Brandon Nied, a Reno resident, is preparing for his first season as a pro triathlete. Brandon is relatively new to the sport of triathlon, but he has had a meteoric rise. His hard work and dedication has landed him an invitation to spend 3 months living and training at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Before Brandon heads to Colorado this summer, he has a busy spring planned. ActiveReno had a chance to speak with Brandon regarding his upcoming races, goals in the sport, and much more!
ActiveReno: How did you get into the sport of triathlon?
Brandon Nied: I initially started at Reno High School with no ambitions of being anything but a pure runner. When I went on to run in college at Cal Poly, I quickly found how aggressive the training style was. I ended up getting hurt in my first semester, and spent much of my time in the pool to maintain my fitness level.
Upon returning to Reno for the summer, I competed in the Pyramid Lake Triathlon simply because it sounded like something to do. While I was hooked on the sport after this, I still had every intention to run for Cal Poly again. My triathlon fate was sealed, however, when I broke my jaw near the end of that summer in a cycling race and was no longer invited to be part of the cross country team.
AR: You recently became a pro triathlete…. What’s the process to become pro?
BN: USA Triathlon sets up several different qualification criteria to pick from. There are events where the top 3 amateurs automatically receive their “pro card,” as well as the Amateur National Championships awarding pro cards to the top 5 overall. I missed out on these criteria several times during the past year. The Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon was a top 3 qualifier, and I ended up missing 3rd by just 12 seconds. This included getting a flat tire near the beginning of the bike leg. I was similarly disappointed when I missed a top-5 finish at the National Championships by 12 seconds again. The criteria I finally met was finishing top 7 in 3 races with over 500 competitors.
AR: What events are you competing in in 2013?
BN: My race schedule for the coming season is very tentative and dependent on my results early on. The International Triathlon Union (ITU), Triathlon’s governing body, puts a limit on the field size of professional races. Of those who enter, the pros with the highest world ranking (based on accumulated points) get the initial entrance spots and then the entries roll down. Since I haven’t raced professionally yet, I haven’t accumulated any points, and therefore have no world ranking.
The first two professional races that I have officially made the start lists for are in Claremont, FL on March 9 and Sarasota, FL a week later on March 16. I’ll be attempting to enter races all over the U.S., Canada, and even Europe this year. This will be on top of doing some local races in the Reno/Tahoe area.
AR: What’s your goal for 2013? Goal in 5 years? Ultimate triathlon goal?
BN: Hands down my ultimate goal for the 2013 season is to qualify for the Under 23 World Championships in London, GB. Qualifying would be a major step in my progression as an elite international triathlete. This, along with any other goals, lead up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. My new motto has been that I want to “Take Reno to Rio”. The Olympic Triathlon truly is the pinnacle of short course racing, so qualifying for this race would mean everything to me.
AR: Who are you sponsored by?
BN: I’ve already been extremely fortunate with the amount of local support I’ve received this early in my career. Some of my sponsors include Nature’s Bakery, Reno Running Company, Brooks Running, and 509 Creative. I also have to give special recognition to Lash Turville of John Dermody Ventures, and Dave Fish of Eclipse Pizza. Lash has been helping me out since well before I was anywhere near the level of competition I am now. Dave has been my boss at Eclipse for almost 6 years, and through that entire time has never had any issues with me missing work to go race.
AR: What keeps you motivated?
BN: In all honesty, goals are not my primary motivation. There really is nothing I get more satisfaction out of than pushing myself to the point of excruciating pain, and then pushing some more. It’s really amazing to see exactly what the mind can make the body do, and how far into that “dark place” we can take ourselves. I’ve found that I often feel the best after making myself feel awful. This euphoria is what makes it easy to get out the door every day.
AR: Describe a typical training week?
BN: Starting with the swim, I’m typically in the pool 6 days per week, with anywhere between 6 and 8 workouts during those days. Since swimming is my weakest sport, it has been the biggest focus for me over the winter. I’m on the bike either 4 or 5 days per week, with high intensity work on 3 of those days. On the run, I’ve noticed that for me it doesn’t matter how high my mileage is as long as I get a massive amount of high intensity work. I’m typically on the track 3 days per week going very hard, as well as having one hard steady state run per week. The 5th day is always just a long run.
All this training usually equates to anywhere between 22 and 25 hours per week.
Why do you enjoy living and training in Reno?
BN: In my opinion, Reno is the best kept secret in the endurance sports world. Everyone flocks to places like Boulder, CO or Flagstaff, AZ for the benefits of altitude training and the surplus of trails and such. The reality is, however, that the Reno/Tahoe area has many of these same benefits. Reno may not be at 7,000+ feet in altitude, but there is still a massive amount of aerobic benefit to be gained from the 4,300+ feet Reno sits at.
The trail systems in Reno are easily some of the best I’ve ever experienced in my travels. In terms of cycling, Reno is surrounded by mountains, making every ride that much tougher. This is all leaving out what is only about a 20 minute drive from Reno—Lake Tahoe. Maybe something we take a bit for granted, Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been for training.
To find out more about Brandon and follow his progress, visit his website: www.brandonnied.com and follow him on Twitter @Nied4Speed.