A Colorado Springs Running Coach with a Passion to Help Others

As a Colorado Springs running coach, I’ve had the wonderful privilege of working with a variety of runners who have incredible “before and after” stories. In this post, I’d like to share my own story of transformation which fuels my passion to help others write their own story and achieve their running goals.

For me, I had noticed my weight creeping upward with each passing year. At that time, I could barely break 30 minutes in the 5k. In 2006, I specifically recall my wife talking me into running a local 5k race and every step was miserable. Upon finishing, I crumpled onto the cold asphalt and thought I was going to die. The searing pain in my lungs wasn’t something I wanted to sign up for again anytime soon. I was horribly out of shape and I knew it.

It wasn’t until the spring of 2008 that I decided to take up running again after nearly 20 years away from the sport. I eventually caught the “running bug” and haven’t looked back since.

With each passing year, I’ve continued to learn and grow as a runner and even became a Colorado Springs running coach.

I can still hardly believe the guy on the left (picture below) transformed into the guy on the right.

Colorado Springs running coach

LEFT: The guy on the left was 32 years old and weighed 207 pounds with a high percentage of body fat.

RIGHT: The guy on the right is a 43 year old National Class masters runner and Colorado Springs running coach, weighs 155 pounds and just recently ran a near personal best of 16:33 at a Turkey Trot 5k.

Over the last few years, I’ve also had the privilege of helping others reach more of their potential as runners. I enjoyed coaching so much that I decided to become USATF Certified and put more time into studying this incredible yet simple sport. Being a Colorado Springs running coach has given me the opportunity to meet and interact with runners of all levels.

So whether you’re near the front of the pack or toward the back of the pack, I believe I can help you squeeze out more of your ability! How do I know this? I’ve been there myself and know what it takes to improve. It’s not an overnight process but with hard work and consistency, you’ll also see your running improve and reach goals you never thought possible.

I’d love to chat with you over coffee about your goals and share some ideas that could help you improve your running, no strings attached.

To schedule your FREE 30 minute coffee consultation in the Colorado Springs or surrounding area, please fill out this form

Here’s to achieving new breakthroughs!!

CocoMint Christmas Cheer Smoothie

Christmas smoothieBaby, it’s cold outside! But smoothies can be enjoyed all year round. Here’s a seasonal smoothie recipe from my book Smoothies For Runners 2.0.

This is a great recipe to bring out during the Christmas season with mint being a constant theme. The fresh peppermint leaves will ensure that this is technically a green smoothie. Peppermint has long been shown to be a remedy for indigestion or an upset stomach. This herb also aids in breathing (a benefit for runners) and can help relieve symptoms of colds related to allergy. Take a deep breath and enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup vanilla or chocolate coconut milk, depending on your
preference
8 fresh mint leaves
1 frozen ripe banana
1 scoop Garden of Life® Smooth Vanilla Organic Plant Protein
1-2 drops Peppermint oil extract (optional for stronger mint
lovers)

Blend all ingredients until smooth

*Training Tip

For whatever reason (weather perhaps?), many people seem to have the idea that a good time to take it easy with training is around the holidays. In my opinion, this isn’t always smart. Not that you have to train like a maniac during this stretch but it’s a good idea to still stay consistent. Slacking off too much will lead to a loss of heart (cardio fitness) and an increase in weight. We all know it takes a lot longer to gain that precious fitness than it does to lose it. It also takes more effort to lose those stubborn pounds than it does to gain them.

It’s really easy to get out of our routines around the holidays but staying consistent in our exercise habits can help us stay strong mentally and physically. My wife knows how important my daily run is to my overall state of mind and gladly sends me out the door.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good run!

Cinnamon Roll Recovery Smoothie

For you smoothie lovers, here’s a quick video we did while making the Cinnamon Roll Recovery smoothie. It’s basically a cinnamon roll in a glass!

You can find this recipe along with 23 more delicious smoothie recipes in my latest book Smoothies For Runners 2.0.

 

**If you’re looking for a powerful recovery aid for those intense workouts or races, look no further than PerfectAmino by BodyHealth. I’ve been using this quality Amino Acid supplement for the past couple years and I also recommend it to those I coach. Give it a try by using code HITZ10 for 10% off your order at BodyHealth.

PerfectAminoXP

Lose Weight…Not Energy

Low Fuel

Many endurance sports reward lower weight. But sometimes losing weight can cause you to feel weaker than you did when you were heavier, simply because you’re running on fumes.

If we cut back on calories but maintain our workout schedule, our fuel tanks are going to be running low. Simply put, glycogen depletion can lead to a loss of pure power & energy.

