Garrett Heath has had a hot 2016. He entered the year as the 2015 Club Cross Country Champion before traveling with Team USA to Scotland where he competed in and won the Great Edinburgh Cross Country Challenge, besting two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Mo Farah. The Brooks Beast runner is wise and fast and hopes to use patient racing tactics and strength to get him through to what would be his first Olympic Games.
Garrett was fourth in last year’s U.S. outdoor 5,000-meter championships. He’ll shoot to move up a spot… or two or three… to secure his spot on the team and compete at his first Olympics.
Also be sure to cheer on Garrett and his teammates as they #runhappytorio!
What are you feeling only a couple weeks away from therace?
I’ve gotten both excited and nervous any time that I’ve thought about the Trials in the last year, but at this point, I’m just anxious and hungry for them to actually be here and to toe that start line. It seems like we’ve been building so long now that I’m just ready to get out there and see where I stack up with the best in the country.
The nerves will always be there, but it really helps me to just keep my focus on each given day of training right now and what we’re trying to get out of each workout. It helps distract from the ultimate goal and keep the focus on the things that I can control in the short term.
What are you most looking forward to about racing at the trials?
I’ve been lucky enough to race at the trials twice before, and that atmosphere and feeling that hits you when you walk out on to the track there in Eugene for your race is unparalleled. You can’t help but get the chills seeing that many track fans in the stands and knowing what’s at stake in the race. I can’t wait for that moment, and for the shot to make up for my fourth place finish in the 5,000-meter run at USA’s there last year.
In what ways are your teammates helping you prepare?
It’s been great being surrounded by a group of like-minded people striving for the same goals and who are willing to sacrifice everything else this year to take a shot at making that Olympic team. Any time you can see that other people are feeling the same anxiety, stress, and excitement that you are in the buildup to something like this, it makes the whole process a lot easier for everyone. The team here has really just been a great support network for me to fall back on any time things aren’t going well and to help me stay loose when the stress is high.
Also, although I’m happy to be back in land of plentiful-oxygen now, it was really nice to get away to the mountains in Albuquerque with some of our distance squad — Riley, Jess, and Katie — this last month for some altitude training. Being there together away from other distractions was really helpful for me to focus in on doing all the small things right from lifting to nutrition to sleep while still being able to keep things light-hearted between family dinners together, TV show binging (mainly Game of Thrones, the Americans, and maybe even a little Bachelorette…), and a few excursions together.
What do you think is the draw for runners and non-runners to watch the trials?
It’s a chance to see some of the country’s best athletes battle one another on the track. It’s one of the few times every four years where you know everyone out there is going to be laying it all on the line, regardless of injury, training, or other races they might have on the horizon. This is it. There are no fall back options, and everyone knows what’s at stake. How can you not be excited to watch the limits of the human body be tested and for the winners to represent our country against the rest of the world in Rio? I know I can’t wait to watch and be a part of it!
What is your goal for the trials?
Make the Olympic Team, period.
What do you like most about big competitions like this?
We put in so much preparatory work throughout the year in practice and smaller races that I love finally getting to the big competitions, because it means that you finally get a chance to measure all that work and see where it’s taken you. Plus, there’s nothing more exhilarating than getting a chance to race some of the best people in the world and see where you stack up. That’s the sort of competition that’s addicting and keeps me coming back for more year after year.