#099 – What does it take to be a high performance athlete? What lessons can we learn from a lifetime dedicated to sports and military service? We delve into these questions and more with our special guest, Dan Browne, United States Army National Guard Retired Lieutenant Colonel, former Olympian, and Sales Manager, Government Division at Polar.
Imagine standing on the starting line of the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, waiting for the gun to go off, and all the training and hard work comes down to this moment. This is the reality for Dan as he shares his journey from the high school track to the Olympic arena. He imparted valuable insights on how to deal with setbacks, the significance of mental strength and resiliency, and the importance of a well-laid plan B.
Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting your fitness journey, get ready to be inspired and take away actionable strategies to reach your goals.
Learn the important pillars of high performance
The critical importance of follow-through, even when you want to quit
Ways to overcome setbacks and use them to propel you to success
How Polar technology can give you an edge in your training and performance
Dan Browne is a 2004 Olympic Track & Field team member (10,000 meters & Marathon), United States Army National Guard Retired Lieutenant Colonel, 17 time US National Champion on Road, Track & Cross Country, 2 time NCAA All-American as a collegiate athlete in the U.S. Military Academy, and Sales Manager, Government Division at Polar – fitness tracker and heart rate monitor company.
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Richard Conner: [00:00:00] Hi, my friend, have you plateaued in your running performance or simply wondering what will it take to get to the next level? Well today, you will find answers to your questions. As we sit down with an Olympic athlete. And talk about the pillars to improving your performance as a runner and how applying this information will put you on the path of becoming a high performing athlete. Hope you enjoy.
Intro: Welcome to inspire to run podcast. Here, you will find inspiration, whether you’re looking to take control of your health and fitness, or you are a seasoned runner looking for community and some extra motivation, you will hear inspiring stories from amazing runners, along with helpful tips from fitness experts.
Now, here’s your host Richard Conner.
Richard Conner: Welcome to inspire to run podcast. We are here today with a special, special guest, Dan Browne. You are going to love this conversation. I had the chance to meet Dan just a few weeks ago. Let me tell you a [00:01:00] little bit about him and what we’re going to talk about today. First. He’s a 2004 Olympic track and field team member, 10, 000 meters and marathon United States army national guard, retired lieutenant colonel, 17 time us national champion on road track and cross country.
Thank you. Two time NCAA All American as a collegiate athlete at the U. S. Military Academy and a sales manager for the government division at Polar. My favorite fitness tracker and heart rate monitor company. So excited to have Dan on the show today. Welcome to the show, Dan.
Dan Browne: Hey, thank you very much, Richard. Really appreciate it.
Richard Conner: Yes. Yes, of course. And you know, what we were talking before, I love your mindset and philosophy about high performers and high performance athletes, and you just have such a rich background that I think would be very interesting. For our community to learn about and just kind of learn your philosophy and mindset to help them along their journey.
So, [00:02:00] you know, we’d love to just kind of kick off the conversation and just hear a little bit about your background and your journey.
Dan Browne: Yeah, absolutely. Well, , you know, first of all, I just want to say, , it’s been, it’s been an amazing journey to, , to get the opportunity to explore, my parameters. Athletically and running and endurance has been kind of like that common denominator in that, in that journey. I started running at a young age, uh, ran through high school, had some decent success at the high school ranks.
, and, but, uh, still had some business to do, , never winning a state title. And so. , you know, continued on into the collegiate ranks, uh, went to the United States Military Academy, , a tough place to, uh, to go to, uh, to continue that journey. But at the same time, looking back on it, it was an excellent choice to develop, , professionally and, and personally on the, on the athletic side and, uh, in the same way had some, um, [00:03:00] You know, success while I was there, um, competed at the Olympic trials in 1996 when I was a junior, uh, or we refer to as a cow at West Point.
And then, , you know, senior year had some, had some continued success interspersed with some setbacks. You know, uh, life doesn’t always, uh, give you everything you want. And so, , did not win an NCAA title when I was there, but then I took that, , I took those setbacks and really, , reorganized my training plans and philosophy and came out that following year as a new lieutenant.
and, uh, in 1998, I won five U. S. national titles with sort of that, that, that refocused mindset and, um, you know, continued on, , mixing, um, you know, a career with these army world class athlete program and, and as a logistics officer, , ultimately transferred to the Oregon national guard. And then, . I then, , continued on, , to, uh, as a National Guard officer, moved to [00:04:00] Oregon and then competed with, under a program called the Nike Oregon Project in 2002.
Ultimately allowing me to, uh, compete at the, uh, and succeed at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, , 2004.
