Shirley Hagel Shares How Moving to New York Made Her a Runner

Shirley Hagel Shares How Moving to New York Made Her a Runner

Each week, we highlight a unique NYRR Team for Kids runner and talk training runs, race-day rituals, and recovery. This week, 32-year-old Brooklynite Shirley Hagel tells us about what kick-started her relationship with running.

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What event are you running with Team for Kids?
I'm running the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon!

What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?
The FINISH! The last 200 meters is so cool. The feeling of finishing is so amazing. I am trying to PR this year, so I am excited about trying to do better this year than last.

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
Prospect Park! It's where I became a runner. I didn't start taking my running seriously until I moved to New York. I moved to Brooklyn, close to Prospect Park, so that's where I would run and it's where I learned I'd had a runner hiding inside me all along! I ran my first marathon in Prospect Park in November 2014. I still live by the park and still run there. It feels like home.

If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?
I listen to crappy pop music when I run. I like to listen to songs that have a great beat and make me want to sing along.

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What is your favorite post-run meal?
I feel like I have to share my favorite pre-run meal because I am such a creature of habit. It’s always a homemade smoothie! A blend of bananas, blueberries, strawberries, spinach, nut butter, plant-based protein powder, and chia seeds is my go-to for a long run. And post-race meal for a long run is definitely pizza! My husband makes pizza (at ZuriLee in Brooklyn). I don't eat meat or dairy so it's gotta be a special pie, but I LOVE it.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I was the kid and teenager GROANING about running the mile in PE. I was overweight most of my life, so it was a struggle. Freshman year of college, and then periodically throughout college, I would try to jog. It was very on and off and I never loved it. It was hard and I didn't feel great at it but I wanted to lose weight. I just couldn't stick with it.

In fall of 2012, my husband and I moved to Brooklyn from Florida and we lived very close to Prospect Park. At this point, with diet and exercise, I had finally lost a bit of weight. I was feeling a fresh energy from moving to a new city, so I gave running a go again. I don't know if it was the different weather, a new city, or being the healthiest weight I'd ever been, but this time it was different. I could do it!

Early in 2013, I finally quit smoking, got a running coach (a dear friend, Jessi Christensen), and decided I was going to sign up for my first race ever. I ran my first half-marathon in June 2014 and I have LOVED running ever since. It has become my me thing. It's meditative for me at this point. I have learned and grown so much over the last few years as a runner. I want to be my fastest, strongest runner, and I love the feeling of beating myself.

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions?
Always a homemade smoothie. Never too much water or food before a run. I stay really hydrated all the time so I don't drink a ton of water right before a run. And I always stretch AFTER not before.        

Why did you choose to run with Team for Kids?
The first time I signed up with TFK, it was because I wanted guaranteed entry to the marathon and I had known someone else that ran with TFK and had a wonderful experience. But then I ended up falling in love with TFK because of the mission. I was an overweight kid, with a runner hiding in me all along, so helping kids get access to running programs feels so important to me. Kids need to run around and too many schools in NYC don't have a permanent PE teacher or facility for PE. Knowing now, as an adult, how much I have gained from running (physically, mentally, and emotionally), I know how important it is for kids to have this!

Tell us a little more about yourself.
I am a hairstylist at Parlor in the East Village, so much of my time is spent doing things for other people, which I LOVE but running is the self-care I need to find balance.

To learn more about NYRR Team for Kids, visit

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