NOVA Featured Runner: Mike Naff

By | March 16, 2015


We are recognizing Mike Naff, AKA Coast Guard Mike, this week as NOVA Featured Runner, not only for his strong performances in the DC Rock N Roll Half Marathon this past Saturday, March 14, 2015, but also for his impressive 5K/10K double in the Pacers St Patrick’s Day race on March 1, AS WELL AS his performance just yesterday (the day after the DC RnR Half), where he competed in a 10 mile trail race at the EX2 Adventures Backyard Burn. If we could all be as tough as you, CG Mike! Way to represent NOVA – we’re lucky to have you on our team!

From Coach Jerry:
Mike is on the cusp of breaking 3 hours for the marathon, and I feel strongly that this is the year it’s going to happen. It’s going to take a lot of things going right, including good conditions on race day, and when those favorable conditions happen at some point this year, Mike is going to be ready to take advantage of his opportunity. To continue to improve at his age is a real credit to his toughness and competitive nature, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him achieve the breakthrough he has worked so hard for.

Please read on for Mike’s story!

1) What are your PRs?

5K – 18:08 – 2014 Clarendon Day 5K

8K – 30:52 – 2014 GRC Father’s Day 8K

10K – 39:20 – 2015 St. Patrick’s Day 10K (after the 5K)

10K – 37:31 (unofficial) – 2014 Broad Street 10 Miler

15K – 1:01:26 – 2011 Boilermaker 15K

10M – 1:01:32 – 2014 Army 10 Miler

HM – 1:23:03 – 2011 Heritage Half Marathon

FM – 3:00:19 – 2011 Top of Utah Marathon

2) Goal race(s) for this year? Other races planned?

My ultimate goal is to go under 3 hours in the marathon. But I’m not doing a great job in setting myself up for that this year. I’m running Boston, Big Sur, and hopefully Marine Corps. We’ll see how I’m feeling in the Fall for Marine Corps. If not MCM, there are plenty of great, fast, Fall marathons. Now that I know where the finish is in the Clarendon Day 5K, I would love to run sub 18 minutes. Also, I plan to run a personal best in my favorite race of the year, the Utica Boilermaker 15K in upstate NY, the only race I’ve run more than 4 times. This year will be my 8th Boilermaker and 5th Cherry Blossom. I would love to run under 60 minutes in the 15K but it’s not an easy course and the temperature is typically a little too warm. But it’s a great race. Good luck getting in.

3) What do you consider your best race performance to date?

Best performance to date is hands down the 2010 Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon in Delaware (3:02:02). Coach Jerry gets all the credit for me shaving 13 minutes off my marathon time. Everything fell perfectly in place: my training, my diet, my confidence, beautiful race morning weather, and patience in the run. Feeling extremely strong, I opened it up a little early and recorded my fastest split at mile 23. I couldn’t hold the pace but I felt great about my performance. And, to add to the experience, I negative split the race, a strong indicator of a smart run. Also, very happy with my performances last year in the Army 10 Miler (10M PR) and the Battlefield Half, a near personal best on a breezy morning and hilly course. I had a great sense of accomplishment in finishing the 2012 JFK 50 Miler.

4) How did you find NOVA, and what do you like best about the team?

I found NOVA in a 2009 web search for a running club. I chose NOVA because of the Bluemont Tempo runs being in close proximity to where I live. Being a father of 4, it was all about convenience. My very first NOVA tempo run was actually with the women’s group (back when we had 2 groups). Most notably, I ran with Caroline Wertz. The next week I joined up with then President Dan Wallace, Das, Dave Lambert and Dave Wertz (before he was super Dave). After tempo runs were postponed due to darkness, I finally decided to try out NOVA’s signature weekly track workout. This is where Dan introduced me to Coach Jerry as Coast Guard Mike. I love the crowd that comes out on Tues. I enjoy the company, hard efforts, and the power of the NOVA Team. Just for the record, I prefer the Wakefield Track.

5) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from Coach Jerry?

Coach Jerry set me straight in my marathon training. Running 4-5 days a week and 35-40 miles was the recipe for falling short of a great performance. Thanks to Coach, I know my long runs need to be long EVERY weekend. 13 miles isn’t long enough. Short, easy recovery runs should be about 60 minutes, 3-4 times a week. Sorry Coach, I need at least 1 day off. Less than a year with this approach, Coach led me to victory, crushing my previous marathon PR.

I appreciate Coach for his honesty, his encouragement, his dedication to the Club, and his timeliness in response to emails. Having such reliable and quick access to Coach Jerry, is one of the many reasons NOVA is a great running club. Nothing crazy gang!

6) What thoughts do you have on your performances at the St Pats 5k/10k and DC RnR Half?

Well, I didn’t really care for the conditions during the St Pat’s Double or RnR Half but I went for it on all 3 accounts. My performances in the Double led me to believe I could run a strong RnR Half. In the half, I was pleasantly surprised I was able to hold pretty even splits and still have enough to push hard the last 5K. I’m happy about running 1:25 better than last year’s strong performance. Having to hold my soggy shorts up by the drawstring for the last 5 miles, surely cost me a few seconds. As a marathoner, my training always revolves around 26.2. I enjoy the shorter races because they are a good gauge of my fitness and generally a booster for my confidence. Half marathons are a great way to tune up for the marathon. I feel like Saturday’s performance puts me in a good place. Boston is next.

I also ran a 10 mile trail race out at Hemlock Park with EX2 Adventures on Sunday. It was muddy fun, almost losing my shoe in the first stream crossing. I had planned on taking it easy but that’s not the way it went. The hills hurt, everything else was fantastic. 9th overall, 3rd age group in 1:24:56.

7) What other non-running activities do you enjoy?

I enjoy traveling with my family, visiting new places, hiking to waterfalls, light houses and mountain tops, and drinking beer with family and friends. I love racquetball but it’s hard on my knees. Cross-training – I don’t do much. Strength-training – I don’t do enough. Foam-rolling – occasionally. Stretching – never. Ice-bathing – not yet.

Thanks to Coach! And, thanks to all of you for your support and friendship on and off the track.

Cheers, CGM