Carthage Senior Clayton Whitehead has been having a stellar breakout season this year for the Tigers. His season best and PR of 15:11 is the fastest time in Missouri right now, and he seems to be in very good position to compete for a State Championship this Fall. His biggest victory of the season so far was at Rim Rock where he defeated a very competitive field with a time of 15:35. I got the chance to ask Clayton a few questions to try and get to know him a little better, and you can find his responses below.
Q: When did you start running? When did you realize you were good at it?
A: I ran my first 5k when I was 11 years old and I got second place to the Jr.High coach. He came up and asked me if I would be interested in running cross country in Jr.High and High School. I also ran a 6:07 as a 5th grader and 5:58 as a 6th grader to have both of the records in the mile in middle school. This is when I basically started running and loving it more and more.
Q: After all of your hard work, how does it feel to have the fastest 5K time in Missouri right now?
A: I could not be happier! I have worked extremely hard to get where I am at right now but I am also not content because I know that there are great runners in Missouri and anything can happen.
Q: Are looking to keep running track and cross country in college?
A: I am going to continue my running career in college but I currently do not have a college set in my mind yet.
Q: As a distance runner mileage is obviously an important training factor, what does an average week of workouts look like for you?
A: An average week would be a more intense workout ranging from 1600m repeats to 800m repeats with a couple 400m at the end. Then Tuesday and Thursday would be a 6-7 mile easier run. Wednesday is another workout day but more tempo run like workouts. Then Friday is a easier run in the morning and Saturday a long run ranging from 8-11 miles.
Q: Do you have and idols in the running world that you look up to?
A: Honestly I couldn't say that I do but I look up to all of the great runners before me on a local and national level.
Q: Who do you look to for inspiration outside of the running world?
A: I wouldn't say that I look up to any one person in particular for inspiration it is more the support that I get and the internal drive to push my limits beyond my goals that I set for myself.
Q: What is your go to pre-race meal?
A: My go to pre-race meal would be pasta and bread if that is available. For dessert I customize my own banana split.
Q: What is your favorite song to get you pumped before a race?
A: We are not allowed to listen to music before our race but if I could I would choose a song by NF.
Q: Do you have any running superstitions/rituals (i.e. always wear the same socks, right shoe on before left shoe, etc.)
A: My team prays right before our last strider and I also have to run with my head band.
Q: If you could play any sport besides XC/Track what would it be and why?
A: If I could play any sport other than XC/Track I would choose basketball because I have played that sport for a long time in my life but stopped freshman year because that is when I made my decision to focus more on running because I knew I would have a better career out of it.
Q: What is your favorite XC Course, and what is your least favorite?
A: My favorite cross country course is either Camdenton because it's just a fun and fast course or KU because of the scenery and the history of the course. My least favorite is my home course because it is a very difficult course for how early it is in the season.
Q: What is your goal for the end of the season?
A: My goal for the end of the season is to continue to work hard every single day and perform to the best of my ability every race and see where that gets me.
Q: What advice would you give to underclassmen distance runners?
A: The advice I would give to all the underclassmen distance runners is to always stay humble. This won't just get you far in all athletics, this will get you far in life. And ALWAYS trust the process and stay mentally strong.
Q: Do you have any shout outs you'd like to give?
A: First off I would like to thank God for the ability that he has given me to do what I love. I also want to thank my family,coaches,friends, and teammates for all the support and never giving up on me to be the best person and athlete that I could be.