This week’s guest is Dan Michalski of Tracksmith and LeTourneau University, a steeplechaser who’s been turning heads all season with his big performances, most recently when he ran a big PR of 8:21 and notched an Olympic standard at the USATF Distance Open this past weekend.
Dan is an extremely impressive guy who only started running track his senior year of high school in Ohio before running for Cedarville University, a D2 school, before transferring to Indiana University and nearly winning the NCAA steeplechase in 2019 before falling over the final water jump. He’s currently balancing a newborn baby and a full-time coaching job with his own running career and is currently ranked #8 in the world without a professional contract.
We talked a lot about his unconventional path to elite running and the challenges of balancing a career and family with training, but we also got into his love for disc golf, his hardest steeple falls, and the story behind his moustache. Dan’s story is super inspirational and hearing from him made for a great episode.
On racing pros while unsponsored:
“I have a little bit [of a chip on my shoulder], but I also don’t want to confine myself to that narrative. America loves the underdog, and I know that about myself and the people that know me know my story, but at the same time… I make ends meet. I’d much rather be making a salary and getting health insurance doing what I’m doing than being the guy that’s just kinda hung around one of the pro training groups.”
On potentially racing Evan Jager:
“There was some fangirl nervousness in me… he and Will Leer and Ben Blankenship […] those guys were on my wall at my parents’ house. He was somebody that I did elevate, and it’s crazy to think that I could be sharing a starting line with him – we’ll see if we’re sharing the finish line.”
On learning from his infamous fall at NCAAs:
“I had the most epic ‘failure,’ but what did it really cost me? It’s in a sport; it’s not real life. It wasn’t truly consequential, and really it’s been kind of a formative moment for me. If I can get past one of my biggest failures, I can say that I’m so much more of a person than just the runner that was going for a national title that one time.”