LRY 2016 Interview with Polina Carlson – Professional Runner for Brooks
A catch up with Polina Carlson, Oahu’s only professional runner (for Brooks team) is long over due and following Polina’s win at the Great Aloha Run on February 15th, longrunergy is excited to hear about her plans for the rest of 2016, and beyond…
LRY: Hey Polina! Congrats on another Great Aloha Run title! Tell us about your race? How does the Great Aloha Run compare to other races in Hawaii?
PC: Thanks, Susie!
Running the Great Aloha Run is an incredible experience! The first five miles absolutely flew by. I felt amazing; so relaxed, barely breathing, and just so comfortable. I saw a lot of spectators along the course, and it was a great feeling seeing so many people cheering! At mile eight, I remember thinking, “I did it!” I turned the final corner with a smile on my face. As I ran down the tunnel to the enter the stadium, I tried to run in hard to the finish, raising my arms up as I crossed the line – breaking the tape felt so special! The Great Aloha Run is my favorite race on the island, and it’s truly an amazing event. From start to finish, the coordinators, volunteers, and other runners are very friendly and supportive. This was my fourth Great Aloha Run, and I am already looking forward to next year.
LRY: Last time we did an interview you were about to run in the California International Marathon at the end of 2014 (Read previous interview with Polina HERE). How did that go? And how many marathons have you run since then?
PC: Even though the California International Marathon (CIM) in 2014 was one of the hardest races I’ve ever ran, it was also the most memorable one! I ran across the finish line, having never completed a race so happy and yet so relieved. My goal was to run under the “A” standard at the CIM (the “A” qualifying standard for the US Olympic Trials marathon is 2:37:00) – a goal I’ve been working towards for the last two years since I graduated from college (Polina finished 6th woman overall in 2:35:41). When I saw my time while crossing the finish line, I started to cry. I cried for how much the past 26 miles had hurt. I cried with gratitude that it was almost over and with joy that I’d reached a goal I’d fought long and hard for. It’s such a wonderful feeling when you realize that no matter what challenges you face, with God’s help, the hard work pays off!
Since then, I have also ran Grandma’s Marathon. Even though I ran 2:39 and didn’t PR struggling with a foot injury, I was still grateful to have had another marathon experience. I still believe I am far from realizing my potential over the marathon distance, so I’m looking forward to this year’s season and the future races I will be running in.
LRY: Looking ahead, if it’s not too early to ask, what is your focus for 2016?
PC: I’m really excited to work on more speed and to compete in some major track meets this year. I trust my coach, Nate Carlson, with making the right adjustments in my training as we focus on developing my speed. I believe it will translate into a faster half-marathon and marathon time for me this fall. As I looked back over my previous seasons of running, my most consistent seasons were the ones where I was doing a lot of speed work, so I am more happy than you can imagine to be back to speed training. That being said, I’m hoping it will pay off, and I’ll be able to PR in the 5K this spring. In the fall, I’ll most likely start focusing on the marathon again and chase my goal of breaking 2:35.
LRY: Last time we talked you were practicing yoga to help with improving flexibility and to aid recovery from your hard training runs. Do you add in any other types of cross training? Do you recommend strength training for runners?
PC: At least once a week I give my body some rest from running and replace it with a water workout, or I may crank out a 40-minute ride on my bike. I’ve noticed that after spending time in the water, my muscles feel less sore the next day, and I’m ready to hit the road.
I do strength training at least 5 times a week. I believe that to become the best runner you can be, just running isn’t going to be enough. By increasing the strength of muscles and joints, you can improve race times and decrease injury risk. So, yes, I would definitely recommend runners work on their core and leg strength.
LRY: How about music and running? Are you a fan, and if yes – what do you listen to?
PC: I never listen to music when I do my easy runs, because I like to enjoy the scenery and let my mind relax. I do listen to music when I do my hard workouts, though, as I’ve read many well documented studies that show music can be an influence on performance during endurance activities. I usually listen to pretty much every kind of music, but mostly that which carries a fast beat and an upbeat rhythm.
LRY: If you could only run over one type of surface (beach, road, the track or trails) for the rest of your days as a runners – what would it be, and why?
PC: My pick would be the trails. A softer surface is more forgiving to joints. Also, getting out in nature always feels so refreshing and energizes me!
LRY: If you could spend one week training with any runner, past or present, who would it be and why?
PC: Paula Radcliffe or Steve Prefontaine. They both influenced modern running so much. I think it would be amazing to spend some time with one of them and soak in the passion they had for their sport.
LRY: Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to a runner going through a battle with an injury right now?
PC: I would recommend sticking to your schedule. If there is one thing many runners thrive on, me especially, it’s structure. While I was injured last summer, I tried to keep as close to my usual training schedule as I could. I went to bed and got up at the same times, and did my cross-training exercises when I would normally have run.
LRY: Great advice! Thanks Polina and all the best for a speedy 2016!