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.

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Giveaway: Win a FREE Month of Private Coaching

 

Win Private Coaching Running

To kick off 2014 and help you get the most out of your running,  I wanted to offer a giveaway.  One lucky runner will win 30 days of private coaching with me for free ($147 value).

This includes:

  • Individual customized training plan based on your running background
  • Weekly 30 minute call via phone or Skype  (Skype will be used for international clients)
  • Daily email correspondence Mon-Fri (you can send one e-mail each day with your questions)
  • Accountability to help you succeed
  • Nutrition advice to help you reach your goals
  • Strength routine
  • BONUS:  As a coaching client, you will also receive PDF review copies of his running books “Smoothies for Runners” and “Starting Off On the Right Foot”

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  So enter to win below.

Good luck!

– CJ

Enter to Win One Month of Private Coaching

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Recap of the USATF Club Nationals 2013 XC

This year I had the wonderful privilege of being invited to compete with the BRC/Adidas masters club from Colorado at the  USATF Club Nationals 2013 in Bend, Oregon. It didn’t take much twisting of the arm since I grew up in Oregon and love getting back there to visit family whenever possible.

As I turned 40 back in June, I entered a new world known as masters running. This is both exciting and humbling at the same time. It’s exciting in that there are separate awards and even (in some cases) separate championship races across the country. It’s humbling in that I still can’t believe I turned 40…”masters runner” does have an elderly ring to it.

I believe all my personal bests will come in my forties since I have “younger legs” for someone my age. I didn’t begin running until almost 35 years old which is a mere 5 ½ years ago. Every year since then has seen significant improvement in my running which can be attributed to deeper base, smarter training and better (most of the time) nutrition. I’m excited to push the limits in my forties!

A Brief History of the USATF Club Nationals XC Championships

From 1994-1997 the USATF National Championships / Club Championships / World XC Trials were one race in December. Those who took part during those years said it was a great race. The locations were…

1994 Portland Blue Lake Park

1995 Boston Franklin Park

1996 Stanford golf course

1997 Portland Blue Lake Park

Then the IAAF decided to add a 4k for the World Champs and move the women from 6k to 8k, the men were already running 12k. So they went back to having the USA Champs/World trials for the 12k/4k and 8k/4k in February and decided to leave a race in December and call it the Club Champs which started in 1998 and has stayed that way until now. One of my teammates, Art Siemers, ran in that 1998 race in Orlando, FL with a Runners Roost/Adidas club team from Colorado. The locations for each of the Club Champs in December have been…

1998 – Orlando, FL

1999 – Long Beach, CA

2000 – Boston, MA

2001 – Mobile, AL

2002 – Rocklin, CA

2003 – Greensboro, NC

2004 – Portland, OR

2005 – Rochester, NY

2006 – San Francisco, CA

2007 – West Chester, OH

2008 – Spokane, WA

2009 – Lexington, KY

2010 – Charlotte, NC

2011 – Seattle, WA

2012 – Lexington, KY

2013 – Bend, OR

As you probably noticed, the race location alternates each year between the western and eastern US. The 2014 races will be held in Bethlehem, PA.

After 4-5 years the IAAF dropped the 4k and stayed at 12k and 8k for the World Champs. They left the team sizes at six runners while scoring 4, but before 1998, the World Champs for men was 12k with 9 man teams. Another teammate, Simon Gutierrez, actually ran on one of those World teams back in the day.

Their thinking with the 4k and smaller scoring teams was that more countries would field competitive teams and the middle distance runners would be more of a factor. But this was not to be and it ended up being an afterthought since XC is XC and track is track.

Many thanks to my teammate Mark Misch for providing the above brief history.

The Course

The course in Bend sat at a little over 3,600 feet which makes it the highest in USATF Club Nationals history. Coming from Colorado where our team lives between 5,000-6,400 feet, we were looking forward to any advantage we might have in competing at a little higher altitude.

