SHALANE FLANAGAN Interview with Coach Mick
Shalane Flanagan is one of the top collegiate women runners in the United States. She was named the 2001 NCAA Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year and the ACC Indoor Women's Athlete of the year. At the NCAA Indoor Nationals, Shalane finished 3rd in the mile, 6th in the 3000 meter run and ran on the University of North Carolina�s American Record setting Distance Medley Relay team.
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MICK: Shalane, You just finished a very busy Indoor Track season. Congratulations on your many successes. How long have you been running and how did you first get into the sport? SHALANE: I started running in 7th grade but at the time I was also playing 3 other sports, therefore I didn't take running very seriously. My interest in running began in grade school. When I started beating all the boys in physical fitness tests I decided I liked running.
MICK: What sports did you enjoy when you were younger? SHALANE: I enjoyed any sports which were outside. I liked soccer, lacrosse and swimming.
MICK: You used to be a competitive swimmer. Do you still do a lot of swimming? SHALANE: Yes, I competed in swimming for 10 years! Once in a while I miss the pool but not too much. Every time I smell chlorine it brings back many memories of early morning practices and HARD workouts. To this day I would say I have worked harder in the pool than I have on the track. Now the only time I am in the pool is for fun or cross training.
MICK: What kinds of cross training do you think are important? SHALANE: I think one important aspect to being a good runner is being an overall good athlete. So, I believe cross training is a very important aspect. For example; swimming, drills, weight lifting and other sports.
MICK: What about running do you enjoy the most? SHALANE: To put it bluntly....I like to win. I also enjoy training hard and seeing results.
MICK: If you were to coach a youth track team, how would you develop your athletes over several years? SHALANE: If I were a coach I would develop my athletes gradually. I think base work and strength-work are key factors. I would not focus on speed too much until they were physically fully developed otherwise I think it would set kids up for injuries.
MICK: Do you have difficulty balancing school work and running? SHALANE: If I was a disorganized person my life would be very difficult, but through running I have learned discipline and it has transferred over into my school work. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am a student before I am an athlete.
MICK: Like all athletes, you have had setbacks. How have you learned to deal with setbacks and make yourself better? SHALANE: Through my setbacks I have learned how to be a better person and athlete. At a young age I have learned how to deal with disappointment and how to move on. Sometimes setbacks can actually make a runner stronger.
MICK: I saw you run at the Millrose Games,(Shalane won the race) in New York, when you were in high school. What was it like running at Madison Square Garden? SHALANE: Millrose Games is one of those meets that no runner can forget..... especially when you are in high school. Mainly I was just star struck the whole time and was in awe of all the other athletes.
MICK: What are biggest differences between running in high school and college? SHALANE: I would say the biggest difference has been the intensity of my hard days. In high school I did NO speed. So,when I came to college I had to adapt to the speed workouts which left me very tired.
MICK: What types of form drills do you do? SHALANE: I just started drills when I came to college and at first I didn't like them but now enjoy them because I do them with my teammates. We do- B skips, A skips, high knees, butt kicks, strides, and some other funky drills that I don't even know the names of.
MICK: How many races per season do you think young athletes should do? SHALANE: Hmm, I guess my theory is that athletes should not race very much, so I am biased to 5 races per season. In HS this is impossible with all the dual meets that kids have to run. It is easier in college to pick out which races you want to run and making them quality.
MICK: What is a hard workout for you at championship time? SHALANE: My coach has us do 2 hard 800s about 5 days before big competitions. We run them in about 2:14 pace (which is hard to run when you are not racing).
MICK: What advice would you offer young girls who want to run like you? SHALANE: Jeez, I guess what I would suggest to them is to be a well rounded athlete. Last year was the first year I ran all year round but I feel I am a stronger, healthier runner (never been injured) because I played many sports growing up.
MICK: How do prepare mentally to compete? SHALANE: Mentally before I compete I like to feel very confident. I also try to become as relaxed as possible. I like to listen to music or pump myself up by talking to my teammates.
MICK: Your parents were both really great runners, what is the best advice they have given to you? SHALANE: The best advice they have given me was in high school. They taught me how to work hard but not too hard because they felt that in order to have longevity in running one must take a very gradual and long-term approach. Thus, I left High School with a lot of room for improvement and up-side potential.
MICK: How many miles per week do you run now? What is a normal training pace for distance runs? SHALANE: Right now, in track season I run anywhere from 40-50 miles per week. In cross country my mileage is higher. My training pace on runs varies depending who I am running with. When I run by myself I run faster than when I run with teammates. On average I run about 6:50 per mile pace.
MICK: What are your current pr's? SHALANE: My HS PR's were mile 4:46, 800 2:14, 2m 10:22 Now my PR's are mile 4:35, 800 2:08 and 3000m 9:16
MICK: What are your most significant accomplishments? SHALANE: I would say getting 4th at NCAA in cross country freshman year and getting the American record in the DMR indoors.
MICK: What do you recommend phys ed departments across the country begin in order to promote physical fitness? SHALANE: I would give students options in which sports or activities in which they can participate. Then they might not feel like they are being forced to exercise.