Eight Quick Questions For New Sub-4 Miler Eric Holt
By Jeff Benjamin
Coming up on a lap to go at last week’s Jersey Shore Mile on the Track at Monmouth University, Garden State Track Club – New Balance Miler Eric Holt knew he had to go. After following the lead pack through splits of 58, 1:58, and 3 minutes, the Mt. Carmel high school and SUNY Binghamton Alum, Holt’s dream of breaking the 4-minute barrier called for something dramatic, and he didn’t let anyone down.
Taking off with 240 meters left in the race, Holt took the lead from the field, only to see Tim Gorman take it back. But running undeterred, Holt took the lead away from Gorman and stormed the last 30 yards to victory, running his last lap in 59.9 and finally breaking the mile barrier, clocking a time of 3 minutes 58.88 seconds in scoring a major upset.
Here are 8 quick questions forwarded to a new member of the exclusive Sub4-minute mile club!
RunBlogRun, 1)How did you get into the sport?
Eric Holt: “After failing to make the modified basketball team in 8th grade, my parents convinced me to try a different sport in the meantime. This eventually led me to try track. After starting the outdoor season with a 6 minute mile, I quickly progressed to low 5 minutes where I broke 5 minutes in the 1600m in my last race of the season. After breaking 5, I decided to focus my athletic career on running.”
RunBlogRun, 2)Did you consider yourself a slow or fast developer?
Eric Holt: “I consider myself somewhat both. I’ve been fortunate to have ran very well in HS, college, and post-collegiately, but I never considered myself to be a very talented runner. To elaborate, I have had many teammates who I thought had more potential than me, but weren’t willing to work harder than me. I’ve never developed natural, I had to work incredibley hard to get where I am now. In addition I was a scrawny kid growing up, to where I developed a lot more mass than a typical mid-distance runner. For reference, I’m 6’1 and 172 pounds.”
RunBlogRun, 3)Most memorable HS Race?
Eric Holt: My most memorable HS race was winning the 2013 outdoor 1600m New York state title. It was my senior year and I never won a state title. What made the pressure worse was I had to beat the previous state champion from a year ago, Nick Ryan. He was a 4:05 1600m runner and it was his last HS race as well. I remember my whole family being there and I just pushed myself harder and wanted it more than Nick. At the end, I barely beat him with a time of 4:07. That time was my PR and by far the most impressive thing I did in HS.
RunBlogRun, 4)Most memorable College Race?
Eric Holt: “My most memorable College race was winning the 2016 American East outdoor 1500m championship at Vermont University. It was my first Individual Conference title and it came after disappointing finishes from previous years. Jesse Garn, my teammate from Binghamton, was the favorite but after succumbing to an injury he dropped out in the prelim. After he dropped out he told me to win the race, which I did in a tactical 3:56 1500m.”
RunBlogRun, 5)How different is it being a pro athlete?
Eric Holt: “The biggest difference in being a pro athlete is I do everything myself. Of course I have a coach sending me workouts, but it’s up to me to put in that hard work. Since college I have to do workouts, traveling, lifting, and eating all by myself. It makes training a lot harder, but also motivates me. When I run a workout, I suffer on the track because I want to be fast. I almost quit track all together, but I got back to the sport because I knew I could run some serious fast times. Other differences include more leniency with training, and choosing what races to run.”
RunBlogRun, 6)What Training philosophy are you following?
Eric Holt: “My training philosophy is to work harder and smarter than everyone else. I’ve struggled in the past with overtraining, but luckily recently figured out a happy medium with training. I do between 50-60 miles a week with three workouts. When it’s time to go hard in a workout I go hard, but sometimes I only go 70 percent in a workout. It’s important to have coach who understands their athlete and has developed a training plan to cater their needs. Also I’m a huge believer in consistency over quality.”
RunBlogRun, 7) Do you incorporate any cross training and/or Weight training?
Eric Holt: “Yes, I’m a huge believer in weight training. In order to have speed, you need strength. I make sure my lifting doesn’t make me gain too much weight as well as make me too sore for running. I incorporate a lot of calisthenics into my training as well, where I do core and lifting on most workout days. When big races come up, I take time off from lifting to rest up. I’d say to anyone who wants to start lifting to make sure to do research on what exercises to do as well as make sure you’re doing the exercise right. I’m big stickler when it comes to this, I’d say 90% of people don’t even know how to do a push-up or a pull-up correctly.”
8)What advice can you give to young Runners??
Eric Holt: “My biggest advice for young runners is to believe in yourself. No matter how much training a athlete does, if he or she doesn’t believe in themselves they’ll fail trying to get to their goals. When I broke 4, I wasn’t doing any crazier training then when I was a 4:05 miler. What got me under 4 was confidence. I see many people give up too early not realizing how talented they were. A young athlete needs confidence and when they ultimately fail or run terrible they can’t give up. In the same season that I broke 4 minutes in the mile, I also got last in a race running 4:19 mile. This goes to show we all have our ups and downs.”
GSTC-New Balance President & Coach Chuck Schneekloth also shared the following –
“When Eric approached me in December, his big goal was to break 4 minutes…He had many bumps in the road since January – A few injury setbacks, an underwhelming performance at indoor USAs, and a few off races made it a tough stretch at times for him. However, he kept grinding away and being mindful of the daily process, and after he PRed in the 800 up in Boston (1:50.19) in June, we knew he was ready to break 4:00…
One big modification we made in his training was the pace of his recovery runs. Being such a hard worker, he was often running them at 6:00-6:10 pace. But, this was leaving him stale at workouts and races, so he began doing his easy days slower and on trails. Almost immediately we saw an impact on his VO2 max workouts and mile-paced intervals…
But now, we both agree he has the potential to qualify for 1500m in the Olympic Trials, and after we’re done in early September, we’ll begin building a plan to hopefully make that happen.”