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Home » Avoiding Burnout, Enhancing Performance and Enjoying Workouts with Fitz Koehler! Ep94

Avoiding Burnout, Enhancing Performance and Enjoying Workouts with Fitz Koehler! Ep94

#094 – Have you ever found yourself stuck in a rut, exhausted with your fitness routine and finding no pleasure from the same tedious workouts? Well, today’s episode is going to change all that. We’re talking about how to avoid burnout, stay injury-free, and actually enjoy the activity you once loved with our guest, Fitz Kohler, Fitzness

Fitz is no stranger to challenges; she’s a cancer survivor who bounced back stronger than ever and shares her journey in her book, “Your Healthy Cancer Comeback.” Tune in as we discuss her transformation from sickness to strength and the warning signs of burnout.

Topics Covered:

  • Recognizing the signs of burnout
  • Addressing burnout with the four pillars of fitness 
  • Discovering the benefits of zero impact exercises 
  • Implementing practical ways to prevent injuries

Today’s Guest

FItz Koehler
FItz Keynote point Photo credit Phil Stokes

Fitz Koehler

Fitz of is one of the most prominent and compelling fitness experts and race announcers in America. As the voice of the Los Angeles Marathon, Buffalo Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, DC Wonder Woman Run Series, and more, she brings big structure, energy, and joy to sports. She’s passionate about guiding others to live better and longer through her company, Fitzness®.

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Richard Conner: [00:00:00] Hey, my friend more often than not. Are you feeling tired? Worn out, maybe even bored. Well, these could be signs of burnout. And let me tell you something. Burnout is real today. You’re going to hear a recording from a recent Instagram live. As I sit down with Fitz Kohler from fitness. And she talks about ways that you can prevent burnout. And in addition to that, it could also help you stay injury free as a runner. Hope you enjoy.

​ Richard Conner: We have Fitz Kohler. I’m so excited to have you Fitz, you know, [00:01:00] so Fitz was on the show, episode 36. So it’s been quite some time and I’ve been meeting you back on the show. I think it’s just an opportunity to have you live here to talk about such an important topic, uh, around burnout.

And, you know, Fitz runs her own company, president of Fitzness, and a race announcer, and has just an amazing story, uh, around her journey battling cancer. So go back to episode 36 and hear all about Fitz, but Fitz, if you want to just take a moment and introduce yourself and share a little bit of your story.

Fitz Koehler: So I’m the noisy girl. Most of you here at start and finish lines around the country. I think my races are the best races. So if you’re registering for the good ones, you’ll often find me there. I’m obsessed with our running community because it’s made of the best people always working on their own health.

Great causes. share, taking good care of their communities and means just the best of the best. I also happen to be a highly credentialed fitness expert with a master’s in exercise and sports [00:02:00] sciences. I’m the author of four books and I do a bunch of corporate speaking and what else? I don’t know. I’ve run.

I’m an athlete. I’m a fitness fanatic, personally. I really respect my body and take good care of it. And oh, by the way, I also happened to have cancer a few years ago, and that was a hell of a wild ride. And I can tell you that you look a heck of a lot better bald than I did. You rock it. I, I did my best with it.

But yeah, cancer did that and uh, it’s gone, thankfully. So I’m back to living completely, uh, fully again, right? I’m, I’m, I’m there. I’m 100%. Yeah. And you’re 100%.[00:03:00]

Well, you know what? And I appreciate that. And thank you so much for getting my noisy cancer comeback for your friend. But the one I’m really excited about now is your healthy cancer comeback. It’s the guidebook, the blueprint to help cancer patients and survivors go from sick to strong because, you know, the research, endless research proves that exercise and quality and nutrition will make a cancer patient more likely to hit remission.

and less likely to have a recurrence. And almost all of the medical providers will tell a patient, you should exercise, you should eat right, but none of them tell the patients how. And so… When I hit rock bottom, I decided someone’s got to do this. Someone’s got to teach them how. And so that’s why I wrote Your Healthy Cancer Comeback.

