How they Train: Chris Hicks

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Age  49

Did you compete in high school or collegiate cross country or track? Yes, I started in 7th grade and ran both CC and Track until my junior year of high school.  I had the same coach all five years and ran with many of the same guys.

How many years have you been running? 12 as a “born again” runner.  In August of 2005 I laced up a pair of running shoes for the first time since high school.  It was ONLY because I had signed up for a triathlon.  In June of 2005 I bought a bike in order to take a new approach to health and life as a response to very poor lifestyle choices.  Little did I know this would be pivotal for me in my health, as well as my athletics and even my social life.

Lifetime personal records: This is an odd one because I really didn’t turn things up until my mid 40s.  I have recently reconnected with my old CC / Track coach.  When I shared what has been going on he told me I was a “late bloomer.”  Kind of the story of my life, but I am still faster at 49 than I was at 17.  My coach and I will meet and run together for the first time in 30+ years this April when we run The Boston Marathon together, his first time doing so. 5k 18:55 / 10k 38:23 / 13.1 1:26:26 / 26.2 3:14:15 / 50k 5:20 / 50 Mile 10:22

Running Achievements for which you are Most Proud: The most meaningful was the Pensacola Marathon 11/9/2014.  August 15th of the same year I had a very serious bike crash that permanently took away two of my senses and left me with plenty of fractures and a pulmonary embolism five days later.  I took 22 days to wrap my brain around it all and heal.  On Sunday September 7th after church I laced up my running shoes for a 2 mile jog.  It was MAGICAL.  63 days later I put my toes on the line of the Pensacola Marathon and finished 3:18.  I knew I was back and could do anything I could do prior to the accident.  At the end I walked away from everyone and got very emotional.

What running events do you train for or what are your training goals? Anything less than a half marathon I just kind of wing it.  Halves, marathons and ultras are being done for some purpose or goal, so I will have specific train ups for those distances.  My next adventure will be a 100k trail run and later the 100 mile trail.  At that distance running is a relative term for me.  I will use a train up that compliments the selected race.

How Many Miles Do you typically run when not injured and consistently running?During the summer I spend many miles on my bike, so running is 20 to 28 miles a week.  But during the winter months the trails call me.  I LOVE trail running.  Therefore, the miles add up quick and can easily get to the 40+ mile mark when training for ultra distances.

What does your typical week of running look like? This applies to the winter when I hang up my bike.

  • Monday: Swim only
  • Tuesday:  Tempo around 5 to 8 miles
  • Wednesday:  Easy miles no more than 5 or 6 miles
  • Thursday: Tempo around 5 to 8 miles
  • Friday:  Swim only
  • Saturday: Long trail miles over 14
  • Sunday: Long road miles over 10
How does your training vary over the course of a year? Spring through fall I am a triathlete racing for Zarzaur Law supporting Gulf Coast Kids House and Favor House, so I am hitting all three disciplines.  However, for four months my bike gathers dust and I run.  This change up of cross training and adding trails has kept me injury free for the most part.  It also seems to help with burnout.  Swimming is consistent no matter what, it is a zero impact cardio workout and is good for the whole body.

Do you take recovery or down time?  I am not a fan of total off days.  As I age (50 in May) I have had to learn to respect the importance of recovery and tapers, so I take easy days or slower days.  As for whole days off, maybe one or two a month but no more.

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? None, in the past year.  I have only had a few over the prior 11 years excluding the bike crash.  I may not take total down days but I do listen to my body when I need to back off a bit before I have to take off completely.

What type of running shoes do you prefer? Asics for the road and Salomon for trails.

Do you stretch?  Uh, next question…  I should more.  When I do it’s slow controlled movements after I run.  I keep a trigger point ball in my car for the long drives.  It helps to sit on it and roll it around.  It has to look weird to the drivers next to me, but it seems to loosen up the piriformis and hamstrings and that’s all that matters.  However I am big on ice baths for 15 minutes anytime I ride for more than three hours or run more than 90 minutes.  They are HORRIBLE but I swear by them.

What are your favorite running routes? Just about anything with dirt and a little water.

What running resources do you like that would benefit someone else? I have tried so many things but ultimately the best learning has come from trial and error.  Listen to your body, it will tell you what it likes.  There is NO silver bullet.  We live in a community of all levels of athletes, and  I like to pick the brains of the ones who have been successfully competing for years.  I like to look at things with an open mind and experiment.

What advice do you have for beginning or experienced runners to help them with their training? Make sure it’s fun.  Go slow and build up easily.  Set goals and have races on your calendar.  Volunteer at events and give back to the community.  This community is incredible and we are fortunate to call it home.  If you support it, it will support you back.  Have good training buddies.  Regularly train with faster people that will push you.  Don’t be afraid to fail.

I’d like to leave with thanking my family for the support I have been shown over the years.  I am fortunate to have them and the best training partners on the gulf coast.  We are all lucky to live in a supportive and energetic community conducive to this lifestyle.  Thank you for asking me to participate in this interview.