On Top Of The World: Exclusive Interview With Lauren Fleshman

You’ve struggled with injury in the past, and have recently announced you are debuting in the marathon this November in New York City. With that in mind, are you concerned about re-injury since you will be ramping up your mileage to train for the marathon?

Fleshman won the 5,000m earlier this year at the Aviva Diamond League Meeting in London, running 15-flat. Photo: PhotoRun.net

I won’t have any problem with a weekly long run and a long workout every week, but I’ll need to be really smart about how I fill in the other days. I’ll take a day off every week as well as a day of only cross training. I plan to ramp up my total volume but not my running mileage.  I’ll be spending a lot of extra time on the ElliptiGo every week, which is low-impact and mimics the running motion nearly to perfection. I know a lot of people are hard core about runners only running to prepare, but I’ve learned from my pro triathlete husband, Jesse Thomas, that aerobic cross training prepares you for running way more effectively than runners think. Runners (including myself) are usually just too lazy to put in time cross training when they are healthy, since running is so much more fun. It will be an experiment, but health is the number one priority, so I’ve got to do it that way for my first one.

You will be 30 when you run New York. Why are you taking on the marathon now? Any regrets for not moving up to the marathon sooner in your career?

Thirty is a great age to do my first marathon.  I believe in doing what feels right when it feels right whenever possible.  I’ve been coaching a group of runners in Eugene once a week called The Flyers, and many of them do marathons, so I can blame them for opening my mind to it.

Will you be still competing on the track as you transition to marathon training or will you race exclusively on the roads?

There will only be eight weeks to prepare for the marathon after my track season ends, so I will most likely do only one road race before New York, if any.

Depending how the marathon goes, will you ever return to middle-distance racing?

It’s not like moving to Siberia never to return!  The marathon can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  Some people do it to lose weight, or raise money for a cause, to hit a time, or get away from their kids for a few hours a week. For me, it has a very specific purpose: to make me a stronger, tougher athlete who brings a fresh perspective back to 5K training for 2012. And to see if it’s something I want to do in the future.

Many elite runners aren’t as “fan friendly” as you are–meaning, you field questions from runners of all abilities and make yourself available as much as possible to share your wisdom and ideas on Facebook and on your blog. Why do you think some elites choose not to reach out to their fans like you do?

A lot of athletes don’t put themselves out there because it’s a lot of work, its draining, and it makes them vulnerable.  Our fans can be pretty critical sometimes. The key to being a great athlete is putting your energy into things that fill you up rather than drain you. For me, meaningful interaction with the running community fills me up, so long as I balance it with the rest of my life. I want to contribute to the richness and depth of our sport. I can’t answer everyone’s questions, but I do what I can in a way that’s sustainable for me. I’m still learning and growing too, so my readers and community help shape my opinions on things. It’s a great resource for me as well.

Do you listen to music when you run? What’s on your playlist?

I’m more of a chit-chatter than a music listener, but when I’m alone, my favorite thing to run to is the podcast All Songs Considered from NPR. Right now James Vincent McMorrow’s entire new album and the song “Citizen” by Wye Oak are rocking my world.

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