Ellis Iurilli-Hough

[Ellis writes - "In 2022 I will be a senior at Melrose High School. I first fell in love with running when my friend asked me to come to captain's practice for cross country the summer before my sophomore year. At the time, I did not like running whatsoever, but my teammates, my competitive drive, and my never-ending need to be better helped me thrive in the running community. This year I will be a captain for cross country and track. I plan to run in college, become a marathoner, then graduate to ultramarathoning.

"Besides running I love to play music. Currently I play guitar, piano, and percussion in the marching band. This year I will be the founder and president of the Jam Club, a club at my high school for musicians to connect and play music. I also love theater, and acting in shows has been a passion of mine since I was a little kid. I've been nominated for statewide acting awards and performed in more than 30 shows over my lifetime. I love learning and strive to better myself in school and in my community by participating in the National Honors Society, being a Peer Leader for the Melrose Alliance Against Violence, as well as volunteering regularly for events and organizations in the school and my city."]

GTD: Ellis, how many summers have you trained in Coach Braz's program? What got you started doing it?
Ellis: This was my second summer of training in the Braz program. When my friend and teammate who previously trained at this camp for years before I did told me about it, I decided it could be fun, so I joined and immediately realized how much the training actually helps me before the season.

GTD: Tell us about your running in high school.
Ellis: My first year of running I was rookie of the year on my team and this past cross country season I was team MVP, Middlesex League All-Star, and I led my team to a 5th place finish at the All-State meet.

GTD: The 90+ minute sessions have phases, and each day is different, and each week is different, and progressively more challenging.
Ellis: I think one of the great things about the Braz program is the rate at which we progress from the beginning to the end of the summer. He starts us out at lower volume and each week the duration, difficulty, and type of workout we do vary and get increasingly harder. This does an amazing job of building our aerobic base without burning us out for the upcoming seasons. Personally, I've always been a fan of longer distance-oriented workouts so some of my favorites are usually the tempos from cone-to-cone or the acceleration drills.

GTD: Is this summer different from last summer?
Ellis: This summer is way different than last summer. Last summer I was convinced the coaches didn't even know my name. And I don't like just being another sheep in the herd. But this summer Braz took me under his wing and told me he wants to see me succeed and I think he sees my passion for the sport and is drawn to that. He now calls/texts almost every day asking how I feel and giving me workout suggestions.

This year he also put me in the group with collegiate athletes. Seeing as I'm the only high schooler at the camp running with the college boys, I think Braz expects me to take things to the next level, which is an opportunity I take in stride. Mac Eon and Mike Brown have been great training partners this year and I've been doing most of my sessions with them. Recently we've been separating from the larger group of boys and doing our own workouts, which are usually tempos or progressions of some sort. It has been fantastic to do these kinds of workouts, not only because they're my favorite and I know they get me into shape for the season, but also because it gives me the confidence that I can stick with the older guys and show them I mean business.

GTD: How do you keep your focus during the sessions?
Ellis: During the sessions I like to stay focused by locking onto the other kids in my group. Now that it's my second year doing the camp, I've come to learn that If I just stick with the front group of guys, I'll have a good workout no matter what. It also helps to not take things so seriously and have some fun while I'm there. Hey, it's the summer, right?

GTD: Do you have "habits" or routines that you follow on race day or Braz Camp day?
Ellis: I would say I don't have any strict habits on race or camp days. Although I am somewhat superstitious. I always try to get up right when my alarm goes off. I find whatever outfit makes me feel fast that day and I pay attention to how my body feels that particular morning. From there I can then assess how I'm going to go about the rest of my time before camp or the race starts.

GTD: How do you handle nutrition on Braz Camp mornings?
Ellis: Nutrition is tough in the summer especially because I tend to lose some of my important routine that I have during the school year. If I wake up at 7 a.m., I usually have enough time to eat something small like a protein bar or peanut butter and banana, and drink an electrolyte mix. Sadly, I usually don't have enough time to digest these things before camp starts, but I've come to learn that fuel is crucial before any type of run or else you run the risk of the dreaded crash and burn. After my runs I always eat a protein bar right away and drink plenty of water. Then when I get home I make myself a hardy meal and, If it was a really tough workout, I make a protein smoothie.

GTD: The last phase of each training session is devoted to core work, flexibility, and strength. Tell us about it.
Ellis: Luckily I have always been adept when it comes to the "little things.'' I learned from the beginning that keeping up with core, strength training, mobility, and flexibility will make you a better runner, so I've always done my best to keep up with those things. In the past I have had trouble with overdoing it on the little things, which actually harmed me more than it helped, but this summer I've focused on relaxing a little more and just doing what makes me feel strong. I think committing to all these things after runs on camp days is so crucial and it really helps me get stronger and healthier as my season gets closer. I have even taken lots of exercises and routines we do at camp and implemented them into my team's captain's practices back in Melrose.