This year’s race director was Max King, one of the best trail/mountain runners in the world. Max said he wanted to bring cross country “back to its roots” with all sorts of surprises. Well, the course certainly had its fair share of roots & rocks. Mark & I had a chance to walk the 2k loop the day before the race to get an idea of what was in store. The first 400 meters alone could ruin a person’s race due to the steep uphill climb. The starting line itself was probably half the width of a typical championship cross country course.

As we crested that first big climb, the course veered right and almost immediately narrowed. We both agreed this would make for some interesting jostling for position among over 300 runners. Another 200 meters and we would begin a nasty technical downhill where I envisioned many people going down. This had Max King’s fingerprints all over it. Once you made it through the downhill gauntlet, the course had a 400 meter stretch that took us in and out of pine trees. This little section had branches we had to dodge and several sharp turns that would halt any momentum we might have gained on the “flattest” section of the whole course.

As we came out of the trees, we were rewarded with a long, grinding 700-800 meter uphill climb that would chew many runners up and spit them out. After cresting this beast, we had about 300 meters of rolling, gradual incline before hitting another round of the downhill gauntlet. We would have to endure 5 of these loops. After previewing the course, it was very evident that carnage was sure to follow. I was sure I could hear Max’s devious chuckle. Perhaps his nickname should be “Mad Max.”

To be honest, I was actually excited to tackle this course. Going uphill is probably my greatest strength. Unfortunately, technical downhill is not one of my strengths but I still hoped to limit the damage by maintaining my position and also knowing that many runners were coming from flat terrain where they had little or no experience running downhill, let alone technical downhill.

This course would be an “equalizer” in many regards. It would be a race of strategy, perseverance, mental toughness and sheer grind. Forget the 10k PR this year!

The Team

2013 Club Nationals

L to R: Craig, Art, Cody, CJ, Simon, Mark

 

Going into this race, I was excited at our team’s prospects of placing in the top 3 overall. I knew it would take a great day to beat the two-time defending team champion Atlanta Track Club led by two-time defending champion Malcolm Campbell. When I look at our team members, I’m definitely the “newbie” of the group…

Simon Gutierrez – Two-time winner of both the Mount Washington Road Race and Pikes Peak Ascent. Made numerous US Mountain Running teams. Has placed 1st overall at Club Nationals XC and placed 2nd twice. One of the best master’s runners in the country.

Art Siemers – Head cross country coach at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. PR’s of 4:04 (mile), 14:05 (5k), 29:47 (10k), 1:05 (half-marathon), 2:18 (marathon). Art continues to be competitive after turning 40 this past year.

Cody Hill – Cody and his wife Lori operate the Boulder Running Company in Colorado Springs and are fantastic running ambassadors in our community. Cody created the BRC/Adidas elite racing team several years ago which has been very competitive at races and championship events across the country. I’m thankful Cody invited me to be part of this master’s team. He’s been a competitive runner since his collegiate days and continues to lay down some smoking times from the mile to 10k after also turning 40 this past year.

Craig Greenslit – Craig has been a high level triathlete for several years from local events to Ironman championships. He also has a fantastic running resume including a 6th place master’s finish at last February’s USA Cross Country Championship in St. Louis.

Mark Misch – Mark is Head Cross Country and Track coach at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS). Not only did Mark run at the collegiate level himself but he’s had the privilege of coaching some outstanding collegiate athletes over the last seven years. Shortly after turning 40 this past year, Mark placed 16th overall in the master’s USA Cross Country Championship in St. Louis. Before being involved in a car accident nearly ten years ago while running, Mark was well on his way to qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the marathon. Since then, he’s managed to adjust his goals while remaining very competitive as a runner.

