Inspirational Interview- Emily Sisson

Today I have a special treat for you. Since I was in college, I have always looked up to my guest today. She has dominated the collegiate distance scene for many years; and I loved watching her racing. You know I am all about embracing who you are, (read my Be Brave, Be Strong, Be You post for more on that), and she is a great example of that.

Today my guest is Emily Sisson.

You think I am fast, well Emily recently set the collegiate indoor 5k record with a SMOKIN’ 15:12! She has PRs of 8:52 in the 3k, and 32:31 in the 10k (and a 31:57 on the roads).

Whenever I am feeling down about my short, chicken drumstick style legs, or I worry about looking different to other girls I race against, I look to a photo of Emily….okay, that may make me sound a little like a stalker, but it is just what I need to remind myself that I would rather be powerful than fragile…..which I know I would be if I deprived myself of calories. Some runners are naturally very tall and thin, but I am not one of those people!

When other healthy, running friends of mine ask if they need to lose weight, I always send them a picture of Emily.

She is SO strong; literally the poster child for a strong, powerful runner, and I absolutely admire that about her. We are all different, and runners come in all shapes and sizes, but that does not change who YOU are. All you can do is be the best YOU can be with your beautiful body, just as it is, and go out there on race day, leaving the best you can give for that day. If you do that, you should be proud of yourself.

Enough rambling from me, here is the interview:

Tina: You have always been an inspiration of mine for your gutsy racing, and the way you go out there and go get what you want. Who inspires you? Did you have someone who first inspired you to start running?

Emily: Thank you! There are a lot of people that inspire me to be honest. I wouldn’t say I have one role model, but I am inspired by a number of talented women in this sport. My coach, Ray Treacy, coaches athletes like Molly Huddle, Kim Smith, and Amy Hastings. I love their approach to the sport. They are so hard working and humble. It inspires me more that they are such incredible women outside of the sport as well.

T: Describe a typical day for you ?

E: I typically have a short morning run on a workout day. I will work a few hours a day as a graduate assistant at the school before I’ll have my workout in the afternoon. Then, graduate school classes are in the evening. I always look forward to unwinding at my apartment after the nights I have classes!

T: What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

E: Netflix.

T: What is a typical day of eating for you?

E: It varies a bit! Whatever is on special offer at Whole Foods is what I stock up on haha. I try buying unprocessed, whole foods and adding fresh herbs and spices to my meals. I have found when I take proper care of myself, it affects more than just running. I feel happier in general.

T: As elite runners, especially in college, it can be hard to not fall into the trap of thinking skinnier=faster, how do you manage to stay away from that? What makes you know you are doing the right thing?

E: There have definitely been times I have felt insecure for not having the typical “runner” body. I do have to watch what I eat to an extent. However, when I am taking care of myself and fueling with nutritious food, I don’t worry about a certain weight. I feel confident in how strong I feel. There are races when I feel like I can keep going for a long time, and I think my body type is a huge reason for that.

Elite runner Tina Muir interviews 15:12 5k collegiate runner, Emily Sisson to talk about how you can get the most out of your body, and how to avoid the comparison trap.

T: Has there ever been a point where you did restrict what you ate? How did you get yourself out of it?

E: I do have to watch what I eat to an extent, but I don’t try to limit what I eat. I try to look at the quality of foods as opposed to concerning myself with restricting the amount of food. I feel my best when I stick to healthy, wholesome foods, but I am not a slave to any diet! I treat myself now and then, and at the end of the day I feel healthy and happy!

T: Why do you think it is so important that we build stronger runners, rather than fragile, frail, injury-prone runners? Do you think the attitude towards unique body shapes is changing?

E: Everyone is unique. It is human nature to compare, but I have come to realize I waste so much energy when I compare myself to others. It is all negative energy and it is very exhausting! When I am taking proper care of myself, I love how strong I feel on my tempos and long runs. Every now and then I will fall into the comparison trap (especially when I am tired), but most of the time I love how strong I feel! I know that my body contributes to that and gives me this strength.

T: Do you have any pre race rituals?

E: I am not superstitious, but I do like to be as relaxed as possible before my races. I definitely binge on my favorite Netflix shows leading up to a race!

T: When you recently ran 15:12 indoors, what was going through your mind as you saw the finish line come into focus?

E: It didn’t hit me until afterwards! I was not planning on running that sort of a time, but I felt amazing in the race. I have been feeling so strong this year, and it was incredible to see that kind of a result.

T: What do you tell yourself when you start to doubt yourself in a race?

E: It’s usually before a race that I have to deal with most of my nerves. I like to take my mind off the race by doing things I find relaxing. I think this is the third time I have mentioned Netflix haha.

T: What was your lowest running moment, and how did you overcome it?

E: At our cross country conference meet two years ago, I fainted 300m short of the finish line. Our team was hoping to win that year. I had put a lot of pressure on myself after only having been back running for a couple of weeks. Learning how to handle pressure has been really important for my growth as a runner.

