Running Talk with Emily Kroshus

Emily Kroshus was an all-star high-school athlete in Calgary before heading to college in the US where she excelled at both running (winning a cross-country championship and 5K and 10K titles for Princeton) and academics (she is currently a doctoral student at the Harvard School of Public Health). Along the way, Emily also won the Canadian Marathon Championship at the Ottawa Marathon in 2011—a victory which gave us a great photograph that we have been using in this year’s “I love this race” campaign.

Emily graciously took some time out of studies and training for the Boston Marathon to answer some questions.

So, how did you make the leap from Canadian “high school phenom” to All-American distance athlete?

It definitely wasn’t a smooth transition, and it actually took me until my senior year to get back to my high school times. I had a pretty narrow focus in high school and really needed to give myself some freedom to grow up. Fortunately, between a stress fracture and a few protracted illnesses, I had the chance to get really out of shape, have some fun, and then re-approach running with a more healthy, balanced and sustainable attitude. I think a large reason why I’m still loving running and planning on continuing competing in some capacity for a long time is because I now have a very relaxed and balanced attitude towards running.

You’re currently a doctoral student at the Harvard School of Public Health. How do you balance your many academic responsibilities with the rigors of training and competing at an elite level? Where does the running fit in?

At the moment I would definitely not call my training and competing “elite”! I love running and it will always be part of my life in some capacity, but competing and racing are very low on my priority list. This year has been an intense one for me academically, and I have enjoyed really throwing my energy into my research rather than into my training. At the root of it for me, the purpose of my running is to catch up with friends, clear my head and stay healthy. In that way, running in some capacity always fits in, at least 5 days/week.


What attracted you to the field of public health? What impact, if any, has running had on the work you do in this area?

I gravitated towards public health because I really liked the multidisciplinary, multi-level approach to understanding important health issues. I’m particularly interested in social norms and health protective behavior, and one of my projects right now is looking at female sports teams and group level factors that reduce risk of disordered eating. This particular interest definitely grew out of my personal experience in the sport and on teams.

Boston offers plenty of running history and race pedigree. What’s the running community like there?

The running community is Boston is great, and through it I’ve met a ton of really wonderful people. I’m a member of the Boston Athletic Association but there are several other clubs in town and everyone is friends and there are a lot of big group long runs.

You set a PB of 2:42:27 and won the Canadian Marathon Championship in Ottawa in 2011. What was that race like for you? What do you love about the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend?

As a proud Canadian living in the US, competing in a Canadian championship in our capital city was particularly meaningful. My husband completed his first (and likely only) marathon and my mom flew out from Calgary to watch, so it was just a special weekend for me all around. I thought there was great energy throughout the weekend, maybe in part because of the 10k on Saturday evening. The course itself did a nice job showcasing the city and the volunteers were incredibly friendly. Overall, I thought it was a really high quality experience and I look forward to competing there again sometime soon.

Running goals for 2013 and beyond?

I’m excited to run the Boston Marathon this year with one of my best friends from Princeton and help her break 3 hours for the first time. At the end of May, I’m joining some running friends from Calgary in an attempt to break the world record for a “linked team” (I think that means we’re going to be tied together with a rope?). We’re raising funds and awareness for MitoCanada, an amazing organization founded by one of the team members (Blaine Penney), helping fund research on Mitochondrial Disease. I’m sure I’ll train hard for a marathon at some point in the future and try to at least break 2:40, but I’m enjoying running in a less structured way right now. Most importantly though, I just want to enjoy running for life.

Thanks Emily and have a great race in Boston!