Richard Conner: That’s incredible. And, you know. I can’t express how excited I am to have you on the show. Just have an Olympic athlete here to kind of share your incredible journey with us. And, you know, I love what you said about not only the successes and the wins, but also the setbacks and, you know, all of that together is part of kind of being a high performer and a high performance athlete, it’s, you’re not always going to win, but.
You know, you’re going to have those setbacks and what you learn from it is really going to determine, you know, your future success. So, you know, we’d love to hear a little bit more about that. Like, what are the, what are the cases where, you know, you were winning and where the cases where you had those setbacks and when did you learn from them?
Dan Browne: Yeah, so, overarching principle, uh, what I would say is that, [00:05:00] bottom line is that you gotta get, get back up one more time and you fall down. , and the mind is the key there. , everyone experiences setbacks in life. , and, but then, but the, the key is to figure out ahead of time what you’re going to do about it when they come your way.
It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. , I’m sure everyone, uh, listening, uh, understands that. And so the, the key principle is to, , determine ahead of time what you’re going to do when that happens. , many examples from, from high school, you know, I remember. , I got second place to the same guy in, uh, in the cross country, 3000 meters and the 1500 meters my senior year.
, I think if you develop a mindset to let setbacks help fuel your future performance. That’s, that’s the key and in terms of constantly iterating toward achieving at a higher level.
Richard Conner: That’s for sure. And I can imagine that it’s not easy for someone to do that. If you, if you’re looking to get a certain time in a race, if you’re looking to, you know, get [00:06:00] on the podium and it just doesn’t happen that day, I’m sure it’s not easy for someone just to, you know, dust themselves off, pick themselves up and kind of move on and, and figure out where to go next.
So, you know, what are the things that. Someone could do to help put them in that right mindset or be positive about the future.
Dan Browne: Well, I think the first thing to do is, you know, when you have setbacks, just understand that it’s a natural process to feel, , you know, sad or despondent over that performance. It’s, and that’s okay. Give yourself a period of time to allow those emotions to, uh, happen. I remember, you know, after I.
Didn’t do as well as I wanted at the state championships in Oregon. I’m taking some time and talking with my coach later and just in expressing those things. And that’s a key part of. Um, that process because, that feeling that you’re get, you get when you’re, when you don’t accomplish your goals, if you don’t feel that way, then [00:07:00] from my perspective, it would mean that, well, maybe, maybe that goal wasn’t as important as you were, you know, for you.
So like, it’s a good thing. To feel that way. The key then, though, is give yourself that time to process and then come back with, , you know, a really good, thoughtful analysis of what happened and work with, you know, people that are close in your life to then give you some, you know, good guidance and pointers about, Hey, what are things that I could maybe do a little bit differently?
In today’s information age, there is so much amazing information out there, and I’ve been blessed in my life to have with. Many great mentors, both on the cognitive performance side, such as Dr. Nate Zinser at West Point Center for Handsome Performance, as well as a gentleman I’ve worked with in Denver named Dr.
Justin Ross, , great, psychologist out there. It’s, you know, exploring the mind and having that. Fearless curiosity to explore your, top level performances is it’s a life process [00:08:00] and it doesn’t stop. And, uh, if you think of it that way, I think it will then help you to frame , the setback and then to frame it into something that can be very, very positive because that’s a.
That’s a key aspect is, you know, being authentic about it.
Richard Conner: Yeah, for sure. And I love what you said about, you know, getting support and with the coaches to help you with the mind. And it’s interesting because, you know, for my story, just about four years ago, five years ago, I ran my first obstacle course race, and that was the time where I really started to get back into running and I did the race.
But after I finished, I was like, I could do this. A whole lot better. So I got a coach, but my mentality with the coach was just tell me what to do and I’ll go and do it. I don’t need anything else. I don’t need any motivation or inspiration, like I’m pretty self-motivated. But what I’ve learned over the years is that I absolutely needed someone to be there to push me to do more, to be better, uh, and to do things that I’ve never done before.
And it’s just been an incredible journey. [00:09:00] That I don’t think I would have been on without the support of a coach. So I really appreciate, you know, what you said about that
Dan Browne: Yeah. And I think, I think, um, as a coach, you know, I’ve, I’ve had a natural evolution, , being from going from an athlete to, to coaching advisor role. And, , you know, one of the things that I try and inculcate into my team is the idea of like, not just what to think, but how to think, , because that will then translate into your ability to process.
in real time as you’re trying to, as you’re having, as you’re in a performance or a competition. And, uh, that, that helps develop your mastery, which I think is, is a key, key aspect. I learned from some of the best in the business. , Alberto Salazar, Bob Larson, , Joe Vigil, , a number of other great, um, mentors in my life who’ve, uh, kind of poured into me and I.
You know, do you hope to do the same thing with the next generation?
