By Dan Dellachiaie
BU News Service
Emma Clark, assistant soccer coach at Boston University, almost convinced the interviewer to start training for a marathon.
Clark, who graduated from BU’s College of Communication in 2014 and has been an assistant soccer coach since 2015, acknowledged the exhausting dedication it takes to train for a marathon but also knows how to smile and laugh while doing it.
She believes you can do anything you put your mind to and works every day to instill this mindset in every woman she coaches.
Clark sat down for an interview with BU News Service a few days before the race.
Has anyone in your family run a marathon before?
My dad has run a marathon before. He ran track in college at Bucknell University. He’s run a couple. Don’t ask me how many. *laughs* It’s not something I ever thought that I would do. Running is not in our genes per se.
Are you excited?
I’m very excited. Since I went to school here at BU. I’ve seen many marathon happen. Standing behind the barricades you see people go by all the time and it’s really inspiring. Definitely the marathon I wanted to do. I don’t know if I’ll run it again. But since I have always wanted to do one, I thought Boston would be the one to do.
What’s your workout schedule?
I am running for a foundation called Girls on the Run. We got a running plan through our running coach there. I was running four times a week, cross-training once a week and then two days of rest. Typically, we’d do our longs run on the weekends because that’s when people would have the most time. Then I’d either use the elliptical or the bike for my cross-training day.
What do you think about while you’re running?
I think it’s amazing. The people that do it are the people that inspire me so I think about that while I run. And knowing that if these other people can do it, I’m so fortunate to live the life that I do that that’s what inspires me to run and gets me through the longer runs.
Who do you run for?
I am running for a foundation, Girls on the Run, which encourages younger females to be confident, strong, athletic human beings. Obviously, being a soccer coach that is something that is very close to my heart — just encouraging females to know that it is okay to be athletic and strong.
That’s a big reason why this foundation stuck out to me in the first place, and encourages me even more to do it. If I can do this, then I want other females, the young elementary school and middle school girls, to know that someday they can do this. I strive to be a role model every day at work for our older girls that we have here on campus, and I hope that I do that. But to be able to do this for this foundation is something that is special to me.
How did you get connected with the foundation?
I just did some research in early October on some foundations that would be accepting applications. I reached out to somebody in their program because I saw that they had done some other marathons. I didn’t know if they were going to be doing the Boston Marathon or not, but there is a local link here, so she sent me the application. I’m one of 16 on the team. The more I read about their foundation in early October before I started to apply, it was something that hit home with me and stuck out to be a pretty incredible foundation.
Who or what do you run from?
Jeez. Oh. *laughs* I need to think of something I am deeply afraid of. I am trying to run from [Sarah] Shute-r, but she’s got me beat there a little bit. I’m running from the start hoping to make it to the finish. When everybody is saying, “Good luck!” I’ll be saying, “I hope I cross the finish line.” That is my only goal in this whole entire thing. I’m definitely running from the start and running from all the training. I’m leaving all that behind me, I’m sure.
What are you going to do after the race?
Nothing. Sleep forever. No, I have a lot of family coming into town to support me which is going to be exciting. They are going to be close to the finish line so I’m hoping to see them right afterwards and get a big meal into my system after. That’s what I’ve been told is what you crave the most after you finish. But definitely sleeping for a little bit and taking a few weeks off from exercise.
Do you have any rituals or lucky charms?
Rituals? No. Lucky Charms? My aunt passed away this fall so I am wearing a necklace of hers. I’ll be thinking about her the whole time I am running for sure. I keep that very close to my heart.
What do your parents, friends, and family think about you running a marathon?
I think my parents and friends are more excited than I am, believe it or not. And I’m very excited. It’s definitely something that I never thought I would do, and I think they think the same thing. They’ve been super supporting the whole time. I’ve had a couple friends that have done training runs with me. My parents are really excited to come into Boston and be there when I cross the finish line. I’m probably going to cry some happy tears when I cross. But they’ve been really supportive, and I’m very fortunate to have them in my life and being able to be here to support me.
What’s the most memorable reaction someone has had to you telling them you were going to run a marathon?
I think the disbelief. A lot of people are like, “No you’re not.” And I’m like, “No really. I am.” I think a lot of people always say I could never do that. But I had the same reaction when people would tell me that they were running the marathon, “Oh I could never do that.” But when you put your mind to something and you are doing it for such a good cause and for so many people, the Marathon is really about something bigger than yourself and that’s really inspiring and what makes you be able to get through it.
What’s the best excuse you’ve heard for not running a marathon?
I think the best excuse is, “I wasn’t built for distance. I’m more of a sprinter.” If you can move, you can probably do this. But I don’t think I’ve heard anything other than that. People are usually shocked rather than giving their excuse for why not.
Have you ever drafted an excuse for not running?
For some training runs I’ve been like, “Oh. I am too hungry right now. I can’t go run.” And then after I eat I have to wait an hour before I can go do it again. Lots of, “It’s too cold out.” But I really tried to get myself out there as much as I could.
How would you convince someone to run a marathon?
I’ve been told it’s all worth it in the end. I think I’ll have better advice next Tuesday after I run it. But I do think once you cross the finish line it makes all the training and everything worth it. That’s why I am hoping to cross.
What’s your favorite saying or aphorism about running?
“Run for fun.” I’ve never understood that one. Running is not fun for me. That’s the one that always got me. On a more serious note, I think overall, maybe not so much about running, but everybody says, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” And this is something I’ve really had to put my mind to. Hopefully, I will be able to be successful in the end.
The average marathon takes between 4 hours and 20 minutes and 4 hours and 40 minutes. Is there any way you’d rather spend that time?
I think about that a lot. Being like, “I’m running for an hour and a half right now, what else could I be doing?” Good to know that those are the averages. Something to shoot for. Other things I’d rather be doing would probably be being on the other side of the barricades cheering for the people running. Laying on the beach somewhere warm because this training weather has been cold. Yeah, that sounds pretty good to me right now. Thanks for reminding me.
What’s the most surprising thing you have discovered about yourself from your training?
After being an athlete for my whole life, I always thought that I was fairly mentally tough, that I could do the training and whatever I put my mind to, but this training has really pushed me and it’s something that I’m scared of. I’m excited to run on Monday but since it is my first one I am always scared.
But I’m more mentally tough than I thought I was. You can push your body to limits that even being a Division 1 athlete I didn’t think I’d be able to get to. I never thought in a million years that I would run 20 miles. And I ran it twice in my training runs. So now in I never thought in a million years I’d run 26.2 miles. I think you’re stronger than you think you are, for sure.