Greg Ryan Learned Hard Work Alters Perceived Limitations

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My guest today is someone that I’ve been loosely connected with on Twitter for quite some time and we are just now getting around to a proper chat.

I’m pretty sure that over the years we’ve shared a race course at least a few times.

I am looking forward to going a few easy miles with Greg Ryan today!

Greg Ryan

Forced Fitness

Greg Ryan gravitated towards musical endeavors growing up rather than focusing on sports.

Immediately after graduating from high school, Greg joined the Navy.

His first real experience running was during BootCamp.

Once he was in the Navy, Greg only ran twice a year in order to maintain his fitness to remain in the military.

Over time, his lack of dedication to his overall health and fitness began to catch up.

Greg was unable to keep up with the standards required for his job and had to retire from the Navy.

Change Born From Tragedy

Greg found out firsthand how change could come from tragedy.

The sudden and unexpected death of an uncle prompted Greg to take a harder look at his own life.

He came to the realization that he couldn’t control his family, but he could control his decisions.

In 2014, his cousin invited him to a Run Disney event with her.

Greg saw how much she enjoyed running and the community that went along with it.

Running did a lot for her, so maybe it could do a lot for him as well.

The decision to begin running was an easy one for Greg.

The First Steps Of Many

In 2016, Greg first began his fitness journey by walking.

He didn’t begin running until about a month later.

Greg started with the Couch to 5k program and completed his first 5k.

After crossing that first finish line, Greg began to repeatedly ask the question, what’s next?

He quickly began to progress through the distances from 10k to a half marathon in one year.

Greg was set to run his second half marathon at Disney World in 2017.

The day before the race was supposed to take place it was canceled due to inclement weather.

The unexpected events of the next day would change his entire life.

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Double The Distance

Upon canceling the half, the participants were offered a few alternative options.

One of those options was to run the marathon being offered on Sunday.

Greg didn’t want to waste his training so he opted for the marathon.

He didn’t expect to finish the race but was planning to get as far as he could in the time allowed.

It was an unseasonably cold start to the race, but Greg kept putting one foot in front of the other.

He shocked himself by completing the marathon in a little over 7 hours.

Crossing that finish line changed the course of his life forever.

He felt a wave of powerful emotions that opened up possibilities as to what else he may be capable of.

A Life Reboot

Once Greg added marathon finisher to his name, he began to structure his training a bit more.

He was in school at the time so he wasn’t able to dedicate as much time to running as he would have preferred.

Greg was working on a “life reboot.”

He was systematically addressing various areas of his life and working to improve.

His career was headed in the right direction with his schooling and he was now a runner.

Greg ran his first 3 marathons about 70 pounds overweight.

He was aware that diet was the next area he really needed to focus on for both running and overall health.

Greg Ryan

Learning What Is Sustainable

Greg met his fiancee at the time in 2019 and chose to start addressing his diet.

He began to manage his relationship with food and quickly lost a lot of weight.

Greg lost about 60 pounds in a 3-month span.

Looking back, he realized that he got too intense with dieting.

The positive feedback loop of losing weight quickly encouraged a disordered pattern of eating.

In order to maintain the weight loss, Greg had to learn what was sustainable.

This was 4 years ago and he has kept off all the weight.

With the healthier weight came the ability to run more and recover faster.

Big Fitness Gains

As Greg began to get his diet and weight under control he also focused more on running.

He slowly transitioned from running 3 days a week to 6 days.

At that time, he also discovered heart rate training which helped him to make big gains in his fitness.

Greg went from a 7-hour marathon to chasing 4 hours in the distance.

In March of 2020 at the LA Marathon, he made his first attempt at a sub-4 marathon.

Two miles into the race, Greg fell and injured his knee causing him to have to drop out later in the race.

Greg badly wanted redemption, but the pandemic was in full swing and no races were happening.

With no races on the horizon, Greg decided to transition to trails.

Finding Ultras

Road races were practically non-existent during the beginning of the pandemic, but trail races were occasionally held.

As Greg was getting into trail running, his cousin suggested running a 50k in Georgia with her.

Prior to completing his first 50k, Greg admittedly didn’t know much if anything about ultras.

He was hooked after completing his first ultra.

Running on trails forced him to remain mentally engaged due to the variety of terrain.

The community was another aspect that Greg found unique and incredibly welcoming.

His first ultra taught him that everyone at the race was on a mutual mission to get to the finish regardless of pace.

Going Up The Distance Ladder

Once Greg broke into the ultra scene, he wasted no time climbing the distance ladder.

His second ultra was a 50-miler, which he completed the following year.

After running 50 miles, it was obvious to Greg what distance he wanted to tackle next and that was 100 miles.

Greg lives in Florida and the state is not known for its elevation.

With that in mind, he began searching for an “easy” 100 that wouldn’t have a lot of vertical gains.

After a lot of research, Greg opted for a race in Washington that fit what he needed and was near his brother.

Greg has a job that requires him to be on his feet a lot which helps when training for ultras.

His training had some hiccups along the way, but he was able to successfully complete the race.

Greg Ryan

Big Goals

Each ultra that Greg completes teaches him lessons.

Greg learned that to even toe the line at a 100-mile race, you must be confident.

He has a big goal to eventually run under 24 hours for a 100-miler.

Greg is signed up for two 100-mile races, one is in September of 2023 and the other is in January of 2024.

Leading up to the race, he plans to switch up training a bit.

He is planning to occasionally do a long run before work, then work a long day on his feet, and finally tackled another long run after.

Greg is committed to doing everything he can to reach his goal.

Along with hitting a time goal in a 100-mile race, Greg is also hoping to eventually gain entry into the Western States Endurance Race.

Above All Stay Healthy

Gaining entry into Western States isn’t as simple as just signing up.

Greg has to run qualifying races in order to get tickets to enter the lottery.

Staying healthy is a must for all of the big goals that he wants to accomplish.

Most of the races Greg chooses to run are specific to help him reach his goals.

Greg also understands how important joy is to running, so he still sprinkles in some races that spark that feeling.

Running ultras has given Greg the confidence that he can do things he never thought possible.

Greg reminds himself that, “you’re not limited by what you can do today if you put in the work.”

Mentioned In This Episode:

Stay connected with Greg Ryan by following him on InstagramTwitter, and/or Tik Tok.

Greg Ryan stumbled into the ultra scene and hasn't looked back. His perceived limitations change with each finish line he crosses. Share on X

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