Runner Interview – Megan James

When and why did you start running?

I ran my first road race when I was only 8 years old.  My grandmother was volunteering, and my grandfather asked if I wanted to go check it out – so we did, and I ran a 3K!  After that, I ran in a few local 5Ks each year while my dad walked (he’s a fast walker and I always made it a goal to beat him!).  I joined my high school track team as a sprinter/jumper in 9th grade and switched over to distance starting with Indoor in 10th grade.  I love being active & outside, seeing my hard work pay off, and enjoying the post-race snacks, so it has always been a perfect sport for me!

What’s your favorite race to date, and why?

I have two – Stockade-athon and Boston Marathon.  I love both courses, race atmospheres, and the race history.  My favorite race distance is 15K, and those are hard to find, so STK always has a place on my race calendar!

What has been your biggest running adventure to date?

A few years ago we ran a turkey trot in Montana on snow-covered roads on a zero-degree morning.  The plan was to just run it for fun, but my husband and I got a little competitive with each other, and then I realized about halfway through that I was the second woman – so we picked up the pace and I finished as the first woman and won a turkey!  I’ve had some distant encounters with bears on a few runs in the ADKs and Cascades – I love bears, but I never want to actually cross paths with them, especially a mama!

What is your approach to training? Do you follow a particular training plan, or do you work with a coach and if so, who?

I coach myself (sometimes with my husband’s input) and use a combination of strategies, workouts, etc. from my collective years of experience, education and research; if I had to align myself with one particular approach, it would probably be Jack Daniels’.  I also coach adult and high school runners, so I sometimes will experiment on myself to see if I like a workout or get the desired effect out of it before giving it to them. 

What is your weekly mileage in peak racing/marathon training season? What is your approach to the off season?

Generally, I’m around 50 miles/week during a marathon cycle, maybe hitting 60 on a couple weeks.  I go in cycles of 3-4 weeks building up, and then 1 week dropping to ensure adequate recovery.  In the off season, I run 35-40 miles/week, keeping my long runs around 90-100 minutes.  I do some loosely structured workouts like hills, fartleks or tempo runs, and I add in strides a couple days each week to feel fresh. 

During our cold winter days, do you brave poor weather conditions or stick indoors on the treadmill? If you do run outside, what safety measures do you take?

I will always go outside.  I try to plan around the weather so I can take my day off when it’s going to be really cold/windy/snowy.  If the conditions are bad, I will opt for effort- and time-based workouts rather than hitting any paces.  I run in daylight whenever possible and wear a lot of reflective gear & a headlamp if I am in the dark. 

List your PRs: Race, time, year

Marathon – 3:19:40 (2020, solo time trial)

Half Marathon – 1:27:04 (2017, Syracuse Half)

15K – 59:37 (2019, Stockadeathon)

5K – 18:46 (2020, The First Downhill, Boston/virtual)

1M – 5:23 (2019, Route 50 Mile)

What was your worst injury and how did you get over it?

I had two stress fractures in my left foot (4th metatarsal + cuboid) in 2014 that kept me out of running for about 5 months.  I was in a boot for 3-4 months, with the last month of that on crutches because the fractures weren’t healing – that was not fun!  I did some cycling, swimming & weightlifting when I was able to, but it got pretty challenging to get to the pool and gym once I was on crutches.  Fortunately, I am a physical therapist and was working in a sports-oriented clinic at the time, so I was able to use our equipment and my coworkers’ insight to help me keep me grounded and get through rehab – first with strengthening & walking, then to plyometrics, run-walk, and finally to running! 

Your favorite shoe for training and racing

Training: Adidas Boston 7 or 9

Racing: Adidas Adios 3 (currently in the 5, which I also like but not as much)

Ever run in a costume?


Do you work with a dietitian to enhance your performance?  If so, who?

Yes!  I work with Theresa DeLorenzo (Nutrition for Optimal Performance) and her guidance has helped me a lot with making sure I’m fueling my body appropriately for the training that I do.  I have not raced a ton since working with her, but I have been able to train harder & recover better.

What are your favorite pre-race and post-race meals?

Pre-race (dinner/night before): chicken with pasta and veggies, a glass of red wine, and some sort of dessert

Pre-race (breakfast/day of): oatmeal with peanut butter, raisins, chia/hemp/flax seeds, honey, cinnamon

Post-race: depends on the race distance & weather/time of year, but as long as there is enough food, I am not too picky on what it is.

What activities do you enjoy when not running?

I enjoy hiking (my husband and I are aspiring 46ers!) and yoga – but I’ll try just about any outdoor activity!  Outside of being active, I enjoy baking/cooking, and spending time with my family.   

What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?

I’ll be running the Boston Marathon in April, with Syracuse Half leading up to it – and I’m targeting course PRs at both of those races.  Beyond that, I will race some of the USATF & HMRRC Grand Prix races, and some of the team events with Willow Street.

What is the greatest piece of advice you've ever received in the sport?

The process is the goal. 

                             Billie McClosky and Megan

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