Going Long: An Interview with Shalane Flanagan

By Mario Fraioli

“So yeah, I guess, in a sense, this possibly could be my last track season ever,” Flanagan says, “so I say why not just go all-in and see if I can represent the U.S. one more time.” Photo: Scott Draper

I’ve been following Shalane Flanagan’s running career since I took up the sport myself in high school. We’re the same age and both grew up in Massachusetts, competing in many of the same scholastic meets in the late 1990s. She was a boss back then, she was a boss in college at the University of North Carolina and she’s been a boss on the professional circuit for the past 13-plus years. A lot has changed in American distance running since 2004, but Flanagan factoring in races isn’t one of them. The four-time Olympian, who lives and trains in Portland, Ore., as a member of Jerry Schumacher’s Bowerman Track Club, is a threat to win, set a record, earn a medal or make a U.S. team whenever she steps to the starting line.

Few American women, save maybe Deena Kastor and Molly Huddle, have been able to match Flanagan’s level of sustained success on the track, over hill and dale, and on the roads since she made her first Olympic team 13 years ago.

The 35-year-old, who missed April’s Boston Marathon due to a stress fracture in her iliac crest, is on the mend and recently got back on the track for the first time in two years at the Portland Track Festival, where she won the 10,000 meters in 31:38. Despite an abbreviated buildup, she finished fourth in the 10,000 at the U.S. Track and Field Championships on June 22 in Sacramento.

I caught up with Flanagan recently to discuss her recent 10,000m win at the Portland Track Festival, how she dealt with the injury that kept her out of April’s Boston Marathon, what can be done to help solve the doping problem in athletics, and much more. Check out our conversation in the latest installment of the morning shakeout‘s “Going Long” interview series on Medium.

A version of this post first appeared in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter covering running, writing, media and other topics that interest me. If you’d like for it to land in your inbox first thing on Tuesday mornings, subscribe here.