Mile News


All Hope is Gone #2: Brandon Hudgins’ Story

September 26, 2014

Living the life of a sub-elite distance runner takes a stubborn and motivated individual.

BBTM met Brandon Hudgins at the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile earlier this year, beginning to learn his story. Brandon was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, an autoimmune disease, which affects only approximately 10-20 in one million every year. You can learn more about Granulomotosis here. After early career successes, he had to learn how to run all over again and is yet determined to reach his goals, including a sub-4 minute Mile. He ran 4:01.64 in Greenville, SC at the Blue Shoes Mile earlier this year. This is Brandon's second article for BBTM, which focuses on the life of a "sub-elite" runner. You can read his first piece here.

By Brandon Hudgins

Running and racing is one of the most pure and simple activities. It is you racing against a given field of competition over a given distance. The Greeks have been doing it since at least 776 B.C., but in its modern form it is more political sport where the fastest runners aren’t always guaranteed a spot on the starting line.

Living the life of a sub-elite distance runner takes a stubborn and motivated individual. Most sub-elites don’t have big name coaches, shoe contracts, group support, agents, or alter-g’s and massage therapist at the ready. This is my experience on the trials I have dealt with that I’m sure anyone pursuing their dreams can relate to, especially my fellow “sub-elites”.

I graduated from Appalachian State University in 2011 and aside from the travails of dealing with and managing my auto-immune disorder, Wegenere’s Granulomatosis (read more in article #1), I’m sure my day-to-day experience is similar to other Track & Field athletes. I juggle working 50 hours a week, training another 20 hours and then find time to email or call race directors to get into upcoming competitions.

Let me pause on this last point. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is a difficult one. Often times I am emailing directors or officials that have never heard of me or brushed me off because of my lack of bigger performances, especially during my years of battling an auto-immune disorder. When I am not being taken seriously that generally involves me (a) not getting into the race or (b) making more phone calls or emails to beg other people to help vouch for me and send in an email themselves. Sometimes this works, other times it doesn’t. So, I have been stuck running a lot of the same races I have been running since college. Here is a typical week block of training during the middle of my season:

Monday
8:30am: Wake up
9:30am: Personal Training Session at Westglow Spa
11:30am: Regular training run (8-11 miles on trails)
1:30pm: Weight lifting session
3:00pm: Work (Guest Services rep at Westglow Resort & Spa)
11:30pm: Secondary run (3-5 miles)
12:00am: Dinner and unwind
1:00am: Bed

Tuesday
8:30am: Wake up
9:30am: Personal Training Session at Westglow Spa
11:30am: Pre-race workout (total 10-12 miles)
2:00pm: Nap in locker room at work if lucky
3:00pm: Work
11:30pm: Secondary run (3-5 miles)
12:00am: Dinner and unwind
1:00am: Bed

Wednesday
8:30am: Wake up
9:30am: Personal Training Session at Westglow Spa
11:30am: Regular training run (8-11 miles on trails)
1:30pm: Mobility work
2:00pm: Nap in locker room at work if lucky
3:00pm: Work
11:30pm: Midnight - secondary run (3-5 miles)
12:00am: Dinner and unwind
1:00am: Bed

Thursday
8:30am: Wake up
9:30am: Personal Training Session at Westglow Spa
11:30am: Regular training run (8-11 miles on trails)
1:30pm: Weight lifting session
Travel to Raleigh to race

Friday
Race 1500m

Saturday
Easy 5 miles and travel back to Boone

Sunday
8:30am: Long run (16 miles)
3:00pm: Work
11:30pm: Dinner and unwind
12:00pm: Bed

See, not very fun or interesting at all. I work a lot and run a lot. It’s long hours and a lot of hard work, but who cares? Millions of people around the world work hard long hours and suffer in thousands of different ways. This is why I have taken to blogging about my life outside and around the sport that I know many people can relate to, not just runners.

Everyone has to deal with different types of adversity in their life; it’s how you respond to these events that make you into the person you are today. Many of my blogs deal with things in my personal life that have taught me the lessons that have made me a stronger person. For instance, one of my most read blogs this year was titled “Walking through Hell for Happiness.” It’s not about running times or about how training and racing are hard. It’s about dealing with being unhappy and doing things you don’t want to do in order to chase your dream. In my case this year that has meant working long hours at a job that is not in my field of passion and training alone a lot. Neither of these are ideal for an elite athlete, but it’s what I have to do to chase my dreams.

Anyone that has ever gone all in on a dream and refused to give up that dream can relate to these kind of stories. This is what meet promoters, general public and media can grab a hold of and gives them something to write about and hopefully let you into their race. It’s not just a write up about a bunch of faceless skinny people racing each other.

I recently rediscovered a quote from Malcom X that applies well to this…

“So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”

Be more than a time, be more than a mileage number and stand for something and make some noise! Till next time…

EDITOR'S NOTE: Brandon achieved his lifetime dream of breaking 4 minutes with a 3:59.67 clocking at the Sir Walter Miler in Raleigh, NC on August 7, 2015. Bravo, Brandon!

“Brandon is the personification of the two guiding lights for runners that were first taught me by my coach. Double knot your shoelaces. Be prepared. Brandon knows how to prepare himself mentally and physically. You won if you've beaten yourself. The real competition is internal. Both as a runner, racer and human being, Brandon knows the real struggle is within.” Jim Watkins, one of Brandon's high school coaches and a member of the GA Tech Athletic Hall of Fame

 

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