During his Georgia Tech career, former guard Trey Braun’s running was mostly limited to explosive bursts often not covering more than 10 yards. Even in conditioning drills, the longest he ran was about a half mile. Having made the decision to leave football behind, though, Braun wants to run a bit farther. More like 461 football fields.
Braun has set a goal to run in the 2017 Rome (Italy, not Georgia) Marathon, spurred from his desire to lose weight and maintain his health in his post-football days.
“So the big thing is, after I was done with football, I wanted to make sure that I lost the football weight and got to a more sustainable weight for the rest of my life,” he said. “It was always sort of the plan to try to drop down and lose some weight and I figured that one of the best ways to do that is to have a pretty strong motivator.”
He chose that particular race because his father-in-law, David DiSalvo, is an avid runner who has gained entry in the marathon, which has been a dream of his. Braun has been trying to run five days a week. This past Friday, he did six miles, the longest he has ever run in his life. He is running at a 9:30 mile pace for shorter runs and 11 minutes for his longer runs, pretty good for someone who is twice as heavy as many distance runners.
Running, he has found, is a bit of a different pursuit than trying to dislodge 310-pound defensive tackles.
“It’s more meditative,” he said.
His weight has dropped down to 285 pounds, down from 297 at the end the season. He has been charting his runs on his social-media pages (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) and has set up a website dedicated to his training.
“I do feel a little lighter, definitely,” he said. “It feels a little bit better walking around, things like that.”
His goal is to get down to 215 pounds. After years in which practices, weight lifting and conditioning practically required him to a life of volume eating, he is also training himself to adjust his intake. He is counting calories and trying to avoid second (and third) serving.
Braun put himself on a pure-protein diet for a week in December, which he said made him more aware of his sugar intake and trained him to restrain himself.
“I think a lot of people are really used to eating an inordinate amount of sugar without knowing you get it in all sort of different forms,” he said. “It really helped me. I was really craving, like, a tomato.”
He had to resist. A professor brought his class sub sandwiches for dinner.
“I really wanted a sub sandwich,” he said.
As might be expected of a student pursuing an MBA, he is trying to attract sponsorship help of his marathon quest. He began drinking Dasani water and tagging the brand in his posts. When we spoke just before Christmas, he hadn’t heard from the Coke brand, but another water company, Perfect Water, had reached out to him. He is also trying to find a sponsorship with a local running store for his marathon training and wants to find a running coach.
“I feel like it’s an interesting sort of thing, a lineman turning into a marathon runner,” he said.
Health and wellness aren’t his only post-football ambitions. Braun and his wife Anna Marie want to start a charity to support military families with autistic children. Braun comes from a military family (both of his parents are Army graduates and his grandfather served as a chaplain in the Vietnam War) and he has a cousin who is autistic. He would want to help military families out with providing means for activities like horseback riding, something his cousin enjoys. It’s in the early stages of development.
“We want to do something that can be a little more focused, so we can truly work to make a difference in the community,” he said.
Braun said he had an idea that he wanted to move on from football but first wanted to see what his NFL prospects were. Braun started 34 games for the Yellow Jackets. Under 300 pounds, he would be small for an NFL guard. Further, while consistent and effective enough to start for the Jackets, he was not a dominant player.
He likely wouldn’t have been drafted and might have had a shot at a rookie free-agent deal. He isn’t the first Tech starter to voluntarily move on. A-backs Charles Perkins, Tony Zenon and Deon Hill and defensive tackle Shawn Green all took “real-world” jobs shortly after the Orange Bowl last season. He said he felt called to be done with football.
“It was definitely a difficult decision, but my dream had always really been to play college football, and that’s something that I was able to do and that Georgia Tech provided,” he said. “I felt so blessed to be able to do that. With the NFL, it would have definitely been a longer journey. I wasn’t a blue-chip guy, but I definitely think it could have it could have worked out. There’s really good resources Georgia tech has and we’ve definitely helped people accomplish their goals of the NFL, but I really felt that I could do a lot more in other arenas in my life, and I definitely felt sort of a culmination with football.”
Braun, who earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in Dec. 2014, aims to complete his MBA work either by August or the fall term. He and Anna Marie would like to stay in Atlanta for the next couple years so they can watch Braun’s younger brother Parker (a high-school senior who is committed to Tech) play for the Jackets.
As a new year begins, so are new phases of Braun’s life – football to running, student to professional. He and Anna Marie will celebrate their first wedding anniversary in January.
“The weight loss and this transition to running, it’s very allegorical to an actual transition in my life,” he said.