Among the highlights of his well-rounded career, 34-year-old Josiah Middaugh is an eight-time Xterra USA national champion, two-time USA Winter Triathlon national champion and one-time USAT Long Course national champion. He most recently took second at the Xterra World Championship in Maui in October. Middaugh makes his home in Vail, Colo., with his college-sweetheart wife, Ingrid, and their children, ages 8, 7 and 2. Three years ago, when Ingrid was pregnant with the couple’s third child, Josiah was recovering from his fifth knee surgery and thus set out to earn his second degree, a master’s in human movement. Nowadays, he divides his time between family, work as a personal trainer at local gym Dogma Athletica and as an online endurance coach, and racing virtually year-round. It’s a jam-packed schedule—one that has inspired Middaugh to adopt some rather interesting methods of time management.
» I grew up in a bohemian settlement in northern Michigan. There were several families of like-minded people that started a community—it wasn’t a commune, but it was pretty close! We had a community center, and on weekends we were like worker bees, building houses for neighbors. It was an amazing childhood—everything was simple and we were living off the land a lot.
»Growing up with brothers who were really good athletes, I always did a little bit of everything. My senior year in high school, I won the conference in the mile, the 2-mile, the half-mile and the pole vault. I played basketball and baseball. My dad did a really good job of realizing where the talent was. … He was a football player, so it was really cool that he encouraged me to run. He actually started running with me.
»When I first moved to Vail, straight out of college, mountain biking was the thing to do. I went to the pawnshop and bought some Raleigh mountain bike for $400, which I thought was top-shelf! I raced a 100-mile mountain bike race two weeks later. It was the Vail Ultra—13,000 feet of climbing. It was terrible! I didn’t even know what chain lube was. It was pouring rain and we went over this muddy pass that was all clay, and it gummed up the gears so I couldn’t shift. I rode a 12-mile climb standing up, in the big chainring. My back hurt the rest of the time and I totally bonked—but I finished.
»The first year that I raced triathlon, when I was 22, I qualified for Kona at the Half Vineman. I was young and naïve and thought, “I can double that distance, no problem.” I was totally new to multisport. I went to Hawaii and again I had the learning experience. I think I walked 60 percent of the marathon or more. I didn’t know what salt tablets were. But living in the Vail Valley I gravitated more toward the off-road stuff, with all the terrain we have access to. Xterra ended up being a better fit for me.
»Since I’ve had kids, and also worked at least two jobs and tried to maintain the professional racing gig, I’ve tried to streamline everything I do to be more time-efficient. So for the last 10 years I’ve been eating—for the most part—the exact same thing for breakfast and for lunch. Every day. Breakfast is plain whole-milk yogurt with granola. And I have these jars with different nuts and seeds, but the jars are labeled “courage,” “determination,” “motivation” and a few other things. When people ask what I had for breakfast I tell them, “I had a bowl full of courage!”
PHOTOS: 2012 Xterra USA Championships