Richard Conner: for sure. I, you know, I love to talk more about [00:10:00] that, how to think part. And I want to share a quick story. You know, when you’re talking about setbacks before just another quick story about one of my races this year, I ran the Brooklyn half marathon. For the first time, and it was a way for me to run a race in New York City and see what it’s all about.
And I really just wanted to run it, but I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, and I’m thinking I’m going to PR. I’ve never run the course before. And I did, I did everything wrong. I didn’t feel properly. Uh, before the race, I didn’t sleep all the night before everything. That could have gone wrong, went wrong, but then after, so after the race, of course, I didn’t feel really great about myself or the race, but just a month later, there was a father’s day race and it was a five miler.
So not quite a half marathon, but I ran it with this in the sense of, I needed redemption. Right. I needed to know that I could run a good race and I felt really great about the race and I was very positive in my thinking. And, you know, the end result is I did even better than I thought I could in that five miler father’s day race.
So, you know, it’s [00:11:00] really interesting what you talked about setbacks, but how, you know, how you kind of get back up and how you’re thinking about, you know, how you’re going to perform in the future. So. So I know a little bit about how I was talking to myself internally, but, you know, tell me a little bit about what are the things that we could do in terms of how we talk to herself or how do we think, you know, during these tough times.
Dan Browne: Yeah. I mean, you hit on a really neat point with that. you know, you had kind of the near miss and then, and then you, you kind of regrouped and had a greater performance, I think inspiration is, is definitely a, a powerful fuel for that great performance in a lot of ways. And. Everyone is different in terms of what inspires them.
, and I think it’s very, I think it’s very important to, to very, to be very thoughtful about not just the, what you’re doing, but kind of why you’re doing it, because it’s amazing the power that can be generated, by thinking critically about [00:12:00] why you’re doing things. What is what is this inspiration rooted in?
Because, , that’s when I’ve I’ve personally found in my life to have had some of the biggest breakthroughs and performances when I’ve been able to, , channel that inspired effort, especially in a, especially in a sport as challenging as endurance running. And, uh, athletics where you’re really kind of, you’re kind of pushing it on the red line for a lot of times.
And, and, um, you have to stay very focused throughout because. You know, you’re there in your own mind, right? You’re, you’re doing a very physical activity, but it’s also very mental. And, and only you know when you’ve given it your best effort, or when you’ve really pushed it, , to, you know, to, to your, the highest level that you can reach toward.
And so, it’s, it’s that journey. , I would definitely say that, , you know, mastering your mind and how it works is, is a critical component. , you know, you hear [00:13:00] the sports psychology stuff that’s out there about, , visualization and mindfulness. It’s all, it’s all right on, you’ve got it, but you’ve got to practice the tools and, , that’s, and that’s what it really kind of.
comes down to and do it consistently, a consistent application of good principles will yield excellent results. , I often say, you know, the more things, you know, as you, you know, the harder you work and the smarter you work, the luckier, you know, you’re going to be because really, you know, I say that facetiously because It’s, there’s very actually very little luck when it comes to high performance at, , at the Olympic level and or even if you’re just trying to just optimize your own personal performance.
It’s, it’s not a lucky thing. It’s a, it’s something that is, planned, planned out. But at the same time, you know, you also have to think and you also have to also sometimes take a little pressure off yourself and recognize that this is a journey and that you’re not going to be [00:14:00] perfect and nobody is.
And to, and to give yourself that, that ability to like, , have that margin, if you will. because I think that in the mindset, sometimes if you’re, and I’ve, I’ve been a victim of this too, where like, if you just always have like, I have to be perfect, or I have to do this. Sometimes that state of overall arousal can actually be a negative thing in your life.
, So there really is truly a balance in terms of, you know, when you think of the sympathetic and parasympathetic system within your body, you want to have a certain level of arousal to achieve performance when it comes time for race day, but at the same time, it needs to be very channeled, , and, and not, and, and you can’t, you don’t want it to go so far that you’re not getting the proper amount of sleep and recovery because you’re As with most, you know, any physical activity, you know, you have, you have the training that you’re trying to do, but then you also, the other half of training, I [00:15:00] often say is recovery.
And if you’re not really good at recovering from it, your, your, your training won’t, won’t get to new levels. So it’s kind of a balancing act. And, uh, I’ve trained with a lot of international athletes and I’ve seen how they are, are masters of recovery. And also working very hard. And I think that’s, that’s kind of the key in today’s age.
It’s very hard because you know, we’re go, go, go. you know, I’ll kind of, I’ll kind of rest when I’m dead mentality, but like, ultimately if, if what you’re trying to do is try and get the best of yourself, you need to be at least very cognizant of the idea of recovery being important.
