Most of the time, people get the viewpoint of the athlete they see on the screen, in the field or on the court. This time, I had the very special chance to get the perspective of two people who are VIPs in the running world: brothers Garrett and Elliott Heath.
The Minnesota-based brothers are Stanford University graduates, and they both ran on the Stanford track team while attending college. Since their success from their training at Stanford, they are establishing their already impressive careers in professional running. In addition to their incredible feats, Garrett is sponsored by Saucony and Elliott is signed with Nike, both known for their athletic gear and running shoes.
Over the summer, the pair took another advancement in their running careers by qualifying for the London 2012 Olympic Trials. Though they did not progress to the London Olympics, Elliott, the younger of the two, has hopes for the Rio 2016 Games. "[Participating in the Trials] was a goal I had been working towards all throughout college,” he says, “so it was a very exciting experience for me. I've now set new goals to not just make it to the Trials but to also make the Olympic team in 2016. I've got a lot of work ahead of me, but I'm excited for it."
The two brothers have a great work ethic, which is obvious from their career apart from being athletes. Garrett takes his passion for science and engineering to another level, as he is pursuing a PhD in that field. The pair say that time management is key, especially when you are doing two things that you love but that take up a lot of time. Both say that instead of having their academic and athletic sides hinder them, they make up an equal balance. "I actually found that I was most successful in the classroom and on the track when my schedule was the busiest," says Elliott.
The brothers have been very active ever since they can remember. Because they grew up in a fairly athletic family, they have done almost every outdoor sport: hiking, biking, camping, cross country skiing, etc. Elliott actually had dreams of becoming a professional basketball player in the NBA. "Though I wanted to become a basketball player,” he says, “once I saw Garrett go to college for running and have success, I started to think a lot more seriously about pursuing running further. I also started to realize that my skinny 5'10" frame was probably a little better suited for distance running than high-level basketball."
As most competitive siblings know, it is absolutely necessary to have a little bit of sibling rivalry, especially when competing in the same sport. During their high school years Garrett served as a role model for Elliott, and even got Elliott interested in becoming a runner! Though in high school, the two did not train together due to the three-year age gap. Now it is easier to find them racing and training together since both of them went to Stanford for college and currently live in the Bay Area. "We have always competed hard against one another in everything that we do, says Garrett. “But when it really comes down to it, we are more supportive of one another than anything else. Probably the greatest part about the whole running experience in general has been being able to do it together.”
Another very important aspect for athletes is keeping your body healthy. Garrett says that a typical day in the life of a runner is running (sometimes twice a day), doing drills that help your core, weight lifting, sleeping a lot, and eating healthy. Occasionally, they get massages during the middle of the week. "These are not the feel-good back massages that you might see it the mall and are usually pretty painful, but they can be really beneficial to recovery,” says Garrett. “These massages are to prevent further injuries and to loosen up the back muscles.”
If you are interested in becoming a professional runner someday, take these wise words of advice from Garrett Heath: "Make sure you set goals for yourself, both big and small, and make sure to surround yourself with as many people that you can who are trying to do the same thing. The second piece is important because it not only helps keep it fun, but it helps to have others there who can push you and keep you honest on the days when getting out the door isn't easy."