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MAX MUSCLE'S REAL RUNNERS
By: Rochelle Marapao
Three Max Muscle athletes from different walks of like have one thing in common: a passion for running. Find out what drives them to run and how you can follow in their footsteps and be inspired, even if you’re not a runner!
Drew Brazier, 28, Erie, Colorado
Max Muscle Home Base: Denver-Mile High and Boulder
MM Supplements of Choice: ARM, Xtinguisher, EnduroMax
Events: Ultra Marathons – 50K, 50-mile, 100K and 100 mile
Biggest Accomplishments in Running to Date:
•Completing in first 100-mile ultra marathon this year with a finishing time of 26 hours, 55 minutes
Running for His Life
Husband, father of three and psychotherapist Drew Brazier was an athlete who played college football and trained hard. But after football was over, he transitioned into an inactive, unhealthy lifestyle that caused him to pack on unwanted pounds.
By November of 2009, Drew found himself at his heaviest ever, weighing 340 pounds. His moment of truth came the day after Thanksgiving while skiing in the Rocky Mountains with his family. After an hour on the slopes, he found himself breathing heavily and his knees in excruciating pain. “Many thoughts flowed through my mind,” he recalls. “Like not being able to play with my kids as they become older, not having the physical ability to do what I desired and having my weight impede me from enjoying life.”
What was supposed to be an enjoyable day with family on the slopes found Drew questioning his future. He needed to take control.
Drew set an ambitious goal of getting down to 200 pounds. He was motivated, but lacked the confidence or knowledge in where to begin. He walked into his local Max Muscle store, where he spoke with a Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach who provided the basic principles of nutrition, exercise and supplement choices that could help Brazier reach his goals.
“Drew didn’t need a lot of encouragement. His motivation was high and he had made his mind up that it was time to make a change,” recalls Max Muscle Mile High franchisee Billy Van Heusen. “He took the first step in coming in to our store in Denver and we helped give him direction to help him reach his goals.”
Even though Drew wasn’t at his best physically, he was a “student” of healthy living. “He was like a sponge, soaking up every bit of information that we gave him,” explains Van Heusen. “It’s refreshing when we have the opportunity to work with people like Drew who come in with an open mind and want to take the time to become properly educated on how their body works and how different nutrients affect it.”
Beginning each day with exercise, Drew began running and/or walking a few miles, then training with weights before his family woke up every morning. Quickly, he found a passion for running and pushed himself to run further, improving his times and distance while watching the unwanted weight come off. What started as 3 or 4-mile runs became 7 or 8 miles. “Before I realized it, I signed up for a half marathon (13.1 miles) and completed it!” he says excitedly.
Realizing that he had found a passion for distance running on extreme terrain, Drew decided to train for an ultra marathon. An ultra marathon is a running event longer than the traditional marathon length of 26.2 miles. The most common distances are the 50K (31 miles), 100K (50 miles) and the 100-mile events.
After completing a 50K mountain trail run, he went on to complete 50K and 100K races. Not willing to rest on his laurels, Drew had his mind set on accomplishing yet another goal: the 100-mile ultra marathon.
Drew gave himself one year to train for his first 100-mile race and ran between 60-80 miles each week in preparation. His diet while training doesn’t change too much from his usual diet in the off-season. “My food and hydration is my fuel. I eat every few hours and cut back on carbs for a few days then stack on carbs for a couple of days before the race,” he says. “The night before the race, I enjoy a huge bowl of Pho soup.”
In March 2012, Brazier completed his first 100-mile ultra marathon with a finishing time of 26 hours and 55 minutes, and considers it one of his biggest accomplishments. “I am still amazed at the continued focus I had,” he reflects. “Having my family there along the way and bring me in at the end was amazing. My sister ran the last 50 miles with me. My other sister ran 13 miles with me. Two of my brothers, including one who was sick, ran the last six miles with me. Even my dad ran the last few miles with us.”
Now at 190 pounds and in the best shape of his life, Brazier doesn’t hesitate to credit those who were instrumental in his journey. “My wife, Shayna, continues to be my biggest support system. She never told me I needed to change physically and supports me by her example,” he admits. “We are a team.”
Drew's Tips for Running 100 Miles
•Build Your Base: You really do not want to toe the starting line of a 100-mile without proper miles under your belt. Training for this long of a distance may vary based on individual preference. Some people train at 50 miles per week, while others are at 150+ (these are usually the elites). Getting as many miles and hours on your feet as you can is essential, which is what it means to building your base. Give yourself at least a year to run a few races at 50K, 100K or 50-mile distances. Though you will want to incorporate speed work into your training, speed is not necessary in your longer runs. The main issue of importance is running on terrain similar to your race, and hours moving on your feet.