Richard Conner: Yeah, that that’s for sure. And that’s something that I’ve tried to focus on, especially these past couple of years, because, you know, like you said, it’s this hustle culture. It’s a go, go, go. And, you know, you got to do more. You got to be better. And you got a lot of things going on in life. A lot of stimulation.
Um, from different areas. So it’s, it’s hard to do. So I, I feel like I’ve gotten better at it, but I’m not [00:16:00] great. So, um, you know, so I’m using device, you know, we’ll, we’ll talk about a little bit later. So I’m using devices to kind of help me with that and I’m learning all about it. So, so, but, you know, thank you for sharing that.
That’s for sure. An important point about not only the training, but also the recovery, you know, and I’d love to hear a little bit more about your journey, your story about, you know, what are some of the races, um, that were, you know, You know, successful races for you races where you’ve learned, um, and then, yeah, share a little bit about that with us.
Dan Browne: Yeah, absolutely. And I think just to add one final, one thought to what you were mentioning, I think one of the keys when it comes to when you are busy. The key is to really do a thoughtful process about the priorities in your life. That to me is the key. Once you identify your life priorities, it makes the what you’re going to do throughout the day that much easier.
You know, when you have those guiding principles, like, Hey, these are my, these are my priorities then then just put them in, put them in stone. And once [00:17:00] they’re there, then it will help figure out, okay, what do I do now? You know, type of thing. So, , yeah, I’ve had a number of different, Experiences that have been very shaping in my life, , on, on the running side.
you know, everything from, you know, running a sub four minute mile at the, at the army Navy indoor track meet when I was a senior at West point. , that was, that was quite a rocking experience. , there at Gil’s field house. Um, it was. , amazing to be able to be the first cadet to have done that. , you know, I, the interesting thing about that is, is that this is, this is that thing about life is like immediately following that I hadn’t, I experienced a setback with, with a stress fracture and it sort of took me out of that, , being able to perform at the NCAA level that year.
So. All this to say is that like, you know, you, you know, it happens, you have these great, you know, you, you, you work hard toward these successes, but it doesn’t mean that life is just going to go perfectly, you know, thereafter or whatever. So another example, , that I think back to [00:18:00] is, , well, even, even the Olympics in 2004.
. When I was working with, um, Alberto and, and the, uh, Oregon project, you know, I set kind of an ambitious goal to try and make it in the 10,000 meters and also the marathon team. And those are two separate Olympic trials contested, you know, in February and July of 2004. And so they required two different, , phases of peaking and also the Olympics.
And so it had, we had to be very thoughtful about the training process leading up to it. but I remember, you know, being in, you know, Birmingham, Alabama, and, you know, that this being ultimately the first place that would make an Olympic team and one of the more memorable experiences for me just because of having, you know, been a professional athlete for quite a while.
And then. Realizing that last mile that I was going to, you know, the, the, my Olympic dream was going to come to fruition. I was going to make an Olympic team, um, was a very, , meaningful experience for me at a very deep level [00:19:00] after many, many, many thousands of miles of training. , so that was, that was, um, , excellent.
I guess, um, another maybe example of, uh. Meaningful race to me that that maybe wasn’t. Okay. So then when I went to the Athens Olympics, , I had, um, set an ambitious, had set this ambitious goal. , ultimately I went into 10, 000 meters. That was the first event that I did. And, , I ended up getting 12th place, which I was very proud of that.
I mean, I. I was the top American with a number of other great, , American Olympians in the field and, you know, ran just about as competitively as I could have in a very warm and humid, um, space running. I think it was like about 28 low for, uh, 10, 000 meters in those conditions. , but, um, immediately thereafter, .
I went back to the island of Crete and did my final train up for the marathon that was going to be contested. And on that day, you know, the truth is, is that I’m just not a great hot weather runner. I never [00:20:00] really was like physiologically. I think my, just my, my body composition didn’t lend itself to that, that performance, which.
That’s okay. You know, we, we, you know, we, we do the best we can. And, uh, but sometimes you have to recognize that we have limitations. And so, you know, I worked with, uh, you know, our Nike counterparts. We use the, uh, the ice vests that we just gotten right before the games. And, , you know, I set out an ambitious goal to, you know, run that, you know, top 20 in the, the, the race and.
You know, and I did that, but, but ultimately I found that my body was not assimilating the fluid that I was putting into it. I mean, the temperature was, you know, 85, maybe even a little higher with high humidity. They just had blacktop the road. and so it was just, imagine just the most brand new, fresh black pavement you’d ever seen and all the heat of the day baked into it at 5 PM.
In Athens in August and you get a picture of what it was like just almost steam. , so, you know [00:21:00] Unfortunately, I basically dehydrated out there and I remember at 28k , the course in Athens was, , there was literally almost a 10 mile stretch where from mile 10 to mile 20, we sort of, kind of weaved our way up this hill until the final 10 k descent.
