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Brian Mazza wakes up each morning at 4:30 excited to attack his targeted goals for the day with optimal efficiency. First comes breakfast with his family, including some wrestling with his two boys. Even with having to be on most of the day, the fitness lifestyle influencer, founder of HPL Training and serial entrepreneur has found a balance that only comes from eliminating any element that can steer you off track.
“As a kid growing up, I remember my dad always used to tell me that someone is always working harder than you,” said Mazza. “As a kid, I didn’t truly understand that. Now, I use that as something that I can always refer to. I know that now this could end at any moment. As morbid as it sounds, that could be life, it could be a career or a debilitating injury. You need to work as hard as you can to achieve all your goals because someone is either going to take it if you don’t want it, and tomorrow it could all end.”
In between a break from training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon this Sunday, Mazza explained how he overcame his mental hurdles of running and how he’s achieved balance as a husband, father, owner of multiple businesses and embracer of new challenges.
I was always really scared of running because I found it really difficult. I didn’t know how to run the proper way. Coming from a soccer background — yes, it is an endurance sport, but I played striker up top. For me, it was a lot of anaerobic work — quick sprints and recover. It was really discouraging for me as an athlete because I couldn’t wrap my head around why I couldn’t be successful as a runner. I was not prepared for the aerobic side of things because I was just an anaerobic athlete. When I started doing more research, talking with more coaches and really taking more of a deep dive into how to become a better runner, I was really intrigued about learning the process of it and that’s how I am as a person. I really enjoy the process more than the destination of it. I just started doing a deep dive and learning how to start slow to get fast, different types of tempo running, track work, long-distance running and I had to really come to grips with the patience that takes also.
I found running really helped me more on the mental clarity side of life in general. I don’t run with music. I need running more so now as my medicine in terms of disconnecting from the world and my reality sometimes. Just being free with nature, alone on long runs, going through the process and trying to become a better person — I find that running has given me that.
I’m always on, 24-7. I’m a father of two young boys — 5 and 3. I’m married and have multiple businesses. When I need to disconnect, I don’t want to have to listen to music or an audiobook. I need to get in that flow state of not even thinking about anything but running. Granted, I used to run with music, and I think that’s fun sometimes to get motivated and run to certain music, but I found that I became a better runner without it. I’m more in tuned with my body, in tuned with my breath and I can focus more on the task at hand without really having to focus on it. I can just be free and let my thoughts take over and not have any pressure in terms of having to focus on an audiobook or having to focus on a certain song that might take you out of your heart rate zone. For me, I just want to be as present as possible on my run.
Half-marathon training for me is pretty similar to my usual training because that distance isn’t really too far for me now. It’s different when you have to train for a marathon or ultramarathon. I’m still lifting three days a week with my trainer, Jacob Zemer. I’m still lifting heavy with my legs and getting the volume of 150 miles per month and hitting that in a consistent way. I found now that I’m strength training harder and harder with heavier weight, I’m becoming a better runner because my legs can take the beating a little better.
With food, the main thing for me is I just needed to consume more calories. How I do that and how I make it more fun for myself is I set challenges in which it’s like, these are the five things I’m giving up for the next 30 days or these are the five things I’m doing for the next 90 days. Right now, I’m doing no pizza or pasta and not finishing my kid’s meals, which is a huge one for the extra bad calories. Not having peanut butter and jelly on rice cakes because I just had another fitness cover, and I wanted my physique to be a certain way. I try and make it as fun as possible but I’m also human and have cravings. But I think the task at hand is bigger and more important than the cravings, so I always try and tell myself that there are days you can slip up but let’s try and be as precise as possible so you can have the output and be as efficient as you need. Once I eliminated the really bad food in my life that honestly tastes the best, I just improved from a physique standpoint, as a runner and overall energy wise. When I’m dialed in on all facets, the sky’s the limit for what we want to accomplish as a team.
I use MyHi predominantly as a recovery tool. It’s a really great way for me to wind down at the end of the night and get in a very comfortable state, let my body and mind relax. It’s usually a 24-7 grind and I have to take these certain pockets of time when I’m able to unwind. Even if I’m doing a quick recovery yoga session or if I’m getting in a sauna, ice bath or my NormaTec boots, I’ll take a 5mg MyHi stick into a mocktail or one of my recovery protein drinks and it really takes the edge off and allows me to get in a more comfortable state because I always feel like I’m in fight-or-flight mode.
First and foremost, family is everything for me. That always takes precedent over anything that I have in my life. I don’t believe there is a balance and I say that in a positive way. I truly love what I do. I love my career. I love that I get paid to train, run races, work with brands on the marketing side of things and I truly love being a father. I always wanted to be a dad and be a hands-on dad. I feel like I don’t need to have the balance because I’ve eliminated a majority of the negative things in my life prior to taking on this new responsibility of being a 24-7 type of person. I feel like once you do that, the balance becomes your lifestyle and the lifestyle that you want — if it’s healthy — can really make your career and personal life go as planned. You don’t need to worry about other outside factors that might be holding you back.
I think entrepreneurship and fatherhood are very similar. I say that because as an entrepreneur, running multiple businesses, shooting content, investing and all these things — every day is different, and curveballs are constantly thrown at you. I feel like that’s a direct correlation to fatherhood because my kids can wake up sick, not be in a good mood, don’t want to wear a particular shirt, don’t want to go to school or not want to eat. You’re constantly putting out fires. I wake up at 4:30 every morning and I predominantly do all the morning activities with my children. I always wanted to be that hands on of a father in taking them to school every day. The mornings are a really good time for us because we’re making lunch together, eating breakfast and wrestling. I get up earlier than them on purpose because I can handle a lot of the internal work personally and business wise that I need to get done.
After I drop them off, that’s when I usually hit a run. I come back and start my day in terms of following up on emails I probably handled earlier in the morning. I work with my team on what the task at hand for the day is and just crank out as much as I can. I train for about an hour with my trainer, and I come back home. From there, it’s seeing what’s on the docket with emails and what needs to be serviced. I have dinner with my kids every single night unless I’m traveling for work. We really make it a strong point to have dinner as a family every night like I grew up. That’s a typical day in the life. It’s not that entertaining or fun but it’s more about seeing how efficient you can be, executing goals and having fun doing so.