At times I know many of us have felt the desire to start something new but are weary of doing so for many reasons, maybe it’s your available time, or you think it’s too late to start a new endeavor, or maybe one of a million other reasons we can get in our own head when wanting to try something new. One person I have sat down with is someone who believes in inspiring others and reminding them that living the life you want to live has no time limit given you are willing to work for it. Heather Scott is an everyday girl, her family is her number one priority and has a successful career in the fashion industry. On top of her busy life, she is also an endurance athlete who has completed an array of ultra runs, her first being Squamish 50k back in 2015. Since she has completed 2 x 100 milers, 5 x 50 milers, and 6 x 50k’s. Heather has given me her back story on sports, finding her way into fitness, and how she has created a consistent and solid training foundation that has led her to many finish lines.
How did you get into fitness and endurance sports?
Heather: So honestly I had never worked out in my life until I was probably 27, basically I just became tired of being unhealthy. One day I signed myself up for this gym in San Francisco called crunch; I thought it could be a way to meet people and that would help keep me motivated. I started by doing Kickboxing and it provided me a good structure which at the time I lacked in all areas of my life. One of my instructors for spin, which I loved spin, was actually just getting into triathlon and I had never even heard of it before then but when you are taking a class you end up talking and sharing stories so at the time the idea was a seed in the back of my head, but I didn’t feel It was something I could accomplish. I was initially doing these things simply to feel healthier and lose a little weight, I was always a very skinny girl and I was what I like to call “skinny fat” if you understand what that means, I had a high fat content for how skinny I was. So fast-forwarding a bit I was running about 4-5 miles and that was the farthest I had gone and it felt torturous but I still did it, one of my friends told me about them doing a triathlon and at this point I was just like “you know what, I’m going to do that too!” I had never swam in the ocean, never really ridden my bike very far but I showed up and I was so nervous because this was so out of anything I had ever done, I hadn’t even raced in my life. My friend showed up and walked by and I was like you had better get in your wet suit because we are about to start and he responded with “actually I am only doing the relay, just the run part” and I was like “wait what??” So long story short I did it, and I fell in love. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and over time I did some Olympic distances and began going to the gym more, still did not ride my bike outside, still did very little runs during those workouts but at about 2 years in that same friend was like hey, let’s do this race the same one and I bet I can beat you without even really training. So we raced and the bet was $60 and as he came to the finish line about 10 minutes after me he said “sorry I took so long I was at the ATM getting your money hahaha.” So this is sort of how I found my way into the surface level of a more healthy and active and fulfilling lifestyle.
What was the next step in getting more serious with your racing or training?
Heather: So through the beginning phases I still carried many of my bad habits, I was drinking, smoking, and my diet wasn’t where it needed to be but I was young though you know? I decided to do a half Ironman and a lot of people were like, that’s kinda crazy isn’t it? When I started training for that I became much more structured and payed more attention to how I was living and began to adopt much healthier habits, my drinking became an occasion type thing, I definitely didn’t smoke, my diet began to change and most important it put me into a happier place in my life. So I completed that race, I did an amazing job and I decided to do an Ironman the next year and that really freaked everyone out. It was interesting because the people in my life weren’t athletes, they were my party friends and for them they couldn’t picture me doing these types of things. But I got a coach and the coach was that original spin instructor and it was very full circle, it was at that point that I dropped anything that could be considered an unhealthy habit. I really adopted the lifestyle, and not to far one way, but just saying this is my goal and this is what I need to be doing in order to reach my goal and really that year was very life changing for me because it was something I had never dreamed of doing. Back in those days, there wasn’t Instagram or social media or forums of any kind so I barely knew any triathletes and there definitely wasn’t the support that there is now. My goal was to finish, I did very well and I was pretty much hooked for life after that.
So on a side note, you mentioned that by finding your way into this lifestyle the habits that you considered unhealthy sort of eliminated themselves right?
