Doris Heritage Has Her Say

Words of wisdom from a five-time world champion cross country runner and two-time Olympian

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Doris Heritage

When you talk to Doris Heritage, five-time world champion and two-time Olympian, be prepared to have nuggets of wisdom leave her as frequently as she racked up world records while in her competitive prime. After interviewing her for the Winter 2009 Response, we decided that although these quotes didn’t fit into the article, they were just too good to pass up.

Growing Up


“My idea of working out was to run down the road, 400 meters as hard as I could. When I recovered from that, I’d run back again. Then I’d go long jump in our garden for half and hour. That was a workout. No warm-up, no warming down. That sounds ridiculous now, but how would you know?”


“I always got up early enough that I had time to run down the beach (in Gig Harbor, Washington) a little bit, or run in the woods a little bit. … I remember just loving to run.”


“While I was at SPU … I was pretty poor, so I wasn’t wearing good running shoes. I was wearing tennis shoes out of the lost and found. You know, the little white Keds.”


For the Love of Running

“You shouldn’t get into running because you’re good and you can get a scholarship, or because your friends run. If you love to run, then it’s worth pursuing. And you should enjoy it more through the years, not less. See it not only as a lifestyle, but also as a way to contribute to your life in a way that you have a lot to give back to others.”


“I think I was competitive. I’m pretty sure I must have been. … I think a good athlete has to envision what they want to accomplish, and you have to see it during your training. You don’t just see it during the race.”


“I think some people really love to race. Some of us love the process. I love to run; I love the process. I love working toward a goal, finding out what I can do. But racing is very frightening to me.”


“I always felt great racing as soon as I couldn’t hear any footsteps. Now athletes would not have that privilege — of not being able to run away from the footsteps. Now you’ve got to learn to run in the pack.”


“You’ve got to do things that other people haven’t done, or you don’t set any records, do you? You don’t win a race by being content to be in the middle of the pack.”

On Running and Life

“I see running as a gift to share. It has been for me. It’s given me a career where I had an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of great mentors, especially Ken Foreman.”


“It takes all kinds to make a team, and some of the things that help the best people be the best are contributed by the people who maybe don’t get to go to nationals.”


“As we get older, we set limits for ourselves. But when you’re a child, you just run to win. Now, I don’t know why, but I seem to have maintained that throughout my life.”


“A reason why athletics is so good for you: You’re dealing with the unknown, and you’re getting out of your comfort zone — and that’s what it takes in life, isn’t it?”


“Running and athletics give you a platform to share all the values of life that are worthwhile — spiritual, academic, and interpersonal. It’s all the great values I came to value in my years at SPU.”


By Hope McPherson (