It’s important to time your fueling properly—and consume the proper fuel—to prevent that from happening. Here are six tips to help you run strong while working toward your ideal training & racing weight, regardless of your body type.

Tip #1: Eat to Run

Quality runs and high-intensity workouts will help you lose weight, so you don’t want to sacrifice your performance during these key sessions. Fuel your workouts and cut back during the rest of the day.

That means topping off your tank with a 150 to 200 calorie snack that will provide sustained energy, such as a Larabar, banana with peanut butter, or a light smoothie. If you’re planning to be out for more than 90 minutes, take extra hydration which might include Nuun tablets or Hammer Heed mixed in your water bottle.

Afterwards, have some recovery food available. My personal go-to recovery is a scoop of Garden of Life protein mixed with water in a shaker bottle. It’s 15-20 grams of quality protein that provides my body with immediate rebuilding material.

When possible, time your run so you finish around mealtime. That way, you can just eat as you normally would when finished. Sometimes my wife will have a good breakfast ready and waiting for me upon returning from my long run.

Tip #2: Pace Your Weight Loss

Gradual weight loss will be less disruptive to your training and ultimately less draining than trying to lose a lot quickly. If you’re aiming for significant weight loss, you have to be fine with the occasional failed workout.

I’ve had many high-intensity workouts where my body simply fell short on fuel yet I was still able to finish most of what I had planned. When this happens in training, it’s not a big deal. If it happens during a key race, you may fall short of your goal. This is why it’s important to make sure you have a full tank before that big race.

Tip #3: Eliminate Empty Calories

If you’re running a lot, including racing, and trying to cut weight, you need maximum nutrition with little fluff. That means cleaning up your diet to avoid empty calories.

I enjoy a tasty craft beer from time to time but when I go into lean mode, this is one of the things I cut out. I sometimes refer to beer as “liquid fat” due to its high empty calorie content – a whopping 7 fat calories per gram!

These are things most of us know (heck, even kids know it), but it’s also important to cut out chips, cookies, donuts and soft drinks which are all filled with empty calories. “Empty” means they’re void of any dense nutrition. It’s like filling your car with watered down fuel.

Aim for high quality, real food such as fruits, vegetables, quality carbohydrates (i.e. brown rice, sprouted grain bread), high quality protein sources (i.e. wild caught salmon), and healthy fats (i.e. avocados) as they come in whole foods. I try to get a large green salad with lots of variety everyday if possible.

Tip #4: Increase Protein

Weight loss puts you in a catabolic state so it’s important to take in extra protein to prevent unnecessary muscle loss. Losing muscle will only hurt your running performance.

Research shows that people who eat diets that are rich in protein maintain their lean muscle mass which you need to turn those legs over. This is possible even as you’re trying to lose extra fat.

This is another reason I like having a good quality lean protein powder on hand like Garden of Life. By throwing a scoop in my shaker bottle twice a day between meals, I’m adding an extra 30-35 grams of protein at a cost of only 200 calories. That’s what you call nutrient dense!

Tip #5: Go to Bed a Little Hungry

If you’re looking to maintain fitness while losing weight, go to bed a little bit hungry. It won’t kill you and it’s an easy way to lose a pound a week. In times where I go into lean mode, I typically have a rule of not eating after 7:30pm. If you must eat something after that time, stick with a piece of fruit like an apple or an orange which is low calorie and high fiber.

Tip #6: Make Sleep a Priority

Shortchanging sleep puts your body in a constant state of stress, which increases stress hormones like cortisol which promote fat storage and make it that much harder to drop those pesky pounds. This effect can be even more pronounced if you don’t get enough sleep while also trying to lose weight.

Cutting calories has already put extra stress on your body, not to mention the extra training. Don’t add more stress if you can help it, or you risk overtraining symptoms and a lowered immune system.

Here’s to staying lean and mean on the roads and trails!

 

**If you’re looking to lose a few stubborn pounds without losing valuable muscle mass, look no further than PerfectAmino by BodyHealth. I’ve been using this quality Amino Acid supplement for the past couple years and I also recommend it to those I coach. Give it a try by using code HITZ10 for 10% off your order at BodyHealth.

PerfectAminoXP

TWRW Podcast 003: Conversation with Travis Macy

Ultra Mindset CoverIn this edition of the Train Well Race Well podcast I sit down with Travis Macy of Evergreen, Colorado.  Travis recently released a fantastic book titled The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life.

