The Olympic standard time for a women’s 1500-meter race is 4:04.2. That was the time that Shannon Osika had been eyeing for quite some time before she changed plans at the end of her European tour to include one more race in Poland.
To give you some insight as to how fast that is, let’s review some world records over time. In the early 1900’s, female world record holders were still running 1500 meters over 5 minutes. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that they began flirting with the 4-minute mark.
Running 1500 meters in four minutes mean that you are averaging about 14 miles per hour. That is two miles per hour faster than your standard treadmill can reach. And that’s an average, for nearly a mile. Needless to say, Shannon Osika runs fast.
Shannon talked with us today about growing up in a running home, being a student athlete while still finding time to pursue other hobbies, and how it feels to be the 19th fastest woman in the world. Follow along to learn from her.
What to Do with a Changing Body
Entering her sophomore year of high school, Shannon had yet to hit puberty. But she wasn’t a late bloomer by any means. Shannon was already an accomplished runner, eyeing a few high school records.
But when her body did start to change, Shannon had some setbacks. She attempted to continue running in the same way, with the same training, all while trying to maintain the same weight. Of course, this wasn’t possible to do for long, and it left her frustrated.
Luckily, Shannon came to terms with her body. Unlike some of her high school friends, she was able to avoid eating disorders that could have put an end to her running career. Looking back, she is grateful that she was able to escape that trying time without major setbacks.
When asked what she would say to teenagers today, Shannon says to be patient and let your body do what it’s meant to. Allow your body to gain the weight it needs to stay healthy, and appreciate the changes. Being a runner is a lifelong event and if you can trust the process, things will turn out best.
Taking Matters into Your Own Hands
Today Shannon is paced by a “rabbit.” A rabbit is someone that helps to pace the runners during the beginning to middle of the race. Their purpose is to set the runners up for success by not allowing them to start too quickly or slowly.
The responsibility is huge. Shannon will prepare for months, training daily. Then she may be flown across the country or even the world and be expected to put the trust of all her work into one of these pacers. While she maintains a high level of trust, Shannon knows that it’s up to her to get the job done.
Sometimes the rabbit will get off to a slower start, and it’s the runner’s responsibility to acknowledge that and make the appropriate changes.
This principle overlaps into other aspects of life as well. We often have trainers, role models, or friends who we use as rabbits to help us go after our goals. However, in the end, it’s our responsibility to understand ourselves, and know if we need to slow down or speed up in order to get where we want to go.
A Balanced Life
As a hopeful competitor for the 2020 Olympics, Shannon’s life revolves around running. While that means she must take certain precautions when choosing what to do, she knows that living a balanced life is what will keep her running for years to come.
Shannon says that her happiest moments in life are when she is living a balanced life. For her, this means going out dancing, trying new food in the area, and learning more about environmental sustainability.
Whatever it is you do, at work or school or family life, do it well, but make sure you have set aside time to do other things that keep you happy. Learn something new, do something just for fun, spend time with people you love. These are moments you won’t get back.
Enjoying the Moment
When Shannon finished her race in Poland, happiness flooded her face. Not only had she broken 4:04.2, she had reached into the 4:01 range. More impressively, Shannon probably still would have gone home with a smile on her face if she hadn’t reached her desired time.
That’s a lesson we can all take from Shannon. She is grateful to be able to do what she does, and as a result, puts forth her best effort every time. Win or lose, each moment can be a positive one if we know we’ve done our best.
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Thank you to Shannon, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.