Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Learn more about F4 Denver's amazing Coach Carmen...
When Carmen Kitts started running 32 years ago, things were different for women. There was no Title IX, hence no organized sports for women at most schools. But that didn’t deter her from lacing up her running shoes and hitting the pavement.
Today, at age 61, Carmen is proud to still call herself a runner as well as a coach for FastForward in Denver. She is also proud to say that for the past four years (and three months) she has been running every single day.
“I set a goal every year, so on my 57th birthday (May 2008) I decided that I would run every day for a year. I read about another runner who had set the same goal because then he wouldn’t have to decide whether to run or not each day,” says Carmen. That year went by and Carmen was in a groove, so she just kept going. “I found that the regular running—some days it’s just two miles—was helping me get stronger and faster. Now I don’t even think about it, it’s like brushing your teeth and it wakes me up and gets me going every day.”
As an F4 coach, Carmen enjoys working with brand new runners. “I love coaching people who have never run before and then watch them complete a race, a 10K, a marathon,” she says. “It’s so rewarding to help people achieve their goals.”
Carmen has been with F4 since the beginning. Her background includes teaching strength training and aerobics to women when she lived in California. Then she moved to Colorado and became involved with great groups such as the Colorado Road Runners and Colorado Columbines, and started teaching boot camp classes in Denver’s Washington Park. She also acquired a national certification from the Road Runners Club of America for coaching.
“Someone told me they were looking for coaches for the Bolder Boulder training groups and that’s when I met Scott (Fliegelman). When he went off and started FastForward, I went with him and I’ve been with FastForward since the beginning.
So what does Carmen like best about coaching with F4? “Just being with everybody, we have such a high energy level at workouts. It flows,” says Carmen. “All of the coaches get along really well, we’re almost like a big family. Scott has fostered this. He has given us strict parameters on workouts, but he wants our individual style to come through and I really appreciate that.”
Carmen’s coaching philosophy is that you can become a mentally and physically stronger runner as long as you put in the effort. You don’t have to run fast, you can run walk. “It’s doable for most people,” she explains. “And I like incorporating a holistic approach in my training, giving info on nutrition and mental skills. It’s not just running: It’s your mind, sleeping, eating… it all ties together.”
When Carmen isn’t coaching adults she is working full-time at an elementary school. One fun program she leads is called Mighty Milers where kids run laps at lunchtime. When they acquire enough miles that equate to a marathon, they get a medal. “They’re so excited when they’re out running,” says Carmen. “It’s been a really fun program to be involved with.”
As for her own self-coaching and setting an annual goal, Carmen has her sights set on doing a triathlon next year. “I am learning how to swim and have been taking swim lessons at my local rec center,” she says. “I’ve cheered a lot of friends along at triathlons, so now it will be their turn to cheer for me!”
We look forward to seeing Carmen at some sprint tris in 2013!