So that my, my noisy cancer comeback is a great story. And there’s certainly some lessons, um, to be learned in there. But I, I think this one, the new one is the one I want in every cancer patient’s hands,[00:04:00]

pain and suffering. And so pain, physical suffering could be physical or mental. You know, you don’t want to do it. You’re finding every excuse not to exercise should be something we look forward to because it makes our body feel good. If we. If we are doing the same thing over and over and over again, it becomes monotonous, we lose [00:05:00] the pleasure, and certainly our body starts, uh, having that wear and tear that just doesn’t feel good anymore.

So yeah, pain and suffering.

Well it depends, depends what you’re burning out from. So if we’re talking about work, right, all we do is work, work, work, then the exercise is a diversion. But if you’re training for a marathon, for example, and all you do is run, you start to burn out. You start to, your body starts to revolt physically and your mind starts to revolt too.

It becomes an unfun experience and you need distractions and, you know, that actually will make you a better athlete. It’ll make you a better runner if you lean towards the distractions. Well,[00:06:00]

you know, the, the ugly truth in the running community is runners tend to only run. And we got to run, run, run. I’m doing train for a marathon. I got to run five, six, seven days a week. That’s just simply not true. And it’s amazing how many runners or how many marathon runners, people who run multiple marathons a year, don’t even qualify as fits.

And so I think if you understand the definition of fit and what the requirements are, [00:07:00] You may start thinking, huh, I should be diversifying my workouts. And so, um, in order, well, before I go to the, the actual pillars of fitness, if you’re a marathon runner, but you can’t do five pushups, do you qualify as fit?

Do you think? That’s a question. Do you think?

Richard Conner: Uh, probably not. Okay. Five pushups is not, not a lot of.

Fitz Koehler: Okay. If you’re a yoga instructor who can do all sorts of fancy bendy poses on one foot. But you can’t walk up two flights of stairs without huffing and puffing. Are you fit?

No. No. So I could give a few more examples. I’m not going to drone on in that. In order to be fit, in order to qualify as fit, you have, you need to be proficient in four pillars of fitness. That’s what I call them. They’re strength, physical strength. It’s all your body, your muscles, your ability to push, pull, lift, and press against resistance.

Your cardiorespiratory [00:08:00] fitness, right? It’s your huffing and puffing, your ability to go, your stamina, your flexibility, it’s your body’s, your muscles ability to reach and, and go through their full range of motion. If you’re a little stiff person who runs and hunches over, you’re not fit. And then of course, the last pillar of fitness is balance.

And why is balance training important?

Well, if you don’t do, if you’re, if you’re not proficient with balance, you’re likely to fall down. So it’s strength, cardio, respiratory fitness, flexibility, and balance. And those four pillars of fitness are necessary to qualify as fit. So, you know, before we’re athletes, before we’re runners, you run races, we’re people, you know?

And so the most important thing we focus on is how to create a fit body, a healthy body that will. Uh, withstand the test of time, keep us going, keep us not only [00:09:00] alive, but having fun and active performing the way we want and feeling the way we want. And so in order to be a fit person, it’s strength, flexibility, cardio and balance.

Those four things are essential. And so what runners tend to do is cardio, cardio, cardio, cardio, cardio, cardio. And they’re just, they’re not even diversifying. It’s not that they’re. only doing cardio, but they’re swimming and biking and dancing and doing karate. They’re just running and they’re pounding.

My, my, you’ve got to have mercy on those joints, right? It’s, it’s not beneficial over time. In fact, it becomes counterproductive. And so to prevent burnout, if you start taking those four pillars of fitness seriously, all of a sudden you start diversifying your workouts and you find you’re not lacing up your running shoes and hitting the pavement every single day.

Your strength training might be Pilates. It might be cables and dumbbells at the gym. That’s different. That’s not only different for your body, but it’s different for your mind. The same thing goes when you’re stretching. And so, I really believe [00:10:00] that’s not only the way to promote actual fitness and increase performance, but it’s how you prevent…

Love that.

Richard Conner: Well, I learned something already, just, uh, what I do in preventing burnout for yourself mentally.

Fitz Koehler: Those are words that normal people don’t know, right? So, if you walked into a crowded mall and you said, Hey, blah, blah, [00:11:00] blah, who’s got piriformis syndrome? Most people would look at you like you were crazy because they don’t know that word. Runners know that word because they’re experiencing piriformis syndrome.

