Will Leer, 1500m-3000m specialist, consistently performs as one of the nation's best middle-distance runners. He's a Pomona College Alumni, four-time DIII National Champion, Millrose Wanamaker Mile Champion (2014), and part of the American record holding 4X1500m relay team. In 2013 he captured two titles at USA Indoors in the mile and 3000m, and was runner-up at USA Outdoor Championships in 2014. Are you surprised to learn Will's favorite workout is an all-encompassing combination of tough intervals and tempo work finished with a 400m at A.U.G. (all you got!) pace? Probably not. Will reminds us that "The Michigan" workout is only complete if finished with a donut, chocolate milk and some indigestion.
What is your favorite motivational quote?
"What are you waiting for?! DO IT! JUST DO IT! YES YOU CAN! JUST DO IT! If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up." -Shia LeBeuf
What is your favorite hard workout?
Hands down: The Michigan. It is a combination of running hard efforts on the track and medium/tempo efforts on a hilly 2-kilometer loop. The intervals are 1,600m @ 10km pace - 2km tempo - 1,200m @ 5km pace - 2km tempo - 800m @ 3k pace - 2km tempo - 400m A.U.G. (read: all you got!). These paces vary throughout the year but are based on what you could run for the distance at that time, not your PR pace.
What do you feel it benefits?
Almost everything! It forces you to be able to produce, tolerate and clear lactic acid as well as teaching you to be efficient at a variety of paces. It truly is one of the greatest workouts.
When do you like it? (Before, during, the last half, not until it's over, etc.)
The Michigan is one of those workouts that grows on you over time. The first time I tried this workout I was sure I wasn't going to finish. Early on it puts you at this level of discomfort that you're sure is too much to endure for the 10km of running ahead of you. But when you finish a really good one, when you just nail it, there is hardly a better feeling in the world. You're simultaneously exhausted and exhilarated.
Do you do best with other people running with you during the workout, or is it best done solo?
This totally depends on the day. There are times when all I want is to be alone during the Michigan, listening to my body and working accordingly. Sometimes you just need to get the workout done without worrying about what someone else is doing or how good a training partner is feeling that day, especially when you aren't feeling so peppy. However, I will say that my training partner Nick Willis and I have thrown down some pretty epic Michigan's together on tracks all over the world.
Do you recommend other runners try it?
Absolutely! If you really want to test your mettle, this workout is second to none. What do you do for recovery after this workout and before your next? I drink tall glass of chocolate milk and eat a donut. It is the way finishing The Michigan has been celebrated since its inception. Then, once my stomach ache has dissipated, lots of stretching, rolling and hydrating. The combination of fast, hard running along with the 6km of hilly running really thrashes the hamstrings and quads. Hear more of Will's anecdotes on his blog, where he shares his wit. Also visit the twitter account dedicated solely to his beard (also winning the Sports Beard of the Year award from Beard Watch). Photos Via: NYRR Millrose Games,, Image of Sport.