Mike Woods was on top of the running world in 2005, setting the Canadian junior record in both the mile and the 3000m, but a string of overtraining injuries has led him to pursue greatness in a different sport: cycling.
Over the course of a single month back when he was 18, the 26-year-old Ottawa native ran the mile in 3:57.48, the 3000m in 7:58.04, took gold in the 1500m at the Pan American junior championships and had a world ranking in the top 50.
“I thought – and I imagine anybody else that was following my career thought – that running was what I was going to be doing for the next 10 years at least,” Woods told the Ottawa Citizen.
But Woods wasn’t taking care of his body. He says he trained too much, raced too much, ate poorly, and ended up with three stress fractures in his left foot.
“Things really started to fall apart. It was awful” he said.
Woods had surgery in 2008 and 2010, but that didn’t help.
After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2008 on a full track scholarship, Woods realized he promising career as a runner was likely doomed.
Unable to run because of the stress fractures, Woods started riding his father’s bike for cross-training, and was fast enough that his friends encouraged him to enter some races in the Ottawa area.
Now riding with the Garneau-Quebecor, Woods will ride the six-stage, 800-kilometre Tour of Alberta, which begins next Tuesday in Edmonton. A week after that race Is done, he’ll be racing on the Canadian team WorldTour races at Montreal and Quebec City.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t have these high expectations right off the bat,” Woods said. “I did want to see if I could get on a team that competed at the Tour de France or make it at the Olympic level.”