That’s because they’re weak and they’re tight. And so, all of these weird little injuries, the most common injuries that runners experience are overuse injuries and under training in the other pillars. So,

Richard Conner: so let’s talk about examples,

you know, runners and athletes. Yeah,

Fitz Koehler: so first of all, Every one of your muscles matter. So it’s not just lower body. It’s shoulders and lats and biceps and your forearms. All of your muscles matter. So I want people to, you know, ingrain that in their head. They all count. Not just the ones we see in the mirror.

But when we talk about sport performance [00:12:00] training. We, we can target specific muscles for runners. And I would say the most essential muscle to target right off the bat is your glutes. That’s your, uh, your, your, uh, your squats, your lunges. And then, of course, those, that lateral gait. So your glute medius is the muscle that runs along kind of the side of your hip.

It’s, it’s part tush, part hip. And that muscle holds your femurs in place. Your femurs are the longest bone in your body. It goes from your hip to your knee. And they’re big, right? And if you’re running around in those, if you’re running and those femurs aren’t kept in place, all of a sudden they start wiggling back and forth, right?

They’re, they’re loosey goosey. If you’ve got loosey goosey femurs… Your hips hurt. Your knees hurt. And so, so many runners complain about knee pain. And then they think, oh, I gotta go to my doctor. And the doctor says, you don’t, I, I, we’re gonna take an expensive MRI and we’ve seen, you don’t have an actual knee injury unless you’ve had that [00:13:00] twist or a fall.

The odds are you don’t. Actually, you haven’t injured your knee. What your knee is doing is paying the price for your lack of strength at your hips. And so, um, most runners have these, this, uh, uh, hard to describe knee pain. That’s weakness. It’s tightness and weakness. And so if you do your squats, if you do your single leg, Squats and your lunges.

We perform on one leg. You know, runners never hop down the race course like bunny foo foo. We don’t ever do boing, boing, boing, right? So we perform on one leg. As we run, so we should train on one leg. We should prepare our, our legs to be sufficient and strong individually. And so when you do squats, do a single leg squat, do it on one foot.

Lunges are a great choice. And then for that glute medius to hold your femur in place. And take one of those bands, those evil bands. They’re cheap, they’re, they’re lightweight, they’re portable. You can take them with you [00:14:00] everywhere you go, but you wrap them around your ankles and you just step to the side.

And that helps build up that glute medius, that along with. Oyster shells or clam shells or chicken wings, whatever you want to call them. In fact on the cover of fitness. com There’s a block that says strength training for runners. There’s a 12 minute video Workout, it’s me and you and I lead you through targeting all the muscles But um, but yeah, it’s it’s I mean it would have devastating effects On a runner who did not train for strength or flexibility.

It’s all so essential and if I could sit every distance runner down and give them the conversation and maybe a little smack on the tush. I would do it because it’s that important.[00:15:00]

Yeah, and you can really make progress. So I trained for Boston Marathon. I ran three days a week, three days a week. That was it. I did two 30 minute runs and then I would do a long run on Friday or whatever day it was. So you don’t have to run every single day. In fact, most of the running coaches will tell you not to run every single day.

But can you still increase your Your lower body’s ability to perform by using the elliptical trainer or a stepper, which are zero impact exercises that aren’t going to wreak havoc on your feet and your knees and your hips, yet they’re going to help you build strength throughout your quads and your hamstrings and your glutes and etc.

So, you know, you can still do cardio on the other days. Just do something different. Can you increase your respiratory fitness by swimming or cycling? You certainly can. Um, and then the strength training, I recommend every other [00:16:00] day. So they say strength training once a week, that means targeting each muscle group once a week, is for muscle maintenance.

If you like to make progress, do it twice a week. And then if you really want to make progress, it’s every other day or three times a week. And I’m an every other day girl because muscles are very high on my list of importance. So, um, I hit it hard multiple days a week. You have to leave 48 hours of rest in between training each muscle group.

But yeah, every other day is ideal for performance. That’s awesome.

Richard Conner: Um,

Fitz Koehler: when I was training for Boston, I did opposites. I did, so I would have a run, running only, and then strength training in the other days. Um, I, I very much believe in having a day off. You know, which is a day where you’re not going out and doing something vigorous. So activity is different than exercise.

