PART I – INTRODUCTION
Ultramarathoner & medical student
Experimenting in sport with scientific analysis on performance
Sponsors: Runners Plus, Honey Stinger, HIVE
How and when did you get into running?
I started my senior year of high school. I ran with my brother who was a member of our Elder Cross Country team during the summer between my junior and senior year. My intention was to get into shape for soccer in the fall; however, I enjoyed the coaches, the other runners, and the sport so much that I decided to try out for the cross country team instead.
Getting into ultramarathons was a bit unplanned as well. I was training for the Columbus marathon in 2012 when my buddy Chad Wolf asked if I would mind crewing and running with him on a 50 mile run in Great Seal Park in Chilicothe, OH at the Not Yo Momma’s 50 Mile. Chad and I have been friends since grade school and I paced him in his first marathon the year before, so of course I said I would help him achieve this lofty goal of running 50 miles. I had never even heard of anyone running over a marathon and it kind of blew my mind. Three days before the race Chad called me and said he signed me up for the 50 mile with him! We ended up placing 1st and 2nd after running 10 hours together and ended the run by playing Rock-Paper-Scissors at the finish line. Two months later I told Chad we needed to sign-up for the Leadville 100, and he had no choice but to say yes.
What are the main distances that you race?
I have worked my way up over the years. Initially I ran a lot of 50ks and loved the 50 mile distance when I first began ultra-racing. In most recent years, I have focused on the 100 mile distance. I do other races throughout the year, 50ks and marathons being the most common; however, I usually train through these and I often don’t consider them to be “peak” races.
What would you consider your biggest running accomplishment?
Last year my friend and I ran our very own 24h Treadmill Challenge. It consisted of just the two of us running on treadmills at his apartment complex. We raised more than $2500 to benefit the Save the Animals Foundation in Cincinnati, OH and both ran over 100 miles. My total was 107.7 miles in 24 hours, still the furthest distance I have ever covered in any length of time.
What have been your recent races?
This year I have raced two 50ks, one marathon and a two 100 milers. Both 50ks have been some staples of my running here in Ohio with the Forget the PR 50k which takes place in Mohican State Park in Loudonville, and the Tie Dye 50k which is right around the corner in Yellow Springs. My marathon was the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, which is my hometown and a race that I have done several times as a relay or full-marathon. The main goal for the year really was to run well at the Western States Endurance 100 Run in Squaw Valley, CA. I was 52nd at Western States. I felt proud, but not satisfied. The Cascade Crest 100 mile in Seattle, Washington was at the end of August. I finished 12th overall in 23:50:12 (that’s about 14:30 per mile for 100 miles).
What are your short- and long-term goals?
I would like to run another fast marathon this fall with the intention of setting a new PR, but haven’t yet signed up for a race.
Long-term I hope to win a 100 miler! Who knows when that might be, but I am training well this year and I feel like every time I get to the starting line healthy there is an opportunity to have a break-out day. I would also like to run a sub-2:45 marathon (note: his current PR is 2:49).
Three races I hope to run in my lifetime are the Badwater 135, Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, and the Hardrock 100 with this last race being perhaps the most difficult to get a ticket to enter - some say Hardrock is a “once in a lifetime” drawing. We'll see!
What do you do outside of running?
I’m in my 4th year of medical school at Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine, and as you might imagine, most of my time is spent in the hospital or the clinic. However, I love cooking and have made this into one of my more productive hobbies. I started eating most plant-based foods and have been a vegetarian for two years so cooking my own meals has been a great source of creativity and adventure! I travel with my friends and family every opportunity I get, whether it is for a weekend adventure in the Red River Gorge or a few weeks in Australia. Often my races are travel destinations and always include friends and family. I guess my life is well summed up with medicine, running, traveling and cooking! I dabble in other things like biking, swimming, yoga and rock climbing, but rarely get into anything too consistent with these.
How do you manage your time with running and life?
It has been an incredible few years with my medical training juxtaposed to these endurance events. I train hard and run most days of the week with mileage getting as high as 100+ mi/week. This has left me with many late study nights, perhaps the worst of which has been during my surgery rotation. I was literally leaving my shoes at my door with a note that read “Go RUN you hardworking SOB”. There were a few days I was working 14-15 hours at the hospital followed by a 4 hour run on the trails. Eventually, the math doesn’t make sense.
I have managed to get in training by doing run-commutes to the hospital or school, and I’ve learned to adjust my schedule, either running late in the day or early in the morning.
What motivates you?
I am a very goal oriented person so establishing goals at the beginning of each year act as big motivators for my training.
The challenge of these long endurance events is also very appealing. My training is meant to extend the point of physical exhaustion with mental exercises geared towards the moments when my body fails. I like to find out how I react in those moments of seemingly inevitable failure.
While there are many trials of pain, I actually find most of my training to be pure bliss with the trails acting as an endless freedom during my stressful medical training. The hardest part of a run is getting out the door, and once I take a few steps, I can feel my mood change.
Stay tuned for the next segments of this spotlight on Teddy "Bear" Bross:
Part II - Training tips for long-distance running
Part III - Fueling and Hydration
Part IV - Injury Prevention and Recovery
Feel free to DM Teddy on Instagram with questions!