  A few of the things we touch on include…

  • His beginnings as an athlete and the influence of his Dad
  • His decision to go pro while training near the top of Mt. Evans in prep for the Leadman competition
  • How “being a wannabe” is one of the 8 core mindsets mentioned in his book
  • The moment he decided to ask one of his rivals to coach him
  • Why it’s actually important to have an “ego”
  • Advice for other parents who endeavor to pursue their own athletic goals
  • His greatest passion
  • His recent focus on running and some upcoming races and pursuits

Travis Macy is a speaker, author, coach, and professional endurance athlete. He is the author of The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life, and he holds the record for Leadman, an epic endurance event consisting of a trail running marathon, 50-mile mountain bike race, Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, 10k road run, and Leadville 100 Run, all above 10,200′ in the Rocky Mountains. Travis lives with his wife and two young children in the mountains around Evergreen, Colorado, and his sponsors include Vitargo and HOKA ONE ONE, among others.  You can find out more about Travis and his speaking & coaching services at www.TravisMacy.com

What to Do if Your Garmin Forerunner 110 Won’t Charge or Has a Blank Screen

garmin 110 blank screenWhat do you do if your Garmin Forerunner 110 won’t charge or has a blank screen? Unfortunately, the Garmin Forerunner 110 is known to have some issues with not charging or simply having a blank screen.  CJ had given me this watch when I first started running more consistently and it helped me stay on track.  However, I’ve been having problems with it recently and so did some research on how to correct it.

I thought this information would be helpful to other runners as well, so here it is:

1)  Try these simple fixes first.

Here are some simple ideas that worked for some users as posted originally in the Garmin forum online:

  • Unplug the charging adapter from your computer and connect the other end to the watch. Then press and hold in the light button for 15 seconds; with the light button depressed, plug the connector to your computer.
    https://forums.garmin.com/showthread.php?13548-Forerunner-110-will-not-charge
  • Hold down the Light, Start/Stop, and Lap/Reset buttons for about 30 seconds.
  • Hold down all four buttons for about 7 seconds.
  • Hold down the Light button for about 6 seconds.
  • Hold the “Light” button down for 10 seconds. Wait for the screen to go blank & 10 more seconds for the watch to come back to life. If it does not wake up, plug it into a power source.
  • Plug it into a different USB port.
  • Leave it plugged in for a few days, and eventually it will spring back to life.
  • Attach the USB clip, but don’t attach the clip to a USB port, and hold the Light button for 6 seconds.
    https://forums.garmin.com/showthread.php?10639-Forerunner-110-Blank-Screen-(Dead)





2) Check whether there is a firmware update available.

You can do check for firmware updates here:  http://connect.garmin.com/firmware

3) Try a master reset.

How to perform a Factory reset for Garmin 110:

NOTE: This will delete all your previously saved workouts on the watch.

  • Hold and press start/stop and lap/reset buttons
  • Add the light button and it should beep
  • Release the start/stop button (upper right) and there should be another beep
  • Release the lap/reset button (lower right)
  • Release the light button

This worked for me!

4) You can also Contact Garmin Customer Support

If none of the other suggestions work, try contacting Garmin’s support here: http://www.garmin.com/us/support/

 

Has this happened to you?  If so, what worked to bring your Garmin 110 back to life?

 

**If you’re looking for a powerful recovery aid for those intense workouts or races, look no further than PerfectAmino by BodyHealth. I’ve been using this quality Amino Acid supplement for the past couple years and I also recommend it to those I coach. Give it a try by using code HITZ10 for 10% off your order at BodyHealth.

PerfectAminoXP

How to Use a Foam Roller for Injury Prevention in Running

 

Foam roller - injury prevention in running

 

Roll Those Injuries Away!

It all started on a chilly evening in early December 2012.  A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to join him in a track workout where he was planning to do a 12 x 200 meter interval session with each repeat being 3-4 seconds faster than 5k race pace.  Thinking I could use the leg turnover, I happily responded, “Sure I’ll join you!”

We did less than a mile and a half of warm-up (should have done at least 2 miles) and then hit the dirt track at a local middle school.  The first 7 repeats felt pretty good but then I felt a slight twinge in my lower right hamstring on the eighth rep.  As I continued to push, it got worse so after 8 repeats, my workout was finished.

What was I thinking by doing 200 meter repeats in chilly weather without a proper warm-up?  Part of the reason I shortened my warm-up was to get started with the workout before we ran out of daylight.  I paid the price for that mistake.

For the next couple months, I continued to re-aggravate this injury anytime I would push the pace below 6:45 per mile pace.  It was frustrating to say the least.  I finally decided to visit a massage therapist that a friend of mine recommended.  Pam lived up to her reputation of making grown men cry as she worked on numerous stubborn areas, especially in my legs.  Pam said I was as stiff as anyone she had worked on.  As she put it, “It’s like you’re running on boards!”  That’s pretty stiff.

