Inside Lane: Shelby Houlihan’s Audacious Targets

Picture: Justin Britton / ARunnersEye

So we knew Shelby Houlihan was good.

The Bowerman Observe Membership athlete was off the charts in 2018, breaking the American report within the 5K (14:34.45), unseating Jenny Simpson because the U.S. queen of the 1500m, and setting a shiny new 3:57:34 PB.

The Iowa native not too long ago showcased the depth of her expertise by captured her eighth straight nationwide title on the USATF Cross Nation Championships in her first-ever 10Okay. She set a course report of 32:46.eight at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Florida over confirmed distance stars like Molly Huddle, Aliphine Tuliamuk and Amy Cragg.

She’s dreaming of Olympic gold in 2020.

However first issues first.

Subsequent up are the USATF Indoor Championships in Staten Island, February 22–24, the place she’ll search to defend her double distance titles (1500m/3K final yr, mile/two mile this yr). We chatted with the rising star about her first cross nation race since her NCAA days at Arizona State, what it’s like to coach and race with Shalane Flanagan, and the way she makes use of social media.

Inform me about your choice to run USATF XC.

I got here off of final yr fairly effectively so I used to be doing effectively within the energy exercises [in November] and simply jokingly approached [coach Jerry Schumacher] about it, and stated, ‘what do you consider me doing cross nation?’

Jerry was very hesitant however I used to be attempting to plant the seed in his thoughts. Certain sufficient, a couple of weeks later, he stated, ‘you understand what, that could be a good suggestion with simply how lengthy the season’s going to be, and to present you one thing to do earlier than outside observe.’

The main focus was actually on simply coaching for cross and U.S. indoors. We largely simply maintain our energy exercises going via January simply because it will be such a protracted season. We haven’t actually began the actual exercises.

What had been your expectations for USATF XC?

I needed to win.

I didn’t actually know what to anticipate, particularly as a result of I’ve by no means raced a 10Okay and—apart from in school—I hadn’t run cross in awhile. I used to be just a little not sure and nervous going into it however on the identical time, even when I’m going and I bomb, nobody’s anticipating me to win anyway. It’s not my race or my occasion, in order that made me really feel just a little higher going into it though in my thoughts I did actually wish to win.

It’s cool to see a middle-distance runner win an extended race in cross nation. What do you suppose allowed you to win this race? Is it simply being tremendous match, after the yr you had final yr? Mentally, is there something completely different?

I feel it was a mixture of the 2. I did really feel fairly match going into it. Yearly I’ve been in a position to improve my mileage by about 10 miles per week. This yr was extra like 5 miles, as a result of I’m beginning to get into that 85 vary. I feel me now vs. once I was competing in cross in school, I’m only a a lot stronger runner now due to the time and miles that I’ve put in. Going into it aerobically, I assumed I’d be okay.

And on the psychological facet of it, having final yr and being actually in a position to change my psychological sport round and be capable of put myself in these races and see how lengthy I can dangle. And have extra confidence in myself. That’s been an enormous factor for me previously yr.

Do you may have any need to run a 10Okay on the observe?

I do. I wouldn’t thoughts doing a 10okay on the observe. I don’t suppose it might be for awhile, which is ok with me. In some unspecified time in the future once I do inevitably do this, I shall be excited for it.

While you had been youthful and competing within the NCAA, did you take pleasure in cross nation? Or had been you at all times able to do shorter observe races once more?

I did take pleasure in cross nation. Once I began operating once I was 5, I began in cross nation. I didn’t begin observe till I used to be in seventh grade, so I’ve really been doing cross nation so much longer. I don’t actually thoughts whether or not it’s on the grass or on the observe, I finally prefer to race—so no matter that’s, is nice with me.

This final lap is gonna be intense!!!

We’re again up and operating on, thanks for sticking with us. The ladies’s 10okay end is arising LIVE!

— USATF (@usatf) February 2, 2019

Are there any parts of cross nation that show you how to tactically on the observe?

For me, my race technique going into it was simply staying within the entrance and never panicking. I knew that if I might keep calm the entire time and keep within the high a part of the race via about 9K, I’d be okay. I feel the most important half in these prolonged races is staying mentally in it and never doubting your self all through.

