Ryan began running after getting little play time on the 7th grade football team. In high school he won a state title in track and then continued running at the University of Texas in Austin. He thrived during his first few years earning all-american honors in both track and cross country but was plagued with injuries during the end. This caused him to doubt his future in running. He then got the opportunity to join the NAZ Elite team in Flagstaff, AZ based on his past accomplishments in his younger years in college.
After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?
I continue pushing myself because I know I have not even come close to my potential when it comes to racing the 10K distance and above. I also feel I have a gift that can be used to give back to others through rising to the top.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?
When I don't feel like running, I look back on all the times that I was hurt and would have given anything to run a mile. When I am tired and don't feel like running, my team and coach motivate me to put in the work, because they are all in the same boat.
On average, how many times and miles do you run a month?
This has varied a lot in the past year. Since last February or March I have been up and down constantly due to bone bruises from falls on rocky trails and running into stupid things. My most consistent mileage has been a few weeks at 90 to 100 miles, but if I had to average the past 2 to 3 months out, it would be somewhere around 65 to 70 miles. I generally run twice a day 5 to 6 times a week when I am healthy. Rest days come when I am very tired or something is bothering me.
What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?
I have become a big believer in the benefits of strength training over the past couple of years. I hit the weight room twice a week for Olympic style lifts and specific bodyweight exercises that strengthen hips, glutes, hamstrings etc. I think that RDL's and deadlifts have contributed a lot to my economy in running. If your glutes and hips are strong and firing correctly, you are going to see less strain from the other areas in your body.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
I have seen some pretty weird stuff while running in sketchy parts of cities, but I probably shouldn't get into those. One of the funniest things to happen to me was during my trip to Kenya. I was running and began being chased by little kids yelling "Mzungu!" which basically means white person. The kids were really funny and started running behind me for a while until they got far enough from home.
What are your favorite types of fuel for running and why?
White rice is a new go to the night before and morning of a workout or race. It digests quickly and easily, while providing tons of simple carbs. I'm also weird and love the taste of rice in milk with sugar on top.
What's your favorite cheat food & drink?
Easily ice cream. Having grown up eating ice cream every night before bed, this was a hard one to cut back on as a pro runner.
Do you like ice baths? Why or why not?
Not particularly. I think they can be a benefit, but are unnecessary to do all the time. I used to take them every day in college, but now take them maybe once every 2 to 3 months, and haven't seen a difference in recovery.
What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?
Don't get stuck doing the same type of run every day. If you never change paces and distance, you will get stuck at a certain level. Changing up your runs to be shorter and faster, or longer and slower, helps improve other systems in the body that translate into growth. I also encourage doing 4 to 6 strides (100 to 200 meters of faster running) post run a few times a week to help you feel more comfortable with a faster pace during a run.
What is your favorite running accomplishment so far?
I'm not sure I have a favorite one, but my favorite kind of accomplishments are when they are completely unexpected or contribute to a bigger purpose such as a team win.
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