Hannah Fields — a professional Beast
Hannah Fields, a professional runner for the Brooks Beast team has proven that she has the speed needed to make it as an elite mid-distance runner. With PR’s of 2:00.53 in the 800m and 4:05.3 in the 1500m, she is hitting times that are turning a lot of heads. We sat down with Hannah to learn about her running career, her training, and what it’s like to be a Brooks Beast.
Professional 1500/800-meter runner for the Brooks Beasts
Favorite show: The Office
Favorite Books: Harry Potter series
Favorite food: bacon
Favorite animal: platypus
Favorite color: green
College: Oklahoma Baptist University
Hometown: Edmond, OK
Can you give an overview of your athletic career (high school, college)? When did it start? Were there any big accomplishments? What got you into running in the first place?
Growing up, my main sport was soccer. I ran track and cross country in middle school and high school to stay in shape for soccer. I ended up quitting my junior year of high school and focusing on running because I was a better runner and knew I would have better scholarship opportunities in track. However, I HATED running! It hurt and made me nervous, so I dreaded every race. For that reason, I wanted to go to a smaller school where I could get more of a balance and I knew running wouldn’t be my life, but I could also improve. (Ironically, now running is my life.) I was a three-time state champion in the 800 in Oklahoma. I had some offers from bigger schools, but I told them I wasn’t interested. My PRs in high school were 2:12 in the 800 and 5:19 in the 1600, so I would be getting smoked by high school runners these days! I ended up calling the coach at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) because they were one of the top-notch NAIA programs and it seemed to be the perfect fit. I ended up committing to OBU and had a successful career there. I was a 19-time National Champion and 21-time All American. My times were not good enough to be on any professional radar until my senior year, when I dropped from a 4:21 to a 4:13 in the 1500.
I was a Mathematics major in college and didn’t know for sure what I wanted to do afterward. I didn’t even know you could run professionally until November of my senior year, and I realized that was what I wanted to do. (This last sentence is dumb because the journey to pursuing professionally running was obviously more rigorous than a passing thought, but this response is already super long, so just know, there are a lot of other variables at play during this time!) My coach got in contact with agents and he kind of explained the times I would need to run to be at the next level. I think having these new standards and expectations is what triggered such a big jump in my performances.
When did you feel at your lowest point in your training? What got you through those hard times?
Most of last year (2016) felt like my lowest point. Every week I was having to adjust workouts or cut them short because I just couldn’t physically and mentally do it. What got me through those times was, number one, believing that God gave me a gift to run and f that if I could learn to take on this tough transition out of college into professional running with humility, that I would be able to overcome and grow through this slump. Also, I could not have done it without the love and encouragement of my coach and teammates. Knowing these people care about me beyond just being a runner and the fact that they have gone through similar struggles makes the burden lighter.
If you had any advice to give to a younger runner (maybe even a younger you) who wants to take their commitment to the next level, what would it be?
My advice would be to constantly choose to have an attitude of joy and gratitude towards everything you’re doing! Whether that be when you’re feeling awesome and things are clicking, or your slumped over, out of breath and filled with doubt. All those moments work together to make it worthwhile.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned over your many years of training?
It’s similar to the advice I would give; I can choose my attitude towards any circumstance. Running — and life in general — are so fickle that if I am basing my happiness on how well my running is going, then it’s going to be a pretty miserable journey.
What’s going through your head one day/one hour/one minute before a big race?
It’s this ongoing inner battle of me being super excited about the possibilities of what I could do and the utter fear of the worst case scenario! I get nervous no matter how big or small the race, but I am slowly learning to harness that into excitement and not dread. I think a lot about how much it’s going to hurt too, lol.
Can you tell us a little about your time with the Brooks Beasts? What is it like spending so much time surrounded by some of the world’s most elite athletes?
Being a part of the Brooks Beasts is a blast! These people are some of my closest friends and we all get to share similar dreams and ambitions. Everyone is weird and unique and adds a different element to the team. It’s pretty special to be surrounded by people who care about you as a human regardless of your performances. We are also invested in each others’ journeys nearly as much as our own. We live with each other at altitude camp for six weeks and to be honest, by the end I am ready to go home. But, as soon as I do, I miss getting to hangout with everyone constantly!
What does your typical day look like? What about your week?
A typical day would be waking up around 7:00, eating breakfast, reading, and heading out the door around 8:30 for practice that starts around 9:00. The nutritionist we work with has us eating 2 hours before running so that our body has time to digest. I will do prehab work before warming up. We meet at UW for most track sessions. The workout itself will start around 10:00 and we will be done by 12:00. Next, we will either go grab lunch or head to the gym to lift. I’m usually home by 3:00 and the rest of my day is running errands, emailing, going to chiropractor/massage appointments, Normatec-ing, watching Netflix, reading, drawing, or writing. I will have meetings a couple times a week at Brooks with the footwear and apparel teams to give feedback on new products. Also, we have community events a couple times a month where we do group runs or Q&A sessions with local runners. This day could look completely different if I’m traveling/racing. It’s a sweet job because recovery is a huge part of the equation so there is a lot of downtime compared to a typical day job.
A typical training week:
Monday: core, easy run, drills, and strides
Tuesday: hard workout that is typically longer/tempo type work
Wednesday: easy swim
Thursday: medium type run (not easy and a little longer than Monday)
Friday: hard work out- faster and speed based
Saturday: easy swim
Sunday: long swim
I used to only have one cross training day a week, but last year I just kept getting injured, so a huge portion of my training is swimming. However, this week looks a lot different when I am in season and racing.
What is your next goal?
My main goal is pretty simple: to keep getting faster. I would love to make a World and/or Olympic team. Good or bad, this sport is wrapped up in making those teams, but it would be a dream come true to represent the U.S.
Why do you do what you do? What makes it all worth it?
As a Christian, my biggest driver is to use my gift to the best of my ability to glorify God. With that, I am doing it for the relationships I build through the sport and to push the boundaries of my potential as a runner!
Who is someone you know that you’d like to see us feature on the Modern Athlete?
Jess Tonn! She is superwoman to me. She’s crazy fast, but she’s also an incredible leader and friend.