There’s a variety of time the place destructive ideas can creep in and also you begin doubting when you’re match or when you’re adequate. The most important half was not enthusiastic about something, simply specializing in staying proper the place I wanted to be and nothing else.

I do know from what I seen we had been operating actually quick on the downhills. I used to be simply going with what the tempo was, I didn’t dictate an excessive amount of. However I seen Molly and Aliphine had been actually operating the downhills and gapped me a bit, then I’d catch again up on the uphills. I feel being good at hills is a superb energy when you’re doing highway races or cross nation, and we’re doing hills all fall. I feel that actually performed into my strengths, having the ability to rise up the hills higher than the opposite ladies.

What do you acquire from racing cross nation?

I raced towards some folks I’ve by no means raced earlier than. I feel doing various things and difficult your self in numerous methods may be useful. The extra you race, no matter what it’s, is simply data you’ll be able to take and apply to completely different races. That’s most likely the most important factor I used to be in a position to acquire.

Did you consider racing Millrose?

No, that had by no means been within the image in any respect. It was largely simply doing cross and turning round and doing U.S. Indoors, [where] I’ll race the mile and two mile.

Going for the double once more!

I really feel like I’ve to at this level!

Shelby Houlihan on the IAAF World Indoor Championships. || Picture Credit score: Justin Britton

That was the beginning of your large rise final yr. Do you are feeling any emotion going again to U.S. Indoors for that motive?

A little bit bit, I really feel just a little nervous, truthfully. I assume I’ve been in a position to win each the mile or two mile or 1500m/3K for the final two years, so I really feel just a little strain to come back again and do it once more. I do suppose I’m very match proper now however on the identical time, we haven’t carried out a ton of particular [speed] stuff as a result of proper now, it doesn’t actually matter. We have to be prepared in the direction of the top of the season.

I do really feel just a little strain and I feel largely that’s strain on myself. However I’m excited to get again on the observe. I like indoors. 200m tracks type of play into my strengths just a little bit with my 5-foot-Three top. I can get round it fairly fast.

What do you are feeling like is your finest occasion?

I most likely would say the 1500m proper now. I really feel like I’ve a greater really feel for it, I’ve been doing it longer than the 5K. I can get in it and instincts take over and I reply to what my intestine is telling me.

The 5K, I don’t really feel as assured in that. I miss some key strikes at occasions—not that I don’t within the 15, both—however I really feel much more new to the 5K and I really feel like I’ve much more to study.

Are you enthusiastic about doing each the 1500m and 5K at worlds?

Proper now, I don’t suppose the worlds schedule permits for it however I heard they’re attempting to petition that. If the schedule did enable for it, I feel Jerry and I’d positively speak about it.

I don’t know if he would need me to as a result of it’s a variety of racing, however I don’t suppose they actually overlap in any respect so I’d be all the way down to double.

Are you enthusiastic about the American report within the 1500m?

Yeah, I actually needed to get it final yr and it didn’t find yourself taking place. That may most likely be one in every of my large targets for this yr is attempting to get that American report.

Was that in your radar earlier than final yr?

It has been on my radar, it simply wasn’t as within the forefront of my thoughts. Final yr I really might get the report, whereas earlier than, I used to be just a little methods off. Final yr, I feel I might have run just a little sooner than what I did run. It simply didn’t find yourself taking place.

Picture: Shutterstock

After an “off yr” in 2018, how do you are feeling about having the World and Olympic Championships arising the subsequent two years?

I do really feel much more enthusiastic about this yr and the subsequent yr. You wish to have these [breakout years] in championship years, however on the identical time, I feel it was a superb yr for me to make these steps as a result of I didn’t have any strain. I didn’t really feel like I needed to medal at a championship race, which actually simply allowed me to see how briskly I might run and construct my confidence.

I did find yourself making some errors on the Diamond League and the Continental Cup. Making errors there and studying from them final yr will hopefully assist me not make these errors once more in a championship setting.

Do you are feeling like this cycle is your cycle? Age-wise, you’re 26 now and also you’ll be 27 for the Olympics subsequent yr. Do you consider age?

I really feel like age positively does play a think about operating basically. The final Olympics, I used to be 23, so I used to be simply blissful to be on the Olympics and just a little terrified on the identical time. That was my first yr as a professional, as effectively.

