Feature Friday: McGill Dropping Huge PR's This Season

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Look out for Emma McGill!

The Villanova-bound McGill, a senior at Voorhees, has been on fire this indoor season, blasting some huge PR's in the 3200m/two-mile to rapidly climb up the NJ all-time list and the US national list for this season. 

McGill, who came into this season with a 3200m PR of 11:06.97, ran 10:36.92 to win the 3,200m at the Virginia Showcase last month. She followed that up by lowering her PR down to 10:35.81 to place second in the two-mile at the East Coast Invitational last weekend at the Virginia Beach Sports Center in Virginia Beach, Va.

McGill's 10:35.81 places her No. 12 all-time in NJ history is No. 10 in the nation this season.

NJ MileSplit recently caught up with McGill for a Q and A.

McGill talks about her fast PR's this season, how she got involved in running, her goals, her training, how she's following in the fast footsteps of her mother (Mary Ellen), and much, much more.

So, sit back and enjoy our latest installment of Feature Friday as we shine the spotlight on one of the top distance runners in the nation, Emma McGill!

Emma McGill Interview

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NJM: You have put together some really strong performances this season, especially the back-to-back PR's of 10:36.92 in the 3200m and 10:35.81 in the two-mile. How excited are you with those performances, and what does it mean to you personally to now be No. 12 in state history in the two-mile and No. 10 in the U.S. this season?

I am really excited about these performances. Last indoor season I focused on the mile and was looking forward to run some 3200s outdoors, but unfortunately that did not get to happen. Just getting the opportunity to race this season with great competition is really special, and I'm really happy with getting those 2 PRs. So many great runners have come out of New Jersey and to be No. 12 in state history is very humbling. 

Your PR before this season in the 3200m was 11:06.97 from the Skyland Championships last January. That's obviously a huge drop! What have you done specifically to slice more than 30 seconds off your PR?

Last season my training was mile focused and I mostly only did speed workouts. This year I have kept my mileage the same at around 25 miles per week, but my workouts at this point have been all aerobic with just longer intervals on the track. 

What's your mom's high school PR in the two-mile? Did you break it yet? (Note-McGill's mom starred at Pascack Valley High and Villanova)  

My mom never ran the two-mile in high school, but she ran a 1500 PR of 4:35 and 2:19 800. My 1600 PR now ties with hers converted, but in college she dropped down to a 4:33 mile, so that definitely is big shoes to fill!

When will you be competing again? 

My next race will be the Adidas National Meet in Virginia Beach where I will be running the mile. 

What's the plan for the rest of your indoor season? Will you be running any more loaded two-miles? 

I am planning to end my indoor season at the Adidas Meet and then rest for a week to start training for outdoors. 

What are your biggest goals for the rest of this indoor season and for the outdoors? What kind of times would you like to hit in the 1600 and 3200?

For the rest of this indoor season I am hoping to get a PR in the mile. I have not done any speedwork yet this season so I am hoping that my legs will be turned over for the 26th! My coach has come up with a long term plan for me to be able to hit my PRs in the 3200 and 1600 in June. Our school records by Melanie Thompson are all very fast so it gives me very big goals to shoot for!

What do you consider your greatest strength as a distance runner? I know one of your strengths is your heart. You always leave everything you have on the track/course!

I feel like the majority of the time I am able to have good strategies going into races and a strong understanding of tactical racing. 

What's your favorite season? Cross, indoors or outdoors and why?

My favorite season is definitely outdoors because I prefer track events to cross country and the indoor track air quality can be a little rough sometimes! 

You've had a lot of great moments in your career at Voorhees, but which do you consider your biggest moment and greatest achievement and why?  

I would say the biggest achievement was my freshman year when we won the Group 2 state championship in cross country. Being able to share a moment like that with all my teammates was very special and I'll never forget it. 

Let's get into some background. Can you tell me how, when, and why you first got started competing in track and field/XC? 

I started running my freshman year of high school. Since third grade I focused on club lacrosse, but with all the success my family had in running I decided to give it a shot. My freshman year of cross country was very tough because I was still participating in club lacrosse and after races I would literally have to get right in the car and drive down to Maryland for tournaments. I knew that I could be competitive in college for both sports, but eventually I needed to make a choice during the spring of freshman year. I chose running because it is what I love to do and I'm happy that I made the right choice. 

When would you say you had your first huge breakthrough moment when you realized you could be a big track and field/ XC star?

Winter track of my freshman year at the Varsity Classic I ran a 5:13 1600. Before then, I ran 5:20 four times in a row and I was not expecting to drop seven seconds off my PR. After the race my mom told me that even though I will run much faster times than I did that day and have much bigger goals in the future it will be a race I would never forget. She was definitely right, even though I have run much faster since then I will always consider it my breakthrough race! 

Who is your favorite college/pro runner to watch and why? 

My favorite pro runner to watch would probably be Elle Purrier. I admire her toughness and how she always leaves everything on the track. Last year after my race at the Millrose Games, her race went off right after mine and I got to see her break the American Mile Record in person!

Unfortunately, there wasn't an outdoor season last spring because of COVID-19, so you didn't get a chance to run outdoor track last spring. How challenging was that and how tough was it mentally to deal with?

It was definitely challenging and disappointing not being able to race last spring track. I felt especially bad for the class of 2020 who missed out on their last season. I just tried to keep everything in perspective and look ahead to cross country. 

What type of things did you do to stay sharp for XC during the spring/summer? 

I kept it pretty simple with just base training and regular distance runs with workouts not starting until September. I tried to take advantage of the extra time during the spring to just unwind and enjoy easy running! 

How about your training the last couple months, Emma? Who have you been training with between the end of the high school XC season and the start of the high school indoor season? And what has your training been like? 

Training has been very good these last couple of months! I took two weeks off after the cross country season and then started back up again for this indoor season. Our team was not allowed to meet until February 1st so my coach sent me my plan virtually to do on my own. Since it is only February I have not been doing anything too intense and just focused on getting strong aerobically. My mileage has been 25-30 miles a week to get a strong base and then when training really picks up outdoors with high intensity it'll lower to about 20ish. I am going to start anaerobic workouts this week to prepare for the Adidas mile and then take a break after that. 

What do you love the most about being a track and field/XC runner? 

I think what I love the most about being a runner is the community. The track and field community is very supportive and I have met some amazing people because of it! 

What's your biggest long term goal in track and field in college and beyond? 

During my high school career I was very lucky to have amazing coaches that made sure not to put me in a position where I was over trained and were conscientious about achieving success long term post high school. Being able to run at such a historic program like Villanova is a once in a lifetime opportunity with all the resources there needed to succeed, so I just want to take advantage of that opportunity and see how far I can go with running. 

How excited are you to be joining Nova Nation, and for how long have you wanted to follow in your mom's footsteps and be a Wildcat?

I am so excited to be joining Nova Nation! During the recruiting process I kept an open mind about everything, but in the end Villanova felt like where I really belonged. I have always looked up to my mom and being able to follow in her footsteps is really special to me. 

What do you plan to major in and what type of career would you like to pursue?

As of right now I am undecided in the business school, but I will probably either major in accounting or finance to pursue a career in business.