Feature Friday: Jarvis Harris

 

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Jarvis Harris is an American 400-meter hurdler originating from the small town of Ama, LA (just outside New Orleans, LA). Having graduated from Harvard University in May of 2015 with a degree in Bioengineering, he is now residing in Phoenix, AZ training at ALTIS as he dedicates himself to prepare for the US Olympic Trials. While at school, he was a three-time Ivy League Champion, a four-time NCAA Regional Qualifier, and Captain of Harvard University Men’s Track & Field team.

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What’s your story? 
I started track when I was 9 years old (wow, that’s over a decade of running in circles!) at the prompting of my neighbor even though I really wanted to do karate. Nevertheless, there I was on the St. Charles Striders Track Club with my painfully bright orange uniform. I began with the basics– 100m, 200m, 400m, and long jump. I did well in long jump, setting an AAU regional record in my first year. When I became old enough my track club coaches really wanted me to try triple jump as well. No problem! It looked like a fun challenge of rhythm and coordination. I loved it and excelled. I always found the details of technique the most intriguing, whether it was in singing, dancing, or track. Then my coaches proffered the hurdles to me as my next challenge. This, however, horrified me. Why was I supposed to run full speed at and over a part-metal, part-plastic thing designed to stop me?! So as is typical, I run up to it, come essentially to a stop, and just long jump over it. But after getting familiar with the concept of hurdling technique, I took off!
At this point I was starting high school. I ran the 110 meter hurdles and the 300 meter hurdles. The summer after freshman year I was at a USATF youth meet and watched in agony as athletes ran the 400 meter hurdles: that was just too far to hurdle ever! I vowed to myself that I would never do that to myself. So I went through high school and most of college doing other things such as the 60 meter hurdles, 110 meter hurdles, triple jump, 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay. Throughout the years as the intensity of my training increased, injuries would come and go. Pulled hamstrings, sprained ankle, and a nasty patellar tendonitis that still haunts me to this day. But through it all, I still experienced successes, acquiring gold medals in high school state championships and college conference championships. Toward the end of my college career, we were in need of a 400 meter hurdler.
So 6 years after I said I would never do such a thing, I did the thing. As it turned out I had potential in the 400 meter hurdles, promising to be my most successful event. After I graduated, I packed my bags and traveled clean across the U.S. from college in Boston to ALTIS in Phoenix to dedicate myself to this event to see how far I could go.
 
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What was your most monumental moment in Track and Field? 
I would say that my most monumental moment in Track & Field so far occurred when I won the 2015 Ivy League Championship in the 400 meter hurdles at Penn. It was the biggest moment for me because it was a moment that provided me both redemption and self-affirmation. You see, a couple weeks earlier on that very same track at the Penn Relays, I was competing in the 400 meter hurdles for the fourth time ever. It was a complete wreck of race for me, and it was televised! It was the worst race I’ve ever run. I just felt awful and didn’t even want to compete in the next round. I wondered if maybe I just really wasn’t cut out for higher achievements in the event or track as a whole. Nonetheless, the weeks rolled by and it was time to compete in that same race on that same track at the conference championships. Pushing down the inner turmoil of bad memories, I overcame myself and ran as I knew I could, I should. And with that, I set a personal record and won the race. Not only was I able to redeem myself from a past disappointment but I also proved to myself that there was more to me than I thought. This one moment served to catapult to where I am now training for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
 
What is your mindset going into the Olympic year?
“Aspire”. This is the simple thought I maintain going into this Olympic year– just like every other year past. I aspire to reach my highest point by stewarding and honing the talents given to me. So this is my first post-collegiate year of competition approaching. No classes, no semester-end projects, and no reasons for sleep deprivation! I have put all my energy and focus into becoming all that I can be in this sport. I’ve set my aspirations high, so let’s see how far I go. I’m pumped!

 

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How is your training going so far?
Training is going very well. Though I am still rather inexperienced in the 400 meter hurdles (as I have only started competing in the event a year ago), it seems that I am learning more, getting faster, and more conditioned with every passing week. Training with dedicated, knowledgeable coaches and alongside hungry, talented athletes, I am anticipating attaining high goals this year. I feel better than ever!
 
Advice to Young Athletes?
Dream big. If you dream small, you will have small results. But once you dream your big dream, you have to pursue it with everything you’ve got. To reach your highest place, it takes cultivating your talent, skills, AND mind! This is true not only for Sport but for Life as well. Let what you learn in sports better your life and let what you learn life better how you compete. Sports hold a very high place in the lives of the best athletes but remember that there is a lot of life outside of sports. Have big dreams and great expectations for yourself both on and off the field!
 
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Workout Tips
The biggest tip to a person who wants to embrace a healthy active lifestyle: Keep It Fun! It’s very hard to work out and stay active when you don’t find it enjoyable. So do something that keeps you moving and happy even while you sweat– biking, hiking, dancing, etc. Even better, work out alongside a friend who helps keep it fun and keep you accountable!
One exercise routine is great for a nice cardio blast without the need to even leave your living room!
10 push ups, 10 sit ups, 10 squats
9 push ups, 9 sit ups, 9 squats
8 push ups, 8 sit ups, 8 squats
7….6…5….4….3….
2 push ups, 2 sit ups, 2 squats
1 push up, 1 sit up, 1 squats
The key here is to stay moving. No rest until you get to the last one rep of squats. Play around with the numbers and see how high you can get!

Follow Jarvis’s Journey on Twitter and  Instagram

Thank you for Reading and Please check out our next Feature Friday Next Friday with

Dominique Booker!!! 

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Thanks for reading!!  Please feel free to like, comment, and share! 

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