•Nutrition: Many people who start a 100 miler drop because it was a bad nutrition day. Understanding what your body needs when is crucial. Learning to drink water and electrolyte drinks every 15-20 minutes is a skill. You must find what food sits well with you while running long. You can't wait until you feel a “bonk,” thus, it is essential that you stay on top of your fuel.
•Night Run: This is my favorite, and in my case a necessity. I try very hard to run when it impacts my family less. Night runs work great! Getting accustomed to running through the night is very important as you will be doing this right in the middle of a 100 miler. Adjusting to the flashlights and headlamps will take a little bit of work. It is fun to think you can run 30+ miles before your family wakes up. The rule with a night run is you cannot be grumpy later the next day. I have ran 35 miles, finished at my office, worked the full day, and then enjoyed a nice night with the family. Do not complain – it is your choice to run that far!
•Back-to-Back Runs: It is obvious that running 100 miles will require you to run on very fatigued legs. So, you need to do back-to-back long runs while peaking in your training. I typically do my back-to-backs on Friday and Saturday, very early morning – usually somewhere around 20-25 miles on Friday and 25-30 miles on Saturday. This does not have to be every week, but should be included.
•Balance: As previously mentioned, this is your choice to run this far. Yes, you need support, but do not be selfish. The last thing you want on race day is everyone close to you mad at you because you have abandoned them. You must notice the sacrifice they are making in helping you reach your training goals. Their goals as just as important as yours are.
Betty Darlene Schaefer, 63, Redmond, Oregon
Max Muscle Home Base: Bend, Oregon
MM Supplements of Choice: Vit-Acell, Flax Oil, Max Arm, Max Glutamine, MaxPro, Max Gourmet
Events: 100, 200, 400 and 800 meters
Biggest Accomplishments in Running to Date:
•2009 Pacific Northwest Masters Championships
•Gold Medals in 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter events
•Received All American Honors for 200 and 800-meter races
•2011 U.S. Masters Worlds Team; Bronze Medal, 4x400 Relay
Discovering the Sprinter Within
Take one look at nationally ranked sprinter Betty Schaefer and you’d never suspect that she is anywhere close to being 63 years old. As you watch her glide across the finish lines of the 100, 200, 400 and 800-meter events with power and precision, you’d swear that this wife, mother and grandmother of nine has been at it for most of her life. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Growing up, the stability of a permanent home wasn’t something that Betty’s family had. “As a child, we moved every six weeks to a new state for my dad’s work, so my two sisters, my brother and I weren’t able to be involved in any school sports or activities,” explains Betty. As a steel worker for the government, her father built B-52 hangars and missile silos. Each project lasted only six weeks and upon completion, the family would move to the next location in a trailer and a large truck that they hauled all over the United States. The constant relocation lasted until Betty was a senior in high school.
Over the years, Betty always had an interest in exercise and has worked out regularly. But it never dawned on her that she could take her athleticism to another level. In 2008, her husband Don, a track umpire and enthusiast, took his wife to her first meet, the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon. Immediately, she was fascinated and amazed with the sport. “Betty picked up on the beauty of the runners, jumpers and throwers and just got hooked,” explains Don. Betty adds, “I was so impressed by the athletes that I was pumped. I wanted to do that!”
Don took his wife to a local track and timed her in a 100-meter sprint. After their session at the track, Don looked up the results for women Betty’s age. To his surprise, he discovered that her time would have ranked her amongst the top 10 in the nation! Not wasting any time, Don enlisted the help of a track coach to train Betty for competitions.
When training for competition, Betty hits the track three days a week with her coach, Jim McLatchie, who has trained more than 40 World and National-level runners to work on speed, dynamic stretching and various drills. She also spends two days a week at the gym performing TRX suspension training, which uses a system of ropes and webbing that allows users to work against their own body weight. Betty swears by it. “I’ve worked out with weights for over 40 years, but I found TRX to be way better than the machines because you have to use your whole core to stabilize yourself,” she says.
The Schaefers also realized that proper nutrition is a key to Betty’s success, so they turned to Max Muscle Bend for help. Franchisee Dominic Current and his team spoke to the couple about Betty’s goals and how they could help. “Betty mentioned to us that she was a sprinter, and when you meet someone in the shape that she’s in, you have no choice but to be amazed,” says Current. “Most athletes believe that there is a time-frame as to when you can compete, but I don’t think she has this in her mind.” the products. Their advice helped in so many ways.”
Betty is a perfect example that it’s never too late to find your passion no matter what your age. In fact, she’s already looking ahead to what to accomplish next. “I am working on getting World rankings in the 400-meter for my age group and presently, my training shows I am very close,” she shares excitedly.
