Shalane Flanagan is the American record holder at 5,000 meters, and 10,000 meters. Indoors, she has the 3,000 meter record, which she set in a brilliant race against Meseret Defar in 2007. Her last two years, relatively injury-free, have been amazing, capped with her exciting bronze medal performance for the Olympic 10,000 meters, also setting the American record in the final as well! This was her second American record at 10,000 meters, the first set in a tremendous duel with New Zealand’s Kim Smith, at the Payton Jordan Invite the first weekend of May 2008. Shalane is coached by John Cook, who also coaches Shannon Rowbury, the American leader at 1,500 meters and arguably, the number three women at 1,500 meters in the world. We hope to get Coach Cook to chat about some of his beliefs in directing and advising elite women distance runners.
A special thanks to Josh Rowe of Nike for approaching the athletes with my queries….
1. What was your first experience in cross country?
My first experience was as a high school athlete. It was not a very popular sport when I started but we built a great team full of memories and fun traditions by the time I was a senior.
2. What was training like in high school?
Training was very laid back and a little lonely at times. I ran the a majority of my workouts with the mens team and on the weekends I would run with my father.
3. When did you make a commitment to running?
I became serious about my running my junior year in High school. I went to a few nike running camps over the summer and made a strong commitment to improving.
4. What was college training like?
College training was fantastic because I had so many training partners and friends to share the journey with.
5. What is difference between running in high school and running in college?
In college I felt like everyone had the same goals, whereas in high school, most of the girls were out to running xc to stay in shape or add the participation a college resume. In college we were all striving to achieve our best and were committed to excellence.
6. Tell us about your experience in the Olympic Trials?
The Olympic trials was extremely exciting but also very stressful. It is hard as an athlete to be ready on one day. The weight of the one shot and opportunity made the trials very dramatic.
9. What keeps you sane during training? Favorite music? Favorite books?
Running with friends and family keep me motivated and sane. I do however, treasure a solo run with my ipod. I love music that is a bit on the girly punk rock side……like Gwen Steffani or Fergie.
10. Do you train with a group or individually?
Most of the year I train at home in North carolina with my husband, but for a few key months out of the year I train with my team mates and coach.
12. Do you have a favorite quote or a favorite song that gives you inspiration?
I always tell young athletes my moto is, “Dream BIG and dare to be different”
For more on the sport, please check: http://www.american-trackandfield.com