We can’t remember the first time we stumbled across Emily’s Instagram account, but when we picked our jaws up off the floor we still were in disbelief at the sheer mileage that she was logging, not to mention the fact that the majority of the miles were on a treadmill! Emily’s passion and spirit are so motivating that it bleeds through her pictures and into the lives of thousands of her social media connections. A spunky, some may say crazy, ultrarunner, it is our pleasure to introduce you to Emily Eliason our newest Further Faster Forever Athlete of the Week!
Emily you ran over 350 miles in the month of January alone, distances like that don’t just happen, how did you get started in ultra running?
An ankle injury cut my volleyball career short at a time when I was soaring. It was a devastating injury that left me without a physical passion. I had run a little – mostly as a part of training for volleyball. After the injury, I began running, mostly to just stay fit. However, I found that each day I craved it more and more. Then one day, after a recent family move, I got lost in our new neighborhood. My Dad later figured out I had run close to 9 miles. So I thought, hmmmmm, maybe I CAN run.
I ran my first marathon in 1999 [unknowingly pregnant] where I finished with a time of 4:14. Although I continued to run over the next nine and a half years, I did not run another marathon until December of 2009, finishing in 3:36. This time qualified me for the Boston Marathon, which I ran in April 2011. Once I had completed that second marathon, I knew I this running thing was for me!
I am blessed with an incredible family. They support me and my goals in a way that makes me strive to be better and push harder, daily. Not just in running, in life.
Sometimes as athletes we tend to be defined by going faster than someone else, how do you keep this in check?
Two things I am always telling new runners: Keep your thoughts positive and don’t compare yourself to others. The second we start focusing on the negative, things will become more negative. It is a simple truth. Really the only comparing runners should do is to themselves.
That is great wisdom, not only for a beginner runner but for seasoned athletes as well. As great as your advice is, we are sure it is hard for others to look at the amount of distance you cover in your runs and not compare themselves to you. But, we are pretty sure that more often than not, when people compare themselves to you they use an asterisk *”Oh she runs all those miles on a treadmill, its not the same”. How do you handle this criticism?
Because of strain I began to feel in my knees and ankle, I began training exclusively on a treadmill, in August 2009. I found the stress to my joints to be significantly less and I could do it from home! What could be better? This type of training seems to have set me apart from many distance runners. I love the mental challenge of treadmill training and I find when I am competing outside I feel an exhilaration that is motivating and I think it makes me a better runner. The mental training associated with long distance running is every bit as important [if not more] as the actual running itself.
Many people have told me, “treadmill running isn’t real running”, or “treadmill running isn’t as hard as outdoor running”. To which I reply first and foremost, “have you done 20+ milers on a treadmill before?” If they say, “no”. I move right along. Anyone who has never done it——I don’t give a second thought to their comments. If they say, “yes”. Then I’d say, they aren’t doing it right. Don’t get me wrong, it is VERY convenient: food, water, toilet, tv & radio [as desired]. However, I find when I remove those extras and add some significant hills and occasional speed, this treadmill stuff is in no way “easy” physically or mentally.
We know what it takes to run 20+ miles and you are right the mental toughness you posses is outstanding. We nominated you for Further Faster Forever Athlete of the Week because of your mental and physical toughness. We love that you own it and that it works for you. Let the naysayers keep up if they can. We know that not all of your running has been on a treadmill.What other races or trail runs have you done?
I have done a few ultras. Man Against Horse [Prescott, AZ], Rim To Rim To Rim at the Grand Canyon & a 24 hour treadmill run [100+ miles] at a local TV station to raise money for The Sojourner Center. That 24 hour treadmill run was amazing. I will do that again. I was able to do something that I love while raising awareness and money for a domestic violence shelter.
100 miles on a treadmill really is a once in a lifetime accomplishment, yet you say you want to do it again! We love your tenacity and toughness.
I think it’s funny that my marathon [3:18] PR isn’t my “most proud running moment” but it’s not even close to my 24 hour run or Grand Canyon run. I would have to say the Grand Canyon run is the accomplishment I am most proud of. I went into it thinking I was going to run with at least one person. I ended up running 40 of the 46 miles completely alone. I trained exclusively on my treadmill. Not one run outside. Had never used a head lamp, gaitors, etc. It was freaking amazing. Never turned on any music. I truly enjoyed being outside. Alone. In one of nature’s most beautiful creations. So maybe if I could run there every day…………….naaaaa, I’d still crave my treadmill, but I get it. It was breathtaking. I hope to do this run EVERY year in October, as life’s schedule permits.
We think all of us could use a trip to the bottom of the Grand at least once a year to be reminded of just how small we are and what is really important in life. We love the picture of Pita and Peanut surprising you during your Rim2Rim2Rim of the Grand Canyon. You can tell from that picture just how much your husband and daughter love you. Being one of, if not the longest, treadmill runner in the country has to be a great feeling but we can tell by your spirit that you love your family more.
Honestly, I really am so blessed. I am most proud to be a mom and a wife. Growing up, I would hear my friends say they wanted to be the President, a doctor, a lawyer, etc. I truly always wanted to be “just” a Mom. I was raised by the most amazing woman I know. If I can be one fourth of what she was, I have succeeded. My future with regards to running……..I will always run. It’s in my blood. It’s what I do. I have one race scheduled in March, I would really freaking like a new PR. However, my family & my faith is where my true happiness and joy comes from. Nothing would make me happier than to have more little “Peanut’s”. No PR in the world could top that, for me.
We love how much you love your family and we hope that 2013 is the best year yet, not only for your ultra running but for your family as well. Your spunk and spirit have inspired so many over the years and we are thrilled that you are part of the Further Faster Forever community. Keep racking up the miles because with each mile you log there are hundreds of people around the globe that are inspired to get off the couch and do something with their lives. Your mental and physical toughness motivates us to push ourselves even further than we ever thought possible.