shalane flanagan, runner, marathoner, running, marathon

How Athletes Train: Marathoner Shalane Flanagan

America's long distance darling has some inside intel for your marathon season.

Shalane Flanagan's name is already written into the history books as one of the best American long-distance runners of all time. Among the slew of records in her possession is the result of her performance at this year's Berlin Marathon, a 2:21:14, which made her the second fastest American woman in the history of the distance. If you're wondering how the marvel from Marblehead, Massachusetts, is able to get in such sickly-fast shape, she gave us a glimpse into her training regimen, from her go-to strength moves to her post-run recovery routine. For those gearing up for a 26.2 this marathon season—at this weekend's New York City Marathon, for example—Flanagan no doubt serves as an inspiration. Read on. 

The Training Regimen: I started training for the Berlin Marathon at the end of June. I spent the first month up at altitude in Park City, Utah, focused on building my base. During this phase, I emphasize high mileage (between 105 and 120 miles a week), which includes a long run of 2 to 3 hours and one speed session, either a fartlek or 400-meter repeats.

I also incorporated a gym session 3 times a week. The gym is an important part of my training because not only does it help me build muscle but most importantly I look at it as injury prevention. I cycle three different kinds of workouts in the gym: balance/stretching/drills, light weights, and heavier lifting. Every gym day has an emphasis on my core, which I consider to be my power house. A strong core keeps my form together at the end of long workouts and marathons. Some of my favorite upper body moves include pull-ups, dips and med ball throws; for legs, I like body squats on bosu ball (single and double), and for abs, I am a fan of crunches, planks and side bends over a big Swiss ball.

The Nutrition Regimen: My nutrition plan is pretty simple: An emphasis on quality, natural and nutrient-dense foods. My go-to meals and snacks all incorporate proteins, fats, and carbs. A typical lunch or dinner has a lean protein like fish, turkey, chicken, eggs or bison with vegetables, fruit, nuts and a grain like quinoa or farro. My snack is typically a piece of fruit with a KIND bar because I am focused on recovery and keeping my energy levels high. A cheat meal is typically a burger and fries!

The Regeneration Regimen: My recovery routine is focused on replenishing my fuel within 30 minutes of a hard effort. I try to hydrate with an electrolyte drink and a snack that combines protein, fat, and carbs. I also use a foam roller to work out any tight areas that need help. For really deep tissue work, I see a physical therapist or massage therapist. If I am particularly sore or fatigued I will also take an ice bath or swim; I find the hydrotherapy to be helpful in flushing out toxins in the legs.

What’s Up Next: As far as next year, I hope to run another marathon, attack some American road records (10k, 13.1 or marathon), and make the U.S. track and field team for the World Championships in China.

Image: Courtesy of Nike