(article photo credits: Evan Barnes)
My journey to become a professional distance runner for Under Armour and part of the development of Dark Sky Distance — an Under Armour sponsored group based in Flagstaff, Arizona — was unconventional, but something I am proud of.
When I graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2017, I knew I had only started to show my potential in the sport. I wanted to continue competing at a high level, but had yet to produce contract-worthy performances. I had a strong support system that believed I could compete at the next level, and they encouraged me to pursue it.
While I was in college I admired the New Balance Boston training group — coached by Mark Coogan — because of their intense and dedicated training. I decided to reach out to coach Coogan myself, and I was fortunate enough to land a spot in the group. In Boston I learned what it was like to train and compete at the highest level, all the while nannying to help support myself.
I qualified for my first US Track and Field Championships, had success on the roads and finished 5th at my first US Cross Country Championships. My Boston teammates and coach helped this become a reality, and I knew I belonged in the world of professional running.
At the beginning of 2019 I signed with Total Sports and Stephen Haas, my now coach and agent.
We both agreed that my career was just getting started, and we created a long-term plan that would develop me as a runner and allow me to reach my full potential. The opportunity to run full-time and help start an Under Armour based group in the works in Flagstaff was what our plan was derived on.
Over the past two years, Under Armour has worked vigorously to establish Dark Sky Distance. We currently have a team of ten athletes working together, coached by Shayla Houlihan and Stephen Haas. Having a strong, family-like team has made my transition to Flagstaff seamless.
A weekly schedule with Dark Sky Distance looks something like this:
Mileage and a lift on Monday and Thursday, a speed-style workout Tuesday, medium-long run Wednesday, threshold-style workout Friday, easy run on Saturday and long run on Sunday.
To keep my body healthy, I work with Hypo2 Sport on a weekly basis. All of my chiropractic needs and routine blood work is monitored through them. Additionally, I receive a weekly massage from The Physio Shop Clinic here in Flagstaff. In between body-work sessions I use my NormaTec system and Hyperice tools at home. Taking the extra step to recover properly has been a crucial part of slowly increasing my weekly mileage with my sights set on racing my first marathon.
It is an honor to say that I am a professional runner. I am able to fully focus on my training and recovery and that has allowed me to chase the highest level of the professional running world. Unfortunately competing this year has been put on hold, but our group has made incredible gains in every area, From our training to our communication, this group has bought into the same vision!
Personally, I still feel new to the professional running scene, I still learn from every workout and every race and that is what prepares me for every competition in the future. I have big goals for myself — with the biggest one being to make an Olympic Team — and I feel confident that I am supported by the people who will help me reach my full potential in the sport.
EMILY DURGIN — DARK SKY DISTANCE
Half Marathon: 1:11:40
5,000 Meter Race (Road): 16:05