CJ’s Lessons Learned – Biting Off More Than I Could Chew

As some of you know, I picked up running again in the spring of 2008 after almost twenty years away from it. After finishing Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner by Dean Karnazes, I was ready to start training for a 100 miler! No sweat, right? I remember how humbled I was after running 6 miles for the first time. After that outing along a treacherous Ohio highway shoulder, I decided to tone down the “100 mile zeal” a bit by signing up for a 50k trail race and a road marathon.

At this point, it was the end of April. The 50k trail race was scheduled for the third weekend in August and the road marathon would be the last weekend of September. Did I mention these would be the very first races I would be running after a 20 year running break? Let’s just skip the 5k, 5 mile, 10k, 10 mile, half-marathon, etc.

I weighed nearly 30 pounds more than I do now and had absolutely no clue what I was doing. No plan, no coach, no rhyme or reason in my training. Just head out the door and see what happens. I was a decent basketball player so I just figured I’d naturally get the hang of this running gig. How hard could it be?

Carnage on the Potawatomi Trail…

By the time the Silver Lake 50k arrived on August 23, the longest training run I had managed was 18 miles. Now I had to run 31 miles on one of the toughest trails in the Midwest…the vaunted “Poto” trail in Pinckney, Michigan. What’s another 13 miles?

When the gun fired at 7am it was 70 degrees with 80% humidity. There were over 40 brave souls who shuffled off into the woods and another 25 in the 50 mile race on the same trail. By the 18 mile mark (coincidence?) of this brutal course, I was a walking zombie. Turn out the lights, the party’s over. My legs refused to turn over any faster than a 13 minute-per-mile death shuffle over the last 10 miles. It’s a scary feeling to be in that kind of misery with so far to go.

5 hours 31 minutes later, I crossed the finish line in 92 degree heat with 85% humidity. I was thoroughly defeated and humbled. What are those famous words we utter after outings like these?

“Never again.”

Oh, but wait. Remember that road marathon I signed up for? It was now a month away and the dread washed over me as I anticipated it while slouched in a lawn chair. I’m not sure I ran one step during the week after the 50k. When would the soreness in my legs subside? Did I do permanent damage? Was the road marathon even an option?

After the Silver Lake 50k…Stick a fork in me, I’m fried

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Carnage in Akron and Beyond…

September 27th arrived sooner than I would have liked. My body was still having a hard time forgiving me for what I had put it through the previous month. The gun fired and over 3,000 of us began our journey on the streets of Akron. My goal was to run a sub 3hr 30min race. Things were on pace until that mystical 18 mile mark (seeing a theme here?). It was then that I began to experience the dreaded cramping in the hamstrings.  “Nooo…not now!!”

I thought I’d done a fairly good job of fluid intake. Nonetheless, I was forced to pull over to the side of the road and stretch. At this point, both hamstrings began to seize up into grapefruit-sized knots and I was in shear agony. Seeing my discomfort, a kind police officer came over to see if he could help and offered me his bottle of water since I was between fluid stations. After what seemed like 10 minutes, I thanked him and began attempting to run. Imagine someone trying to run with two stiff, straight legs and you’ll have an accurate picture of what I must have looked like. Spectators probably gasped as I hobbled by. Haile Gebrselassie’s marathon world record (broken several times since then) was certainly safe on this day.

Eventually, my stride loosened up and the cramping eased, though not completely. It was a great feeling to finish inside the Akron University football stadium where thousands of friends & family members awaited their loved ones. After all was said and done, I crossed the finish line in 3 hours 45 minutes.

Again, I was humbled. Again, I uttered those famous post-race words…never again.  Did I learn my lesson? You be the judge…a few days later, I signed up for the November 6th Lithia Loop Trail Marathon in Ashland, Oregon. Again, I suffered. A few days after that race, I signed up for the December 5th Tecumseh Trail Marathon in Bloomington, Indiana. Again, I suffered…this time in 24 degree weather while running in 2-3 inches of fresh snow. Had my sanity returned after this outing? It took one more “pain and torture” fest before I finally got the hint. The race that finally broke me completely was the Way Too Cool 50k in Cool, California the following March. I sometimes refer to it as the Way Too “Cruel” 50k.