Heather: Yeah I mean I’ve always been successful in my career but I was very lost you know? I didn’t have structure at all, I had always felt I wanted to do something bigger than what I was doing but I didn’t know what or how. I had lived this life, it was a very exciting life, an amazing life, but I still felt very empty inside. Upon getting involved with sports I became a much better employee because I learned how to structure my life. I always say triathlon saved my life in many ways, of course I wasn’t an alcoholic or drug addict by any means but it gave me a life I never would of had or understood how to get. It also gave me access to people who had a completely different thought process and brought many driven and successful people into my life that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. There was never a point that I was like “oh yeah I need a life change” but it inadvertently happened and it’s definitely one of those things that made me feel so self-fulfilled that it allowed me to be open to many other positive things that fell into place.
Does where you’re from play a role in how you train?
Heather: I’m from the Bay Area, it is a very competitive place in nature and there is so much talent in every way and I know that I will never be a Strava leaderboard person here and that’s okay with me. On one hand it has made me rise up because I am surrounded by very elite people who I am privileged enough to workout with and on the other hand I have to remind myself that what I am doing is awesome too, and I have the right to feel proud of the things I accomplish as anyone should. I think that’s where social media has been so huge for me, I try to be very honest and transparent and I always speak my mind. It’s important no matter what your place is or what your time is, but when you get the finish you should feel proud because there will always be someone faster than you and it’s a shame to rob yourself of that joy by downplaying what you’re doing. Overall that is what this sport has given me is a lot of joy and happiness, even in the disappointments I still feel so very fulfilled.
So a big thing in endurance sports for many people is life balance, how do you make time for training?
Heather: So it’s easier for me at times but can also be very hard at times. I work from home but I travel often for my job. For me I decided early on that I am very much a morning person, and I didn’t use to be, but I get up at 4:30 every morning 5 days a week and I get all of my workouts done early in the morning. Family comes first for me, then my job, then my lifestyle and I make sure to make time for those three things because they matter to me. As you entrench yourself in this lifestyle you meet others who follow the same type of schedule, I love swimming in the morning so me and a friend do that then we get coffee and that’s our time. I am so lucky that the team I work with are so supportive of what I do and they encourage me to get my run in because they can tell that I perform better in the workplace after my workouts. I can’t say it’s without its challenges but where I am now it is just part of my routine, it’s who I am to do these things and you must be willing to go the extra mile.
What do you love most between biking, swimming, and running?
Heather: Well I can say biking comes in third for me. I really really love swimming but as I discovered trail running each run began to feel like an adventure to me and quickly that became my favorite thing to do I would say, I just love the dirt.
What type of goals do you have for the near future, racing or life?
Heather: So I qualified the last 2 years for UTMB, not the 100 mile but the CCC so I will put my name in this year for the first time. That is like my ultimate dream bucket list race that I never would have imagined I could qualify for. So my whole year will be dictated by if I get into that or not and that is my major goal for 2019 or 2020 at latest. I like to do an Ironman a year which would not happen if I did UTMB in which case I will do all trail. I will also be putting my name in for Western States but I haven’t decided if I’ll do a bi on that or not because it would be very challenging for me to do Western States and UTMB because that would be my luck to be selected for both. My race schedule will fill up very quickly once I know the big ones I am taking down next year. I always want to do better than the previous year, and honestly I love training almost more than racing so the entire process is exciting to me.
What type of advice would you have for new runners?
Heather: Just go for it, always. I started my social medias to help represent those who were very passionate but maybe not a natural, but are willing to work hard and stay positive and really encourage others to try no matter the outcome. All of the negative thoughts we tell ourselves when we are nervous are dream killers and I think when we support one another than can make such a difference, especially when you’re new. Whatever it is that you want to be doing, there is no reason you shouldn’t try. That can be a bike ride or a swim a day or whatever the heck it is, there is so much fulfillment. From a mental health perspective there is so many benefits that come from living an active lifestyle and it’s so good for us as human beings. So I encourage anyone with any desire to try, to just do so and watch how it changes your life.
To follow Heather you can find her on Instagram @Heatherrosescott