Well, , which is, you know, New York Marathon is, is, is just, is, is, is, is difficult too. But this was on another level. Well, in about 28 K into the race, my hamstringing just completely went out and I. cramped, had to stop on the side of the road, you know, I, but I determined in my mind that I was going to finish this thing, you know, and that, and, and I did it ahead of time.
And even though I had to kind of go into survival stride mode and, you know, stretch right before, uh, you know, I came into the Olympic stadium at the end of the race. I, I saw it through and that, and that principle of following through with what you say you’re going to do, I think is a very important thing in life as best you can, you know, you, you know, you’ve got [00:22:00] to.
You know, you don’t want to permanently harm yourself, but at the same time developing that resiliency to really You know, mean what you say and do what you say you’re going to do is a key principle. And I finished, I think like 63rd or 60. I mean, it was not it. I fell back, but that principle of building that muscle of following through is one of those key life principles that I found.
So, so a not great success success from my perspective, but at the same time, tremendous I think sometimes we,
We learn more from our, you know, near misses. That’s the idea, is to try and learn more, than just from those times when, you know, just everything, you plan it, and just everything goes great, you know.
Richard Conner: Yeah, for sure. For sure. Well, great to hear that you still finished a race and, you know, I can only imagine being, you know, in that kind of race and having that happen. And, you know, I don’t know what that does to your, to your mindset at that point. You know, if you’re in [00:23:00] pain or whatever the case may be, and the conditions you describe, by the way, that sounds very much uncomfortable.
So, uh, that alone, I can’t even, uh, I can’t imagine
Dan Browne: But, you know, the thing is, is that, and I, I know, you know, there’s a lot of ultramarathoner types out there. It’s, it’s amazing what the body can do, as you, as you, , develop your mindset, and as you develop yourself physically over time. The key is consistency, and the key is also, To, , just have what I, you know, just that, that fearless curiosity to explore your boundaries and, and, and, and remember, it doesn’t matter where you’re at on the scale, whether you’re, you know, uh, running a 10 minute mile pace or running at five minute mile pace.
This is the thing that I’ve learned about coaching. It’s been really fun is that it’s, it’s a neat process to help people whatever level they’re at, because it’s a very enjoyable thing to see people kind of reach for. That that next, uh, you know, that thing that they’re not quite sure if [00:24:00] they can do. And so it’s, it’s fun to see the joy when they, when they express it and everything.
So, and I encourage people to kind of continue to. Have, have faith, believe in what you’re doing, , get good guidance from people around you and, and learn and, uh, be, you know, the mind is the key. Be mentally strong and, uh, and, and good things will, will happen.
Richard Conner: for sure. Sage advice for our listeners, you know, so I appreciate you sharing your running journey and your philosophy around, you know, again, kind of being a high performer or a high performing athlete. You know, I’d love for you to share if you didn’t share it in one of your stories, what would you say was the biggest obstacle that you face in your running career and then how’d you overcome it?
Dan Browne: Okay. So, , after the Athens Olympics, , I went into a period where, , you know, injuries are in running are inevitable and they’re very hard. , that’s [00:25:00] why when I coach, I do everything I can to help athletes avoid what I call the injury cycle. And, uh, you know, that principle of ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure.
It’s everyone knows it, you know, when they’ve been, whenever they’ve ever been in that injury cycle. So, so after Athens, I had some serious IT band syndrome and, and, uh, you know, just the many, many miles of training and, uh, Over time, you know, it took a toll on my body. , ultimately, you know, I worked very hard with Alberto and, and the project to try and recover.
, but I found that, , I, I was not able to get my body right. And so after about, A little over two months of just constant therapy every day, we decided that probably a surgery was going to be a good outcome for me to do. And so, um, had a lateral release done on my right knee and, , immediately the pain was gone.
unfortunately, I think my, my left knee got jealous. And so it started doing the same pain [00:26:00] and, uh, you know, and within about a month I was having the left knee done and, you know, it’s. It’s a tough one. , every, you know, I’m sure many listeners out there maybe have experienced that it’s a, it’s a long, it can be a long process, especially when you’re trying to get back to a high level.
, and I was no exception. , but you know, you just, one of the things is you learn a lot about yourself when you’re, when you’re in those, periods. And, uh, you also learn a lot about the people around you in your life. And, I think that that awareness was very critical and I just, I knew I was going into the woods basically with this experience.
And for me, I just determined in my mind to get out of it, get out of those woods. And, um, it took, it took a long process and, , I really wasn’t running what I would say as effectively until well into And in large part, maybe not after even a couple [00:27:00] other, , changes that I had made in my training program and everything, even 2007 with doing some more altitude training.
