Heartbreak Hill Running Company

Q&A: Coach Dan Fitzgerald of Boston's Heartbreak Hill Running Company

As a business owner, respected athlete and coach to hundreds of runners dreaming of crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon, Dan Fitzgerald is co-founder of Heartbreak Hill Running Co. and coach of the Heartbreakers -- a USATF certified running club. An active member of the community, he is the head coach for more than 12 Boston Marathon charity teams, including Mass General Hospital, the Red Cross, the Boston Celtics’ Shamrock Foundation, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, leading more than 500 marathoners to the finish line every April. It’s not surprising that he was chosen as Best Running Coach of 2016 by Boston Magazine. His career was well-paved as the captain of the Boston College track and field team where he competed in the 800m. He also had an impressive performance at his first Boston Marathon, crossing the Boylston Street finish line in 2:46. We interviewed Dan to learn more about his years of experience as a running professional, and why HOTSHOT has become a staple at all three of his HHRC locations.

  1. When did you first begin running?   I started running in high school. First, I was a sprinter but by mid-season freshman year, it was clear middle distance was my future.
  2. You were an elite college athlete. How did your career evolve post-college?  I got into coaching immediately after graduation, taking over leadership of the middle distance at Boston College while also working at a local running shop. 
  3. You co-founded the Heartbreakers to train runners of all abilities. Can you share some of your running tips and drills/exercises for speed, strength and endurance? I always urge new runners to do some speed – it’s imperative. One doesn’t need to craft a perfect workout. Just getting in 4-6 uptempo 200s with an easy 200 recovery on a track once a week is way better than skipping speed altogether. Every week needs a dose of speed, maintenance, long work, and strength. The formula is pretty simple. It’s the commitment and consistency that make the difference.
  4. You were recently voted 2016 Best Running Coach — what do you think makes a good coach?   For me, coaching is 100% about the athletes. It’s about guiding runners to see their own potential. That’s it. The best way to do that well is to listen, understand when they need to be pushed and when they need to relax, then direct accordingly.
  5. Food is essential: Do you have a go-to breakfast that’s perfect for energizing and sustaining a tough run?  My power breakfast is a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Never lets me down.
  6. You recently let HOTSHOT join you for a speed run at HHRC.  Can you talk about how muscle cramping impacts runners?  Muscle cramping can end a great race in the blink of an eye. It can be very hard to continue when a cramp takes hold.
  7. Can you talk about how HOTSHOT can help runners who do speed; hill, strength and endurance training prevent and treat muscle cramps? HOTSHOT helps prevent muscle cramps so when you’re working a hard uphill session, speed session, or long run, it can prevent or address the cramp. This is an issue that can plague some runners. 
  8. You are selective about what products you sell at your store.  We are thrilled to have HOTSHOT sold at your locations. Do you have any additional thoughts on HOTSHOT as far as preventing and treating muscle cramps?  We like to carry leading edge, proven products. I like HOTSHOT’s unique and focused mission. It’s been a great addition to our mix! 



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