So sometimes people, people come to [00:17:00] me to lose weight, right? And they say, well, I’m so active. I garden and I do housework. And okay, that’s being active. That’s moving your body. That’s not exercise. Exercise is deliberate. It’s targeting one of those pillars of fitness, strength, cardio, flexibility, balance, with a vengeance to try to make progress.

Exercise normally requires a sports bra, or a particular shoe, or a mouthpiece, or, you know, you’re preparing to do exercise, right? Activity, you know, mowing the lawn, it just doesn’t count. It’s good activity, and I give it thumbs up, but, um, what I’m saying is, One day off from the vigorous exercise, you can still be active on that day.

You can still walk with your dog and your kids or wrestle with your husband or what, whatever. You can still be active, but six days a week for vigorous exercise if you’re trying to make major progress.

Richard Conner: I have a long[00:18:00]

Fitz Koehler: well, and, and here’s the deal. If you can get to the gym filled with all sorts of wonderful equipment designed for someone to build strength, then great. But, if you’ve only got 12 minutes and you have no equipment, you get on fitness. com and you do my strength training for runners workout, which requires little to none.

Right? So, lunges don’t require any, any, uh, equipment. You can do squats. You can do squat jumps. You can do pistol squats. You can do, you know, lateral gait with just a teeny little band, so you don’t have to go to the gym. I love the gym. But if you can’t make it, fine. So be it. Get it done at home. No excuses.

I was just Richard Conner: about to say that. Mm hmm.

Let’s Fitz Koehler: go to flexibility. So, Transcribed by https: otter. ai So we talked about going to the doctor cause you’re in pain. It’s either because of weakness. The [00:19:00] other thing it may be is because of tightness and, and I assure you runners that if you do not do strength training and flexibility training, eventually you will have pain.

That will lead to suffering, that will lead to that very expensive doctor appointment and the very expensive scans, and then they will send you to a, an expensive physical therapist who will go, ah, you’re really weak over here, or oops, you’re kind of tight. Okay, you’re not injured, you’re tight and you’re weak.

And so, where strength training does come with some significant rules and nuances, flexibility training does not. You know, beyond making you a better athlete, it allows you to stand up straighter. You know, your shoulder girdle, for example, this joint will take your arm 360 degrees. How many people actually go through that motion every day?

Do you move your arm in that way?

Richard Conner: No. Not much that happens. You should. Your

Fitz Koehler: hips will move your legs in these big, ginormous circles, so, you know, mobility number one. We see old people, they start to [00:20:00] hunch, they get crooked. They’re, they haven’t been working on flexibility. So first of all, the way you look, the way you feel, standing up tall, flexibility matters.

But if your muscles are accustomed to going through a full range of motion, if Let’s say you, you step off the sidewalk while you’re running, or you’re at Disney because Disney’s got a, what do they call it, cobblestone, right? And, and your leg extends in a weird way, you’re not going to tear your hamstring because your hamstring is flexible and it’s okay going through that full range of motion.

If you’re not, then you may have a sprain, strain, or tear. So it’s important to stretch all the muscles from your neck down to your toes. And the way I do it, is, uh, throughout the day, every day. And so my, I have a little policy when I let my dogs out to go to the bathroom, which is frequently, every single time I get down on the ground and I stretch my hips.

Every single time, even at 3 o’clock in the morning. I’ve got a 14 year old dog. She’s got to go potty all the time. And so at 3 a. m., she’s out going potty. [00:21:00] I’m stretching my hips. When I walk through certain doorways, I put my arms out and I stretch that way. And then, of course, at the end of my workouts, Thank you.

through, you know, 5 to 10 minutes of total body stretches. Um, so, so with string training, you know, you have to give that 48 hours in between skip workouts to allow your body to repair, rebuild and respond to the efforts you’ve made. flexibility training you can do all day every day. There is no limit and you should keep your body moving because it’ll feel better and it’ll perform better.

That’s [00:22:00] awesome. All right. It’s it’s a massage, right? It’s it’s pressure. So something like your I. T. Band, you cannot stretch. Uh, IT band is not a muscle or a tendon or a ligament. You cannot stretch it. So if you’ve got a tight IT band, what you can do is strength train and stretch, uh, stretch and strengthen your hips to get them level.

