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Inside Ryan Hill’s Switch From Bowerman to NAZ Elite + Lessons from 7 Years Under Jerry Schumacher


“I’m a big believer that you should really judge people at their worst and not at their best. When people are at their best and everything is comfortable and good or everything is going their way, it’s not really a fair assessment of their character. I think it’s a lot more insightful how someone acts when they’re down and facing adversity. That’s exactly what I was dealing with at that moment. I remember being like, ‘I’m just going to show just how tough I am here and how this isn’t going to shake me at all.’”

NAZ Elite has added the 1500m and 5000m specialist to their roster in 2021. Ryan Hill has spent the last seven years training under Jerry Schumacher. He joined the group shortly after he made his first U.S. national team in 2013 and then competed at the world championships in Moscow. With Bowerman, he won three U.S. titles and made four world championship teams. He won a silver medal in the 3,000 meters at the 2016 World Indoor Championships that were held in Portland, Ore. We touch on those moments in his career and the lessons he learned + what he expects under coach Ben Rosario. If you got a kick out of Emma Bates doing a Nick Willis impression, just wait until you hear Ryan’s Jerry Schumacher character.

Follow Ryan on Instagram: @ryanhillncstate

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How the decision to join NAZ Elite came about:

“Clearly there’s some major changes going on at Nike where I was at for seven and a half years. I did not plan on making a move this year obviously with it being an Olympic year. I thought I would be in Portland. Timing and just how 2020 went down forced a lot of people to make some drastic changes. It just seemed that all the language I was hearing I was not a part of the long term strategy at Nike. I’m a very adaptable person. I’m solution-oriented and I’m looking at the next step. Immediately started looking at other options and where am I in the long term picture. HOKA very quickly became the leader in that category. I was able to talk to Ben Rosario and just had an incredible first couple of talks. He won me over with his professionalism, his dedication to the sport and how excited he seemed to coach a 1,500/5K guy like myself. I think it’s something that he would love to add to his team. The conversations were all positive and never had a snag. I knew I loved Flagstaff and so moving here and joining NAZ Elite would not be a big deal. At the end of the day, it was very clear from a business professional decision that HOKA and NAZ Elite was the place that I should be. There were so many personal things wrapped up into it. I was going to have to completely change my life. I had to leave my girlfriend in Portland because she has her commitments there. Leaving some of my best friends that I had at the Bowerman Track Club. Especially the timing…we’re kind of in the season. We very much view the beginning of the season as Nov. 1. This is like a mid-season trade that you might see in the NBA, right? I feel like people never think about the personal side of what those guys go through. They just think it’s the switch of a jersey and it’s all good. We’re all people. It was an extremely hard decision. I’m still dealing with that. I’m very happy about the future but it’s so recent that I’m still a little bit in the grieving process of my time being over at Bowerman.”

The coaching switch from Jerry Schumacher to Ben Rosario:

“If I had to really simplify it, I’m going from a 5K coach and a 5K group to a marathon coach and a marathon group. I have no problem saying that. But, if you love running and you’re a great coach, you can do anything. I’ve already seen that with Ben. We had one talk about training where he essentially took me through January and February and showed me some of the training I would be doing. I instantly knew OK this guy gets it. He knows exactly the intensity and how hard you have to get after it in the 1,500 and 5K. He won me over right there. I know we’re not going to have an issue. From a transition point, Ben and Jerry surely agree that strength is the key to everything. Working on that endurance, aerobic development and letting your own natural speed show on race day. You just touch on it and have a specific 5K session every now and then. They’re very similar in that regard. But it struck me that coach Rosario’s training is almost very much like my college coach Rollie Geiger. A lot of similarities there. It’s a similar cycle and types of workouts so I really don’t see any issue in switching in training. Once again, it’s mostly personal.”

No ‘Ryan Hill the Marathoner’ talk yet:

“We’re years from that. I have to be very open to it, right? You can see where the sport is going. You’re either a miler or a marathoner. We’re watching that divide happen right before our eyes. I’m mentally prepared to make that decision. Right now, if I had to choose, I’m much more of a miler with my A-event being the 5K. That’s still my mindset. I love the mile and the 1,500. I love doing that kind of training and it helps me all around. I won’t be jumping into any sort of marathon stuff. Maybe track fans won’t understand it until they see me go run a fast mile or a fast 5K. Once I’m on the track and in the HOKA spikes, it will all make sense.”

Sticking with the 5,000m for the 2021 U.S. Olympic Track Trials

“It’s only six months away. It’s no time to be making a drastic change. It’s all about the 5K and the Trials. The 1,500 is after the 5K at the trials so it’s a great Plan B for me. It’s a great insurance policy. If I’m healthy and strong, I would love to do both. That would be sweet.”


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