Runners: Bowie Tran

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Runners: Bowie Tran
Kernersville's Bowie Tran has a big debut race on his calendar in 2024 (photos courtesy of Bowie Tran).

To say that Bowie Tran has made impressive use of a gift from his brother Ender five years ago would be an understatement.

The Apple watch helped spark this physician associate's interest in running and, now, in triathlon.

Tran is a new person. A better person, he believes.

"It completely transformed my life," he says of his fitness regimen, "where I'm becoming more and more intentional with my time, with my thought, with my activities, with how I interact with people.

"It's truly life-changing."

Tran is the subject of today's Runners profile.


The Warmup






Wife, Leslie; father, Zoom, and mother, Tracy, in Winston-Salem; brothers, Anh-Tuan and Ender; sister, VV.

Day job

Physician's associate, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist; works in emergency department at Moses Cone Hospital, Greensboro

"Quite a challenging job but one that I truly enjoy due to the fact that it's rewarding. It's demanding. You feel like sometimes you do make a difference. And those differences really add up. It gives quality to my life and hopefully gives quality to the patients that I care for."

Why I run

"For quite a few reasons. I was never much of an athlete. I didn't really participate in any sport when I was in high school, nor did I participate in any sport during college. Working in the ED, surrounded by colleagues that are really motivated and active, it got me more excited about thinking I should stay active as well. They inspire me. At the same time, I want to make sure that I can represent myself well as a picture of health if I want to take care of patients.

"A key moment was roughly five years ago: My brother (Ender) gave me an Apple watch. I became pretty obsessed about closing the three Activity circles (Move, Exercise, Stand). I want to make sure that I always close them. ... I have a pretty long streak going, which I'm pretty proud of. ... It gives me motivation to make sure I do something every single day. From that point on, running became a daily ritual.

"(Becoming active and fit) has changed my life tremendously. It gives me the opportunity to be exposed to healthy people and the lifestyles. As I get to know more people or watch videos on YouTube and focus on how to live a fulfilling life, it changed how I think. It changed how I eat. In essence, it completely transformed my life, where I'm becoming more and more intentional with my time, with my thought, with my activities, with how I interact with people. It's truly life-changing. It all started with taking a few steps running and moving forward, and now it has become all-consuming, but in a good way."

The Middle Miles

My running tribe

Bowie Tran with Shane Hudnall at a Run the Boro, hosted by RunnerDude's Fitness' Thad McLaurin in Greensboro.

"I normally run by myself because of my work schedule. I run when I can. But I do really enjoy Thad McLaurin's Run the Boro group. He's such a good representative for the community. He really puts his heart and soul into the community. Outside of that, I normally run by myself."


"The consistency is something that I enjoy. But running a marathon is always a good goal to have. I enjoyed my marathon run (City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh, 2019).

Bowie Tran, right, with his neighbor Steven Miller after completing the City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh in 2019.

"My next goal is to get into triathlons. I just signed up for the Ironman Wilmington (Ironman 70.3 North Carolina on Oct. 19). I have about a year to learn how to do triathlons and give it a try. It's going to be exciting."

A typical week

"One of my colleagues gave me her 20-week training plan, and I'm starting to get into that. My background is pretty much zero when it comes to triathlon.

"I've got a bike. I've started to understand the concept of swimming within the past couple of months. So I got a YMCA membership to have some access to that. And the running part is the fun part because that's what I've been doing for the past five years.

Bowie Tran on his bicycle at Salem Lake.

"I enjoy having the three different disciplines to change things up a little bit, challenge different muscle groups. It makes it a little bit less monotonous. I normally train six days a week according to this training plan. Some days you do swim, some days you do runs, some days you do bike, some days you do combinations and brick workouts.

"It's usually two disciplines per week, long distances and short distances. Maybe 20 miles of running, about four hours of biking, and about three hours of swimming."

My biggest inspirations

"I really enjoy a few people that I follow on YouTube. They truly are good influencers.

"Andrew Huberman is a neurobiologist and ophthalmologist from Stanford. He does a lot of series on self-improvement and the science behind every aspect of life.

"I read James Clear, "Atomic Habits," learning how to make an incremental, small improvement but over time it becomes atomic. Stay consistent, marginal gain, learning how to be mindful about different words that I say, things that I do, how I interact with myself, how I interact with other people and just learn to be a decent human being. ...

"I really appreciate David Daggett as well. He's such an instrumental person who has really helped promote the running and the Triad community quite a bit."

A favorite race

"My favorite place to run is Salem Lake. I do enjoy the Frosty 50 and Frosty 25."

My last race

Miles for Migraine 5K, Sept. 9, Winston-Salem

My next race

"I probably will participate in the Smiley Sprint Triathlon (July 28, Winston-Salem) that David Daggett hosts in July. Sometimes it's hard to sign up for different races due to my schedule."

My other interests

"I am a part of a car club, Team RPM, and this year is our 20th anniversary. We participate in all different automotive endeavors: Drifting, high-performance driving, car shows, autocross.

"Playing music. I haven't played quite as much music as I used to, but I like to play by ear (electric and bass guitar). Just grab my instrument and play away. And lately, it's just more about self-improvement and being with family. As you grow older and you lose valuable people around you, you just know that those times are just precious. Try to embrace those moments."

The Cooldown

What I've learned about myself through running and other athletic pursuits

"I like to embrace endurance sport. I feel like it translates to different aspects of life. You don't have to be great at what you do. You don't have to have all the athleticism and all the strength. Although it's nice.

"You get a whole lot more by simply staying consistent and being able to put forth effort and grind it out and embrace the suck. When things get tough, you just take a moment and realize, 'Hey, I've built for this, I've trained for this. I know I can get through it: I've just got to take that extra step.' Whether it be a step in running or a step in life.

"And it has really transformed how I view things. It makes things more manageable by breaking things down to basic small steps and just making progression."

My words to the wise

"Be consistent. Enjoy the process. And don't worry so much about the finish line. Just focus on improving incrementally."