GTD: What is the most important thing you learn from the summer program?
Ellis: I think the summer program teaches us the importance of summer training, an often overlooked aspect of high school training. Many kids with the potential to be great don't train in the offseason at all, then expect to be good once the fall rolls around. But joining this program allows you to run with other people who will push you and teach you why training in the summer is so important. Not only does it teach you the importance of training, but also how to train properly and succeed in your seasons.

We had photo choices for Ellis running in high school. Steeplechase? Yes!

GTD: How would you describe the program to a runner who has never done it, but might be interested?
Ellis: I would absolutely recommend the program to anyone without summer training plans. I would describe it as an unconventional, yet effective way to train in the summer. You will get very good base training, learn lots of important information that will help you continue training once the camp is over, and you will meet lots of cool people who will help you get better and reach your full potential. I would also advise anyone joining to get your name in the mix of people at the camp. What I mean by that is, there are a lot of people under Braz's training program, if you really want to become a good runner under training, you can't be afraid to get your feet dirty and toe the line with the big dogs at the camp. Show the coaches what you're made of and they will help you to get where you want to be.

GTD: What are your plans for the upcoming fall, winter, and spring sports seasons?
Ellis: Once the school year starts, I'll be diving headfirst into cross country, marching band, theater productions, school, and figuring out where I want to attend college. The fall will be particularly busy and stressful, but I'm confident that I can keep a level head with my college preparedness and eventually get to winter and spring track with a full head of steam. I'm very excited to continue to reach out to college coaches, visit campuses, and make my final decisions on where I want to commit for the next 4 years of my academic and athletic career.

To race against The Beasts in the fall, train with them in the summer. From left: Mike Brown (Andover HS / UMass-Amherst), Mac Eon (Danvers HS /Stonehill College), Riley McGoldrick (Beverly HS), Logan Tracia (Peabody HS), Ellis (Melrose HS), Declan Smith (Peabody HS), Kyle Kwiatek (St Marys, Lynn)

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Michaela Staniec, Central Catholic HS, Sep. 2022
Sarah DiVasta, Peabody HS, Sep. 2022
Mike Brown, Andover HS/UMass-Amherst, Aug. 2022
Molly Kiley, Andover HS, Aug. 2022
Ellis Iurilli-Hough, Melrose HS, Aug. 2022
Colin Kirn, Andover HS, Aug. 2021
Victoria Lombardi, Stonehill College, Oct. 2020
Adam Abdulghani, Peabody HS, Oct. 2020
Shannon Bresnahan, Bishop Fenwick HS, Oct. 2020
Summer 2020 - click here
- Caroline Johnson, Marblehead HS, Sep. 2020
- Shannon O'Connell, Colby-Sawyer College, Sep. 2020
- Victoria Lombardi, Stonehill College, Sep. 2020
- Emily Ernst, Essex North Shore Tech, Sep. 2020
- Rachel Brennan, Gordon College, Sep. 2020
Sean Kay, Arlington Catholic, Oct. 2019
Shannon O'Connell, Colby-Sawyer College, Oct. 2019
Riley Dowd, Stonehill College, Sep. 2018
Kate Mitchell, Boston Collge, Aug. 2018
Nadja Ueckert-LaPlante, Ipswich HS, Dec. 2017
Marissa Farago, Triton HS, Apr. 2017
Anthony Pizzo, AIC, Dec. 2016
Matt Loehle, UConn, Dec. 2016
Emily DeMarco, Ipswich HS, Apr. 2016
Sarah Oliver, Marblehead HS, Jan. 2016
AJ Ernst, Marblehead HS, Dec. 2015
Abby Walsh, Beverly HS, Dec. 2015
Sydney Packard, Bishop Fenwick HS, Dec. 2015
Griffin Barriss, Melrose HS, Dec. 2015
Tia Patterson, Boston College, Dec. 2015
Thomas Mackin, Lynn Classical HS, Dec. 2015
Riley Dowd, Stonehill College, Nov. 2015
Emily Weigand, American University, Nov. 2015
Connor Wolff, Stonehill College, Nov. 2015
Lexi Buonfiglio, Stonehill College, Nov. 2015
Victoria Holleran, St John, Peabody, Mar. 2015
Abby Walsh, Beverly HS, Dec. 2014
Riley Dowd, Peabody HS, Dec. 2014
Sarah Oliver, Marblehead HS, Dec. 2014
Tia Patterson, Lynnfield HS, Nov. 2014
Emily Horgan, Univ. of Vermont, Nov. 2014
Arianna Maida, Bishop Fenwick HS, Sep. 2014