Fitness

Shalane Flanagan Retires from Professional Running

The 38-year-old marathoner and Marblehead native retired from a decorated athletic career to focus her efforts on coaching.


Shalane Flanagan

Image via AP Photo/Seth Wenig

The sport of running bids farewell to one of the greats today, but she’s not going too far.

Shalane Flanagan announced today that she’s officially retiring from professional running. The 38-year-old marathoner and Marblehead native gave everything she had to the sport from 2004-2019. She walks away from the competition highly decorated and accomplished, and announced her retirement to her Instagram fans and followers in a post Monday morning. She wrote that over the past 15 years, she found out what she is capable of, which proved to be more than she ever dreamed possible.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

With happy tears I announce today that I am retiring from professional running. From 2004 to 2019 I’ve given everything that’s within me to this sport and wow it’s been an incredible ride! I’ve broken bones, torn tendons, and lost too many toenails to count. I’ve experienced otherworldly highs and abysmal lows. I’ve loved (and learned from) it all. Over the last 15 years I found out what I was capable of, and it was more than I ever dreamed possible. Now that all is said and done, I am most proud of the consistently high level of running I produced year after year. No matter what I accomplished the year before, it never got any easier. Each season, each race was hard, so hard. But this I know to be true: hard things are wonderful, beautiful, and give meaning to life. I’ve loved having an intense sense of purpose. For 15 years I’ve woken up every day knowing I was exactly where I needed to be. The feeling of pressing the threshold of my mental and physical limits has been bliss. I’ve gone to bed with a giant tired smile on my face and woken up with the same smile. My obsession to put one foot in front of the other, as quickly as I can, has given me so much joy. However, I have felt my North Star shifting, my passion and purpose is no longer about MY running; it’s more and more about those around me. All I’ve ever known, in my approach to anything, is going ALL IN. So I’m carrying this to coaching. I want to be consumed with serving others the way I have been consumed with being the best athlete I can be. I am privileged to announce I am now a professional coach of the Nike Bowerman Track Club. This amazing opportunity in front of me, to give back to the sport, that gave me so much, is not lost on me. I’ve pinched myself numerous times to make sure this is real. I am well aware that retirement for professional athletes can be an extremely hard transition. I am lucky, as I know already, that coaching will bring me as much joy and heartache that my own running career gave me. I believe we are meant to inspire one another, we are meant to learn from one another. Sharing everything I’ve learned about and from running is what I’m meant to do now.(1/2)

A post shared by Shalane Flanagan (@shalaneflanagan) on

“I’ve loved having an intense sense of purpose,” she wrote. “For 15 years I’ve woken up every day knowing I was exactly where I needed to be. The feeling of pressing the threshold of my mental and physical limits has been bliss. I’ve gone to bed with a giant tired smile on my face and woken up with the same smile. My obsession to put one foot in front of the other, as quickly as I can, has given me so much joy.”

She might be stepping out of her athlete sneakers, but she’s stepping into different shoes that will keep her close to the action. She’ll continue making an impact on young and developing runners as a professional coach of the Nike Bowerman Track Club.

Best known for winning the 2017 New York City marathon, she raised the idea of retiring then, to go out on top, but competition called her back. She competed in the Boston Marathon in 2018 and returned to New York City later that year, where she placed third.

She also wrote in her Instagram post about inspiring the next generation of runners and sharing everything she has learned to help others thrive as she transitions to coaching, but she has already been doing that throughout the entirety of her career.

Flanagan, alongside 2018 Boston Marathon winner Des Linden, made headlines as an American winning a sport typically dominated by Kenyans and Ethiopians. There is no doubt she will go on to help other female runners prevail.

Because at the end of the day, what athletes leave us with when they retire and go on to do other things is the hope for a better future.

“My personal motto throughout my career has been to make decisions that leave me with ‘no regrets’,” she wrote. “But to be honest, I have one. I regret I can’t do it all over again.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I would like to thank: The 5 coaches who guided me throughout my career, Michael Whittlesey and Dennis Craddock (2004-2005), John Cook (2006-2008), Jerry Schumacher (2009-2019), and Pascal Dobert (2009-2019). Each man was instrumental in developing me into the best version of myself. Jerry, Pascal and I will continue to work together in this next chapter and I couldn’t be more grateful. Jerry has been my life coach, running coach and now will mentor me towards my next goal of becoming a world-class coach myself. I’m thankful for his unending belief in me. My family and husband who have traveled the world supporting my running and understanding the sacrifices I needed to make. Their unconditional love is what fueled my training. My longtime friend, Elyse Kopecky who taught me to love cooking and indulge in nourishing food. Run Fast. Eat Slow. has been a gift to my running and to the thousands of athletes. My teammates, and all the women I’ve trained with, for pushing me daily, and the endless smiles and miles. They include: Erin Donahue Shannon Rowbury Kara Goucher Lisa Uhl Emily Infeld Amy Cragg Colleen Quigley Courtney Frerichs Shelby Houlihan Betsy Saina Marielle Hall Gwen Jorgensen Kate Grace My sponsor Nike for believing in me since 2004 and for continuing to support my new dream as a professional coach. I hope I made myself a better person by running. I hope I made those around me better. I hope I made my competition better. I hope I left the sport better because I was a part of it. My personal motto through out my career has been to make decisions that leave me with “no regrets”…..but to be honest, I have one. I regret I can’t do it all over again. (2/2) 📷: @nyrr

A post shared by Shalane Flanagan (@shalaneflanagan) on