Having that have racing on the world degree and realizing the completely different runners and the way they race and having extra miles and hours of coaching beneath my belt… I really feel I’ve a greater grip on issues this yr, and that can solely get higher as I become old—to a sure extent.

What’s the group dynamic like at Bowerman? Yearly, does the dynamic change just a little bit with new folks coming in? How does it change?

I feel everybody brings their very own distinctive character into the group, so, clearly, that has modified with each individual we’ve added. It has just a little little bit of that school really feel of, we’re all working collectively and dealing for a similar targets. These are a few of my finest pals, however on the identical time, it’s individually oriented. Nobody is holding you accountable to go do all of your work, go run, do core, eat wholesome. Being within the group makes it simpler to do all these issues, particularly after we’re at altitude camp, and that was one of many attracts for me to hitch this group—to discover ways to be an expert runner.

The older persons are exhibiting the youthful folks how you can do it and do it proper. Having Shalane and Amy helps a ton—attending to study from them has been super.

Does it ever get too aggressive, in a destructive method?

I wouldn’t say it does in a destructive method. There are occasions in exercises the place we compete just a little bit, and perhaps it isn’t the suitable time to compete… however often, it’s fairly constructive—for me, at the very least.

It helps me going into races. For cross, I had 4 different teammates with me so it made it extra enjoyable. Mentally, I’m going into it like, we’re simply going out for a 10Okay tempo. Placing that spin on it going into races helps me so much.

I did the identical factor once I went for the American report within the 5K.

I simply thought, ‘[Shalane]’s gonna lead the primary two miles and I’m gonna lead the final one.’

That helps me keep in it and keep calm. Clearly, I’m positive it might be destructive for folks as an intimidation issue however I feel everybody within the group handles it effectively. On the finish of the day, we would like everybody within the group to do effectively and we’re all one another’s largest followers.

Shalane has advised the media that she’s eager about shifting into a training position ultimately. Has she taken on any teaching duties with you?

On the [USATF] cross nation championships, she was driving us round within the minivan, she was one of many coaches. Having her there for recommendation and [as] somebody to look as much as, is a superb factor to have. Apart from that, I haven’t had a ton of expertise together with her within the teaching position. She’s began to come back to follow and assist time and little issues like that. Proper now, she’s just a little injured so it’s exhausting to fall into that position proper now.

Picture: Justin Britton / ARunnersEye

Are you able to describe your coaching proper now?

We do a variety of energy stuff, like mile repeats and tempos and repeat 200s and 300s and clearly a long term. We haven’t actually gotten into particular 1500m work but.

I’ve been operating 85 [miles per week]. Final yr, it was 80.

It wasn’t an enormous step up. I’ve been growing about 10 miles annually since my freshman yr of faculty and 5 final yr.

In case you get too grasping with mileage, you’ll be able to break. I’ve been in a position to keep wholesome my entire profession by staying affected person and realizing that in years to come back, it’s going to lastly repay and it has. Final yr wasn’t actually completely out of the blue. I had been working towards that time for a number of years. I’ve at all times had the pace however [was] by no means robust sufficient.

Do you let your self take into consideration issues like profitable the Olympics?

It’s not on the forefront of my thoughts. In case you let it, it may possibly type of drive you loopy. Ever since I began operating, it’s positively been on my thoughts. There are occasions once I do visualize that. It’s one thing I’m working in the direction of.

What’s the proudest second of your profession up to now?

I feel the final Olympic Trials, making the Olympic crew. I’ve a variety of them however that needed to be one of the best one, that was a variety of work and all the pieces coming collectively on the day and one dream being achieved. It was a very cool expertise.

In early January you made an instagram publish about going via a tricky breakup. How does that have an effect on your operating and why did you select to publish that on social media?

I feel I attempt to be as me as I may be on my social media. I feel sharing your struggles additionally is usually a good method to join with folks. I feel it’s necessary to point out folks it’s not at all times straightforward. It doesn’t at all times really feel like this superior dream. I do have actual life issues.

It’s allowed me to simply say, ‘screw it, I’m simply gonna deal with operating now,’ [which] type of helped me all through January to simply deal with the on a regular basis and deal with operating. It helped being at altitude camp, too, having my pals round me day-after-day.

I had lots of people touch upon it and I had a couple of folks message me. It helped some folks really feel higher and people are the responses that you just wish to hear.

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