When Shalane Flanagan ran her way to first place in last year’s New York City Marathon, it was a pretty big deal. The first American woman to break the tape in Central Park in 40 years, Flanagan’s impressive win set the pace for what would be a great year of racing for women everywhere. Des Linden famously became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years just a few months later.
This weekend, Flanagan is gearing up to run through New York City’s five boroughs again and potentially defend her first place spot, which would make her the first American to snag back-to-back wins since 1977. And if that’s not stressful enough, she’s also taken on another role while prepping for race day: coach. Over the past few months, Flanagan has partnered with Michelob Ultra to prep their 95 sponsored runners to run the 2018 New York City marathon. As one of the Team Ultra runners, I had the chance to catch up with my coach to talk all things training.
“We’re both running the same race on Sunday,” she told me. “Because if you have a body, then you’re an athlete. It obviously takes effort, work and time, but that’s what I love about being in a team setting. People get much more out of themselves when they have the accountability.”
Obviously a lot of things go into prepping for a race of this distance. While my highest mileage week prepping for race day tapped out at 44 total, Flanagan’s miles pique at around the 120 mark (a case of the super typical runner versus an elite). And this intel prompted me to ask her: How does a superwoman like yourself recover to stay in tip top shape? Of course there’s stretching before and after workouts (dynamic before, static after) and foam rolling, too, but Flanagan says that being in tune with her body has been a total game-changer for her recovery game.
“At this point in my career—I’m 37 now—it’s becoming more and more important to focus on recovery,” she said. “My daily runs in between hard sessions, the pace has slowed down. I really listen to my body a lot more and maker a conscious effort not to push through fatigue because making sure I’m ready for the next workout really is key.”
She’s also bigger on sleep than ever. The Massachusetts native sleeps almost 10 hours nightly on average, getting into bed regularly at 8:30 p.m. She’ll also make time to take a break midday and just breathe.
“Even if I don’t go to sleep, I just close my eyes and rest,” she says. “I’ll lay down at least once a day for an hour.” Note to self: Resting isn’t for the wary.
Whether you’re running the New York City Marathon this weekend or you’re more of the 5K type, read up on the 5 most common running injuries and how to fix them.
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