Decades of Competing in Endurance Races Equals Many Years of Success

Decades of Competing in Endurance Races Equals Many Years of Success

greer 2Mike Greer, who grew up running track and playing football near Lubbock, Tex., was a heavy-sweating athlete long before anyone invented electrolyte-replacement sports drinks. “I wonder how any of us even lived,” he says. “They wouldn’t allow us to hydrate during workouts or after workouts sometimes.”

Today, at age 76, with 44 marathons and 369 triathlons (so far) on his resume

Greer has adopted The Right Stuff to keep himself hydrated, and he recommends the product to others who come to him for motivation and participate in his events. His BSLT Triathlon Inc., which organizes 10 triathlons and other races each year, held its BSLT Logo26th annual Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake east of Lubbock in June.

Greer’s long story, with chapters still being written, has health at the heart and touches a host of family, education, business, and hobby experiences.

After high school, he won a full athletic scholarship to the University of Houston, U of Houstontransferred to the University of Texas at Arlington in both sports, and served in the Army for nearly three years, keeping up his fitness and his competitive drive in his career as a sales representative and business owner. Without a UT Arlingtonhigh school or college coach to motivate him, he motivated himself.

Going the Distance

“I maintained my fitness over the years by doing things I could do,” he says. “In the Army, I took up the game of handball. After 12 years of that – sometimes you’ve got to recognize things going on in your body – I decided to go for more aerobic stuff.” He broke a foot during a handball tournament and was suffering frequent pain in both elbows.

Greer’s track events had been the 100-, 200-, and the 400-meter relay in college, and he had stayed away from distance running. But he decided to run a mile one day, and after two weeks, he was running 10 miles. “I wasn’t running very fast, but I was running,” he says. “I liked the feel of it. I started running with the local running club.”

In the mid-1970s, Greer entered his first marathon, near Lubbock, and finished in 4:52 – through a wind chill of 40 below zero and 20 water crossings – placing second when he let a bundled-up competitor pass him in the last quarter-mile. “That was my introduction to endurance running,” he says. “It really charged me. I had the bug.” He cut his time to 4 hours in the next marathon and broke 4 hours in the third. With that start in 1977, he’s run 44 marathons and 65,000 miles. Since he turned to triathlons in 1983, Greer has run 369 and counting. “I want my body to stay in shape,” he says. “The main thing I believe in exercising is the heart muscle.”

The main thing I believe in exercising is the heart muscle.

Greer met David Belaga at the USA Triathlon expo in Colorado and became a representative for The Right Stuff soon after trying the product.

“Being an endurance athlete, I’m always looking for something that’s going to help with leg cramps, help me prevent dehydration,” he says. ‘It was designed to do that for very important people – when you go in a spaceship and you go off the planet, you’re going to be naturally dehydrated. They designed it for them, but endurance athletes dehydrate a lot too. 4 flavors V_comp wh bkgrndThe Right Stuff is so far ahead of what’s out there from a hydration standpoint. Rather than dehydrate and do something about it, it gives you the ability to hydrate and stay hydrated and not go into this deficit.”

Greer drinks The Right Stuff in 16 ounces of water when he works up a sweat, such as a few minutes on the bike after swimming in a triathlon. “When you feel a sweat, you start drinking,” he says. “That’s my rule of thumb. Don’t try to slam it.

Your body’s more open to receive The Right Stuff once you’d worked up that sweat in the heat of the workout or the heat of competition. That’s basically how I use the product and recommend people use the product.”

Concentration is Key

The Right Stuff, like dependable bicycle tires and well-stocked water and food stations on the triathlon route, leave him free to concentrate on competing, Greer says. “I know my hydration’s good,” he says. “I don’t have to worry about that. I don’t have to worry about anything but competing. That’s the ultimate for an athlete.”

While pursuing his demanding fitness regime, Greer has also earned the equivalent of a master’s degree in military science and a Ph.D. in psychology; organized eight businesses, including a material handling firm for the cotton industry; stayed in the active reserves for the Army, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel; written two books; and raised six children. Greer has 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He and his wife Marti are in the USA Triathlon Federation South Midwest Hall of Fame, and she is in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame for gymnastics.

greer imageGreer advises endurance athletes and others as a certified life coach (greercoach.com), more motivational than technical. “I motivate people to do the sports if they’re interested in being motivated. I’ve motivated lots of athletes who came to me and said ‘what do I do to get started?’” he says. “I give them my formula. It’s not even written down. I tell them, ‘here’s the three stages you’re going to be involved with me. Then get a good coach.’” One woman who took his advice became one of the top ultra-endurance athletes in the world, winning double Ironmans five times in eight years.