It was then that she asked me if I ever used a foam roller, to which I replied no.  She said it would be one of the best investments I could make, especially considering all the stiffness my body was carrying.

 

Why a Foam Roller Helps Runners

Over time, running can create overuse injuries and tight muscles.  If these aren’t addressed, it can create pain that prevents us from doing what we love which is putting one foot in front of the other on a daily basis.

A good foam roller can help iron out areas that have become tight.  We all have trouble areas where knots can develop.  By taking a foam roller and targeting these knots, we allow our muscles to have a more full range of motion.  Think of a knot in a rope.  When you remove the knot, you lengthen the rope.  For every knot you add to the rope, you shorten it.  You want your muscles to have their full range of motion when running, otherwise, those knots can progress to muscle strains or even muscle tears.

Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way by enduring a lower hamstring strain that lingered for over three months before I finally turned a corner.  For some people, their injury may occur in the calves.  Others may experience pain in their ITB (illiotibial band).  Regardless of where the pain crops up, tight muscles can lead to a chain reaction where various parts of the body carry too much load and finally give us a warning signal.  It’s when we continue to ignore these warnings that injuries occur.

Common areas to work on with a foam roller include…

  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • ITB
  • Quads
  • Gluteus muscles (aka “glutes”)

 

How to Use a Foam Roller

In the video below, running coach, CJ Hitz, will show you how to use his favorite foam roller to address the ITB, hamstrings, calves and quadriceps.

 

 

My Favorite Foam Roller

best foam rollerIn my opinion, Trigger Point Performance Therapy makes the best quality foam roller on the market.  I happen to own “The Grid” version of their foam roller which offers even more targeted massage action with the grooves and grid pattern on the roller.  This matrix pattern also helps increase circulation.

Trigger Point also makes a “Grid Mini” which is the most travel friendly foam roller on the market and easily attaches to any gym bag, backpack, or can fit inside your suitcase.  On the bigger end of the spectrum, they also offer “The Grid 2.0” which is double the size of the standard Grid foam roller.

 

Conclusion

If you can get into the habit of rolling out those trouble areas once a day, or at least every other day, you’ll be on your way to nipping potential injuries in the bud before they rear their ugly heads.  Some runners prefer to use the foam roller immediately after a run.  I prefer to use it before going to bed along with a ten minute routine of exercises I do to end my day.

What are you waiting for? Let’s get rolling!

 

**If you’re looking for a powerful recovery aid for those intense workouts or races, look no further than PerfectAmino by BodyHealth. I’ve been using this quality Amino Acid supplement for the past couple years and I also recommend it to those I coach. Give it a try by using code HITZ10 for 10% off your order at BodyHealth.

PerfectAminoXP

TWRW Podcast 002: Conversation with Justin Ricks

Justin running in Moab

Justin running in Moab

In this edition of the Train Well Race Well podcast I sit down with Justin Ricks of Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Justin has run 2:22 for a road marathon but his main focus has been in the trail running scene.  A few of the things we touch on include…

  • His beginnings as a runner and the influence of his family
  • His dramatic weight loss
  • His interest in getting back into Ultras
  • His traveling adventures with his wife & kids
Justin is sponsored by La Sportiva as a member of their Mountain Running team.  He’s also a member of Team Colorado, arguably the strongest group of mountain/trail runners in the country.  Besides being a competitive runner, Justin also works with GrassRoots Events where he helps direct several races and offers his coaching services.

 

Listen to the interview below:

TWRW Podcast 001: Conversation with Peter Maksimow

Peter Maksimow

Copyright Pikespeaksports.us

In this edition of the Train Well Race Well podcast I had the opportunity to sit down with Peter Maksimow of Manitou Springs, Colorado.  Besides being one of the most colorful runners I know, Peter is one of the top Mountain/Trail runners in the country with multiple Top 10 finishes at prestigious races like the Pikes Peak Ascent and Mount Washington Road Race.  A few of the things we touch on include…

  • Where he grew up and how running entered the picture
  • His work with Running USA
  • Some of his training
  • Planking

Peter is sponsored by Inov-8  and leads Team Colorado, arguably the strongest team of mountain/trail runners in the country.  You can read about their adventures on their fantastic blog.

Listen to the interview with Peter below:

6 Running Tips to Help You Run Faster and More Consistently This Year

Do you want to run faster and more consistently this year?  I know I do!  It has taken me a while to become more consistent with my running.  I have ran for exercise for 20+ years, but haven’t seen tons of improvement over the years.

Until now.

