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Dr. J. on Running

Emily Kroshus

Discipline Has Its Rewards

Published March 27, 2000 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

On Saturday March 18, Emily Kroshus competed in the World Cross-Country Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal. This cross country race came only six days after her double victory at the National Scholastic indoor track and field championship at the 168-th street Armory in New York City.

Seventeen-year-old Kroshus was the star performer at the Armory. She won the 1-mile race in a new Armory scholastic record time of 4:46.79, edging favorite Shalane Flanagan by a mere tenth of a second. Two and a half hours later, Kroshus won the 2-mile race in another Armory scholastic record of 10:09.36, half-a-lap ahead of second place runner Sarah Bei.

I met Kroshus on the morning of her double victories. She sat quietly on the floor reading a book and listening to music through her headsets. She arrived to the Armory well ahead of her competition to soak in the atmosphere. I spoke to her briefly about her expectations. After her victories, we talked at length about her training and future plans.

Kroshus started running three years ago. Her mother, a 2:45 marathoner, insisted that her daughter waited to compete until high school. This cautious beginning gave her time to mature, and paid off in a strong, confident, injury-free runner. A senior at Western Canada High School in Calgary, Alberta, Kroshus enjoys cross country and track competition to the fullest, as she contemplates her collegiate future.

The progress of Kroshus over the past three years has been meteoric. On November 29, 1997, she finished thirteenth in the Canadian Junior cross country championship, running the 4 kilometer course in 16 minutes 19 seconds. A year later, she finished fifth in a time of 14:31.

On the track, Kroshus set two Canadian National record for girls under 14 by running 1,500 meters in 4:40.60 on May 17, 1997 and 3,000 meters in 10:21.56 on August 10, 1957. She improved her 1,500-meter time to a 4:29.60 first place at the Canadian Junior championships on July 4, 1999, and a 4:46.79 mile at the Armory. Similarly, she lowered her 3,000-meter time to 10:18.16 at the Golden Bear Meet in Alberta on January 16, 1999 and a 9:25 during the Armory 2-mile race.

Kroshus' secret to success, which has eluded an entire generation of American distance runners, is hard work. This teen-ager trains harder and longer than most collegiate and professional runners. For a start, she runs every day, seven days a week, with double workouts on many days. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she runs tempo or speed workouts on the track. A speed session may include five times one mile, five times two kilometers, or a forty-minute tempo run.

On easy days, Kroshus runs long distances early in the morning, up to two hours at a time. A typical week adds up to 80 miles, common to successful milers in the era of Jim Ruyn and Mary Decker, but foreign to today's runners. To fight staleness in the cold Alberta winters, Kroshus spices her training with frequent visits to the gym and two-hour sessions on aerobic equipment. She finishes her workouts with a token session with weights.

A successful training program consists of three components: running, nutrition and rest. When I asked Kroshus about her diet, she laughed broadly. She admitted that she enjoys food and indulges her palette. She rests well after a hard workout, and usually sleeps eight to ten hours at night. This balance in her life is evident in her healthy complexion.

Stereotypical of distance runners, Kroshus carries her work ethic from the track into the classroom. She scored 1,550 out of 1,600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT), and is preparing to take the International Baccalaureate examination. Kroshus plans to attend medical school in four years. In the meantime, she wants to focus on running, and is looking to study "something fun" at Princeton, Stanford or Duke University.

As the sun set on the mud in Vilamoura, Kroshus celebrated another personal victory. She had traveled to Portugal aiming to improve on her finishing place last year in Belfast. That, she did, and she returned to Calgary gratified with a successful winter, looking forward to the outdoor season.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. He maintains TrackMeets.com, the world leader in live track webcasting, and receives email at jabbour@syr.edu.


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