It was inevitable for Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan to pair up as operating companions within the lead-up to the 2016 Summer time Olympics in Rio. Flanagan is at present the nation’s quickest marathoner with a private greatest file of two:21:14, and Cragg is carefully behind at 2:27:04. However for a sport that focuses on the person, each runners knew that they wanted one another to be pushed. And so final fall, Cragg and her husband moved to Portland, Oregon to coach with Flanagan and the Bowerman Observe Membership.
“Amy and I are one another’s greatest property. It’s nice to have somebody to run with who understands what you’re going via,” says Flanagan, who will likely be getting into her third Olympics, and Cragg her second. (Each competed within the 2012 London Olympics, the place Flanagan positioned 10th and Cragg 11th.)
As a pair, they’re additionally banking on the accountability issue essential to succeed on the 26.2 distance. “Operating is a aggressive sport, however our relationship is extra of a friendship. Amy helps maintain me in test. When she’s able to run, I have to be prepared, too,” Flanagan says.
RELATED: Within the Gymnasium With Sanya Richards-Ross
The Highway to Rio
“There’s a mutual respect, and we’re higher with one another due to it.”
And the depth has already ramped up. “Proper now, we’re operating about 16 to 20 miles day by day [with the Bowerman Track Club],” Flanagan says. Which means 11 to 12 miles collectively within the morning, then 5 to eight miles within the night. In between, they deal with energy and conditioning exercises to assist with harm prevention and restoration.
As a result of the months main as much as the Olympics are paved with lengthy coaching days, it leaves little time for the rest. “Our social lives are placed on the again burner proper now, however we’re so fortunate to have one another and household and pals who’re very understanding,” Cragg says.
Fortuitously for each Cragg and Flanagan, pounding pavement for a residing occurs to run within the household. Flanagan’s mom, Cheryl Bridges, is a former long-distance runner and world file holder of the marathon. Cragg is married to Alistair Cragg, who’s a former Olympic runner. “I wouldn’t be capable to do what I do with out my husband. He’s not simply there for emotional assist; he additionally runs with us and paces us,” Cragg says.
RELATED: Olympic Diver David Boudia Paves the Highway to Rio
Shalane and Amy: Quick Associates
On the U.S. Olympic girls’s marathon trials in February, Flanagan and Cragg coaxed one another alongside the difficult race course. When Flanagan began to battle at mile 23 from being overheated, Cragg didn’t go away her teammate behind — as many rivals are taught to do. As a substitute, she handed her a water bottle and caught proper at her facet.
“We’ve an awesome friendship and dealing relationship. Our coach does a very good job of constructing us succeed individually and as a crew. There’s a mutual respect, and we’re higher with one another due to it,” Flanagan says.
Positive sufficient, even record-shattering runners have dangerous days, too. “I’d say the massive factor you need to understand is there’s an opportunity issues aren’t going to be good. Operating is form of like tasting espresso for the primary time. It may be harsh at first, however you begin liking it an increasing number of. It turns into one thing you may tolerate to one thing you may take pleasure in. It’s an vital a part of your day,” Cragg explains.
For Cragg, operating additionally gives a launch. “You possibly can undoubtedly type your ideas and let your thoughts wander throughout lengthy runs,” she says.
“For dinner, I’ve this superb recipe for bison meatballs. It’s vital for runners to maintain their iron ranges excessive.”
Marathon Physique Upkeep
As they put together for the Rio Video games, restoration is a key a part of their routine. Mobility, ice baths, stretching, foam rolling and sleep all grow to be extra vital than ever to keep up Flanagan and Cragg’s excessive quantity of mileage.
“Along with stretching, Amy and I take advantage of HOTSHOT, a sports activities beverage that helps stop and deal with muscle cramps by stopping them the place they begin — the nerves,” Flanagan says. “Many individuals don’t understand that cramping begins on the nerve, not the muscle. While you deal with cramps, it’s good to deal with the nerves.”
Cragg says she’s been fortunate with accidents and hasn’t skilled something debilitating, however there’s all the time a threat to each exercise or race. “HOTSHOT takes cramping out of the equation, in order that’s one main factor I don’t have to fret about.”
RELATED: Acquired Foot Ache? The 5 Worst Foot Accidents for Runners
After which there’s the meal planning. For Flanagan, meals isn’t simply gas. She additionally occurs to be a big-time foodie. She just lately co-authored a brand new cookbook, Run Quick Eat Gradual: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes, with whole-foods chef Elyse Kopecky. The cookbook is ready to launch in August, simply in time for Rio.
“On race day, I wish to eat oatmeal, which is transportable once you’re touring. I even have a recipe referred to as ‘Tremendous Hero Muffin.’ It has tremendous hearty, nutrient-dense components, like oats, maple syrup and walnuts,” Flanagan says. “For dinner, I’ve this superb recipe for bison meatballs. It’s vital for runners to maintain their iron ranges excessive.” Flanagan plans to carbo load a day or two earlier than the huge race. Along with having oatmeal or one in every of her Tremendous Hero Muffins for breakfast, she’ll snack on some pretzels and sip on a sports activities drink to ensure she’s hydrated.
However not like Flanagan, Cragg will not be a standard carb loader. “I’m not an enormous pasta particular person, so I desire candy potatoes and rice with hen. Within the morning, I’ll have eggs and a few toast,” Cragg says.
The Highway Forward
Because the Rio Video games quick method, each athletes should rein of their feelings as effectively. For Flanagan, the previous couple of days earlier than a race are what she calls “the taper tantrum,” when pent-up vitality simply wants to return out. “I attempt to keep even-keeled. Stress-free, spending somewhat time with household and retaining your toes up are all issues that assist together with your nerves.”
However as soon as the end line is crossed, it’s not the gold medal or one of the best private file that counts. Cragg says her prize will likely be spending time with household and recovering. “We don’t get a number of down time proper now. I’m fortunate I get to spend time with my husband whereas doing my job, however I intend to go residence to Kansas to go to my household after the Rio Olympics.”
To trace the duo’s street to Rio, try Flanagan and Cragg on Fb and comply with them on Twitter and Instagram @ShalaneFlanagan and @HastyHastings. And for updates on all issues Workforce USA, go to teamusa.org. The 2016 Summer time Olympics in Rio start on August 5.