Through her journey to becoming a world-class sprinter, Betty is quick to credit her best friend and husband, Don. “He has helped me become the athlete I am and wouldn’t be where I am without him. I am so thankful,” she says with gratitude.
“I am super proud of her accomplishments in stepping out of her comfort zone into a completely new life,” says Don. Their commitment to each other is evident both on and off the track. At 63, Betty Schaefer is living proof that it’s never too late to live out your dreams.
Sonja Friend-Uhl, 41, Brentwood, Tennessee
Max Muscle Home Base: Max Muscle Cool Springs
MM Supplements of Choice: Vit-Acell Liquid Multi, BCAA Powder, Max Fish Oil/Omegas, Enduromax, ARM
Events: Everything from the 800-meter to the marathon (26.2 miles)
Biggest Accomplishments in Running to Date:
•2006 Half-Marathon World Championship U.S. Team Member
•2011 Masters Track National and World Champion
•2012 USA Masters National Half Marathon Champion (13.1 miles)
•2012 World Record Holder, Masters Women Indoor Mile
•2012 National Record Holder, Masters Women 1500-meter
Defying the Odds
Sonja Friend-Uhl is a champion in every sense of the word. Not only is she a competitor, but she is also a Certified Personal Trainer, a USATF (United States of America Track and Field) Level I Certified Coach, published fitness writer, public speaker and business owner. But most importantly, she’s the devoted mother of two daughters, 11-year old, Brianna, and 3-year old, Alexa.
Growing up, Sonja was a tomboy who enjoyed sports. “I rode horses from the age of 4 and played softball, volleyball and basketball,” she says. “But it was evident from a young age that track and field and running, in general, was my niche.”
She was introduced to racing while growing up in Washington State via the ARCO Jesse Owens Games, which is similar to the Junior Olympics, and paved her way for a career in running. Her first race was the 50-meter dash as a 4th grader. “A few years later, I participated in the 400-meter and won my age group for the state, earning a trip to the National Championships in Los Angeles. At 12 years old, I placed 4th in the country in my age group, running the 400-meter in 62 seconds. That was 1984; the same year the Olympics were held there and it had a profound effect on me,” she recalls. “All of those events helped set the stage for my long and fulfilling career as a competitive runner.”
Sonja admits that she is blessed in that she has a wide range of running ability. She competes in all events from the 800-meter to the marathon (26.2 miles), but says that the 800-meter and 1500-meter (1 mile) are her best events because they allow her to use her speed and stamina combined. In fact, although she won the first marathon she’d ever competed in, she admits, “I don’t enjoy racing the marathon distance. I prefer a more intense and faster race.”
Competing as an open runner, Sonja has been quite successful. Some of her biggest accomplishments include earning a full running scholarship to the College of William and Mary where she earned a bachelor of arts degree, earning a spot on seven USATF World Teams, qualifying for the 2000 Olympic Trials in the 1500-meter event, and winning her first marathon in her hometown of West Palm Beach, Florida. In the past year after turning 40, Sonja became a Masters runner and the accomplishments have not stopped. She has set a new Masters Women Indoor Mile World Record in 4:44.81 and a new Masters Women Outdoor 1500-meter American Record in 4:16.99. “That 1500-meter time also provisionally qualified me for the 2012 Olympic Team Trials, which is probably the most significant accomplishment to me,” she says. “I never dreamed I would be competing in another Olympic Trials for a track event at age 41!”
Running has also proven to be a therapy of sorts for the champion runner in helping her to overcome the challenges of life. “One of the most significant challenges was losing my younger brother, Erik, in a car accident in 2007. He was 31 years old and had battled drug addition for most of his life – much too young to leave us,” shares Sonja. “Running was true therapy for me as I navigated my emotions surrounding that tragedy. I ran my first marathon (The Marathon of the Palm Beaches) two weeks after his death. It was a very emotional event. I felt his presence and ran to celebrate his life, but also to feel a physical release to numb the pain of losing him.”
Max Muscle franchisee, Jamie Free, has worked with Sonja in developing a nutritional plan in both the on and off-season of competition. He describes her as driven, upbeat and indomitable. “While she is an Olympic-level runner and world record holder, she is one of the most approachable people around and is always wanting to learn. She is always upbeat and ready to work,” says Jamie. “Sonja is a great role model for everyone, especially female athletes, and I am proud and honored to have her as one of our Max Muscle Cool Springs Athletes.”
With all that Sonja has accomplished in running so far, she is far from finished. In fact, she continues to set new goals for herself. “I’m currently trying to better my 1500-meter time to ensure I qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials this summer. I want to set a new American Female Masters Record in the 800-meter and the 3000-meter,” she says. But Sonja also has an ongoing goal that’s more important than any other. “I want to set an example for my young daughters that anything is possible once you set your mind to it.” MS&F