I’m A Competitor: Jay Richardson

Jay Richardson stays fit through a mix of running and CrossFit. Photo: Darren Mahuron

43-year-old has run five marathons and completed nine Ironman triathlons.

An avid runner, triathlete and CrossFit participant, Jay Richardson is the general manager for New Belgium Brewing Company, the third-largest craft brewery and seventh-largest overall brewery in the U.S. He’s run five marathons and completed nine Ironman triathlons. Richardson will be spearheading the company’s new brewery in Asheville, N.C., which will open in 2015.

We caught up with the 43-year-old and talked about his love for endurance sports, how he got started and more.

How did you get started in endurance sports?

My brother asked me to do a sprint triathlon a few years after I got out of college in 1997. We were trying to figure out a way to stay in touch with each other. The triathlon community was really welcoming and my interest grew from there. So from there I did an Olympic-distance triathlon and then thought about an Ironman. But before I did an Ironman, I figured I should do a marathon first.

How was your first marathon experience?

My first one was in Atlanta, and it was OK. I ran just under four hours, which is what I was aiming for. It hurt more than I thought it would, and I swore I would never do another one unless it was part of an Ironman. But I did anyway.

What is your typical training week like?

Lately my focus has been CrossFit, but running is very much a part of that. Certainly it’s not as much as when I was doing longer endurance training for Ironman races, but I probably run two or three times per week and do CrossFit four times. I run on the trails and the roads, but it’s mostly speed work, usually a track workout and a tempo run of about 20 to 45 minutes. I don’t do long, slow distance any more. I’m trying it out and so far it’s pretty good.

What impact has crossfit had on your training?

In training for longer events, especially for Ironmans, I always felt beat down, in a constant state of depletion and fatigue. You still have some of that feeling while doing CrossFit workouts, but it doesn’t last very long. My daily energy level is much more even since I started doing CrossFit workouts. Plus, CrossFit and shorter running events are really fitting my schedule lately.

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How does your company promote fitness?

We have a wellness committee at New Belgium to raise awareness of how to be healthy, and that goes so far as often paying for employees’ entry fees to events. And no matter what sport you do, there’s probably somebody that works here who would be happy to train with you. It’s nice to get outside of the work environment with people you work with — it adds to the feel-good vibe we have in the workplace.

What’s your favorite marathon?

Although I didn’t have a great result there, the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Las Vegas was both surreal and a lot of fun at the same time because half of it was on The Strip.

How have endurance sports changed you?

When I experience challenging times at home or at work, I’ve found the endurance mindset applies there as well. When you’re getting ready for a major event, once you’ve done the requisite physical training, on race day, it’s largely mental. If things get particularly stressful or challenging at work, you know how to stick through it with the mental endurance you’ve gained from training and racing.

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