Feature Friday: Clifton's Jacob Heredia Chasing Fast Times

There are always some running stars in the state that seem to fly under the radar despite the fact that they have built remarkable  resumes during their careers.

Jacob Heredia of Clifton is one of those runners.

It's time for that change.

After winning the North Jersey, Sec. 1 Group 4 title and running 15:53 PR at Garret Mountain last fall, Heredia dropped a great distance triple when he won the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 at the NJ. Sec. 1  meet, and ran PR's of 1:56.92, 4:13.00, and 9:09.69!

All those times add up to a bonafide star!!! 

Now Heredia, who has already posted the No. 1 time this season at Garret Mountain of 16:01, has his sights set on some even very low numbers this fall. How low? He wants to go sub 15:30 at Garret and something close to that Holmdel!!

I wouldn't bet against him!!!

Be sure to keep your eye on Heredia tomorrow when he takes his first crack at Holmdel Park tomorrow at the Shore Coaches Invitational.

NJ MileSplit recently caught up with him Heredia for an in depth Q an A where he talked about his lofty goals, how he got into running, and a whole lot more.

So kick back and enjoy our latest installment of Feature Friday as we shine the spotlight on Clifton senior Jacob Heredia.

NJM: What's your reaction to the great start you've had to this season? Three big wins in your three races with a 16:01 at Garret.

It's always nice to get back to racing. Not really too much focus going into the few first meets. Good effort but also still focused on the long term goal.

What are some of your biggest individual goals for this season as far as times you'd like to run at Garret, and Holmdel and other courses you will run on?

I plan to run sub 15:30 at Garret and a similar time at Holmdel. Both are some big times but I believe in my training and I'm looking forward to competition packed races this year.

How about the county meet, state meet, and the Meet of Champions. What are your goals as far as place and times in those races. 

 I'd be lying if I didn't say I didn't want to win it all. The competition in NJ makes it a very hard mission, but I won't be really satisfied with anything other than #1.

What is your goal for your race this Saturday at the Shore Coaches meet at Holmdel Park? Looks like 16:36 is your Holmdel PR.    

Definitely some rougher racing at Holmdel in the past, but I'm really looking forward to Saturday. Just a matter of executing race strategy and hopefully shooting for a sub 16 time, for now.

Take me through what summer training was like for you? How many miles a week did you run, where did you do your long runs, who did you run with, and did you go to any XC camps etc?

Summer training was great. I got up to 70 miles and now I'm floating down a bit lower than that. I found a nice quiet dirt trail in Verona where I've been enjoying my long runs! A lot of summer training I did solo but when I could, I would hop in with teammates or just friends who wanted to go out.

What is your favorite long run  (distance, place, and time) during the summer, and what is your favorite workout during the XC season?

I've been enjoying my 12-14 milers back on the trails and Id say my favorite workout is probably mile repeats.

How and why did you get involved in distance running? How did it all start?

Technically 8th grade, but it was never serious. It was practice something like 2 days a week, so I think it was more for fun. However, I did race an occasional 5k with my dad growing up. That said, I started taking everything seriously freshman year.

What was your first big breakthrough race when you began to realize you could be a great runner? It could be either on the track or the trails.

I'd say the first meet of my XC sophomore year. The race didn't mean anything in the big picture, but I worked really hard that summer and that 1st big win was where I realized that what you put in is what you get out.

What do you consider your greatest running accomplishment so far?

Honestly, getting this far. Most wouldn't have guessed that I would be where I am today my freshmen year. I've worked extremely hard and will continue to, but I am proud of myself and what I've achieved as of yet.

What do you consider your greatest strength as a distance runner?

I think my mentality. I understand what it takes to be the best and I'm willing to put in whatever work it takes to get there.

What are your thoughts on how loaded NJ is with distance running talent? How much does the amount of talent in the state push you to work even harder?

I think it's great. I wouldn't want it any other way. To be the best you have to compete against the best and NJ's field of talent gives me something to look forward to.

What do you love the most about being a distance runner?

How crazy everyone else says we are. To us, it's just another day of running how ever many miles, but when we tell other people they look at us and think we're some sort of super humans. I find it pretty funny.

What's your favorite XC course to run on and why?

I'd say Holmdel. The scenery is beautiful and the course is extremely humbling. It's one of those things that make the pay off of the hard work so much more worth it.

How about your plans for the future, Jacob? Have you taken any college visits? If so, where have you visited, where else do you plan to visit, and what are you looking for in a college?

I've taken a few visits to colleges but no real rush with anything yet. The whole process is stressful, but very exciting and I'm certain that it's all gonna work out in due time.

 If you could go for a long run with any 4 pro runners (past or present) who would it be and why?

Steve Prefontaine, Cole Hocker, Jacob Ingebrigtsen, and Eliud Kipchoge. Of course, all these guys are legendary runners, and if not becoming so. I think I'd be fun to pick the brains of the new gen and old gen sides of distance running.

What is the most impressive NJ XC/T&F accomplishment you've ever witnessed, and what made it stand out so much to you?

Liam Murphy and Jack Jennings in the 3,200 at the 2020 Indoor M of Champions .Those final few laps were absolutely insane to watch, and seeing them both give it 110% effort to the finish line was amazing. The whole facility was erupting.

Favorite running season and why?

Spring track. I feel like that's where it really all comes together. The whole years work capped off with a few outdoor races to prove everything you've got one last time.

Favorite subject in school and why?

Probably environmental science as it interests me the most. Philosophy is a close second.

If you weren't a runner, what sport would you be playing?

I'd most likely be a 3 sport athlete like back in the day. Soccer, basketball, and baseball.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Somewhere more out west in the mountains and hopefully with a nice job. Maybe running club/ pro, who knows. 

What advice would you give to younger runners who are first starting out in the sport.

Work hard, but also remember you're not training to be the best freshman or sophomore. The main thing is not to peak too early, and perform when it counts.