While Charles Hillig, Jr. doesn’t run with an affiliation on his shirt, his lack of sponsorship doesn’t stop him from competing, and winning against the top sponsored athletes in Colorado and around the country.
Hillig’s hard work, determination and positive spirit have allowed him to not only chase his dreams, and win, but also do so in conjuncture with obtaining a B.S. in Sports and Exercise Science, as well as pursuing a career in orthopedic manual physical therapy.
This articulate Colorado native clearly has the knowledge and tools necessary to continue to be one of Colorado’s elite runners. Read on to find out how Hillig’s family and faith play a crucial role in his life goals and successes.
Name: Charles Hillig, Jr.
Hometown & Current: Born and raised Denver, Colorado in which I currently reside.
Professional & Educational background: I am a 2004 graduate of Regis Jesuit H.S. and in 2008 I obtained a B.S. in Sports & Exercise Science from the University of Northern Colorado. My aptitude for kinesiology has directed me through a multitude of various experiences, community involvement, certifications, and an internship within the medical profession. I am currently aspiring to pursue a career in orthopedic manual physical therapy.
Sports participated in: I am an advocate of physical fitness and I like any sport which involves physical activity. I have participated in several sports genres in my earlier years and in these sports, I tried to make a positive impact because of my competitive nature. I believe in being a team player and a leader along with promoting physical fitness within my own family. I pretty much so have done it all except for gymnastics; however, I was pretty flexible in my younger years when I took dance from the Cleo Parker Robinson dance ensemble.
Years in current sport: 11 years strong and still going
Sponsors/Affiliations: Unaffiliated with an organization/My parents are my sponsors
In this objective sport, I am able to consistently beat sponsored runners, and have competed with runners of Olympic caliber. I often wonder how they are able to obtain and maintain their sponsorships (local or otherwise)? (By the way, I am still looking for a good qualified sponsor)
The Long Run
What are some of the biggest highlights in your racing career?
A few of my biggest highlights from my racing career in recent memory include placing first and breaking the 10 year old course record (CR) at the Quad Cities Half Marathon, held in Illinois on Sept 25, 2011. It was on that day, I was able to break the CR set by 2000 USA Olympic Marathoner Rod DeHaven by almost two minutes!
The next exciting moment was in December of 2011, when I placed 13th at the California International Marathon (CIM) in a time of 2:19:23. The qualifying time for Olympic trials was 2:19:00 and as you can see I missed qualifying by only 23 seconds. This was very disappointing; however, it never discouraged me in my quest to continue in the excellence of running. Additionally, my achievements at the CIM placed me as the 3rd fastest all-time record by an African-American Marathoner in the United States.
What are your long-term goals? What do you want to achieve as an athlete?
I have been able to lock horns and race with some of the best long distance runners in the world, at the Chicago Marathon (where I placed 24th last year); CIM; and USATF National Half Marathon Championships in Duluth, Minnesota. Needless to say, I desire to become the best distance runner that I can possibly achieve, within healthy boundaries. When I can no longer achieve personal records, according to running with a competitive time, only then will I kindly step aside and change focus.
Why Colorado? What makes Colorado so special for endurance athletes? What makes Colorado special to YOU?
First off, I was born here in Colorado, this is my home. I chose to stay here because of my family, college, memories, friends, and I love the total environment in which Colorado offers. I am blessed to have great family support because my parents live here and they also promote living in a healthy environment and enjoying everything that this wonderful state of Colorado has to offer.
Take us through a “day in the life,” what type of training regimen do you follow?
A brief overview of a “day in my life,” includes juggling my passions of medicine and running; while holding down a J.O.B. at one of the best shoe retailers in the nation, DSW. The type of training regimen I follow is heavily focused on anaerobic endurance. Individuals are only joking themselves if they think this sport is purely aerobic endurance based. Pick any world record from 800m through the marathon and tell me those splits one mile and down are not sprint pace.
What are one or two things you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
I run a moderately high weekly total volume with varying levels of high intensity to low intensity running that is appropriately performed at percentages of my VO2 Max. Balancing appropriate levels of beyond threshold stimulus with physical recovery are the two keys to my success.
Do you follow any specific nutrition plans? What are you favorite recovery meals, drinks, etc.?
I do not follow any specific nutrition plans; however, I am very blessed in the fact that my mother roles herself as my nutritional cook. She attempts to prepare all of her family meals with organic ingredients with more fruits and vegetables, limited meat and dairy products. On my own, I continue to eat healthy organic vegetables and pliable pericarp fruits; avoid fast food at all costs; corn, soy, and non-whole grain products. I currently do not have a favorite of anything; however, I do not discriminate against food. I love all food.
Do you have any recommended resources to share (books, seminars, websites, coaches)?
Resources that I recommend for others to check out are from the website Letsrun.com. It has a message board link that links to an amazing amount of running related resources. It can be found as the very first link on its message board’s first page. The books “Run Strong” and “Run with the Champions” were two resources that have helped inspire me the most.
What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge?
My biggest challenge is finding the needed funding to support my athletic endeavors (needing a sponsor). How I manage this is by working, saving, parental support, and limiting the amount of races I participate in.
What are your favorite races in Colorado? Why?
My favorite race in Colorado is the Bolder Boulder 10k. Since this event is videotaped and has spectators along the course from start to finish, it gives everyone an opportunity to experience a lively environment in which to compete; this environment helps boost the adrenaline needed to finish the course. Above all, it is extremely well organized and offers great competition from both professional and citizens’ races. It also gives the family and spectators the opportunity to participate in celebrating the Memorial Day festivities held there. (hint: I was born on Memorial Day)
Where do you like to train in Colorado? Why?
My favorite training spots in the Denver area is along the Highline Canal and within Cherry Creek State Park. The beautiful natural scenery offers shade for those intense sun-beat days along with the addition of more than plenty of soft dirt trails.
Favorite running shoe: Saucony Kinvara 2nd & 3rd editions
Favorite post-run/race beverage: My favorite is a drink called “HORDSM” (Hillig’s Organic Recovery Drink): organic protein powder, fresh raspberries & blueberries, organic chocolate yogurt, organic skim milk, and filtered ice.
Favorite post-run/race meal: My mother’s modern fashion gourmet cooking!
Role models: Jesus Christ of Nazareth
Day job: Sales Associate Team Lead/Customer Service Representative at DSW, Inc.
Solo runner, running partner or team/group? I go solo, not by choice, I run every once and a while with a partner but would love to run with a sponsored team or group.
Favorite Restaurant: Cinzetti’s Italian Market
Favorite Coffee Shop: I am not a regular coffee consumer but will occasionally have a cup.
Favorite Bar: The Cherry Cricket, for their single dart board and delicious burgers! I do however, completely abstain from alcohol.
Favorite Running Store: Sports Authority Elite
Favorite non-running activity: Reading
Favorite TV Show: Futurama
Favorite book: Jumper
Favorite movie: Fast Five
Have you experienced a breakthrough, and if so, what led to it?
I have experienced many breakthroughs through proper planning and periodization.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
“If you can believe it, then you can achieve it and you will receive it.” –My Mom/LaVerne Hillig-Hughes (retired school teacher/assistant principle)
Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by? That you train by?
Matthew 25:13-30 says it all.
What keeps you motivated? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration and subsequent motivation from Ecclesiastes 9:11.