Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky: How To Run Fast, Eat Slow And Love The Journey

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“In the midst of an ordinary training day, I try to remind myself that I am preparing for the extraordinary.”

Shalane Flanagan


There are people that run.

There are others who run fast.

But few people on Earth run like the remarkable Shalane Flanagan. 

Over the course of her distinguished 16-year professional career, Shalane has made 4 consecutive Olympic teams, won an Olympic medal and set a variety of American records across a wide array of distances on both the track and the road.

To put her excellence in perspective, consider this: in 2010, she finished second at the prestigious New York City marathon — her very first 26.2 ever — clocking the best finish by an American female at that race in 20 years. She’s also run the fastest time ever by an American woman at the Boston Marathon and in 2014 set her personal best in Berlin with a blazing 2:21.14, the second-fastest time ever by an American woman.

But what’s truly unique about this assassin in compression socks is the extraordinary extent to which Shalane has distinguished herself across a multitude of distances & disciplines. On dirt, she’s won collegiate national championships in cross-country. On the track, she’s set American records at both the 3000 & 5000 meter distances. And on the road she’s broken American records in both 10K & 15K and achieved two Olympic marathon berths, including her recent 6th place showing in Rio.

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Beyond her extraordinary accomplishments and amidst all her obligations as the world’s greatest running polymorph, Shalane finds herself today embarking on a new chapter — as a foster parent to twin teenage girls along with her husband Steve Edwards (a badass runner in his own right). And yet somehow, she still mustered the time to write a cookbook with her lifelong friend Elyse Kopecky – a former college cross-country teammate who left a career in digital marketing at Nike to become a chef, food writer, nutrition educator, and mom after studying culinary arts in New York and abroad.

The result of Shalane and Elyse’s beautiful collaborative partnership is the newly minted New York Times’ bestselling Run Fast Eat Slow. Part culinary primer and part lifestyle manifesto, it’s a beautiful whole foods, flavor-forward cookbook packed with nourishing and delicious recipes, nutritional wisdom and inspiring stories from two accomplished women you can’t help but love. Women who believe and prove that you can be healthy and perform at your peak without counting calories, obsessing over protein, or restricting yourself to diets that do more harm than good.

As a quick aside to all my fellow passionate vegan friends (I love you), a disclaimer: Run Fast Eat Slow is not a 100% plant-based cookbook. Notwithstanding, the cookbook does contain plenty of great plant-based dishes as well as heaps of wisdom relative to cultivating a more conscious and deliberate relationship with the food we source, prepare and consume — subjects I think we can all get behind, irrespective of specific dietary preferences.

In this conversation, Shalane and Elyse impart loads of practical, experience-based advice, including: Shalane’s specific training protocols, race day rituals, fueling strategies (her take on supplements might surprise you), recovery routines, mindset tactics and some of the common mistakes most runners make.

More specifically, topics explored include:

  • Shalane and Elyse’s book collaboration
  • cultivating a healthy relationships with food
  • Shalane’s upbringing & running versatility
  • learning to run faster and farther
  • the importance of social support
  • what Shalane calls goal adherence
  • 1st NYC Marathon after Olympic bronze
  • Fartlek conditioning vs. aerobic pacing
  • training in tune with your body
  • Shalane’s recovery routines
  • post-Olympic depression after London
  • the importance of cohesive training partners
  • 2016 Olympic Trials
  • tactics learned to combat dehydration
  • the Olympic experience
  • daily nutrition tips for athletes
  • runner’s remedies
  • race daily rituals/superstitions

But beyond the pragmatic takeaways, this is a conversation about the demands of excelling at the very highest echelon of elite athletics.

It’s about how to maintain enthusiasm, focus and intensity in the face of extremely high stakes and acute adversity.

It’s about finding the joy in the journey.

And its about empowering people to take better control of their nutrition and health.

It was a pleasure speaking to Shalane and Elyse. I sincerely hope you enjoy our exchange.

Peace + Plants,

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Thanks to Alan Weiner for permission to use these great images of Shalane and Elyse. Check out his work at: alanweiner.com

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Casper: The #1 online retailer of premium mattresses for a fraction of the price. Get $50 toward any mattress purchase today by visiting Casper.com/ROLL and using promo code “ROLL at checkout.

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SHOW NOTES

Shalane and Elyse’s New York Times bestselling cookbook is available now: Run Fast. Eat Slow*. Find out if your city is next on their book tour at RunFastEatSlow.com.

Background, Context & Reference

Notable People Discussed In Today’s Podcast

  • Frank Shorter: an American former long-distance runner who won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1972 Summer Olympics
  • Taylor Phinney: an American racing cyclist who rides professionally for UCI ProTeam BMC Racing Team
  • Mary Keitany: a runner from Kenya who specializes in long distance running up to the marathon distance
  • Edna Kiplagat: a Kenyan long-distance runner and the 2011/2013 IAAF World Champion in the marathon
  • Amy Cragg: an American track and field athlete, specializing in long distance running events

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Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, interstitial music and audio engineering; Chris Swan for production assistance & show notes; Shawn Patterson for graphics.

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