Sports - 18/09/2013

Meet ECCO Ambassador Shayla Houlihan

For a long time, running was just a hobby for Shayla Houlihan. She started when she was young and joined her high school track team to run with friends. Coming from a running family, Shayla was fast enough to earn a spot on the University of Northern Iowa track team.

During her sophomore season in college, something clicked and she became serious. This lead to several years spent as a professional track and field athlete and, ultimately, saw her qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the steeplechase.

Now a coach at the University of California at Berkeley, Shayla is committed to helping athletes find their life passions through running. ECCO is proud to welcome Shayla to #TeamBIOM as she continues to positively influence those around her.

When did you begin running competitively?
I started in the 5th grade. My parents would run road races and I’d compete in the kids’ mile afterward. They were always doing 5Ks and 10Ks on weekends so I was around the sport growing up. I ran track in high school but it was more social than anything else. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I got a fire inside me and realized I could be good if I dedicated myself to the sport.

What are some of your favorite places to run – and to race?
For easy runs, I would have to choose Salt Lake City, Utah. I attended the University of Utah for my graduate degree and the trails in Park City and Salt Lake are some of the best I’ve ever run on.

But, I LOVE racing in Belgium. Every summer, American track athletes flock there to continue their racing seasons in Europe. The atmosphere is so social and relaxed – everyone is there to run fast. I ran my personal best steeplechase time in Ghent, so I have fond memories from that track.

What is your best running memory?
I’d have to choose an entire season. The summer of 2011 I traveled to Belgium with two of my best friends (and fellow steeplechasers) for a few weeks of racing. We were based in Leuven, Belgium with many other Americans but didn’t have much planned outside of that. We just fended for ourselves and figured out the trip as we went along – found places to sleep, how to get from place to place… it was a blast!  And we all raced fast that summer, too!

What are you up to now?
I’m coaching. It all goes back to my sophomore year in college. Before my coach at the University of Northern Iowa left to take a position at the University of Utah, he sat me down and said he thought I was a natural leader. I ended up being the “emotional coach” for my teammates that next year – and it hit me, I realised I wanted coach. A light bulb just went off in my head! I changed my major from business to exercise science and did the best I could to set myself up to become a coach at some point.

It was a natural decision that just seemed so right! I finished my program at Northern Iowa and then joined the team at the University of Utah to earn my Master’s Degree in health promotion and education. I stayed to become a volunteer assistant coach while I continued to train professionally through the Olympic Trials in 2012.

What do you find most fulfilling about coaching?
There’s nothing better than knowing the runners on my team are becoming better people and better athletes through their hard work and training. It’s challenging, because each person deals with individual battles and goes through different issues. Watching them overcome adversity is very fulfilling.

I found my passion through running and want to help my athletes find their passions as well. You learn so much about yourself through training and the best feeling is when an athlete thanks you for helping them through a tough time.

You became familiar with ECCO when you worked in a running shoe store. Tell us about how you became hooked!

I love BIOM technology! I was introduced to the brand and learned about NATURAL MOTION – how it helps your form and allows you to run naturally. After I tried a pair, I was hooked. I was totally healthy for two and a half years after battling various injuries. The technology did wonders for me.

What animal do you most resemble when running and why?

I would say a cat because they are wild, free and unique to themselves. And I just love cats in general!

What is your favorite post workout meal?
Definitely a pastry. Any kind.