Interview with Emma Shallcross

Emma Shallcross

Emma would describe herself as a developing runner always on the lookout for her next challenge. From swimmer to triathlete Emma has learned that progress in running starts with your mindset, closely followed by a true commitment of time to the sport.

What is your proudest running achievement?

I’d probably say completing my first solo ultramarathon at the Dockside Midday to Midnight was my proudest running achievement. The event was quite spontaneous with a month between its launch and it taking place so I’d thrown myself at it with whatever fitness I had from the back end of the triathlon season. Running for 12 hours was an experience and rollercoaster. But to come away with the female course record and raise over £600 for charity was something that is really special to me.

What has running taught you? 

Running has taught me that sport has a special way of bringing people together. I have also discovered from experience that the body is far more resilient than the mind. Once you take yourself past that point of comfort, even once, you realise how we’re all able to grow and the desire to achieve more becomes irresistible.

What is your most ambitious running goal?

My most ambitious running goal, and sporting goal, was to race at the World Triathlon Age Group Championships for Team GB. I qualified in 2018 for the 2019 Championships and it was the most rewarding goal I’ve achieved so far.

Have you got any memorable running stories to share?

Losing shoes in mud at Parkrun, crawling down the side of cliffs in the middle of the night on the Costa Brava, getting chased by horses in Parkgate… the list is endless!

What is the most miles you’ve ever run in a week?

I raced at the Dockside Runners Midday to Midnight inaugural event in October 2019 and completed 44 miles in one sitting. That week my total reached 57.7 miles; the most I’ve ever run in a week.

What has been your most serious running injury?

Some would say I’ve been lucky to not have suffered from a serious running injury but with the volume of training steadily increasing year on year I have experienced niggles along the way.

In 2017, I was in a lot of pain with my left knee for a 3-week period. After resting it, strengthening it and then getting back into running, it returned, and I figured out it was the track sessions that were causing the discomfort. Running around the track one way and leaning into the bend was causing imbalance in my weight distribution and putting pressure on my left knee. Although I enjoy the track, I’ve since not trained on it and believe it or not I’ve not suffered with any pain!

What is the best advice you have ever received about your running?

Literally… use my arms! Often a misconception that running is all about the legs, running without the driving force and propulsion of your arms makes a huge difference to your speed and technique.

In terms of training, the best advice was to run more. I know that sounds obvious but you have to run to become better at running, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s of greater benefit going out frequently for a slow jog than doing a fast short run every two weeks and doing nothing in between. Every run counts when improving yourself and the more you do it the more the body adapts and progresses.

If you could go back and talk to yourself when you first started running, what would you say?

It’s definitely not about how fast you are, running is so much more than that. It can take you to places around the world if you let it. Physically and emotionally I’m stronger. I have grown in self-confidence and social awareness from the experiences it’s given me and from the people I’ve met that I would never have imagined (compared to staying at home on the sofa).

Have you got a running hero or a runner you look up to?

I don’t have a particular hero that I look up to. I admire a lot of runners for why they run – from Olympic triathletes to those breaking road race World Records, to local runners I see at Dockside smashing personal bests or all those running for charity. We’re all on our own running journey and that’s what I find most exciting!

In one sentence, what does running mean to you?

To me, running means to be alive and free!

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