So, , but I, it goes back to that principle that I say about overcoming setbacks is you just have to determine that you are going to. You’re going to get back up no matter what it takes and, , keep people in your life that, that, that kind of keep you positively focused toward that end. And, , the chances are, you know, you’ll, you’ll come out of those woods.
, but it’s not easy and, um, it wasn’t easy for me and, uh, you know. But ultimately helping people to kind of avoid that as much as possible has been a really, , an interesting process when you start talking about different recovery modalities or even using technology to kind of help you to, , assess what is your appropriate load, , amount of cardio and or muscle load training that you should be doing.
, it’s those ounce prevention pound of cures kind of things that will, will really help you to avoid those pitfalls.[00:28:00]
Richard Conner: Yeah, for sure. And I appreciate you sharing your story and, you know, glad to see that you were able to get through that successfully. And I love how you brought it back to mindset, having the right mindset to get through an injury in that, you know, dark time, but also I don’t know if we talked about this yet, but you mentioned about having the right people around you, right.
To positive people to help support you during those times. So that’s a really interesting and I think really important point, , for our listeners. So I appreciate you sharing that. And then, you know, you just talked about technology and I’d love to, you know, talk about that a little bit, you know, so I mentioned at the beginning of the show that.
Polar is, is my favorite, you know, fitness watch and heart rate tracker, , brand. And, you know, I’ve used polar for, I think it’s been a couple of years now and. You know, it’s helped me level up my training and I’d love to hear from you a little bit about, you know, how is, you know, just tell us a little bit about the brand first, but then how can the technology give athletes, runners, [00:29:00] um, an edge kind of in their performance.
Dan Browne: Yeah, I appreciate that. Yeah. I mean, it’s, you know, Polar technology is the best in the business. I mean, we’re the pioneers of heart rate technology. And our company is focused on providing the products and services that can really help optimize your own, your life as it pertains to both, you know, the athletic and, and the, uh, personal arena, by developing this greater understanding of how hard you’re working during training sessions, then, you know, using these products to help gain that insight.
Both not only on the training side, but also on your sleep and recovery side, which, as I mentioned before, is a key component. Understanding quantitatively how you’re doing on both sides of that of that coin, in my opinion, is the key to success. you know, it’s all about using These sensors to kind of, you know, paint this like 24 7 kind of [00:30:00] holistic picture of like your current physiologic status that they get, you know, and thereby giving you that data that you need to improve, basically, um, you know, and we have, you know, polar has something called flow.
Which is our ecosystem where our sensors go into and it doesn’t just stop it sharing that data so that you can have your own, have that situational awareness of where you’re at in real time. But then they also give you the opportunity to use that data, you know, and provide training guidance to you, , to whatever your goal may be.
It’s actually a very, , it’s an amazing system. I’ve, I’ve seen it, used it. , it’s been a very. Fun process for me to kind of move with move from that coaching focused arena to then being a part of industry and especially on the this wearable technology side and and deep diving into it and understand gaining like.
From my perspective, deeper insights into this. And I think it’s, it’s going to allow me to help me be even a better coach in the future. [00:31:00] And, no, I just appreciate the opportunity to be with them and it’s been fun.
Richard Conner: So, you know, I want to share a little bit about my story as to, you know, why I decided to go with polar. , throughout my training, um, I’m looking to, I got back into running just a few years ago, as I mentioned, obstacle course races and road races, and. I think it was two years ago maybe. Um, I ran a race and I did well, but not as well as I wanted to.
And um, I told my coach, I will do whatever it is you tell me to do. You just need to help me get to where I wanna go. So one of the things that he recommended was to change my training plan from running based on time and speed to, or a distance and speed, I should say, to time and on my feet, as well as heart rate.
So I’m like, okay, well, how do I do that? Well, you have to get yourself a heart rate monitor. So that’s basically kind of what led me to polar. And I’m sure, you know, somebody I knew had the device. I’m like, and I, and I researched it and I’m like, you know what, this is what I want to go with. [00:32:00] So I absolutely love it.
And it’s definitely transformed my training. It’s definitely transformed my performance and races. And it’ll, it’s also given me confidence. And in my runs, because before I have to run, you know, so for our listeners, if you’re running by heart rate, there’s different zones, right? Zones 5, and I had no idea what zones that would be based on my pace.
So I had to use the watch quite often, but now I kind of know. Right now I kind of have a feeling, oh, you know, I kind of feel like I’m, I’m probably getting up there to a zone four, right. And I look at my watch and sure enough, that’s, that’s where I’m at. So it gives me more confidence that I’m really listening to my body and understanding a lot more about what’s going on because of this technology.
