I am going to be honest here. At one point in my life I hated to run. That all changed one day when I was 13 and I was transformed into a kid who hated running to a kid who was fully devoted to developing my running abilities, training through the snow, rain, and any other obstacles I faced. I trained like that for 20 years until my body could take it no longer. I was so run-down at the end of my 20 year career that I couldn’t go jog an easy 30 minutes without having to do a substantial amount of running. So last January I retired from professional running, but I found I was still craving physical challenge. So I got into weight training. Now, another confession: when I was running I hated doing weights and I only did the bare minimum I could get away with and never upper body weights as I was afraid to bulk up. However, I found that I loved the daily challenge of weight training. I could go hard everyday, which I couldn’t do in running, so I naturally loved it.
I couldn’t have been much weaker when I began weight training. I think my bench was around 130 lbs and my squat was even worse than that. It was a little embarrasing to be walking around the gym so skinny and weak. However, as most find when they first begin weight training, I found that my improvement was rapid and dramatic. I felt like I was literally watching my body change before me. It was also fun to be able to take a different approach to nutrition, so rather than stepping on the scale and being bummed out if I gained a pound, I would be bummed if I didn’t gain a pound. Now, 7 months later I have gotten my bench up to 215, my squat to 195, and my deadlift to 245lbs. I know these are not impressive numbers but I am excited by the improvement I’ve seen.
In the last few months I’ve also rekindled my love for running as I prepared for a recent relay race around Mount Blanc. It took a while for my body to adjust to running with extra muscle (I went from just under 140 lbs to 165 lbs), but now it feels good to run again. With all the weight training it has added a ton of power to my legs. Now, my favorite workouts to do in running are sprints, both on hills and flat. I used to hate sprinting, largely due to the fact that my legs were so muscularly weak. It feels amazing to walk around feeling so much stronger than I once was.
I continue to have lofty goals as I marry running with weight lifting. I want to get as big, strong, and fit as possible. I think it would be a good benchmark for me to be able to deadlift, squat, and bench 300lbs (I’m guessing I would be the only 2:04 marathoner to accomplish that feat) but I think it will take me some time to get there. When it comes to running I’ve found running to be a great way for me to lean out after going through a pretty big bulking phase, so the two actually work together really well. I’d much rather be outside running through beautiful single-track trails then walking on a stair climber.
In terms of competitions, it can be hard to find events that have both the endurance and strength world colliding. I’ve been captivated by the Mr. America event because it’s (like me) found how beautiful it is to marry endurance and strength. I am so inspired by all the competitors at Mr. America and will be following the results closely as I search for further motivation for me to reach my endurance and strength goals which is the key to reach my goals.
Great article, inspiring. Your right about the dreaded weighing scales showing an extra pound.
I have always enjoyed the information that you provide while updating us on your life’s progress. I’m sure we all miss you out on the long road. I do, but have no doubt that we are with you here on the short track too!! God bless you and your family Ryan. I’m still here pulling for all of you to be successful at what you want in life and happy doing it!
American Ninja Warrior!!
Three letters Ryan- O C R. Like you; I love the challenge of both endurance sports and weight lifting and OCR (Spartan Race to be specific) has been a great way to incorporate both into a very meaningful challenge.
I couldn’t agree more. OCR (Spartan) racing has been my focus ever since my semi professional marathon career ended with a torn meniscus in my left knee. When I came back I could not run over 90 miles in a week but still wanted to be competitive. I started spartan racing and realized how much strength I was missing in my daily workout routine. Now I’m one of the better Spartan racers and have gained so much in the weight room.
I remember doing a run with you and Sara up in big bear. You were tearing up a black diamond ski slope like it was nothing,then we did an easy 10 miles. You were made for this sport man.
I do spartan races. Marathon distances with strength obstacles. No better way to marry the two disciplines. You should look into it, could be just what you need.
The greatest challenge is focusing on your spiritual fitness before all else. That’s because you have to sacrifice what you would rather do. However, once you know that this is your first priority, you can without guilt move on to other endeavors.
Ryan, reading about you these past few months has been quite inspirational. Any chance you’ll do some ultras just for fun? That would be amazing to see you do some of the tough and mountainous races like the Flagstaff Sky Race or The Rut!
I was also going to recommend OCR (spartan beast or ultra), but someone beat me to it! The numerous mile + steep inclines up the mountain and incredibly heavy lifting obstacles are a nice mix of endurance/strength.
Trails and Mountains await you 🙂 Good to read your blog and find new perspectives.
Ryan, come out to Colorado Springs and take on the Pikes Peak Ascent. It’s a half marathon up the mountain. Endurance plus power plus crazy vertical gain. You do need a qualifying time, but I think you could get in. 😉
Relating to your transition…I raced XC and indoor/outdoor through college, realized I enjoy having muscles & started hitting the weights. Still lace up & trail run now and again. I value the balance now…keep these posts up! Thanks!
I bought the game recently and, yes, Joe is right. You hate or love that kind of game.For me, i&27#18;m a big fan of quantic dream games so , this game is awesome to me but yea.
I’m impressed with the numbers: bench, squat, etc. Way to go, dude.
Give CrossFit a try Ryan! Or check out Trinity Fitness in Colorado Springs. Same idea but with a spiritual focus.
During this trial period you have full access to member benefits, including all ACTIVE registration discounts, access to free event entries, gear discounts and more.
Great article Ryan. Always enjoy reading your updates.
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