Chanman's Blog

Interview with Doug Speck (

Posted in Runner/Coach Profile by Andy Chan on August 1, 2008
Tags: ,

Questions basically on what has allowed her to improve so significantly in last couple of years:

1) What has been the support system for Shannon that has allowed her to focus on her running in the last year?

I’m glad you asked this.  Shannon is always very quick to mention how although it’s her out there running, her success is only because of the tremendous support team that she has.

Her support system team starts with her coach, John Cook.  He’s the man coaching her.  She is also fortunate to work with some excellent people who help her with other aspects of being an elite runner.  Dan Pfaff has helped her with drills and strength exercises and Greg Dale with sport psychology.  Amol Saxena (podiatrist), Leonard Stein (chiropractor), and Lani Green (massage therapist) are also involved in keeping her healthy and able to train and race hard.  When she was injured last year she used an Alter-G treadmill, which allowed her to comeback sooner.  Her agent, Peter Stubbs Management, and people from her sponsor Nike are also very involved in helping her.

The other part of her support team are her parents, family & friends, and I guess, me.  Her parents love that she is successful and are enjoying the ride but never pressure her and are always there to support her with whatever she needs.  Among those supporting her are members of my running club, the Pamakid Runners, who have gotten to know Shannon over the years.  Also, her alma mater, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory.  Everyone at school is very excited for Shannon and she is allowed to use the Fitness Center when she is in SF.  Because she spent some time with my cross country team last fall, my current athletes feel like they know her and are very much excited to follow her.  There were five SHCP alumni, who made the trip to Eugene for the Olympic Trials.  She’s also made some great friends along the way, people that help her design a website, give her positive publicity, make her team shirts, hang out with her and distract her from the pressures of running, etc.  My role with her of late has been to help her get Coach Cook’s workouts in and to be a sounding board for ideas and planning.

2) What personality or psychological characteristics does Shannon have that have made it possible for her to feel comfortable in moving from the top of the NCAA stage to near the top of the World stage as we approach the Olympics?

She’s competitive and that’s important.  But also, she has a real positive healthy outlook.  She puts and keeps things in perspective.  She analyzes both the good and bad from a workout or race and then moves on, not dwelling on a negative or becoming complacent because of success.  She concerns herself with things that are in her control.

She does not and never has concerned herself with rankings, competitors’ PR’s or records.  She focuses on competing against whoever is in the race and lets the times take care of themselves. 

3) What areas of her athletic development do you think have made it possible for her to make such significant improvements in her times–are there specific areas of training that have been focused on or is it just continued overall development through training?

Not being a full-time student has been a big difference for her.  For the first time, she can devote all her energy into running.  She is getting great coaching from John Cook, who has experience with runners at her level.  Her two training partners when they go to altitude or meet for training are fellow Olympians Shalane Flanagan and Erin Donohue.  As a result she is getting challenging workouts with a real emphasis on some ancillary training like strength work, hurdle drills, etc.  She also is able to devote time to an often overlooked aspect of training, which is proper recovery – both in terms of nutrition and massage, ice bath, stretching, etc.

4) Where do you see Shannon going as a runner after the Olympics?  Does she seem to have motivation to take this whole scene years into the future?

My wife, Malinda, and I recently marked our calendars for 2009 Berlin, 2011 Korea, 2012 London, and 2013 Moscow….so I even though you never know, I guess we think there’s a good chance Shannon will be continue to be competing internationally for awhile.  Hopefully the past few months is just the beginning.  She is only 23 years old.  She has fun running and as long as that continues I think she’ll want to keep going as a professional runner.

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