Shalane Flanagan Interview

September 9, 2011 1

© Copyright – 2010 – Athletics Illustrated

Three-time American record holder, Shalane Flanagan, from Marblehead, Massachusetts grew up in an athletic family. Both of her parents were excellent distance runners. Her father Steve Flanagan owns a marathon personal best of 2:18, while her mother Cheryl Treworgy (Bridges) set an American marathon record and competed on the U.S. World Cross Country teams during the 1960s and 1970s.

Flanagan’s own running career began to take off in college at the University of North Carolina. There, in 2002, she won the first NCAA Cross Country title in the school’s history. She also won it in 2003. In 2004 and 2005, she was the U.S. Cross Country champion at 4K.

Flanagan  currently holds the American record times in the 3000 metre (indoor), 5000 metre (indoor), and 10,000 metre distances. She won the bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 10,000 metre finishing in 30:22:22 and second place in her marathon debut during the 2010 ING New York City Marathon with her 2:28:40. She is a two-time national champion in the women’s 5000 metres.

Personal bests:

1500m – 4:05.86

3000m – 8:33.25 (indoor) AR

5000m – 14:44.80

5000m – 14:47.62 (indoors) AR

10,000m – 30:22:22 AR

10k – 32:25 (road)

Half-marathon – 68:37

Marathon – 2:28:40

Christopher Kelsall: Congratulations on finishing second in your debut marathon at New York. Are you happy with your placement and time?

Shalane Flanagan: Thank you! I am extremely happy with second place in my first marathon. My goal going into NY was strictly about placing as high as possible. Jerry (Schumacher) and I never emphasised focussing on time. Finishing in the top three was the priority.

CK: How does second in NY compare to bronze in the 10,000m at the Beijing, Olympics?

SF: It is hard to compare. They are both special in their own way. Both experiences will forever be highlights in my career. To say I have an Olympic medal, still gives me chills and my second place finish in NY gives me hope that in the future I can win a major marathon. NY is very rewarding because the journey was extremely challenging. I had to commit to some major changes in order to fulfill my dream.

CK: What were some of those major changes?

SF: Major differences in my training was volume. When I trained for the 5k and 10k my weekly mileage would max out at roughly 80 miles whereas training for the marathon I ran multiple weeks ranging from 110-120. My long run also went from 13 miles to 20miles. Initially, this transition to higher volume was really hard for me.

CK: So next will you make an attempt at a potential new American marathon record?

SF: It would be great to be in American marathon record shape, but my focus this year is on the American 5k record.

CK: Can you take us through the marathon and what you were feeling when you finished?

SF: When I finished, all I felt was gratitude. I was so grateful to finish, for my team, health, fitness, that everything clicked on that day, to finally be able to call myself a marathoner and just grateful for the opportunity to compete.

During the marathon I was in a zone. I couldn’t tell you anything about the course, except maybe the last 4 miles (I had memorized from 5th Ave to the finish). I felt calm and prepared, so when it went out slow I didn’t mind I knew that at some point a battle would begin and that I just needed to conserve as much energy as possible. With each mile that clicked away and I felt good, I gained more confidence and knew that in the very least, I was going to finish the marathon. The only hiccup in the race was my fluid intake. Due to the cool weather and moderate pace, the fluids just sat in my stomach and I started to get a sloshy feeling. So after 15k, I never took any fluids. I lucked out that this didn’t backfire and know that this is something to work on for the future.

CK: Growing up with with your parents who are very accomplished runners, did you always have your eyes on achieving a high standard as a runner?

SF: My parents always emphasized working hard for your goals and dreams. Just because my parents were good runners, didn’t mean I felt entitled to being a good runner. I grew up in an environment where sports and exercise were a big part of family life. I have always been innately competitive in everything I do and I believe that competitive drive has set the standard. I am fortunate that my parents have supported and fostered my competitive side and passion for running.

CK: Are they (your parents) still out there enjoying the daily run?

SF: My dad runs almost every day. When I am home or if he comes to watch me race, we run together. He is one of my favorite people to run with. The day I run the Boston marathon, my dad hopes to run it too.

Off the topic of running

CK: In regards to your flare for art do you get much time to create?

SF: Sadly, the last time I picked up a paintbrush or used any artistic tool was back in high school! We had a great art curriculum at my school and I was part of the “Art Major” program. We created a portfolio to help us apply to art schools. I never got to put mine to good use!

CK: It’s never too late. What was your favorite medium to work with?

SF: I like mixing it up. Clay and charcoal may be my favorite.

CK: At what age did you move away from the other sports like soccer and swimming that you were involved in to specialise in running?

SF: I played soccer my freshman year of high school and swam all four years in high school (my senior year, I only swam half a season and ran a little indoor track). My first time running all-year round was as a freshman in college.

CK: What position did you play?

SF: I played forward and half back. Anything that required a bunch of running.

Back on to running

CK: Are you continuing to fit in quality, daily runs?

SF: Did you talk to Jerry about this? Since I started working with Jerry he has emphasized quality running on a daily basis. So, my goal is to hurt a little bit every day to make sure I am callusing my body. My new training partner, Lisa Koll is a master at this and has kept me honest about daily runs.

CK: Before NY you ran the ING Philadelphia Half Marathon in 68 minutes – based on that time, is 2:28 what you expected from NY?

SF: In NY I focused on racing my competitors and not the clock. In my training, however, Jerry felt that if he prepared me to be in 2:25 shape, then I could compete with the best. So, based on how I felt running the marathon that day, we believe that in a fast- paced race I had the potential to run 2:24-2:25 in NY if I needed to.

CK: To be ready for 2:25 on that course, what were some of the key workouts that indicated you were prepared?

SF: Jerry could probably answer this better than me, but what gave me the most confidence that I was ready, were the long tempo runs. We would tempo anywhere between 16-18miles at or near 2:25 race pace on relatively hilly terrain.

CK: So when do you think you will run another marathon? At least a marathon where you can run at a pace that reflects your true potential relative to your half-marathon and 10,000m bests?

SF: My next marathon will be the Olympic Trials in Houston. Right now, I am excited to get back to the track and run some fast times. Eventually, I would like to run a fast marathon, more for bragging rights for when I get old. Ultimately, I would pick winning NYC or Boston over a fast marathon time.

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