In his spare time, Greer rides a Harley-Davidson and studies U.S. presidents. Recently, a remark about Jimmy Carter’s goal-setting inspired him to make a long-range list that will take him to 91. That includes at least 10 events, including three half-marathons, a year, and probably some more Ironman races.

“That’s the way I do my life,” he says. “It’s been a full life up to here, and you know what? It’s not over. During the years, I’ve tried to stay right on the cutting edge. I’ve been able to have a very diversified life.”

“Rocket fuel” Propels 21-Year-Old Pro Triathlete

“Rocket fuel” Propels 21-Year-Old Pro Triathlete

William-Huffman-cropped-6-15William Huffman’s triathlete career dates back to his childhood days when he would ride his mountain bike alongside his father on recreational runs. They ran their first 5K together when William was 10.

Dreaming of the Olympics

“At that point, I knew I wanted to be a runner,” says Huffman, who joined the cross-country team in middle school, then took up competitive swimming to stay in shape after an injury in high school. “I stuck with those two sports. I had two of the three down for triathlon. All that while, I always dreamed of the Olympics but knew it was pretty unrealistic until I did my first triathlon. I didn’t know until after my second triathlon that it was even an Olympic sport. Once I found that out, I knew I had to give my dream a chance. I earned my pro card during my second triathlon in 2010 and have been racing professionally pretty much since then.”

Huffman, 21, is now ranked in the top 80 triathletes in the world and the top six or seven in the United States. He was champion in the Under-23 Nationals in 2013 and 2014, champion in the Under-23 Pan America, and bronze in the Elite Nationals. Since late 2011, he has been coached by Greg Mueller, based in South Bend, Ind. He met Mueller at an Olympic training center camp and sought him out a year later, when he decided to get a new coach after a year with Dallas-based coach Sean Thompson set him on track for a career.

Triathlon Lifestyle

“I knew pretty quickly after reaching out to him that it was a good match,” Huffman says. “Personal connection is a huge part of a coaching relationship. Greg is great at checking in to see how I do and reading what’s best for my body day to day. I wake up and check in with him, and he tells me what the plan is. You have to embrace the lifestyle that comes with triathlons. I say I’m from Dallas, but in reality, I’m out of the suitcase most of the time.”

He’s spending the summer in South Bend, after a winter training camp in Nevada. Mueller chooses practice locations tailored to the environment of upcoming races – Texas, for example, when the competition is in a hot climate. Huffman is aiming for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but he expects he has a more realistic shot at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I’ve come a long way in the past five years I’ve been doing the sport,” he says. “I still have a long way to go. The Olympics is really the pinnacle of the sport. You have to be the very best to compete on that stage. That’s my goal and that’s what I’m shooting for. I’m not quite at that point, but that’s what gets me up every morning and motivates me to be my best. Most people don’t peak until their later 20s in this sport. I have plenty of years ahead of me.”

Huffman struggled with hot-weather races until a running specialist in Boulder, Colo., recommended The Right Stuff® (NASA-developed electrolyte drink additive) in 2012. He introduced it to Mueller, who has shared it with other athletes.

I was amazed at the technology behind it (The Right Stuff) and the science.

“I could not get hot weather races down,” he says. “I’d get tunnel vision, I’d get dizzy, I’d be really slow in those races, especially the longer they went on as I got into the run. They just never went well. kiwi_strawberryI was amazed at the technology behind it and the science (Editor’s Note: Summaries and links to numerous NASA-published studies are available at www.TheRightStuff-USA.com) . Since then, hot weather races are my favorite ones to target. I just feel a phenomenal difference in endurance and strength in hot weather.

“I’ll use the product the night before and 3 hours before with water. If I do that adequately, I’m set for the race; I’m good to go. I just have some water, and I don’t even need that much of that. I don’t end up as thirsty during the race. I don’t get as hot. I have better thermal regulation. I feel stronger. I can breathe more easily. It’s just incredible the difference I feel. It’s like rocket fuel.

From Attempted Suicide to Ironman is a Tough, But Rewarding Road

Shane Niemeyer Shane Niemeyerwas running to catch up when he became an Iron Man competitor. Niemeyer had spent much of his youth drinking, overdosing on drugs, getting arrested, spending time in prison, and barely graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi when he was homeless after getting kicked out of a long-term treatment center.

