Name: Shannon O’Neil
Self-described age group: 25-29
Residence: NE, DC
Volunteer roles in the running world: I’ve previously volunteered as a coach for Girls on the Run, and when I’m not running them myself, I can often be spotted spectating my heart out at local races.
How has your running changed in the last six months: I’ve battled a couple of injuries and basically given up on running with other people, but I’m also more grateful than ever for the days that I’m able to start my morning with a run.
Why you run: To experience something bigger than myself. Sometimes that’s the thrill of a race, or the camaraderie from a group workout. But sometimes it’s just getting to see the sun rise over the Anacostia River.
When did you get started running: I was a collegiate rower and took up distance running after a fractured sternum effectively ended my rowing career.
Have you taken a break from running: I’ve taken a couple of breaks to rehab injuries in recent years and will also occasionally take a couple of weeks off when traveling or on vacation.
Training shoe: Saucony Kinvara
Coach or training group: Coached by Caitlun Tateishi and delinquent member of Track Pack D.C.
The hardest race you’ve ever run: Probably the NYC Marathon in 2019. I was coming off an injury and didn’t give that course the respect it deserves (it was my first time). It took a lot of internal bargaining to make it to Central Park. Still an amazing experience, though.
Most adventurous decision you’ve made with your running: Training for my first marathon! I had no idea what I was doing, completely flubbed my nutrition, and still somehow managed a BQ.
Running mentors: Nora Ayers at Fleet Feet in Carrboro, N.C. and Cait Tateishi here in D.C., of course.
My favorite place to run in the D.C. area is: The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Vastly underrated, in my opinion.
Favorite local trail: The loops around “Mount Hamilton” in the National Arboretum and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.
My best race was: Boston 2016. I went in with no expectations and had an absolute blast.
Favorite local race: Parkway Classic. Flat, fast, and scenic!
Ideal post-run meal: A giant muffin and an oat milk latte in the morning, beer and a burrito in the evening.
Favorite flavor of gel, gu, etc: I usually use Honey Stinger’s Ginsting gels, but I also have an embarrassing fondness for Gu’s Hoppy Trails gels.
Pet peeve: People who bike on the sidewalk.
Goals: Break 3 hours in the marathon and achieve the mythical work-life balance.
Your advice for a new runner: Start slow, but don’t let that discourage you from getting out there and engaging with the running community. If you run–no matter how fast–you’re a runner.
Favorite running book: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Song in your head during a run: Like a Girl by Lizzo
Have you dealt with a major injury: Other than my fractured sternum in college, I’ve been fortunate to only have relatively short-lived soft tissue injuries.
Running quote: “I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.” – Mia Hamm
Why is the D.C. area a great place to be a runner: There’s no shortage of amazing places to run, and the running community is as diverse and welcoming as they come.