And that’s definitely helped me through my training. So anyway, so that’s a little bit about my story about, you know, how it’s helped me along my journey. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m super excited to have you here to, you know, share that piece of it as a, how did the technology again, help someone.
Become a high performer or high [00:33:00] performance athlete.
Dan Browne: Well, you, you, you hit the nail on the head. I mean, it’s, it’s what I like to say is, , quantitative analysis is always going to be superior to subjective assessment. , and what I mean by that is. The data is important, right? But then it’s, it’s what you do with that data that then really synthesizes into a better training plan.
That’s the key. And, there is a component to where you do need to have an intuitive feel, but that comes with time. You start at, you know, I used to be able to tell within about 0. 3 seconds, what my time was in a 400 meter repeat, almost without fail. But that’s because I’d run hundreds and thousands of.
You know, so you, you develop that, but like when you’re growing in your ability to understand what’s going on in your body and remember, nothing has ever, nothing has ever, um, static, you know, change is constant. And so understanding that things are either kind of moving this direction or this direction, or maybe [00:34:00] just some different evolution of that, but like.
The. The, the sensor, you know, obviously I’m biased, but you know, at the same time, I’ve really understood, I really understand at a very deep level now power that the sensors can then give you what I would call your own. Personal awareness of what’s going on within your, within your heart and, and, and then using that awareness to then translate into those changes of, you know, training methodology or behavior modification that you’re looking to do because heart rate is one thing.
Understanding your sleep is another, I mean, and there’s a lot of people that would say, you know what, you can do all the hard training in the world, but like, if you don’t, if you want to get in the proper recovery, you are not going to, you’re not going to improve. So it’s like, you know, you get into these discussions all the time with people, like, what’s the most important pillar of performance?
Well, they’re all [00:35:00] important nutrition, sleep, activity, recovery, , you know, mindset there, they’re all. , they’re all interlinked and, , as you start to think about it that way, thinking and maybe thinking about as you’re, as you’re, , optimizing your own personal, these systems within, you know, then think of it like a wheel sort of spinning faster and faster toward the goal that you want.
That’s kind of what I would say. And I think that, you know, the truth is that there’s, you know, Polar has a lot of great tools to, uh, to help you, , toward that end.
Richard Conner: Yeah, for sure. And I, you know, we talked about sleep before and I didn’t mention it. , I mentioned focus mostly on the heart rate, but yeah, for sure. The sleep score that I get, you know, every morning when I wake up, I just kind of hit the button, I say I’m awake and then I just wait a couple of seconds and it tells me, you know, how I slept and I’m starting to see the patterns.
Like. Oh, well, if I do this at a certain time, or, you know, if something’s going on, like, I [00:36:00] could start to see why and, and maybe sometimes I’m surprised, right? One way or the other, like, oh, I thought I would have been a bit better tonight or wow, you know, I was way better than I thought. So sometimes it’s a surprise, but I’m also starting to learn, like, I can do or shouldn’t do certain things, you know, as a kind of winding down for bed.
Dan Browne: Yeah. And it’s, it’s that, it’s that self awareness that the, that the tools will, will help to improve, help you to improve and to, and to understand that like. Is really the key to iterative performance improvements. That’s what, that’s what, that’s what it means to, um, you know, be all you can be to get, to get the most out of yourself.
And then there, then then once you overlay the mindset training on top of all the good behaviors in terms of, as you’re, as you’re really.
, figuring out what it means, , to, you know, to where you’re maybe not overtraining and not under training. Once you overlay the [00:37:00] mindset over the top of that, that’s when the, that’s when the magic happens. And then you’ll really, you’ll really, whatever your potential is, you, you will reach it. No question.
And it’s, it’s a neat, it’s a neat journey. And I, and I, uh, I, I really enjoy talking with people and hearing about their journey and the.
Richard Conner: Love it. Love it. Dan, this has been so helpful. So inspirational. We talked a lot about mindset. We talked a lot about, you know, coming back from setbacks and then succeeding and learning and succeeding from there. Uh, we talked about recovery being just as important as the training. , we talked about, you know, the technology and how it can give you an edge and, you know, this has been really, really insightful.
So, you know, I love to just learn a little bit about, you know, what’s next for you and what’s next for Polar.
Dan Browne: Yeah, well, I mean, you know, we’re, we’re really excited and we got a lot of great, , things coming up on in our lineup. , you know, the, , it’s just, I think [00:38:00] technology, what I’ve learned about wearable technology is that there is, , It’s still, it’s still developing, , the landscape. I think my, my own assessment is it’s kind of like computers back back way back in the day, like the it’s the, these sensors, I think are going to be going to become more and more important to our daily lives as we continue to move forward into the future, giving us more insights.
