Field Hockey Coach Sarah Shute Runs in Third Marathon

Sarah Shute picks up her runner's bib during the John Hancock sports & fitness expo on Sunday. April 15, 2018. This photo has been edited to exclude runner's info. Photo courtesy of Sarah Shute.

By Dan Dellechiaie
BU News Service

Sarah Shute, associate field hockey head coach at Boston University, is almost too calm as she leans against the arm of her office couch and talks about her preparation for her third marathon.

You would not know Shute broke a school record for games played as an undergrad (School of Hospitality ‘08), named to the All-Region First Team three times, achieved a master’s degree from BU’s School of Education, among other numerous honors, for she is focused on her new challenges and not on basking in the glory of her past accomplishments.

Shute, who graduated from SHA in 2008, has never been far from BU. She spent four seasons as an assistant coach before becoming an associate head coach in 2014.

Shute sat down with BU News Service a few days before the race.

Has anyone in your family ran a marathon before?
No. No one in my immediate family has run a marathon before.

Is this your first marathon?
No. This is my third marathon. I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon last April. Then I ran a marathon in Newport, Rhode Island in October. So this will be my third.

What music do you listen to when you run?
During my training runs I sometimes will listen to podcasts or I don’t listen to anything. And during my races I listen to a 90’s hip hop station on Spotify. But I’m not planning to listen to anything for the Boston Marathon.

What podcasts do you listen to while running?
“How I Built This” and “Hidden Brain” and “The Good Life Project” are my favorite podcasts to listen to.

What do you think about while you’re running?
It depends on how the run is going. I sometimes think about how, I’m really bad at Math. So sometimes I try to figure out how fast I am going based on how many miles I’ve run and try to figure out what time I am going to finish and the math takes me so long to figure out that it takes up some time. But if it’s a good run and I’m feeling good then I usually just think about life and different things. I think that’s why I stopped listening to the podcasts and music. I was listening to the podcasts for a while and then I noticed that while I was running it was like someone was talking to me but I was not really listening. So I tried not to listen to anything and it was fine. So I would go on a 13 mile run and not listen to anything and I actually enjoyed it.

Who do you run for?
For Boston I am running for a charity called CYCLE Kids, which is an awesome organization. They give bikes and nutrition programs to children living in poverty. They teach them how to ride; they teach them how to overcome adversity; and how to take a holistic approach to their social and emotional well-being.

Who or what do you run from?
*Laughs.* That’s funny. I think sometimes I run from — not everyday life in a negative sense but from the busyness and the chaos. It’s literally sometimes when I run the only time I’m by myself, with my thoughts—me time. I don’t have my phone. It’s just there and for me. It’s a great escape for me.

What do your parents, friends, family think about you running the marathon?
I think they are all really excited for me. I went to school here so I’ve been watching the marathon, experiencing Marathon Monday since 2005. It’s always been a dream of mine. I just love the energy that surrounds the city. I love watching the different breadth of runners and what they are all raising money for. And knowing the determination it takes to train and to raise money—I just love that. I love Marathon Monday. I think that my parents and my family all—they know that it’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time—so they are really excited for me.

Have you ever drafted an excuse for not running?
Yeah. But I think the good thing about running a marathon is that you have a training program. It makes it a lot easier to just get up and look at what you have to run. It takes the thinking out of it because you just look up and you see, “I have run three miles today.” So you have to just go and do it. As opposed to if you are running to work out, it’s a lot easier to make excuses. I started a year and a half a go. I got married in January 2017. Six months before my wedding I decided I was going to run every day for six months. It was just something that you don’t have to think about. You can’t make an excuse because you are going to run. Throughout that whole six months- no matter what the weather was, what was going on, whether I had a bachelorette party or anything going on, I knew I was going to run. I think having that training program is kinda the same idea: you don’t have to think about it, you know you are going to do it.

What’s the most memorable reaction someone has had to you telling them you are running a marathon?
I think in general people are excited about me running the Marathon or running any marathon. It’s amazing how much training goes into it on that day. It’s just such a mental and physical feat. The hardest part about running the Marathon is the training. The day you are running it is just for fun. You enjoy it as much as you can and of course it hurts at the end. You’re mentally tired and physically exhausted but the training runs all through the winter, that’s the most difficult part. Or when you are running by yourself over snow or ice or a puddle in the rain- that’s the hardest part.

How would you convince someone to run a marathon?
You learn a lot about yourself. It’s amazing to me to see what your body can do and what you can do. Like I said, it’s physically demanding but it’s also really mentally demanding to push yourself to your limits or what you think your limits are. The first time I was training for a marathon, you do thirteen miles and you don’t know if you can do more. And the next week you do fourteen. Every week you are not sure if you can do more. But you just do it. I think that’s a really cool thing to be able to do and to be able to say that you really pushed yourself to see what you can do.

What did you learn about yourself?
That I can do a lot more than I thought I could. That if I decide I want to do something I’ll do it. That even when my body is tired I can get through it mentally, and if I am mentally tired my body will get through it. One always makes up for the other.

What’s the most rewarding thing about completing a marathon?
You can eat whatever you want. *laughs* It’s an awesome feeling when you’ve pushed yourself to that limit and you’re done and you have the camaraderie of people around you and other other runners around you. And just knowing that you’ve completed it. And going out to eat after with people who love you and support you is special.

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’ve been running with this group from the Heartbreak Hill Running Company and I have a friend I run with, so during the long runs we play Would You Rather? “Would you rather do this 20 mile run again or have blisters all over your feet?” We play those games so the question is like that. There are a lot of things you can do it four hours but I don’t think that there are a lot of things that you can do that you’ll have the feeling when you’ve completed it like that of completing the Marathon.

1 Comment

  • In her responses to fairly typical and the delightfully atypical “running from” queries, MS. Shute with possession of the rare ability to listen reveals an eloquence and integrity rarely seen in athletes’ interviews. She must be an extraordinary teacher, which in the end is really what extraordinary coaches are.

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