But the only thing you can really do to find relief is pressure. Pressure on that, um, fascia. So IT, uh, the foam rollers are really good for, um, providing relief. They’re a great tool for preventing pain and responding to it.

Richard Conner: Okay. Yeah.

Fitz Koehler: Well, you know, with foam rollers, I mean, there’s, that’s a whole new bag of worms too, because there’s the basic foam roller, the, you know, circle shape one, but then there’s PVC [00:23:00] pipes. I’ve got some big old PVC pipe, which is just murder. I mean, it is horrific, but it’s also really effective. And then I have one that I wish I could remember the name.

Um, it’s, it’s foam balls that are all connected. And so not only can you get that, okay. Nice relief of pressure, but it serves to crack my back. It’s almost like when people put tennis balls together and roll their spine between them. Uh, I wish I could come up with a name. This guy… I can’t remember it, but, but yes, anyone needs to know what the name of that foam roller is, let me know and I’ll, I’ll send it to you.

So fantastic. So there’s vibrating foam rollers. I mean, they really go in a bunch of directions, but they’re, they’re certainly very helpful.

Richard Conner: balance.

Fitz Koehler: Right. So you don’t fall over. It could just start with standing on one foot, holding onto the wall. If you’re unsure, I mean, golly, if [00:24:00] my mom were to do it, I would say, mom, hold onto the counter. But a strong young man like you. Can certainly stand on one foot without much risk, right?

And then, once you feel really good standing on one foot and you’re no longer shifting around like that, you can add elements, uh, to make it trickier to add, to make it more advanced. So, closing your eyes a great choice, flapping your arms, playing catch with a friend while standing on one foot. You can move that other leg up and down.

Your limbs are really Uh, dumbbells. They, they can be the best tools you have is just moving your other limbs around. So balance training is really important. You can also do that whenever you want to. There’s no limitation to it. And the more you do it, the more you’ll increase the thing called proprioception.

And that’s a really big fitness word, but what it really means is your body’s ability. to respond to an imbalance. And so, if you’re walking down the sidewalk, and one of your feet, foot’s, feet’s, yeah, one of your feet falls off, or steps off the edge of the sidewalk, and there’s [00:25:00] a ditch, right? It’s, it goes down into the sand or grass.

If you have not been balance training, and your proprioception is not strong, That outside of your foot hits the grass, your ankle rolls, you go down, right? Down goes Frasier. However, if you’ve been practicing with proprioception, with your balance training, you’re walking, That outside foot goes to step on, off the curb and instantly it just recoils.

You don’t even have time for your brain to say, wait, ankle, you know, straighten up. Don’t, don’t roll down. If you’re, if you practice your balance, it’s your body’s natural response is to keep you upright. And so, um, when you’re balanced training, you should be wobbling. So let’s say you take. a, uh, yoga or a tai chi class and they have you stand on one foot and do some weird stretch.

If your yoga instructor is standing there motionless like a tree and he or she is so proud, that person’s not making any [00:26:00] progress. If they can stay perfectly still without any sort of obvious wobble, They’re not making progress. It’s you that’s kind of wobbling in the back. You’re the one making progress because fitness training should challenge you, right?

So if you’re doing cardio fitness, you should be huffing and puffing. That’s, that’s the signal that we’re making our heart and lungs stronger. When you’re doing strength training, you know, if you can flail these three pound dumbbells around all day, you’re not, you’re not getting stronger. You’re getting stronger when you start to grunt, right?

When you move to failure, you can only do six repetitions. Uh, right there. That means you made yourself stronger. When you stretch and you, right here, I’m not making any progress, but here I kind of wince a little bit. The wince is the telltale that you’re making progress with flexibility. And for balance, it’s just that, that wobble.

If you wobble even just a little bit, you know you’re getting better. And so, um, strength, flexibility, cardio, balance. I stay until I’m blue in my face, but they all really matter. Yeah,

Richard Conner: well feel like [00:27:00] I progressed a little

Yeah. Fitz Koehler: And, and, and without the closing your eyes part, I mean, if you’re standing at the in line at the grocery store, you could just lift one foot off the ground, just be on one foot. Nobody’s gonna think you’re a weirdo. They’re not paying attention to your feet. So balance training is something you can and should do regularly.

