Decades of Competing in Endurance Races Equals Many Years of Success
Mike 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 26th 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, transferred 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 high 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. The 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 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.”