an NYRRC web site

About this site | Email

Interview: Shalane Flanagan

Shalane Flanagan (in yellow top) runs at the 2000 National Scholastic Track Championships.
(Photo courtesy of Coach Net)

Shalane Flanagan entered the Univeristy of North Carolina this fall with an already-impressive running resume. A three-time Massachusetts State Cross Country Champion, winner of the 2000 Millrose Games high school mile, National Scholastic Indoor Champion in the mile and perhaps most impressively, the winner of the 2000 Junior Women's Winter Cross Country Championships. Flanagan showed up for the 2000 World Junior XC Trials as a high school senior, just hoping to make the team. She surprised everyone, including herself, by winning the race and beating such established stars as Stanford's Erin Sullivan and Lauren Fleshman, as well as Duke's Sheela Agrawal. At the World Junior Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal, she went on to finish 29th, running 22:10 for the 6k course. Flanagan finished high school with PRs including 2:14 (800), 4:46 (mile) and 10:24 (2-mile). As of this writing, she is undefeated as a college runner, winning her first three cross country races for UNC.

FW: What was it like running in the World Junior Cross Country Championships earlier this year?

SF: It was my greatest experience thus far. It was an eye opener and the most fun I have ever had. The best part was meeting all the U.S. athletes and the athletes from other countries.

FW: Were you surprised when you won Winter XC Nationals in February, competing against some top college runners? Are you planning on running Junior Nationals/World XC again this coming winter?

SF: I was shocked. I went in thinking that 6th place was the most important place to finish. I didn't think I would be able to compete with studs like Erin Sullivan and Lauren Fleshman because they did so well at NCAAs. They were training college style while I was coaching myself. I do not think I will run the trials this winter because I am too old for the Jr. team and I don't think I am even remotely close to making the team in the open division.

FW: What other schools did you look at and what made you decide to attend UNC?

SF:To be honest, I wasn't even going to take a look here but the coach was very persistent and I thought I would give it a try. I didn't think they had that good of a distance progam. But I was wrong. I looked at other schools such as Providence, Penn State and Villanova. I considered others but those are the ones I visted. I decided to attend UNC because I knew that even if I wasn't running here I would still be happy without the running. Also, I was offered the option of a five-year scholarship, if needed, and indoor track wasn't going to be emphasized as much as outdoor and cross country. Plus, I love my coach.

FW: I know the running is going well, could you tell me a little about your team and your coaches -- how is it different from high school?

SF: My coach is amazing. we have a very good relationship already. His name is Michael Whittlesey and he is from Connecticut. He is the XC and distance coach. In high school, I coached myself. I would bring my high school coach my workouts and tell her what I wanted to do for the week and then I would go do it alone or with some of the guys on my team. Now I have someone to help me with all the aspects of training, which is a relief. My coach and I agree on training style, which makes things flow easily. My team Is another AMAZING part. We all get along great and help each other stay positive every day. That's something I never had in high school.

FW: What is a typical training week like for you? Is it tougher than what you did during high school? (Do you do any crosstraining?)

SF: We have three key workouts a week -- a five-mile tempo run, a speed workout (ladders or repeats, usually on the shorter side), and a strength workout (longer intervals). It was an adjustment the first month because in high school, I did 1-2 workouts a week. Plus, now we also get in the weight room three times a week or pool run if we feel the need to give our legs a break.

FW: Are you good about paying attention to the little things, like getting enough sleep, eating well, etc.?

SF: I basically coached myself and I was very in tune with my body beacuse I was making all of the decisions about what I needed to be doing training-wise. My schedule is very full so eating and sleeping (well) have become a part of my daily routine.

FW: Going back a bit, how did you get started in running? Did you play other sports first?

SF: I ran track in 7th and 8th grades, played soccer up until my sophmore year (a total of 7 years) and swam for 10 years (up to my senior year when I quit to try out for U.S. XC team).

FW: When did you first realize that you had some talent?

SF: In middle school beating the boys in gym

FW: What are your running goals -- for this season, this year, college, and beyond? (If you've gotten that far in your planning!)

SF: Talking with my coach, he thinks it is feasible that I could be in the top 10 or 5 at NCAAs, but we will see how it goes. I just want to stay healthy and have a good time in college.

FW: Any idea what you want to major in?

SF: Maybe English.

FW: And finally, what are your interests outside of running?

SF: MUSIC!! Reading, hiking or anything outdoors

Nothing contained herein may be reproduced online in any form without the express written permission of the New York Road Runners Club, Inc.