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July 13, 2022

Getting To Know Colin Mickow Before He Runs The World Championship Marathon

One of my favorite parts of writing The Lap Count each week is highlighting athletes, stories, and accomplishments that maybe haven’t received the full attention that they deserve. A perfect example of that is 2:11 marathoner and University of Illinois graduate, Colin Mickow, who will be representing Team USA in the men’s marathon at the World Championships on Sunday, July 17th at 6:15 am PT. You may not know much about him, but let’s change that.

THE LAP COUNT: I saw on Strava that you’ve been running a lot of big miles in this build up, topping out at 152 mile week. Is it safe to say things have been going well? Are you still coaching yourself?

COLIN MICKOW: Yeah, things are going really well. I like to run a lot when I am training for the marathon. But it’s not like I’m planning out at the start of the week that I’llI hit 150 or 140. That’s just what it ends up adding up to.

And not anymore. My coach’s name is Michael Mukasey and I am running for Second City Track Club and have been with them for about two years.

THE LAP COUNT: Has there been a particular workout leading into the World Champs that you feel has given you the most confidence?

COLIN MICKOW: I try not to get that hyped about one particular workout. It’s just an overall thing of feeling the fitness and having good workouts. We do a 12 mile tempo workout that I try to hit under five minutes for and when I can do that it feels good. I’ve had some good long runs where I was able to close sub-five at the end of a 26 mile run.

THE LAP COUNT: I saw you went out to Eugene to preview the course? What was your impression of it?

COLIN MICKOW: It was a flat course, which is good for fast times as long as the weather’s good. I like to know where I am, especially, towards the end of the race it’s beneficial to be able to picture how much you have left.

THE LAP COUNT: You’ve remained consistent throughout your career, obviously in the last few years. What’s been the secret to that success?

COLIN MICKOW: I don’t know if there’s a secret. And the last few years have been my career. My first marathon was in 2019 and I’ve only run four. Maybe I am ignorant, but I think I have just trained well.

THE LAP COUNT: You took quite the hiatus after college after never making an NCAA meet. What happened between 2012 and 2019 and why’d you come back to it?

COLIN MICKOW: Between 2012 and 2019, I got a real job. I’m a financial analyst, though I started as an accountant which is a pretty normal transition in the corporate world. So I was focused on my career. Like you said, I never made NCAAs, so it’s not like people were calling me up asking to pay me so that I could keep running. I just went out and got a job with my degree and kept running a little bit. I got into lifting a little, but didn’t race at all – I just ran to stay in somewhat decent shape. I had never done a race over 6.2 miles and felt in the back of my mind, maybe I’d be good at these longer road races.

There was one that started about a half mile from my house so I just said I’d just go out and try it and ran 1:07 for the half. After that I was like, “Hey, I could be pretty decent at this!” I ran it all by myself and my first mile was a 6:30. Then I ran Chicago in 2019 as my first full and was running for the Retired Broz Track Club for a bit. Eventually I thought I should probably train more seriously because I wasn’t doing workouts unless you count speeding up a bit at the end of a long run. I was just running.

THE LAP COUNT: What would you consider a good day next week at Worlds?

COLIN MICKOW: Obviously weather permitting I would say a PR would be good. I don’t like to think too much about time because I just like to go out and race. But I think my PR could be lowered so I’ll say that I’d like to PR, but I really just want to race well.

THE LAP COUNT: I saw a tweet asking if anyone could name the men’s marathon team without looking it up. Maybe part of that is because there’s no trials and a big ceremonious selection process, but how do you feel about being an underdog? You have a really cool story that hasn’t been shared much and now you’re representing the US at the highest level. I know this is a loaded question, but does part of you care that not everyone is familiar yet? You took seven years off from competing and now look at you!

COLIN MICKOW: Yeah, there’s a lot to that. I mean, I’m not surprised that I’m unknown or anything. I didn’t have some stellar college career, which I think is where most people make a name for themselves. And then I took six years off and didn’t start racing again until my late twenties. I’ll just keep racing and maybe that’ll change. Not that it’s the ultimate goal, but I think if I keep running well, people will eventually know who I am.

THE LAP COUNT: It’s such a relatable and inspiring story. From an outsider’s perspective, more people were like you when they were 22 years old than like Galen Rupp.

COLIN MICKOW: In college, I didn’t take running as seriously as I should have. So that’s another reason that I jumped back into it.

I think a lot of people graduate thinking, “Oh, I could have been better and done more.” And I had that in the back of my mind and it is nice to actually go out and challenge that idea and try to make myself not feel that way anymore.


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Photo via Kevin Morris/@kevmofoto

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