Shalane Flanagan, a four-time Olympian and 2017 New York City Marathon champion, retired after a 15-year professional running career to become a coach.
“With happy tears I announce today that I am retiring from professional running,” was posted on the 38-year-old’s social media. “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.”
Flanagan, in recent years, shifted to coaching her training partners at the Nike Bowerman Track Club in Oregon. She is now a professional coach with the group, according to her social media.
“I hope I made myself a better person by running,” Flanagan said, according to the post. “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.”
In the final race of her career, Flanagan finished third in the 2018 New York City Marathon, mouthing “I love you” and waving her right hand to the Central Park finish-line crowd.
“I just thought [in the final miles] if this truly is going to be my last race, a podium spot really would be special,” Flanagan said that day.
She underwent knee surgery in April and said then that she was undecided on whether to continue racing or focus on coaching.
“There’s not, that I know of, any female coaches at the Olympic level, professional level, and so I’d love to be the first at that level,” she said in April. “My clock for 10,000 hours has started while I’m still trying to get myself healthy and back to running and competing. If the running thing doesn’t work out anymore, coaching.”
Flanagan is best known for becoming the first U.S. female runner to win the New York City Marathon in 40 years in 2017. Flanagan, along with 2018 Boston Marathon winner Des Linden and others, ushered in an era where U.S. female marathoners have challenged top Kenyans and Ethiopians in majors.
Flanagan shares the record of four Olympic appearances for a U.S. distance runner. Her highlight was earning a medal in the 2008 Olympic 10,000m, a bronze that was upgraded to silver nine years later due to another woman’s doping disqualification.
“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,” was posted on Flanagan’s social media Monday. “I regret I can’t do it all over again.”
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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)