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Shalane Flanagan On Winning Marathons and Drinking Beer

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Even Olympic athletes like to kick it with a bottle of beer. That's the theme behind Michelob Ultra's Super Bowl commercial this year, in which a group of elite athletes and Chris Pratt drink to the song "I Love Beer." It's a message that Shalane Flanagan, who's featured in the ad, can attest to. Yes, winning the NYC marathon and an Olympic medal take laser focus and extreme discipline, but Flanagan doesn't deny herself the occassional treat. We caught up with the runner to hear how she stays motivated—but also how she celebrates.

 

 

On staying balanced: "When you're trying to reach a crazy goal, there has to be an element of balance. I like to work hard and then celebrate hard. I've never been shy to say I enjoy a beer. I don't drink a lot in the last month before my marathon, which makes the first sip after a race went well all the more enjoyable. I also love to indulge in chocolate, a glass of wine, a relaxing massage, or yoga to decompress." (Olympic snowboarder Elena Hight also relies on yoga to stay balanced.)

On dealing with her injury: "Trying to stay positive was the biggest thing. It's easy to go to a really negative place, so I try to surround myself with really positive people and then create a new goal for myself to achieve. As soon as I got injured about this time last year, I kind of had to mourn the loss of that goal, and then had to pull on my big girl pants and set a new goal. It's understandable to become upset about an injury, but to move on I just had to latch on to the positive people in my life and basically create a new vision and a new goal to work toward."

Her goal-setting tips: "I have a running log and I like to write down what my goals are, then the process I'll need to take in order to get there. If you can't break it down into little daily goals, you won't reach a big overarching goal that you set for yourself. I also rely on the accountability of sharing with my coach and family what want to achieve and verbally telling them what my goals are." (Read more of Shalane's tips for going the distance.)

Her race day ritual: "I've been marathoning for eight years, and each time I go to a different race I think of a different mantra, because I bring a different mentality to each one. At New York, I kept telling myself 'it's my turn to have my moment,' and so that was something that I was repeating in my head. My routine on race day is very similar to how I approach my very hard training sessions. I consume the same food and liquids. All of the details are similar so that I kind of go on automatic pilot when the nerves are setting in." (Related: 26 Thoughts You Have While Running a Marathon)

Her celebration after winning the NYC Marathon: "I went out back to the finish line that night about 10 or 11 hours after I had finished and handed out medals to finishers who had been running for 10 or 11 hours. It was a full-circle moment to have crossed the finish line and then come out 10 hours later and see other people running and trying to achieve their goals."

Her wisdom for beginner marathoners: "The scariest part about it is just that first step. There's no going back. It's 26 miles in front of you and it's overwhelming, so you just need to break it down mile by mile. The biggest achievement is just crossing the finish line no matter what level you're running at. It's not easy and you earn every step and every mile." 

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