Tim Deer Secretly Finds the Fountain of Youth

Tim Deer Secretly Finds the Fountain of Youth

He’s back and better than ever at Badwater 135.

Two years ago, Purple Patch athlete, Tim Deer, completed his first Badwater 135 ultramarathon in just over 36 hours. This year, at age 57 and in some of the hottest historical race conditions ever, Deer finished again. But, this time he was faster, stronger, and healthier than ever. In fact, he was 11th overall, the first athlete 50+, and four hours faster than in 2019.

Tim Deer - Badwater 135

Tim Deer and Matt discuss how Tim manages to compete at such a high level in a time-starved life.

Click on the play button to listen

What We Can Learn from a Deer

Tim Deer is a prime example of a time-starved athlete. He is the CEO of The Spine & Nerve Centers in Charleston, West Virginia, which is a big job in and of itself. It also has him on the road up to  a hundred days each year. He is also a committed husband and father to four wonderful children. A busy life, but despite this, Tim thrives in some of the most challenging endurance events in the world. He is also no ‘spring chicken’ at 57 years of age. What gives? It’s called smart training and the right mindset.

Here are some common mindset and training misconceptions I see many athletes navigating. I debunk them with Tim’s training lessons as supporting context.

  1. Am I doing enough miles? It is a natural desire of athletes to chase big miles and sessions that match the distance of their planned event. Tim’s training throws this idea out the window by demonstrating success on a maximum length standalone run of only 4 hours in preparation for a 32 hour race.
  2. I am not fit enough. More, more, more. So many athletes chase ever-increasing fitness gains, paralyzed by the perception that there is always more to do. This erodes confidence and equally tends to drive athletes to overdo their training. Injury and burnout is common Tim prioritizes arriving to his races healthy. Health first, tissue and systemic second, and finally, layer on as much fitness as the body can absorb within the context of your life.
  3. I don’t have time for strength. In the podcast, I ask Tim the most important part of his approach to training. He highlighted strength and conditioning above all else and felt its benefits really came into play in the final 10 hours of the epic Badwater event. You don’t have time for strength? Think again, as it should be a non-negotiable part of every high-performing athlete’s repertoire.
  4. Specialization is the only path to mastery. One of the most common mistakes we see athletes making is the obsessive focus on a single-discipline approach to training.  To truly perform and improve, while keeping things interesting and healthy (mentally and physically), consider a multisport approach to your training.  Tim includes weekly swimming, cycling, and strength in a program to prepare for 135 miles of hot running.  Lean into the power of multisport.

Even if you never seek an entry to such an extreme event, you can draw from the lessons of a highly successful athlete who has mastered such a challenge, with a pragmatic, healthy, and smart approach to performance, and one that did not consume 20 hours a week in training.  Whether a triathlete, runner, or fitness enthusiast, Tim’s journey is a wonderful treasure chest of performance lessons.