Denis Mikhaylove, vegan ultradistance runner
A life of fitness
Denis was born in Russia and moved to New York, USA in 2006. He moved to New York to develop a career in finance but by 2010 he had given it up to pursue one in health and fitness.
Things progressed quickly and in 2011 he took four top five finishes in distances ranging from 25k to 50k. This included a course record on a 25k trail.
2012 saw him gain second places in the Febapple Peak Ultra 50 mile races, third in the North Face New York 50k and a win in Virgil Crest 100 miles.
In 2013 he won a one-hour race and placed second in a Mountain Trail 100 miler. He won the Escarpment Trail Run 19 mile race and in winning both the Manitou’s revenge 54 mile race and the North Face New York 50k, set course records.
Things continued to go well in 2014 when he won the Virgil Crest 100 mile race among other race results.
World record attempt
In 2015 Denis set a new challenge which offered a place n the Guinness Book of Records – a twelve hour treadmill challenge.
“Instead of engaging in the fruitless arguments and discussing conflicting theories, I decided to show on my own PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE that after several years of being on well-balanced raw vegan regimen with regular exercise, it is possible to not just have a perfect health (which is already big news for many), but also, if desired, it is possible to turn into a quite serious athlete.”
This was a tough challenge for a number of reasons. One was the brain confusion caused by the body running but no changes being made to the scenery. Concentration had to be maintained, and the ‘zoning out’ that some distance runners experience could be dangerous. There were also the challenges presented by dehydration and the fuel needed for the distance – over three marathons. Denis used bananas and later oranges as the main sources of fuel.
The world record stood at 79.6 miles, and Denis was able to extend it to 80.5 miles.
“All 12 hours I spent on the treadmill, without stopping it or stepping off. I only slowed it down a few times to stretch or change the shoes, but it was spinning all 12 hours non-stop. When I saw “80” on the treadmill and realized that we got the record, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and self-actualization.”
Denis is entirely vegan, eating almost a completely raw diet. The change was made in July 2010 as he made other transitions in his life.
“I'm completely vegan and I mainly eat raw vegan diet with very rare occasions of consuming cooked or processed vegan foods” Denis told us. “I haven't eaten animal products even once since I went vegan.”
“Initially I just wanted to improve my athletic performance by going raw vegan (after 26 years of standard diet). It was a sudden discovery that just clicked with me. I changed my diet overnight and never looked back.”
Denis eats a lot of fruit, and listed some of his favourites foods as “citrus, mangoes, papaya, bananas, raw spinach, raw celery, raw kale, raw sprouted pumpkin seeds, avocados.”
He is self-trained and as a qualified coach trains himself as well as others. He trains by trail running and road cycling, and relies solely on these methods. As well as coaching qualifications, Denis also has a certification from Cornell University in Plant-Based nutrition and part of his professional service is advising people on topics of raw vegan diet, running, and optimal health.
“I try to live in accordance with human’s evolutionary design, which means spending time out in nature, maintaining positive attitude, getting plenty of sleep and sunshine. My diet still consists of raw fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts (with occasional lightly processed vegan foods during races or training). I am all about constant self-improvement and pushing the limits. I wasn’t competing in any running races until the age of 27, but I found a combination of nutrition, lifestyle, and training that quickly turned me into a top-level endurance athlete.”
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