With CJ’s coaching and my willingness to be more consistent, I am finally able to run faster and am hitting new goals.  In fact, last month was my first 100 mile month EVER.  I barely met my goal as you can see below, but you better believe I definitely celebrated!  Here’s the screenshot from Connect.Garmin.com below.

First 100 mile month

I have also seen my 5k time improve tremendously and expect that this year I will set my all-time 5k PR.  Here is a chart that shows my progress and how I’m definitely running faster.  I’m still a “middle of the pack” runner, but this proves that if I can improve…ANYONE can improve and run faster. 🙂

5k race times

I’ve learned a few things over the last year and thought I’d share them with you.

 

Running Tip #1:  Write Out a Plan

One of the things that has helped me is to write out a running plan for each week.  Well, actually, CJ writes it out for me.  But, after he writes out my plan for the week, I can mentally prepare myself.  Have you noticed that half the battle with running is mental?  It sure is with me.

Writing out my running plan also gives me a visual reminder to look at every day.  I set my monthly calendar out on my dining room table where I can see it every day.

I use a simple monthly desk calendar that I found at the dollar store.   You can also print out a monthly calendar from Microsoft Word or plan out your runs in a running log.  Use whatever works best for you.  (Yep…mine is pretty messy, but it works!)

running calendar

 

Running Tip #2:  Keep Track of Your Miles

The second thing that has helped me run faster and more consistently this past year is tracking my miles.  I do so through my Garmin GPS watch and their online website, but CJ likes doing it with pen and paper in his Nathan running log.  He now also tracks his miles online using Running 2 Win’s free online tool.

Here’s a picture of CJ’s current Nathan running log.  He keeps all of his logs and then can go back and see what his training was like before an injury or leading up to a PR.  I’m still not as detailed as he is, but at least I am now tracking my miles.

Nathan running log

 

Running Tip #3:  Consider Using a GPS Watch or App

garmin forerunner 110

This is not 100% necessary, but has been something that has really helped me.  In fact, I have a confession to make.  I think I am now addicted to running with my Garmin Forerunner 110 watch.  I feel a little panicked if I realize I left it behind on a run.  CJ uses the Garmin 405, but I find the 110 to be enough for me.

My watch helps me to know how far I’ve gone and at what pace.  Often when I run, I start to think about other things.  When this happens I usually slow my pace without even realizing it.  By wearing a GPS watch that tracks my miles and pace, I can occasionally look down and see if I’m staying at my target pace.

Wearing my watch during races has really helped me to run faster and meet new 5k PR goals as well.  CJ will usually look at the course and my current fitness level and then tell me what pace he wants me to hold during the race.  Several times I have been able to run even faster than the target pace and I credit a lot of that to having my watch and being able to periodically check my pace.

 

Running Tip #4:  Join a Running Group

Have you ever had a day where you just don’t feel like running?  Yep…me too!  We all have those days (even CJ).  And when one of those days comes, it is much more motivating to get out the door when you know someone is waiting for you.  Group runs are also helpful for long runs that you don’t want to do by yourself.

You can check on the Road Runners Club of America website to see if there is a running club in your area:  http://www.rrca.org/find-a-running-club/

We have enjoyed running with several local running groups and have met some of our closest friends through them.  Definitely consider it!

 

Running Tip # 5:  Sign Up for a Race

One thing that ALWAYS helps me is if I sign up for a race.   Simply making that commitment helps to give me motivation to train hard.  It gives me a goal to work towards as well.  So, take the plunge and sign up for a race!  Whether it is a 5k, half marathon or another distance, it may just be what you need to get the motivation to be more consistent in your training so you can run faster this year.

 

Running Tip #6:  Work With a Running Coach

If you really want to run faster this year, you might want to consider working with a running coach.  Some running clubs have coaching built into them.  Or you could try group coaching or even hire a one-on-one coach.

Once I was ready to take my running to the next level, CJ offered to coach me.  He would set up my running schedule for the week, give me tips on nutrition, offer racing advice and most importantly answer ALL my questions.  He has helped me so much!   If you’re looking for a good running coach, I know one!  😉  

 

Conclusion

What other running tips do you have to run faster and more consistently this year?  What has worked for you?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

And if you’ve found this post helpful, share it with others below:

 

**If you’re looking for a powerful recovery aid for those intense workouts or races, look no further than PerfectAmino by BodyHealth. I’ve been using this quality Amino Acid supplement for the past couple years and I also recommend it to those I coach. Give it a try by using code HITZ10 for 10% off your order at BodyHealth.

PerfectAminoXP

Click Here to Discover 6 Proven Practices to Help You Run Faster