And Richard Conner: I was just about to ask you that,

you know what? Fitz Koehler: It’s nice to have this structured fitness routine and, and running really, uh, calls for that. But the other elements of fitness really don’t. You could be at work in a dress and heels and do some push ups, right? If you can close that office door, you can make some progress with strength. If you want to stretch, I stretch in air, oh my gosh, me in the airports.

I, I travel a lot to go announce the races and do keynotes. So, um, [00:28:00] I take the private space and whether I’m in the large women’s bathroom or I just go into a stall and do stretches, I mean, anywhere, anytime stretching, do it when you can. And I’m a. Big fan of tall posture. I think it’s very sexy and it feels really good.

So I will do whatever it takes to Um to increase my range of motion and and get me higher and then I stretch in the airplane bathrooms Which is really awkward and weird, but I make it happen So yeah, wherever whenever for balance training for flexibility and even strength training It’s nice if you have 45 minutes to dedicate to a to a rough strength training workout But if you have 60 seconds to do push ups or 60 seconds to do burpees.

I don’t care who you are, 60 seconds is going to feel like a really long time and you are going to make progress.[00:29:00]

Oh, just to make a lot of progress as a runner by doing a stepper. Or an elliptical or riding a bike Uh for sure, you don’t have to exclusively run and if you if you mix things up boy You’re going to be a lot more entertained and I think you’re going to feel a lot better and and probably perform a lot better On race day.

Richard Conner: Yeah for sure and then

work on right so if you’re burned out So it’s that you have other activities that are more of a distraction to work work work the many hours work to do something else It can kind of also help you burn out. So really appreciate you sharing that as well Uh,

Fitz Koehler: and I just think, you know, [00:30:00] when we become grownups, sometimes we, we give up the fun things in our life.

You know, I just decided I was going to take guitar lessons. I don’t know why I just decided it would be fun and interesting and I’m really excited about it. It will benefit my career zero. It will benefit my family zero, but it will be interesting and fun for me and I’m going to do it. There’s also some great reward in showing up and being a complete novice at something.

You’re the worst, right? You show up in class or to whatever event you’re at, and you’re the worst person. You’ve got no skills, no knowledge, and then all of a sudden you start learning and you get better. And I really value that experience of making progress and, you know, even if you never become the best, and I tell you what, I do a lot of things and I’m not the best at, but I…

I feel great about where I, where I was and where I’ve come and, you know, hoping to make progress from there on out. So, so do something [00:31:00] interesting and especially do something outside of fitness. Get a hobby that’s totally different, whether you paint or write poetry or play poker. I don’t care. Just do something.

That does nothing but make you happy and, uh, appeases your mental fortitude.

Thank you so Fitsness. com is my home base. And that’s how you see Fitsness. Look right there. Fitsness. And, uh, anybody could go there to get a ton of free resources. To live better and longer and earn a healthy body. And then also I’ve got some awesome resources for cancer patients and survivors. So I hope 0% of your viewers have cancer.[00:32:00]

I know every last one of them loves someone with cancer. And what I hope is they will pick up your healthy cancer, come back sick to strong, get this, um, and help your favorite cancer patient and survivor recover fully, um, build back their strength, their stamina, get back to vibrancy. It was no fun. It was no fun being in the.

Um, depths of, uh, despair and sick, and so when I, when I was there, I was fortunate enough to be a fitness expert, and I knew how to rebuild my body, lucky me, but at the same time I felt so sad for my peers all the Those cancer patients who were not fitness experts that had no idea how to get back to any sense of normalcy.

So, so that’s the wish is that if anybody loves a cancer patient, send them or go to fitness. com and buy it for them. You want to help that person anyway. So get them your healthy cancer. Come back. There’s a journal. There’s a memoir too, but, um, that’s the one I really want people to see. And then of course I’m at fitness right here on Instagram.[00:33:00]

And I love it when people. Say hello. So if you follow, that’s great, but I’d rather you reach out and say hi.

Richard Conner: All right.

Fitz Koehler: Thanks, and you need to come to one of my races soon. I I have another finish line hug for you. Okay, let’s do it Okay. All right. Take care. Bye