CJ Hitz – Yep, that’s Yours Truly. Since I only began running 5 ½ years ago, my running resume is short and much less impressive compared to the guys above. 2013 was an exciting year of improvement in my running as I managed to beat my previous PR’s which had been set at sea level. Setting new PR’s at 6,000 feet elevation (here in Colorado Springs) gets me pumped to run these distances at sea level again to see what I can do. I hope my own running can be an example for those, like me, who took up running in their mid-thirties or even forties.

The Race

On race morning, we arrived at the course a little after 9am. With the men’s master’s race beginning at 10:45am, we had plenty of time to warm-up and even watch the women’s master’s race.

For our warm-up, we decided to run the 2k loop that we’d become quite intimate with during the race. Weather conditions were partly cloudy and windy with temperatures in the 30s. Fortunately, by the time our race started, the wind had quieted down and we even saw some sun peeking through.

As we did our final strides near the starting line, I was envisioning runners blowing up after that first 400 meter climb. Mark & I agreed we needed to go out a little more conservative which would keep us in the middle of the pack in that first loop. If ever there was a course where a person could ruin their race in the first two loops, this was surely it.

After the first loop, Mark & I were running within five meters of one another and found ourselves at around 150th place or middle of the pack. Even in this first loop, we began to see the carnage begin. There was a steep price to be paid for those who decided to go out at their normal 10k pace since this course was anything but “normal” compared to all other previous years.

CJ Hitz Club Nationals

Mark (L) and I cruising near the trees

 

I’m so thankful for Mark and his wisdom, even as we were running nearly side by side. As he sensed me getting antsy and wanting to push harder after that first loop, he gently said, “Patience CJ, remember we have five loops. Our opportunity will come.” This was enough for me to hold back and save the best for last. Mark is a coach through and through, even during a championship race!

By the time we made it through the second loop, we probably passed 10-15 people on the uphill section while maintaining our position on the downhill. At worst, we would be passed by 2-3 people on the downhill each loop. As we completed the third loop, we found ourselves in the top 100 and in great position to reel in more carnage in the last two loops. It was in the third loop that we passed Craig who was dealing with a lingering Achilles issue. This is the main reason he decided against wearing XC spikes due to the further stress it would add. It was evident when we passed him that he was struggling with some pain.

The fourth loop saw Mark & I turn it up a notch as we still had plenty in the tank, thanks in no small part to Mark’s wisdom & strategy. As we crested the big climb toward the end of the fourth loop, we came across Cody who seemed to be struggling. This actually shocked me since I had never beat Cody, let alone passed him in previous races. We encouraged him to keep moving and finish strong before heading into the fifth and final loop. Cody would later admit that this type of course didn’t suit his strengths. Though not a bad uphill runner, he was very tentative (and for good reason) on the treacherous downhill.

2013 Masters Club Nationals

Mark (in front) and I entering the downhill gauntlet

 

Hitting that last loop gave Mark & I an added boost of energy as we sensed a great opportunity to do more damage, especially on that final uphill. As we passed quite a few more runners, I put a small gap on Mark before we headed into the 300 meter downhill finishing chute. We both kicked pretty hard but I managed to cross the finish line a mere one second ahead of Mark. After finishing this race, I embraced my fellow comrade in battle and thanked him for helping me run a smart race.

2013 Masters Club Nationals Finish

Crossing the glorious finish

 

When the dust (and mud) finally settled, our team finished 5th of 23 teams which was a bit disappointing for us. We were a mere 6 points out of 4th place. Individually, this was the finishing order with our top five guys scoring…

8th – Simon (he was running 4th before taking a nasty fall in that downhill gauntlet). He was the age-graded champion at 47 years old.

25th – Art

49th – CJ (Yours Truly)

50th – Mark

68th – Cody

112th – Craig

All in all, a few guys on the team didn’t have their best day but that’s how the cookie crumbles at times. Still, to be 6 points out of 4th place is pretty good despite a mediocre day. This gets me excited about our team’s prospects next year in Bethlehem, PA.