His story, told in the recently-published The Hurt Artist: My Journey from Suicidal Junkie to Iron Man, turned when he tried to hang Shane Niemeyer Book Coverhimself after a few days in prison – when the withdrawal symptoms were bearing down – and the extension cord snapped.

Achieving Your Goal

“I had never been able to quit or tone it down,” he says. “I didn’t want to live. I needed something to latch on to.” He read about Ironman in an Outside magazine in his cell and made a championship at Kona his goal. “It was the seeds that would grow into an ideal, a vision for myself,” Niemeyer says. “It helped me pull my life together as a person, not only as an athlete. It helped me start healing myself.”

In the decade since, Niemeyer, 38, made progress despite injuries and his body’s reluctance – “you start trying to compete at a very high level with people who were competing when you were getting drunk and doing drugs,” he says – and qualified four years in a row for Kona. He has won races as an amateur and found himself in the top 10 among hundreds of competitors in some contests.

Cramping Solution

One surprise as he began to compete was the debilitating effect of cramping – sometimes engulfing his body, including neck and face.

I was completely unaware that cramping could be so severe,” Niemeyer says. “The longer the event is, the more important nutrition and hydration and food levels become.

Not paying attention to details you don’t know about, coming into these things late in life, it became more and more clear that I needed something.” I don’t have to worry about taking pills. The Right Stuff is a liquid concentrate that goes easily into your water bottle. The Right Stuff was the solution. “I don’t have to worry about taking pills,” he says. “It’s concentrated and it takes you a lot further. You don’t need to focus on it. I need about 1800 milligrams of sodium an hour, so two bottles, two-and-a-half bottles will get me through the bike portion of an Ironman. That’s what works for me.”

Shane Niemeyer and wife Mandy McLaneNiemeyer, who married professional triathlete Mandy McLane two years ago and lives in Boulder, Colo., coaches other triathletes while he keeps pursuing his vision of a championship.

“You’re going to get out of a thing whatever you put into it,” he says. “The goal from here forward is to try to win a world championship as an amateur, a couple of Ironman championships.”

Diabetics Are Athletes Too! How Does This Dietitian Help With Their Nutrition?

Sally HaraWhen Sally Hara was pursuing a nutrition science education some 30 years ago, she transferred from Montana State – where the options were Home Economics, Botany, Zoology, and Chemistry – to the UC, Davis, where she earned undergraduate degrees in Nutrition Science and Exercise Physiology, then a master’s degree in Nutrition Science. That left her with a knowledge base of Physiology and Biochemistry that could rival that of many medical students, and a habit of thinking in terms of Metabolic Pathways and Endocrine pathways.

After she moved to Seattle, Hara completed a dietetic internship at the University of Washington, then proceeded to become a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD), a combination that makes her a leading consultant for athletes with diabetes and the professionals who work with them. “Most Sports Dietitians don’t know what to do with diabetics and most diabetes educators don’t know what to do with athletes,” she says. She owns a private practice, ProActiveNutrition.net, and is an experienced public speaker.

About six years ago, Hara participated in a Juvenile Diabetes Research (JDRF) workshop, “Triabetes”, for Type 1 triathletes. About forty Type 1 athletes came, and subsequently the Sports and Diabetes Group Northwest was formed, which has grown to over 80 active members. She also started riding with the JDRF cycling group “They’re my colleagues, they’re my friends, they’re who I train with,” she says. says. “I learn as much from them as they do from me – probably more. These are people who are doing what they love in spite of diabetes and figuring out how to do it.”

Hara helps them figure it out. “If I’m working with a Type 1 athlete, I put on my Sports Dietitian hat first – ‘what do you need to improve your performance?’” she explains. “Then I put on my Diabetes Educator hat and say ‘how do we need to adjust your insulin to cover this diet and your training?’ I have to be more careful with the timing of carbohydrates, but the need is the same as for any other athlete. The blood sugar response to exercise differs for each athlete and each sport, so nutrition strategies must be individualized.

Although the cool Northwest temperatures leave athletes sweating less, Hara takes The Right Stuff to cycling events in hotter climates such as Arizona and packs the product in her bike bag for emergencies any time. She also promotes it with ride coaches.

This is your magic bullet,” she says. “If people start cramping, it can rescue them. It’s so successful. It’s really easy to carry with me.

“This is your magic bullet,” she says. “If people start cramping, it can rescue them. It’s so successful. It’s really easy to carry with me. Usually when I see athletes cramping and when I cramp myself it is after some kind of exertion, either sprints or some kind of hard push where you’ve been engaging those muscles and they are fatigued. I take a bottle of water and put The Right Stuff in it and have them drink it down. It resolves it.”