EMS professionals are challenged to balance work, family, and other obligations while also staying or striving for mental and physical fitness. The Everyday EMS Athlete is a regular column to recognize and learn from other EMS professionals that are setting and meeting fitness goals. This edition was contributed by paramedic and ultra runner Brandon Mulnix.
Q: What is your EMS job?
I am a Field Supervisor with Montcalm Country EMS in Michigan. My duties include being a paramedic when need be, but mostly equipment, supplies, and maintenance of our 9 Ambulances, 13 Rescues, and other staff vehicles.
Q: What are your athletic pursuits and goals?
My ultimate goal is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Along the way I want to complete:
- 50 Ultra Marathons in 50 States
- Run across the United States
- Complete a bucket list of races that include: Leadville 100, Western States100, and at least one 100 miler in less than 24 hours.
Q: Do you have a race, lifestyle changes, or other accomplishments you are particularly proud of?
In October 2009 I could not run a mile with my daughter due to being over weight and way over lazy. On November 1st of that year I weighed in at 270 pounds and started a journey of health and fitness that I hope doesn’t end. My goal was simply run a marathon in the fall of 2010. On the way I finished my first Ultra Marathon of 50K. Since running the fall marathon, I have went on to run 6 ultras finishing 5 of them. The longest was the Burning River 100 miler which I finished in a dream time of 26:46 (3 hours faster than expected). My hardest accomplishment to date was not running 100 miles, but running 50 miles with my jaw being wired shut – See Article Here.
My jaw was wired shut from a car accident that happened on my way home from work in February 2011, and after the initial surgery and recovery I had to be wired a second time after the titanium plate in my jaw broke. So I made the most of it, by running the races that I had already committed to.
Q: Can you share a few tips to help other EMS professionals to set and accomplish fitness goals?
EMS all to often stands for Earn Money Sitting. I decided to make a choice in 2009 to change that to Earn Money Sweating. While sitting in parking lots around our county I made the choice to get out and walk. I found walking a set distance or time away from the ambulance and doing loops or out and back made my shifts healthier. Using tools like LiveStrong’s Calorie counter I learned just how much “CRAP” I was ingesting everyday, and started to eat better. I will never say I went on a diet. I didn’t stop eating the fast food, I just made better choices and burned more calories than I consumed.
I encourage all EMS providers to stop sitting and do something. Its just as easy to “Get the 411 about what’s going on” while walking around the outside of the parking lot or local park, instead of the comfort of the trucks or vans you park your ever growing rear end in. Most companies just tell you where you are supposed to be, they usually refrain from telling you what you can do.
Set goals and stick to them. Once upon a time you set a goal of becoming a Paramedic or EMT and you followed through for the “love of it”. Now its time to set goals in your personal life. Some people choose to “Run a Marathon” or simply lose 10 pounds. I found by just trying to lose weight I could find it again to easily. By setting the goal of running a marathon, I lost 10 pounds, became healthier, and accomplished something that nobody could take away from me. Compare that to a diet and what have you accomplished. Go bigger than you can imagine. I always thought the impossible was just out of reach. What I realized about myself was that “Impossible” is a lot farther away and every time I reach out and test my limits I find the “Possible”. So I encourage EMS providers to reach for the impossible and finally learn what is possible in your life.
Q: Are there organizations and sponsors that support your training and racing efforts?
My journey has brought me close to a number of companies that have supporting values. Some of my favorites are Good Gear– maker of bamboo clothing that doesn’t stink, Soft Star Shoes– maker of the minimalist shoes I wore to complete my first 100 mile race. Reading has been one of the biggest influences on my training and a few books have inspired and educated me: Barefoot Running Step by Step: Barefoot Ken Bob, Running on Empty: Marshall Ulrich, and Born to Run: Chris McDougall
Q: Do you have any final thoughts to add and how can readers connect with you?
Running is about enjoyment, not about pain. Too many people use “Running Hurts” as an excuse to not get moving. Running doesn’t have to hurt. I started out like I had so many times before. Run a few times and then the pain started in. The enjoyment of running came when I learned how to run pain free. It required “Backward Thinking”, but after learning the facts I took off my shoes and ran barefoot. After a summer of stress fractures and knee pain I wanted freedom. After taking off my shoes running has only gotten better. I don’t run barefoot all the time, but when I do my form is corrected almost immediately. When not barefoot I wear minimalist shoes that mimic being barefoot (not the toe shoes). This change has resulted in healthier feet, knees, shines, and my back doesn’t’ bother me.