Shalane Flanagan: She’s Running Down Her Dream

January 31 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Women in the Running

Are you an avid runner? If not, think about some reasons you might want to take up the activity. It’s a great way to make friends, helps release stress and may even aid in liberating you from feelings of anger and sadness post-breakup. If you’re feeling some major work-related stressors, pounding the pavement might help clear your head. Oh yeah, and it’s free to run. Plus, there’s that whole getting-healthy-and-staying-in-shape thing. You might not be a runner now and you may never be, but there’s no harm in trying it out and putting your best foot forward in 2018.


Most of the runners I know happen to be women. Apparently, that’s pretty normal, as women are totally kicking butt at this individual sport. According to nonprofit organization Running USA, in 2015, an amazing 9.7 million women competed in and completed races throughout the country, representing more than half of those participating in racing events.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Shalane Flanagan, Competitive Runner

Part of what deters many women from trying a new athletic activity is the fear of failure. If you’re not going to be No. 1, why bother? But loads of world champions agree that you don’t put on your running shoes for the first time then win a marathon. Like everything else, running takes practice, drive, determination and, in my opinion, some serious girl power.

Today’s inspiring Woman to Watch, Shalane Flanagan, embodies all those admirable characteristics and so much more. And if you’re looking for someone to light a fire under your rear to kick-start your workout routine this year, Shalane is definitely your gal! Shalane recently became the first American to win the women’s New York City Marathon since 1977. Talk about a patriot! Naturally, this marathon was far from Shalane’s first. She earned second place in her first New York City Marathon in 2010, and is even an Olympic medalist in the sport of distance running.

The daughter of two accomplished runners, Shalane also holds several U.S. track-and-field titles, an Olympic Trial marathon record and is only the second American woman to ever win an Olympic medal in the 10,000-meter event. So, yeah, she’s about as inspiring as it gets in the world of sports!

If you’re as dedicated as Shalane to a career of competitive sprinting, you’re bound to experience some setbacks. Physically, Shalane has endured many mishaps, including a lower back fracture that forced her to sit out the Boston Marathon in 2017. But as we’ve learned from the many women we’ve featured in On The Dot, true fighters embody amazing resilience, and Shalane is no exception. She worked hard to eventually repair her injury and lace up with even more determination to take on the New York City Marathon.

For runners, the New York City Marathon is a huge deal, with more than 50,000 people from throughout the world taking on the challenge to finish the 26-mile race. Shalane’s fiercest competitor in the race was Kenyan Mary Keitany, who won three New York City Marathons in a row, but that didn’t stop Shalane from staying focused on her own goal of winning.

In her mid-30s, Shalane’s got the power to really move, both on and off the track. She’s the foster mother of two teenage girls and even co-authored a cookbook called Run Fast. Eat Slow.

Shalane says her recent marathon win isn’t just for her. She put in the training and hard work in hopes her remarkable accomplishments will inspire other women to have patience in whatever their endeavors may be. After all, the sweetest victories don’t often come quickly.


Let’s finish with an encouraging quote from Shalane Flanagan herself:

“If you have the courage to fail, then you have the courage to succeed.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

Head shot courtesy of USATF.

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