PROFILE--Mike Wien won the 70-74 division at both Boston and New York City last fall

(Jan 2022) How many runners do you know who are fabled in the marathon-triathlon world and also in corporate marketing circles? Not too many. But Mike Wien, a 70 yr old from Boulder, CO, is one, thanks to his involvement years ago in the launch of Tostitos, the crunchy, salty tortilla chips. More recently, he ran 3:29:34 at Boston and 3:34:54 in New York City to win the 70-74 division in both marathons last fall. Wien has achieved lots of triathlon podium finishes as well, and believes his success in running and life can be attributed to good balance. That is, a meshing of the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual. Oh, and then there's his wife, Nannette. She has long supported all his endeavors, and excels particularly in providing healthy, high-calorie meals and expert on-course "competitive intelligence."

Career profession:
I spent the first 28 years of my career in senior marketing roles with Frito-Lay, Pepsi, Omni Hotels, CitiBank, and Deloitte. While at Frito-Lay, I launched FANTASTIX (a huge failure) followed by TOSTITOS (a very big winner.) The next 15 years were in the

classroom as a professor of marketing and franchising at Georgia State University. I also started a marketing consulting and professional speaking business focused on gaining a competitive advantage or a Specific Edge. 

When did you start running and why? I first started running in high school. I was not much of an athlete. I was the kid always picked last. At 5 foot 2 inches and 92 pounds as a freshman, I was one of the few who could join the wrestling team in the 95-pound category. The wrestling coach insisted we all participate in a fall sport – football or cross country. The decision was obvious, and I worked my way up to the 7th man on the varsity team my senior year. However, in a high school meet, it was a 5-man team – so, I would fill in when needed. 

How much did you run in your peak years? Peak years? I still think I am in my peak years. When I was an exclusive runner, I ran 50 to 55 miles a week. Now, I run 35 miles a week and bike 180 to 200 miles a week. 

Nannette and Mike Wien
Top race performances? My race accomplishments have come later in life and all in my age group. In 2006, I was 5th on the podium at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. In 2011, I was 2nd at the same race. I won for my age group at the Olympic distance triathlon World Championship in Cozumel in 2016, the long course triathlon World Championship in Penticton Canada in 2017 and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George Utah in 2021. My only significant race accomplishments as an age group runner were winning the 70-74 division at Boston last fall and then repeating that win at the NYC Marathon four weeks later.

Any estimate of your total running miles? As an adult, I ran competitively from 1978 to 1982 and then became just a recreational runner from 1982 to 2002. I have been a serious triathlete since 2003. That sounds like 68,000 miles. 

What's your training like now? As I entered my 50s, I moved from a focus on running to competing in triathlons specifically for the cross training. I stretch 15 minutes a day, but my physical therapist can not understand how someone as tight as me can run as fast as I can. I was working with weight machines three times a week before the pandemic. Since I stopped going to the gym, my strength workouts have suffered.

Recent race results? I was such a late bloomer that I feel like I am in the prime of my racing career and 2021 was my best year ever. I won my age group in the Ironman 70.3 Utah, the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George, and as previously mentioned, the Boston and New York City Marathons.   

Does it bother you that you are slower now? Yes, I am a lot slower now. In 1979, I ran the Dallas Marathon in 2:48:18 (35th in my age group and still my best time) to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and I cried. Last October, I ran my 60th Marathon - the Boston Marathon in 3:29:34. I cried for only the second time at the finish, because I had won my age group and run the best race of my life. I embrace getting older and track my performance against my peers, not against previous times.

Have your diet and weight changed through the years? I was probably 10 pounds heavier during my recreational running years in my 40s. However, my weight now is back down to my running weight when I was in my 30s. I eat a healthy diet that includes a lot of fruit, vegetables, grains, fish and chicken, and believe I get plenty of nutrients from the food I eat. 

Injuries or health issues? I fractured my pelvis in April 2018 and could not put any weight on my legs for 8 weeks. My doctor told me that while the injury was serious and I would have to drop out of the Long Course Triathlon World Championship as the defending champion that September, I would have a full recovery and would be back competing in 2019. That gave me the inspiration to push hard on the physical therapy. I did come back strong, winning the bronze medal for Team USA at the 2019 Long Course Triathlon World Championship in Spain.   

Any favorite inspirational quotes? "Success is best built by those who can turn obstacles, failures, and disappointments into learning experiences for moving forward."--Mike Wien in the book, The Specific Edge.   

Tips for hopeful lifetime runners?

1--Make your running workouts fun and enjoyable by adopting the three “P”s > Place – Run in interesting places. A trail through the woods. A neighborhood with interesting houses. A location with great views. Pace - Run at a sustainable pace. If you can’t talk, you are running too fast. If you can sing, you are running too slow. Run at a pace that will make you want to come back. People – Run with interesting, like-minded people. They will make the run more interesting and inspire you. It is also impossible to hit the snooze button when someone is waiting for you. 

How does running and fitness improve your life? People who stay fit are able to slow the aging process and live more exciting lives with passion and purpose. On a personal level, the real benefit for me is that my 35- and 31-year-old sons still enjoy skiing with their 70 year old father.   

Sometimes it hurts. So it's good
to have Nannette (in pink) cheering.

What are the biggest lessons you've learned from running?
An important life lesson that I have learned from running and applied to my life is finding the right balance to perform at the highest level and to avoid burnout. Balance revolves around four key attributes: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual. We all know too many people who focus on one or two of these elements and are dragged down by the ones that are overlooked. Physical – Staying active with exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep. Be proactive at managing your health. Intellectual – Focusing on learning new ideas or skills, making improvements in your job and career, staying current on trends, technology, and events. Emotional - Making relationships a priority. Staying connected with family and friends and having goals or dreams to share with others. Spiritual - Being connected and supporting your greater community, having empathy for others, exploring mindfulness and meditation. People who embrace all four elements will live more exciting lives with passion and purpose.

Who has had the greatest impact on your success as a competitive runner and triathlete? Nannette Wien, my wife of 46 years has played a critical role in the success I have had as a runner and a triathlete. She provided the logistics for my need for 4,000 to 5,000 calories per day and was very supportive of my 20+ hours a week of training, However, she made the biggest impact by providing me with competitive intelligence on the race course so I could adjust my game plan in real time. For instance, she told me I was 30 seconds behind the leader at mile 17 in Boston this year and I ended up winning by just 27 seconds. She also told me I was 10 minutes behind the leader as I came off the bike for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in September and I was able to make that time up in the 13.1 mile run to win.