There was a red velvet Nutella bomb chocolate chip cookie waiting at the end.
At a certain point during your first duathlon event – a competitive race that combines rigorous outdoor biking with running – your legs might feel like they aren’t completely attached to your body. Like Bambii taking his first steps, they will start to have a mind of their own. In fact, nothing truly prepares you for how your legs will feel at the end of that last run.
You might feel like you’re just going to fall.
And then you remember: there’s a decadent, sweet and warm red velvet Nutella bomb chocolate chip cookie over that finish line. And you don’t get it unless you finish.
Somehow, each impact becomes a little easier. Motivation on the last leg of any race comes from anywhere you can find it. (For this race, specifically, it came from a bakery in Brooklyn.)
That’s how it was for Lauren Brown’s first Delaware Valley Duathlon. She beat her personal goal of one hour and forty-five minutes by two minutes. And she didn’t fall. Hell. Yeah.
She’s since gone on to place first overall in four additional duathlons. But Lauren’s path to victory didn’t always involve running shoes.
From Gym Sneakers to High Heels
“When I do something, I commit to it 1000% percent, otherwise I don’t do it,” Lauren, JERSEY STRONG’s District Manager of Personal Training, said. “I’ve always been active. I think I joined my first gym at 15 years old.”
In 2009, Lauren finished her first half marathon. That’s when it became apparent that the little tweaks with her knee were going from bad to worse.
“My knee was bothering me a lot. But I have to have something in my life that I can try to win,” she said. “I like to be competitive.”
So, when she saw a female IFBB Figure Pro posing in a fitness magazine she thought, I can do that.
The International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB) is an organization that supports the sport of professional body building. Most IFBB athletes compete in order to gain an IFBB pro card, otherwise known as the highest standard of professional body building.
Think of it as the Olympic medal of body building.
It was in 2009 that Lauren made some big changes. She had begun a structured physical training program, earned her personal training certification, switched careers, and fully entered the industry.
“That’s when I started taking things to a higher level with my fitness,” she said.
In 2010, Lauren took the National Physique Committee (NPC) stage for the first time, after just one year of training.
“I felt like I blacked out on stage, I don’t really remember much of my time up there. And I work in a gym. I wear sneakers every day. To walk across a stage perfectly in high heels was definitely nerve-wracking as hell.”
Lauren started competing at the NPC, the National Physique Committee, which is a local level competition. Placing in a national qualifier was her ticket to nationals. From there, she competed in two national shows. Then, just two short years after her first appearance on stage, Lauren turned Pro at Team Universe in Teaneck, NJ.
This meant she could begin competing against people from across the globe. She went on to compete in Pittsburgh Pro and New York Pro. It was in New York that she placed top 10.
The training regimen of an IFBB pro is extremely difficult. Along with an intense weight lifting routine, IFBB pros reach peak physical fitness by meticulously structuring their diet. There’s no room for “cheat days” when competing at the pro level. In other words, a red velvet cookie or a glass of wine is completely out of the question.
After three straight years of competing, the restrictive training and dieting became less appealing to Brown. “Anytime my mindset isn’t at 1000% investment, it’s time to find something else,” she said.
From High Heels to Rolling Hills
In addition to scheduling her weekly Wednesday hamburger for dinner, Lauren registered for one duathlon a month to keep herself motivated.
While Lauren was training for IFBB, her cardio was just that, cardio. “I never felt like I was dying,” she remembered.
Enter: cardio intervals. A ‘brick’ is a style of training that incorporates intense back-to-back intervals of running and biking. “It’s designed to help mimic what happens on race day. I didn’t do enough leading up to my first race, which is why I felt so terrible.”
In addition to her daily workouts, Lauren completes brick training every Saturday morning. And it seems to be working. Lauren has placed first place overall female in four duathlons, including Ocean City and Hightstown. Her fastest time so far is 1:07:55.
But it hasn’t always been a piece of cake. “Whenever I’m struggling during a race I think of my Uncle Alan. He had a heart and liver transplant in 2012. I think of how positive he was despite all he went through. The difference is that I chose to put myself through this pain and he didn’t. For me, there is an end in sight. My pain will eventually end so I think to myself, ‘just suck it up.’ My uncle is my inspiration.”
Lauren continues to train for consecutive duathlons. By registering in advance, she holds herself accountable to her goal. Accountability, she says, is key to victory.
And now, she is considering training for a Triathlon, which will push her to become a better, faster swimmer.
“When is it ever going to be the right time to put yourself out there? You have to take the steps necessary to make yourself feel better, look better, or whatever your goal is. Nothing changes you if you’re always staying comfortable.”
Even the small changes, like rewarding herself with a very tasty bowl of cereal after her brick training on Saturdays, has made all the difference.
“Who knows where the road is going to go with duathlons or triathlons, but I am in a happier place physically and mentally with the changes I’ve made.”
Are you ready to hold yourself accountable? We’d love to help you get started. What are you waiting for? Get uncomfortable today.