backyard. There's something extremely gratifying about doing something you never thought you’d be able to do. My friend Cal first told me about what an Ironman was a few years ago and I thought he was insane. I thought “Why on earth would someone do that, and how?! That's crazy that people do that.” Just a few years later, I am one of those crazy insane people.
Maybe it's cliche to say, but I have learned so many life lessons through these endurance sports. It has taught me that I can do anything as long as I stay consistent. It may be a long journey, but if you focus mostly on the short term goals, in time you will reach your long term goal. I now have full trust that I will get to any finish line no matter how bad it sucks in the moment. Just keep going, and it will all be worth it at the end.
It has also given me a new perspective. Everything in life just seems easier after running 100 miles. Whenever something “seemingly difficult” pops up in life now, I just go “Stop being a b**ch, you ran 100 miles, this is nothing.”
I’m sure anyone who has met some lofty goal has had this feeling too, but there is this new opening of doors after. You take a minute to soak in your glory and then you go, “Wow…if I can do that, what else can I do? What's next?” It’s addictive, and keeps you progressing forward. Although I don’t know if I’ll be running any further than I am now, I'm confident I can now reach seemingly impossible goals in other areas of my life.
So why do extraordinary things? Because ordinary is boring.
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