This month we’d like to introduce our #ShokzSquad to Coach Chris Heuisler. You have probably seen Chris’s name on our blog before – he’s the Global RunWestin Concierge for Westin Hotels and Resorts, an accomplished marathoner, and coach to Kim, Andy and the #262squad on their journey to the Honolulu Marathon.
AfterShokz: Tell us about your journey as a runner.
Chris: Woah. Coming in hot with that loaded question. I’ll break down my answer into three parts:
Years 1-5 as a runner (1999 - 2004): “I’ve discovered a new religion. I need to tell everyone about this thing called, “running.” Also, I have no idea what I’m doing, but this Hal Higdon dude sounds like he does so I’ll follow his programs.”
Years 5-10 (2004 - 2009): “I know everything. I know which shoes are the best. I know which training is the best. I’m going to run so many marathons, so people think I’m amazing. I will never miss a day of training.”
Years 10-15 (2010 - 2015, became a running coach): “Hmmm. Maybe stretching and strength training will be important if I want to run until I die. Maybe I should get some certifications. Maybe I should make a career out of something I love to do. Maybe I should read more about running. I am a runner, and that’s how I like to identify myself.”
Years 15-Present (2015 - present, Global RunWestin Concierge for Westin Hotels and Resorts): “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m just going to allow myself to learn from each run, each race, each runner. Trails are my friend. It’s okay to take time off. Running does not define me, rather running refines me.”
AfterShokz: What led you to pursue your Road Runners Club of America coaching license?
Chris: I thought that for me to coach runners, taking a course and receiving certifications would be beneficial. And while the certification and course were essential for me, I’ve also discovered that the best way to learn about coaching and methods is by practicing on real athletes. No program is perfect, and no one program fits all athletes. The more I coach, the more I realize how simple it needs to be: do the work, make your hard days hard and your easy days easy, and stretch often.
AfterShokz: What has your experience been working at the Westin?
Chris: Surreal. Unbelievable. Life-changing. I work with a team of passionate, energetic and intelligent humans and have met thousands of runners in the past five years. I worked hard to earn this position and look forward to working with our team to continue making RunWestin grow.
AfterShokz: Do you have any advice for first-time marathoners?
Chris: Be kind to yourself and only compare yourself to yourself.
AfterShokz: What’s the best coaching advice you’ve received, and how do you pass that on to other athletes?
Chris: “Aim for unending improvement.” – Coach Joe Vigil. At the time I thought that statement only referenced the physical aspect of running, but have come to learn that it’s more relevant to the mental side.
AfterShokz: Best tips on how to eat healthy and workout while traveling?
Chris: Everything in moderation. You can indulge, and you should – every now and again. Plan ahead. If you’ve become accustomed to a particular diet before a run, do some research to ensure that you have good options to help maintain your routine on the road.
AfterShokz: Tell us about your journey to complete a marathon in all 50 states
Chris: 26 down, 24 to go. My oldest brother and I came up with the goal shortly after our first marathon together in 2000 at the Philadelphia Marathon. Every marathon is unique and memorable, and as long as we can stay healthy, we look forward to each new adventure. We are currently considering Ohio and Wisconsin for our next race.
AfterShokz: What has it been like training the #262squad for the Honolulu Marathon?
Chris: No athlete is the same, and every athlete reminds me of how fortunate I am to be along for the ride. Both Kim (Tiger) and Andy (Tigger) have demonstrated a strong commitment to their goals, and I can’t wait to see them, in person, toe the line in Hawaii.
AfterShokz: What can first-time marathoners expect in their first 26.2?
Chris: Hah. They can expect the unexpected. They can expect a life-changing experience. They can expect doubt, anxiety, exhilaration, and a new sense of community that they may not have been privy to throughout training.
AfterShokz: Any words of wisdom for runners who are nervous to tackle their first marathon?
Chris: Nerves come with the territory. If running a marathon was easy, everyone would do it. But accept the fact that you’re doing something to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and that is an excellent thing.
AfterShokz: How do you think runners and athletes can benefit from wearing AfterShokz?
Chris: I love listening to music on my hard days (tempo or track workouts). I may be feeling tired, but then Eminem's “Lose Yourself” comes on and I’m able to find a new burst of energy...without getting my arms tangled in the wires from headphones. I haven’t been much of a running-to-music runner, but with AfterShokz, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how I forget that I’m even wearing headphones. AfterShokz is, and I realize I sound like an ad, a great addition to my running journey.