It has become his daily ritual. At 4:45 a.m., he gets up, tip toes out of his quiet house and begins his training run through the streets of West Hartford, Connecticut. No personal trainer or specialized gym. No "Beats" headphones like the professional athletes wear. He simply follows a running program downloaded from the internet, monitors his performance with a Garmin running watch and uses common sense to follow a healthy diet.
About three years ago, Matthew Bromberg, husband, father of two and president of Pratt & Whitney Aftermarket, made a conscious decision to improve his health. That led him to compete in the 26.2-mile New York Marathon on Nov. 6 along with 50,000 other runners.
Bromberg has always lived a healthy lifestyle, eating well and running casually three to four miles per day, several times per week. But two things happened that made him seriously consider getting in better shape.
"During my annual physical, I was struck by a question on the health survey that asked, 'How often do you participate in strenuous physical activities?' When I thought about it, I realized how much time I spent in the office and how little exercise I was really getting.
"Around the same time, my son found my old pedometer. He asked me to explain how it works and we both took turns wearing it for a day, then compared results. My son accomplished 17,390 steps in one day, and I earned 3,500. I decided I wanted to do better."
Bromberg began making incremental improvements, running more frequently and extending his runs from three to four miles to 10+ miles. He likes the social aspects of fitness and had a great time participating with friends and colleagues in the Hartford Half Marathon, Otis/United Way 60-mile cycling event and Commercial Engines running club.
The more Bromberg ran, the more he started thinking, reading and talking to others about a marathon. Earlier this year, he thought it was time to try a marathon.
"I heard so many great things about the New York Marathon, I decided to give that race a try," he said.
Bromberg set several goals for himself: most importantly, don't get injured in training. For the race, his primary goal was to finish, but his stretch goal was to complete it within 3 hours, 30 minutes.
"I came in at 3:26, so I'm pleased with my performance," he said.
Bromberg noted that it was "exhausting just getting to the start line." He had to leave his hotel at 4:45 a.m., walk two miles to the New York Public Library, then take a bus to Staten Island, just to be ready for his start time at 10:15 a.m.
However, once in the starting corrals, that atmosphere became very exciting.
"Everyone was singing God Bless America, helicopters were flying overhead, and a NYFD fireboat was shooting water cannons as we crossed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge with the Manhattan skyline in the distance. It was emotional to be there with so many people and after 18 weeks of training," he said.
Bromberg described the marathon as two races: the first 20 miles and the last six.
"Throughout my training, I never ran more than 20 miles at a time, so the last six were really hard. But they were the most exciting. The first 20 miles cover all five boroughs as we ran from Staten Island, through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. But, the last six were amazing as we ran down Fifth Avenue and into Central Park for the finish.
"Another memorable part of the race for me was how supportive people were to runners – especially at the finish line," Bromberg said. "Hundreds of people were there presenting runners with medals, putting blankets on our shoulders, offering water and taking photos … it was an overwhelming experience."
As a busy executive who leads a global, multi-billion-dollar business, one might wonder how he finds the time for work, family and fitness.
"First, I accept that I can't do it all," Bromberg said. For example, he'd like to do more projects around the house, play golf or pursue hobbies like photography. "I prioritize the few things that I want most, and put the other things on hold. It doesn't mean I won't ever pursue my other interests, I just don't have time for them right now.
"I also cut myself slack and remain flexible. On those days when I just can't fit exercise into my schedule, I just make it up the next opportunity I get," he said.
He also said there's "no secret sauce for success." When schedule conflicts arise, Bromberg says he's not afraid to ask others for help so he can keep his commitments and plans on track. He also stays focused and holds himself accountable.
Bromberg replies, "Without question!" He feels that fitness improves clarity, stamina and the ability to handle the demanding work environment at Pratt & Whitney.
He recognizes the similarities between meeting fitness goals and meeting business goals. When taking on a fitness plan for example, you establish short, medium and long-term goals and track your performance. You may experience setbacks and you adjust your plan accordingly, never losing focus on the goal. The same is true of meeting business goals.
If so, Bromberg offers these suggestions:
Would he run another marathon? "Absolutely! There are so many fantastic races to choose from. I haven't picked one yet, but plan to run one next spring.
"For me, running is so rewarding," Bromberg said. "I am happier and more relaxed. It gives me more energy and makes me feel better. Fitness has so many advantages that I encourage everyone to be active!"