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Jeff Browning

Jeff, also known as "Bronco Billy", is an online endurance coach and veteran ultra runner of nearly two decades. With over 120 ultra marathon finishes, running through the wild and connecting with nature is a meditative experience and a way for him to unplug. Jeff balances his time between mountain running and coaching ultra runners — he somehow still finds the energy for his beautiful wife, three children, dog, two cats, and an organic garden. Jeff is sponsored by: Patagonia, Altra, GU Energy Labs, Squirrel’s Nut Butter Anti-Chafe, HVMN, Vespa, Suunto, Rudy Project Eyewear, Pro-tec Athletics, and Trail Butter.

 

After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?

My daily run is my chance to unwind, think, commune with nature, and check out for a bit. It’s a chance to explore. As a dad, it’s a huge motivation to stay fit and healthy for my family too.

How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?

I usually don’t run with headphones, so on those days, I typically pick a new podcast or audio book to listen to.

On average, how many times and miles do you run a month?

I typically run 6 times per week, plus 1 to 3 short functional strength sessions per week, and 1 to 3 hours per week on my bike. That usually equates to averaging 250 miles per month. Yearly, that totals around 3,000 miles per year running and 1,000 miles cycling.

You recently won the Hardrock 100 one month after finishing 5th at Western States, what was that experience like?

At age 47, that is a huge race to win. I’m still pinching myself on that one.

What is your recovery like in order to be able to run two 100 milers in a month?

A lot of hiking and a little cycling the first week. I immediately get on mobility work and light strength to restore range of motion. I also get weekly body work (massage, ART, cupping, etc.) during a back to back race schedule like that. I start running a little the second week while keeping some hiking and biking in the mix. Then, show up at the next 100 and see what happens.

An interesting trend I noticed is in 2016 you finished 3rd at Western States. In 2017 you finished 4th. This year you finished 5th. It makes me wonder what it would be like if you finished 6th next year and makes me wonder, are you superstitious? Why or why not? 

No, I’m not superstitious. Every year at Western States 100 there is a different field of fast runners up front, conditions vary and things just shake out where they will based on who runs smart and who doesn’t.

What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?

I do a lot of dumbbell upper body and lower body work, pushups, pullups, core, plyometrics, lateral band walks, hip abductions and bridges with a band, wall sits, etc. I do believe in being strong and keeping muscle mass. So, short functional strength routines are a must year round. Typically that is 3 times per week in the winter and 2 times per week during the season.

 

What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?

While racing 100's, I’ve been clawed in the back of the head by a territorial owl, hucked a rock at a moose, chased a skunk, hurdled a marmot, and had a hair-raising face-off with a mountain lion.

What's your favorite types of fuel for running and why? 

My staple race nutrition is GU Roctane Grape powdered drink. Usually one of my bottles have that and the other is water. I’m constantly sipping on that during a long race.

 

What's your favorite cheat food & drink?

Red wine and organic dark chocolate. 

 

You've won a lot of 100 mile races. Why do you feel you are so successful at that distance?

I don’t know why for sure. I am good at staying in the happy place, but I also feel I’m good at pacing — not going out too hard.

 

With your level of fitness, have you ever considered attempting the Barkley's Marathon? Why or why not?

Of course I have, I’m just not sure I’m ready for that commitment. Once you get on that merry-go-round, it might be hard to get off! Plus, being an April race, training hard vertical gain in the winter is challenging where I live with the amount of snow we get. 

Which 100 miler would you say is the toughest and why?

Hardrock 100 is super tough with 33,000 plus feet of climbing and the high altitude. Plus, that time frame is the start of southwest Colorado’s monsoon season and weather can be tricky.

 

Do you like ice baths? Why or why not?

I don’t typically do ice baths but will soak in ice cold mountain creeks if I get the chance. I do take hot epsom salt baths during hard training blocks.

In your free time when you’re not running, what other hobby’s do you enjoy?

I ski, rock climb, backpack, mountain bike, road bike and garden. I also enjoy a good book. 

What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?

Consistency. It’s better to run less per day and be consistent than to run every few days longer or run a few times per week, then miss a block, then run a few times and miss a block. I think having a short, daily routine set you up for success. Also, only add 10% per week to your runs if you want to go longer. Take baby steps so you allow the body time to adapt. 

Do you have a preferred SCOTT running shoe? If so, which one and why?

My go-to trail shoe is the Altra Lone Peak. Foot-shaped toe box, zero drop, it’s stable, has good traction and has a good ground feel, drains well and just enough protection from gnarly trails. 

Who are some of your favorite runners to compete against and why?

The ultra running community is such a cool tribe. When we show up to these races, it’s like a little family reunion. I love competing against anyone — doesn’t really matter who. At my age, a highlight is beating guys half my age! That never gets old.

How did you earn the nickname "Bronco Billy"?

In my early ultra days, a running buddy came up with the nickname due to my tendency to yell "Yee-Haw" and "Giddyup" when stoke was high on a running adventure. Others started calling me "Bronco" too and it just kinda stuck. 

I've noticed you always run with glasses. Do you have a preferred pair for running? If so, which one and why?

I wear prescription lenses and I’m partnered with Rudy Project. I have a few favorite models, but typically race in the Zyon frame. 

What is your favorite running accomplishment so far?

Longevity in the sport. Also, racking up 18 100-mile wins is on that list too. 

Click the links below to keep up with Jeff Browning

Published December 15, 2018