T: Do you have any plans for running after college?

E: I would love to continue running after college! I’m going to enjoy my last season of NCAA eligibility first, but I think it will be a very exciting step to take.


And I look forward to seeing what the future does hold for Emily, especially in the marathon! You can find her on twitter HERE.

[Tweet “Great interview from @tinamuir with 15:12 5k Runner Emily Sisson, and how she avoids the comparison trap #fuelyourfuture”]

How do you avoid the comparison trap? What is your guilty pleasure?

Emily sission

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  • Tina I love this! Thank you for introducing Emily to me. What an inspiration.

    You know. It’s interesting that with yoga I never fall into the comparison trap. With running it has happened way too often. My guilty pleasure is dark chocolate and Criminal Minds reruns.

  • Lisa@runningoutofwine
    March 27, 2015 6:18 am

    What an inspirational runner! I think I avoid the comparison trap by trying to stay focused on myself and what I am capable of, and working to improve upon that.

  • She sounds like an amazing girl! I can see why she has inspired you!

  • Great interview! As I’ve gotten older, it’s been easier to avoid the comparison trap, but it is something I struggled with more when I was younger.

  • I remember when she was featured in Running Times! She is such a spitfire, and I love her attitude–damn straight, everyone is unique!

  • Wow she is crazy fast! I also admire the strong, muscular legs. I would have liked to have heard more about her actual eating. I always find that fascinating. Nice interview

  • I loved this and I especially love that she doesn’t have that “typical” runner body, because neither do I!! I have a feeling we will be seeing her name with the elites after she graduates. Awesome!!

  • fuelingforfitness
    March 27, 2015 9:00 am

    Thanks for this blog post and interview, Tina & Emily! I definitely still fall into the comparison trap despite the fact that I should know better. Posts like these are really helping me overcome them. xo

  • So interesting! Love this interview. She sounds very dedicated and inspiring.
    Now going to stalk on Twitter 😉 hehe

  • Julie Wunder
    March 27, 2015 9:17 am

    What an inspiration! I really enjoyed the interview!

  • I love how wise she is for being so young. It usually takes people years and years to be self-assured enough to not compare themselves to others. At least that’s how long it took me!

  • What an inspirational post! She sounds like such an intelligent, hard-working, and talented runner. I totally relate to her love of Netflix for relaxing, it was my favorite way to unwind in grad school (um, and still is).

  • WOW… how does one run that fast?! Love reading interviews!

  • Jenn @
    March 27, 2015 3:06 pm

    Nice to “meet” Emily! I try to avoid the comparison trap – weightlifting has actually really helped with me with that. I worry less now about looking as thin or “fast” as other runners since I know that I need to focus on being STRONG so that I can continue to teach BodyPump! It’s also helped that I’ve seen my times improve after adding on some muscle. Getting older has also helped – I tend to care less about what others think and celebrate doing my own thing. 🙂

  • Wow – Emily is incredible!! Even though those days are years in the past for me I love following along with young athletes. Emily is a super role model for all female athletes!!

  • Great interview! I always love reading about the super fast athletes.
    I find that when I focus on my goals, I don’t have time to compare to anyone else 🙂

  • What a cool interview! Emily is truly inspiring because she embraces who she is and the body God has given her and then runs to the best of her ability. My guilty pleasure… probably coffee and running clothes/shoes shopping!
    Amy @

  • Great interview and I really enjoyed learning about Emily! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Gingi Edmonds Freeman
    March 27, 2015 7:34 pm

    Great interview and great post!! Thanks for sharing! <3

    Anyhoo, I found your blog through a fellow blogger and thought I would stop by and say hi! It would totally make my day if you did the same.. or better yet, keep in touch! <3 –

  • The way Emily talks makes it seem like running just comes so naturally to her! She’s a gazelle!

  • Sandra Laflamme
    March 28, 2015 8:39 am

    Wonderful interview. Emily is a very inspiring athlete and I always love reading about how such an awesome athlete fuels . I also love how strong and fit she looks. Muscles are good!

  • What an inspirational athlete Emily is. I really appreciate that you spoke so much about eating. It’s such a touchy subject and it seems almost taboo to talk about. I am interested in what the elites eat, because personally, in all of the disciplines of running, this is the one I struggle with the most. I am a masters runner, I have a thyroid condition, and as I age it becomes more and more difficult to maintain my ideal racing weight. I have never deprived myself, but lately it seems that’s what I need to do in order to get where I need to be. It’s nice to hear Emily say that she doesn’t ever use this approach but that she does have to watch it. I think that’s very realistic. Thank you Tina for introducing this amazing young runner to us!

  • Emily seems like a great person and it’s cool that she’s such a speedy runner while going to grad school and working as a grad assistant. I really admire how you ladies can train so hard and compete while balancing things like jobs and school.

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