Catching Up With Elliott Heath
It's been a fun few months of transition for former Stanford All-American Elliott Heath. In the back half of 2012, Heath not only turned pro, signing with Nike and agent Tom Ratcliffe, he also joined Jerry Schumacher's team in Portland, Oregon. Surrounded by Olympians and U.S. champions, Heath has positioned himself to take another big step forward in 2013.
Competing for a Team USA roster spot at this weekend's USA Cross Country Championships, Heath seems poised and ready to run his best. Earlier this week, we caught up with Heath, discussing his new pro experience, his current training and many more topics.
Scott Bush (SB): This weekend's USA Cross Country Championships has an impressive men's field lined up. You're one of the favorites, but it's going to be a dogfight to make the team. How are you feeling heading into this weekend's race and what are your expectations?
Elliott Heath (EH): I am really excited to race this weekend. Training has been going well recently and I’m hoping to capitalize on that. I expect to run with the front pack and be in the race once it gets down to the last couple kilometers. 12k will be a new experience for me but I’ve had some good strength work this fall that I think will help handle the extra distance. The main goal for the weekend is to be in the top 6 with an opportunity to go for the win towards the end.
SB: A unique storyline of this weekend's event is that you'll be racing your former Stanford teammates Chris Derrick and Jake Riley. While you and Chris are still teammates in Portland, all three of you are duking it out for a spot on Team USA. What's it going to be like racing against guys you used to race with?
EH: It should be a little bit of a reunion for us Stanford guys this weekend with the 3 of us, as well as our former teammate Brendan Gregg, all racing. It will be great to be back together and spend some time together this weekend, but I’m sure each one of us will be trying to take care of our own business when it comes race time. We have always raced well together, so I think we will try to feed off each other like we did in college. I guess my ideal scenario would be that we all make the team with those guys finishing just behind me.
SB: You are now part of Team Schumacher. The group has grown quite a bit and is full of Olympic caliber athletes. What's it like being part of such a strong, dynamic team?
EH: Joining Team Schumacher and training with my new teammates has been great so far. We’ve got a really fun group of guys, and like you said, they are all really talented. No matter what type of workout we are doing, strength or speed, there is someone in the group that can really challenge my abilities in that department. It has been a little like the experience of going from high school to college and all of the sudden there are a bunch of guys together that are all used to being the fastest guy, only now it is a very magnified version of that. There is always someone who feels good so I’ve just been trying to work hard and make sure I recover on days when I need to. I know I have a lot to learn in terms of the professional running scene, and so far some of the more experienced guys have been really helpful in providing some sage wisdom.
SB: Post-Olympic years are transition years for many runners, where new distances are challenged and new training systems are tried. Any chance we'll see you step up to the 10k this year or are the 1,500m and 5,000m events going to remain your focus.
EH: I think I will be staying away from the 10k for a little while still. I won’t say that it will never happen, but I think at least in the foreseeable future I will be sticking in the 1500 to 5000 range.
SB: You've been training in Colorado Springs the past few weeks. How is altitude training going for you?
EH: This recent trip to Colorado Springs was my first extended altitude training period and I thought it went really well. I’ve been to altitude to train for a few times previously, but only for a couple weeks at a time, whereas this time we were up there for a full 5 weeks. I was really happy with the way my body adjusted and handled the training, and I’m excited to see how I feel coming off it.
SB: What's the primary difference you've noticed between your training at Stanford and now training as a professional athlete?
EH: One of the biggest differences that I have noticed has been the additional time and focus we spend on things like core and body maintenance exercise. It has been an adjustment now that I have time to take care of all the little things and don’t have hours and hours of class and homework. Some of the workouts have been longer or more intense than what we used to consistently do in college, and I’ve found it very important to be off my feet and recover more in the middle of the day. I’m also getting a lot more sleep than I was most of my time in college.
SB: You are roommates with Evan Jager, Chris Derrick and German Fernandez. While I am sure you can't share your craziest stories with those three guys, what's one fun story of the four of you hanging out?
EH: The four of us have a really fun time together. This isn’t a specific story, but we have gotten into watching the HBO show Entourage together. We are about halfway through the whole series right now, and we joke around a lot about which one of use would be each character in the show. If you are wondering, Evan is Vince, German is Turtle, Chris is Ari and I am “E”. We are looking for a Drama to join the gang.
SB: Shoes you train in?
EH: Nike Lunarglide
SB: Favorite workout?
EH: Repeat Miles on the grass
SB: Best movie?
EH: The Dark Night
SB: College major?
EH: Biomechanical Engineering
SB: Favorite website?
EH: Google Finance
SB: Favorite non-running activity?
EH: Playing Settlers of Catan