Better understanding of ourselves and, and helping us. , and, but also recognizing that it’s, you know, this is a, this is a tool like anything else. And, , it’s important to, you know, , develop your own critical thinking about and, and that consistency, you know, but it’s an important tool. And, um, I see a great future in, in the wearable space.
Richard Conner: Awesome. And then how about for you personally?
Dan Browne: Yeah, no, I mean, um, there’s some, you know, there’s some, some fun things. I mean, once you get a taste of, uh, [00:39:00] the Olympics, you kind of always want to go back to it. And so I’ve been, um, You know, working with, , patent legacy sports foundation and, uh, and they have a, an amazing program that they’re looking to iterate.
there’s a sport called pentathlon. That’s, uh, it’s, it’s really an amazing sport. It’s it, you know, you, you combine fencing, swimming right now. It’s equestrian show, jumping and running and shooting. And, um, it’s like, uh. You know, they say it’s like, you’re like the most complete athlete. It was, it was envisioned by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics.
So I got an opportunity a number of years ago to be a part of it. And, uh, you know, we’ve got some, I got some neat things coming up with them. Um, and I’m, I’m looking forward to, uh, you know, exploring what that means, how utilizing technology might be able to help them as we move toward, uh, Paris. And, uh, LA 2028.
So, you know, just good stuff. There’ll be, you’ll be hearing more about it.
Richard Conner: All right. Well, looking forward to it. So kind of as we wind down here, Dan, [00:40:00] you know, what was the one thing that you would say to our community to help inspire them to run after a setback?
Dan Browne: I would say that just understand that you’re not alone in this process. And that the key is to remember that, , to, , you know, keep your, your, , center, you know, the people in your lives close to you that will help, that will help you along that journey. Keep positive voices in your life that inspire you.
To, , to get back on the horse and to, and to, and to, and to try again, , you know, we’re, you know, the, the world is, is, uh, it, it’s, it’s crazy sometimes, but like, , I think that. You know, , , we need great examples and stories of people that, that, uh, overcome and, and achieve that, that heroic effort that, , that inspires us when we read about it.
And, and that’s the one that’s the, some of the great things [00:41:00] about Olympianism and everything. And so it doesn’t mean that you, but you don’t have to be an Olympian. It’s not about that. It’s about, but it’s because whatever it is that. , sort of your network or platform people, you can inspire people, you know, no matter, no matter how far your reaches, but, um, just, and just, you know, one of the things that I like, I learned from Dr.
Justin Ross is that idea of like. this, you know, an expressed value versus an engaged value. And I learned this from him and I thought it was a very powerful, visualization and a lot of things get said, right? But it’s those things that you do that really implant and build that muscle into your psyche and, and your mind as you go forward.
So, so it doesn’t matter if, if, uh, you know, what’s happened in the past. Just like continue to reinforce within yourself. Like, Hey, no, I said I was going to do this. I’m going to, I’m, I’m going to come back from this and I’m going to, and then as you experience that set that, that, [00:42:00] that overcoming that setback, it’s going to reinforce that mechanism within your mind that, Hey, That build that capacity.
Hey, I remember I, I overcame this. I can go and reach for this, for this new thing that I’m going after. And that translate across that translates across sports and life and personal and family and the whole gamut. And so that’s, that’s how you optimize, you know, life. So.
I wish you all well. Yeah.
Richard Conner: Love it. Thank you so much, Dan. How can our community find you and follow your journey online as well as Polar?
Dan Browne: Yeah. Well, we, you know, it, you know, you can, you can find us on, on all the social media channels, you know, on Polar. Um, we’re very easy to find. , you know, it’s, at some point there’s going to probably going to be some news about the programs, you know, that I’m getting ready to, , find. You can also find me on like Facebook just under my, you know, dan.
brown or whatever. And, Yeah, I know. I definitely looked, I look forward to hearing from people, whether it’s on, you know, Facebook or, [00:43:00] or LinkedIn or whatever, like it, it’s exciting to, to hear from people and about their journeys. So thank you.
Richard Conner: All right. Well, I’ll include that information in the show notes to make it easy for our listeners to find you and polar and follow your journey and, you know, reach out to Dan and share your journey. Let them know that you heard him on inspired to run podcasts. So with that, thank you so much, Dan. I really enjoyed this conversation.
And again, it’s an honor for me to have you on the show. So thanks for coming on the show.
Dan Browne: Hey, thanks very much, Richard. Really a pleasure.
Outro: That’s it for this episode of inspire to run podcast. We hope you are inspired to take control of your health and fitness and take it to the next level. Be sure to click the subscribe button to join our community. And also, please rate and review. Thanks for listening.