Ryan Hoffman heard the common Marathon Training Academy motto, “You have what it takes to run a marathon and change your life.”
He did run a marathon — seven and counting, actually. And it did change his life.
Hoffman says he has always been a runner. During his fifth-grade field day, Hoffman ran a 6:55 mile — wearing jeans. In high school, his favorite event was the 800-meter run (in shorts) and in college, he ran to keep in shape.
Ryan Hoffman’s Running Story
After college, Hoffman set running aside until his wife ran a couple of 10Ks.
“Being at her races motivated me to want to get back into running and we bought my first real pair of running shoes — the Asics Nimbus 17 in January 2016,” he recalls. “I started running in them and didn’t have any pain in my legs or feet those first few runs and remembered how great it felt once you were done with a run.”
Getting older, going longer
Facing 40, Hoffman prioritized his fitness and decided to run his first half marathon that May.
“The positive energy I felt at the starting line at that race is what hooked me on distance running,” he says. “I knew even before the gun went off I wanted to do as many races as I could!”
Hoffman followed that up with two more half marathons in the next six weeks and another two a couple months later. “You could say I was hooked.”
In the fall of 2016, Hoffman found the Marathon Training Academy (MTA) podcast.
“I was immediately hooked on listening to Trevor and Angie (Spencer),” he says of the MTA podcast husband-and-wife team. “I have a 160-mile round trip commute each day for work and I listened to every podcast that was currently available at the time. Every time I would hear their tagline, ‘You have what it takes to run a marathon and change your life,’ I would think to myself, ‘Yes I do, I know I could run a marathon!’”
In January 2017 — a year after starting his long-distance running quest — his wife suggested he do the Fargo Marathon that May. This year, he set a goal to run another marathon for his 42nd birthday in May.
A new goal times three
Then one thing led to another — and another — and Hoffman set out for a new goal, qualifying for Marathon Maniacs.
“It just kind of happened by the schedule of the races,” he says. “At first it wasn’t really a die-hard goal I had. I wanted to run a local marathon (Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon in St. Joe, Minn.) on my 42nd birthday and was also signed up for the Missoula Marathon in July, where we took a ‘run-cation’ and stayed with friends in Missoula. I remembered Angie talking about Marathon Maniacs on a podcast and when I was looking at the calendar I figured out that if I also ran a marathon in June I could qualify for Marathon Maniacs so I signed up for Grandma’s Marathon which gave me three marathons in just over 60 days.”
Hoffman used the MTA four-hour training plan for the first of the three marathons. “I truthfully just winged my training based off of how I felt,” he says, about the second and third marathons. “I basically focused on recovery between each marathon and ran shorter distances without doing any long runs.”
He says Missoula “was the hardest one I’ve done.” But his motivation to qualify for Marathon Maniacs pulled him to the finish line.
“Knowing when I finished, no matter the time, I was going to be a Marathon Maniac kept me putting one foot in front of the other,” Hoffman says. “Many lessons were learned with it being my first travel marathon. I didn’t eat right leading up to the race, felt dehydrated, and was running at elevation for the first time. It was the hottest race I’d ever run so I was having all kinds of cramping problems starting at Mile 19 but I knew no matter what, I was going to finish that race. Even though I finished about 45 minutes slower than the two previous marathons … I finished!”
Thankful for MTA
His running journey has re-defined Hoffman.
“I love being an inspiration to my kids and setting the example for them,” he says of his 10- and 7-year-old boys who have run 5Ks with their parents. “They love the bling as much as dad does! I am amazed at how fast they are, which comes naturally for them as it did for me as a kid. The oldest one loves being the ‘fastest kid in his class’ and both are on their way to becoming great athletes. Running has also given my wife and I a passion to share and it’s been great to go and do races together as she’s run many half marathons too.”
With his Marathon Maniacs goal achieved, Hoffman — who has been in the Air Force for 18 years — is eyeing the Marine Corps Marathon in 2019. “And my long-term bucket-list race is Boston, but I’ll have to get really serious about training. I feel like I’ll have a shot once I hit the next age bracket.”
Hoffman knows that his goals are more than just dreams, thanks to MTA. After all, 16 months ago he had not finished a marathon.
“I’d been a listener of MTA for a few months and I wanted access to their training plans so I joined the academy in late December 2016,” he says. “I ran seven marathons in 14 months and to date have logged 2,577 injury-free miles because of MTA. The knowledge they give you is priceless. Listening to them prepared me for every step of each marathon I’ve done. It was great to meet them both in June at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, I hope they both know what a tremendous impact they’ve had on my life!”
Name: Ryan Hoffman
Hometown: St Cloud, Minn.
Number of years running: Distance running, 2.5
Miles per week: 25-35
Point of pride: The kick I’ve always had at the end of a race
Favorite race distance: Marathon
Pre-race food: Lasagna the night before; the morning of the race — bagel with peanut butter and Generation Ucan
Piece of gear: My shoes. I’ve been through eight pairs of Nimbus 17s and a couple other brands but I love the Nimbus 17s although they are getting harder and harder to find in my size!
Inspirational song: Eye of the Tiger
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