Lesson Learned…

Something finally sank in after running that last “cruel” race in March 2009. My training was not only woefully deficient but I wasn’t exposing my body to the kind of rigorous terrain I would encounter at many in these races. For example, I lived in Findlay, Ohio at the time where it’s flat as a pancake. The Way Too Cool 50k contains a significant amount of downhill that can grind a person’s quads into hamburger if they haven’t practiced downhill running. Sure enough, my quads were finished in that race by the halfway point. I simply didn’t have access to that kind of downhill terrain in NW Ohio.

From that point forward, I decided not to sign up for races in which I couldn’t properly train on similar course terrain & grade. I would do a much better job researching the course layout and knowing the specifics of things like fluid stations, course markings and elevation gain/loss. If I was going to continue this wonderful sport of running, I owed it to myself (and my body) to learn from my failures and also to glean knowledge and wisdom from more experienced runners.

A nutritional lesson learned…

In the Silver Lake 50k race, I broke one of the cardinal rules in the area of nutrition…

Thou shalt not introduce thy digestive system to a new food or drink on race day!

Have you ever looked inside your race bag of sponsor goodies and decided to try something in there for the first time…on race day? This is precisely what I did a few minutes before this torturous 50k was to begin. Inside the race bag, I found a Clif Shot “Double Espresso” flavored gel. I thought to myself, “Mmm, I need all the energy I can get going into this race.” I quickly downed the 100 calorie pouch and almost immediately felt the caffeine coursing through my veins. Unfortunately, my stomach would protest about 30 minutes later, having never experienced this flavor previously. Talk about high octane fuel!

It’s a good idea to stick with fueling sources that your body has been used to during training. It’s also a good idea to find out ahead of time what the aid stations in your races will offer in terms of food & fluid. If Gatorade will be served, you may want to practice using Gatorade in the weeks leading up to race day. How about gels? Will the race have GU? Hammer? Clif? Your other option would be to bring your own food or fluid of choice. Either way, try to eliminate as many surprises as possible on your big day. After all, you’ve trained too hard to have something like nutrition ruin your race.

May you never bite off more than you can chew…but if you do, may it digest well 🙂

 

**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.

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Tabata Training: Short…But Truly Sweet

Have you heard of Tabata training? If you’re short on time and looking for some training that yields the most bang for the buck, look no further than Tabata. Tabata training, named after Dr. Izumi Tabata, goes back to a 1996 study in Japan where subjects alternated between 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest and repeated continuously for 4 minutes or 8 cycles.

If a Tabata regimen is done correctly, one word will quickly begin to rise to the surface…pain! This method can be applied to any form of exercise but for our purposes, we’ll focus on utilizing Tabata in running.

Tabata intervals should only be attempted by runners who are fit and have some recent interval experience (i.e. 200m, 400m, 800m).

*Note: Due to its high intensity level, Tabata should only be done once per week in the beginning. You may even want to consult a physician beforehand. After a few months, you can increase to twice a week.

Tabata intervals can be done at a local track or on trails. If you don’t have access to a track or trails, find a road with minimal traffic. This workout is not only intense, it requires extreme focus and discipline as you pay attention to your watch.

With Tabata Training Always…

Begin with a 1-2 mile warm-up of light running. Normally, I recommend stretching after a workout but in the case of Tabata, I recommend some light stretching immediately after the 1-2 mile warm-up. The Tabata routine goes like this…

  • Push very hard for 20 seconds (pretty much 100% effort)
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Repeat this eight times

You should be feeling pretty taxed by the third or fourth interval but this is where the real “fun” begins as you push through the pain. It’s crucial to stay tuned to your watch, especially as your body tries to encourage you to rest longer than 10 seconds before beginning the next interval. This short rest/hard run cycle is pure magic in multiple ways. Upon completing the last interval, finish with another mile of cool down running before stretching.

Tabata Training…

  • Increases Strength – you’re building those fast twitch muscle fibers
  • Increases Cardiovascular endurance – sustained discomfort with short rest
  • Increases Anaerobic capacity – no other form of training compares in this area
  • Increases VO2 Max – the maximum capacity of the body to transport oxygen for use
  • Teaches your body to recover quickly and remove metabolic waste products more efficiently
  • Improves running economy – how efficiently a person uses oxygen while running at a given pace

As you incorporate Tabata training into your workouts, you’re sure to see your body reach a new level of fitness and speed in a short amount of time. If you find that you’re unable to make it to 4 minutes, stop at 2 minutes and slowly build up.

If you don’t look like this after the workout, you simply didn’t push hard enough

Tired runner

 

You say potato…I say Tabata!

 

**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.

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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!!

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.

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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.

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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