Dispatching from Rio: Emily Infeld, US Distance Runner

by Grace Masback

Emily Infeld’s running career defines grit and determination. An outstanding runner at Georgetown, she moved across country to train with Nike’s Bowerman Athletic Club, which is based in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately, Infeld suffered a series of injuries and seriously considered quitting the sport. Encouraged by her coach, Jerry Schumacher, Infeld returned to full-time training in the spring of 2015 and surprised the track world by qualifying for Team USA in the 10,000 meters for the World Track & Field Championships in Beijing.

Then, she did the unthinkable: she won a bronze medal, beating teammate Molly Huddle on a lean. The University Heights, Ohio native came off of her Beijing success highly motivated for the Olympic year. Regrettably, after running a personal best at 5,000 meters during the indoor season, she sustained another injury. Her Olympic dreams dashed. Schumacher convinced her to give her dream one more try, and she went to the starting line of the Olympic Trials having not run a single race during the outdoor season. She not only qualified for the Olympic Team, she ran close to her personal best, making her first Olympic Team. School of Doodle had the chance to ask Infeld some key questions about life, track, and her Olympic aspirations.

School of Doodle: What advice do you have for your high school self? What advice do you have for other aspiring female athletes?

Emily Infeld: Advice to my high school self would be to have fun with running, enjoy the team aspect and the friendships being made. Don’t focus on being perfect but enjoy the process as there is so much running ahead and no need to rush the process. You are so young still in high school and have so much more ahead, be patient! I luckily had a coach who emphasized all of this and this has helped me continue to improve through college and beyond.

SOD: What are your goals and expectations for yourself in Rio?

EI: I would love to be top 10. This field is incredible in the 10k so my goal is to go in for top 10 and then if I can work my way up or achieve a higher place go for that! I want to give it my best out there and compete to the best of my ability.

SOD: Do you plan to do any sightseeing in Rio? If so what?

EI: After the race I would love to go to Sugarloaf and explore some beaches, find some monkeys!

SOD: What is your pre-competition ritual, if you have one?

EI: Pre-race I love listening to chill music to help relax me.

SOD: What was your greatest failure in your track and field career? What did you learn from it?

EI: I can be bull-headed and not listen to my body. This has caused me to push too hard through aches and pains resulting in injury, like stress fractures.

SOD: Who is your role model and why?

EI: My teammate Shalane Flanagan is a veteran in this sport and I have looked up to her so much through my running career! She has been like a sister to me since joining the group and just so fierce, I love how she races. She goes for it and is never afraid to take a race and make it hard!

SOD: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not running?

EI: I love to cook and bake.

SOD: What sport are you most excited to see in Rio other than track?

EI: Gymnastics and soccer.

SPD: Describe the feeling of winning a bronze medal at last year’s World Championships?

EI: Pure joy and happiness. Absolutely incredible.

SOD: You’ve had a lot of injury problems — did you ever think of giving up? What kept you going?

EI: Yes, I have had many moments of doubt. But I love this sport so much and feel like I still have more to give and to improve.

SOD: How did you have the confidence to go to the starting line in Eugene in the Olympic Trials when you hadn’t run a single race during the outdoor season due to injury?

EI: My workouts were starting to come around. I went in with the mentality that I wanted to make the team, and I ran with that intention knowing it wouldn’t be easy. I hoped that I was fit enough to put myself into aposition to hang on to the pace for as long as I could. I tried to stick with Molly and not lose contact. I was hurting but knew other girls must be hurting, too, and as girls started to fall off I gained more confidence that I would be able to make the team. I honestly wasn’t sure of my fitness but just trusted my coach and the process and tried to be as tough as I could on race day!

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