Amazingly, the Atlanta Track Club took home their third master’s team title in a row by squeaking out victory by a mere one point over Bowerman Athletic Club of Oregon. Proof that giving it everything you’ve got can make a big difference in the end. Lee Troop of Boulder, CO ran away from the field to win the individual master’s title.

One More Highlight

At the evening awards celebration, I had the honor of meeting someone I highly respect and look up to as a runner and coach. That person is none other than Pete Magill, a name you might recognize from articles he’s contributed to Running Times. Pete holds the American record for the oldest person to break 15 minutes in the 5k. He ran 14:47 at 49 years of age which is phenomenal. Pete won the master’s USATF Club Nationals race in 2010 when it was held in North Carolina. And he didn’t start running again until he was nearly 40 years old after quitting his freshman year in college!

Pete has been kind enough to answer several questions I’ve asked him via email over the past few years and I found him to be even more gracious and approachable in person. Before we parted ways, he signed a race bib for me and also a good friend of mine here in Colorado Springs. Keep running strong Pete!

Pete Magill Masters Club Nationals

Enjoying a moment with masters legend Pete Magill (L)

 

Final Thoughts

I was able to spend a full week in Oregon which gave me time to see family which was nice. I mainly stayed with my brother Jason and his wife Christy in Dundee, OR deep in wine country. Jason & I drove the three hours south to visit our parents and our grandma in Myrtle Creek and Roseburg. I was also able to get my typical Oregon coast fix by taking a drive over to Newport one of the days.

I also have to give huge thanks to Michael & Mayra Dennis for their gracious hospitality in putting Mark & I up for the couple nights we were in Bend. Their kids and Golden Retriever Daisy were fun to be around.

As the week came to a close, I found myself excited to return to my wife Shelley and our abundant Colorado sunshine that seems more elusive in the Pacific Northwest this time of year.

I’m also excited for what 2014 holds in store…Happy New Year!

 

**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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3 Holiday Tips to Keep You Running Strong!

Holiday Tips For Runners

I hope this finds you running well as we move into the Winter!  Here are 3 holiday tips to keep you healthy as we move into the holiday season…

1.) Load up on fruit & veggies – as we move closer to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, it’s very easy to increase our sugar intake with all the holiday treats available. Make it a point to stock up on healthy snacks and limit the amount of unhealthy snacks you have in the house.  Instead, save the sugary treats for those special gatherings with family or friends. My wife and I love to cut up broccoli and cauliflower and load up a container full to have handy. We then use hummus or Annie’s Goddess dressing as a delicious dip.  Apples and oranges are also great to have available since they’re packed with immunity-building Vitamin C. Apples are also a fantastic source of Quercetin, a flavinoid that helps guard against cold or flu bugs and also has been found to decrease inflammation.  As a runner, lingering inflammation can be an injury waiting to happen.  Refined sugar also creates more inflammation throughout the body.

2.) Vitamin D Supplement – depending on where you live, this can also be a time of year when the sun can be a little more elusive which means our bodies don’t make as much Vitamin D.  For the runner, Vitamin D levels correspond with our immunity which is the body’s ability to fight off disease and illness.  So during this season, a Vitamin D supplement can help boost immunity, especially as we endure more intense training.  Based on research, it’s tough to beat Maximized Living’s Vitamin D3 Complex

3.) Don’t Forget Water! – As the weather gets cooler, it’s easier to back off on water since the body doesn’t alert us as quickly to our need.  A nice formula to ensure you’re drinking enough is to change your body weight to ounces and cut that in half.  For example, I weigh 150 lbs.  Therefore, my minimum intake should be 75 ounces each day.  This number will increase on days when we run.  Water helps flush out waste and toxins. One way to know you’re drinking enough is notice a clear to light yellow color in your urine.  Dark yellow is a sign you’re under-drinking.

Practice these 3 tips over the next couple months and you’ll give your body an extra layer of protection it needs despite the distractions that are inevitable this time of year.

