Many of us have heard this before: “It’s never too late to start something new.” Newcastle resident Bryan Wright, a Project Manager for HP, knows that from experience. As Bryan reached his mid-forties, he felt his health was failing and it was time to get fit. He started with bicycling and participated in several races and then decided to add running to the mix, which wasn’t so easy. Bryan says getting around the track was nearly impossible but he didn’t give up. Bryan knew some of the people in the gO! running group in Roseville and decided to join. His running journey includes 10K’s, marathons, 50K’s and 50 milers, but it doesn’t stop there. Bryan shares his athletic experience and what lead him to one of the toughest competitions out there.
Q: Tell us about your training to go from a runner who barely made it around the track to an athlete that participates in 50 milers.
A: Persistence? Stubbornness? I’m not really sure. Running was never something I enjoyed when I was younger. However I do like having a goal (and hate failing to achieve one that I set for myself). Also, if someone tells me, “You can’t do that,” it surely motivates me to try.
Generally, I’ve never followed a very formal training regimen. I’m a trial-and-error sort of person, which makes for some nice successes and some spectacular failures. I spend a lot of time reading and am not shy about listening to people at any experience level, from race-winners to back-of-the-pack runners like myself. I’m no expert, but I believe you can ramp up to successively longer distances through increasing duration and distance. It just takes patience. That said, if you want to go beyond ‘finishing’ into a more competitive mindset, I think it helps to have more focused training (intensity, difficulty of terrain) and include non-running activities that strengthen your body in a number of ways.
Q: How does your running group motivate you?
A: People in the gO! running group are at all stages of their individual running journeys and I take so much from that. There are runners that have been lacing up their shoes for less time than I have, as well as veterans who have been running since canvas sneakers were the norm. Fast, slow, long distance, sprint, they’re all runners and it creates a powerful sense of camaraderie.
Many of them have become my friends, and shared experience is a powerful motivator. This applies to runs we have done together as well as ones that we are training for in the future. To be honest, it can become more challenging to utilize that support when your running goals become more ‘exotic’. Fewer of my friends are likely to train for a 50 miler than for a 10k. But even then there is plenty of opportunity to run together! A long weekend run is a great time to catch up with friends.
Q: You’ve participated in Ironman Triathlons. Can you explain the training regimen for this rigorous sport?
A: Well, first, it is probably good to be familiar with each of the three disciplines (Swim, Bike, Run). I signed up first and learned to swim afterward. I suspect that it is not the recommended approach but it can be done! Long distance events, such as triathlons, long distance running, or bicycling are both a physical *and* a mental sport. You will be tired and often have various aches or mental downtimes, so training helps you get physically stronger while learning to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Physically, training helps improve you at each of the three sports, as well as increase your strength for dealing with the duration/intensity of race day. It will also help you learn what happens with your muscles when you climb out of the water and hop on your bicycle, or off your bike and out onto a run. It is quite an experience. It also gives you a chance to learn about what equipment best suits your body, and what your body needs to fuel itself during the race. All of these also help with distance running.
Q: What words of wisdom would you give to someone who’s been running but now wants to change up their game and try trails and endurance running?
A: DO IT! You’ll find it a very rewarding experience. We have access to some of the most beautiful and challenging trails anywhere and a tremendous running community. Just be patient, allow yourself to grow into trail running, start slower and shorter than you might think. If it works, add some distance and speed or perhaps more challenging trails. Just enjoy the journey!
Q: You are no stranger to the Salmon Falls 50K. How does this race challenge you?
A: First off, never let anyone tell you a course is “easy” after you’ve done longer distances. Any race can be a challenge, and a longer course is always formidable. For most of my life I never even rode a bicycle this far!
In terms of Salmon Falls, it feels like two distinct courses. The first 12-13 miles (up to Salmon Falls) is definitely challenging with lots of hills. The remaining part of the course tries to pretend it is “easier” but it isn’t. You’ve invested a lot of energy in the first part and if you didn’t manage that well, it can easily come back to haunt you. My advice, take the first part of the course easier, and if you feel strong later—let it fly! Or just go out there and have a good time!
Q: Do you have an ultimate running goal?
A: More than one actually. To enjoy myself and use running as a way to stay healthy physically and mentally. To continue to run for years. To complete the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs 100 miler this year. I was forced to abandon the race last year after 75 miles and that still haunts me. I have a TRT race jacket that I have never worn—it hangs on my office door and reminds me every day….