On the Run,

CJ

 

**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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Are All Protein Powders The Same?

Through the years, I’ve tried many different brands and varieties of protein powders for my smoothies.  I’ve found that many brands are simply selling cans of trash in terms of ingredients and what they do for our bodies.  At the same time, the companies that produce these “trash cans” have elaborate marketing campaigns and fancy labels that attract the uneducated consumer in hordes.  Promises like “Bulk up Fast!” or “Gain Muscle Now!” are slogans we need to run from.  First of all, our bodies can only process a certain quantity of protein before the excess is stored as fat.  Second, the quality of the protein is something we need to research before we put it into our bodies.

Why I Prefer Plant-Based Protein

In my own research, I’ve found plant-based protein powders to be the most efficient for my body for a few reasons…

1.) Digestion – Plant-based protein is going to digest more quickly and be readily available for use by our bodies.  Whey-based protein is made from dairy which means the body will need to take it through a longer process for digestion as it breaks it down.

2.) Allergies – I’ve also found (as many others have) my allergies have decreased as my dairy intake decreased over the years.  As I was growing up, I consumed large amounts of dairy in the form of milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt, etc.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I suffered with Hay Fever on a yearly basis, especially from Spring to the beginning of Fall.  My body was also producing a large amount of mucus which is the body’s way of trying to get rid of something it doesn’t agree with.  I can’t remember the last time I experienced a Hay Fever attack which used to include itchy eyes, itchy & scratchy throat, runny nose and obnoxious sneezing bouts.  I attribute this to dietary changes and improved fitness.

3.) Health Concerns – Studies are also finding soy protein to be dangerous for our bodies.  Some of these concerns include increased cancer risks due to estrogen levels, enlarged thyroid and adverse interactions with some prescription medications.  Most soy products have been genetically modified which is always a red flag regarding health and nutrition.

4.) Whole Food Nutrition – Stay away from protein powders that use the word “isolate” in their labels or ingredients list.  This means the company has isolated and separated various parts of a food in order to cheapen the product.  Study after study has shown that maximum benefit is found in whole food-based nutrition.  For example, an apple contains thousands of individual phytonutrients that work in synergy together.  Some well-meaning folks have isolated these phytonutrients to find out which ones are healthiest for the human body before putting them into capsule or powder form.  Bottom line: if you want the maximal amount of nutrition, simply eat the whole apple!  The same goes for protein…when you see the words “soy isolate” or “whey isolate” you’re not seeing whole food nutrition.

Garden of Life Sport Protein Is My Choice

GOL Sport Protein PicAgain, there are many different brands of protein powder on the market today including those that are plant-based.  My absolute favorite has become Garden of Life Sport. My favorite part about Garden of Life Sport is that it’s 100% plant-based, free from dairy, gluten and soy, and contains no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners.  In other words, you won’t find fillers, isolates or non-food additives in this mix!

My body just feels cleaner since I’ve begun using Garden of Life Sport for my smoothies.  I also love the taste!  Unlike the bland, chalky taste of so many protein powders on the market, Garden of Life Sport is a delicious way to enhance your smoothie.  It only makes sense as you’ll be adding real food (in powder form) to your blend.

The protein found in Garden of Life Sport contains all of the following in each can…

  • Organic Pea Protein
  • Organic Sprouted Navy Bean
  • Organic Sprouted Lentil Bean
  • Organic Sprouted Garbanzo Bean
  • Organic Cranberry Protein (seed)

Garden of Life Sport is no “lightweight” in terms of the amount of quality protein, boasting 30 grams per serving (two scoops).  You can rest assured knowing you’re feeding your body the protein is craves most and an amount it will use to build a strong, lean body.

Garden of Life Sport Protein is available in Chocolate and Vanilla flavors.

Start using Garden of  Life Sport protein powder today! Use code Ambassador20 for 20% off your next online order

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