Tuesday Talk: Introducing a series of ‘talks’ with people who I think will capture your imagination, pique your curiosity and sow a few seeds of courage towards making things happen in 2017!
To start the series is a chat with Polina Carlson. I’m so happy to bring you a new interview with Polina, Oahu’s elite female distance runner (read previous interviews with Polina on longrunergy HERE), because Polina is abound with infectious positive energy. A talented runner with an incredible work ethic (Polina recently won the Phoenix Marathon in 2:39:27), Polina is someone who still carries a lightheartedness about her that brings joy to any conversation. I think by the end of this post you’ll totally agree!
LRY: Let’s jump straight in, how is 2017 going so far?
Polina: Hey Susie! It’s going great. I’ve already done a couple of local races. I’m running injury free and excited for the summer racing season to start!
LRY: Can you expand on your experience at the Phoenix Marathon? Did you go into that race with a specific goal?
Polina: After a disappointing race at the Honolulu marathon, I was thrilled to have a break-through performance at the Phoenix marathon. Leading up to the race, my training block was the longest I’ve ever had, so I was itching to compete and see what my body could do. It was tough. It became not just a race for me, but a journey of self-discovery to see how much I could endure. That’s what made the win so special to me. Going into that race, my plan “A” was to PR and break 2:35, and plan “B” was to run sub 2:40 and win the race. I felt very grateful and content when I crossed the finish line.
LRY: Do you feel that the marathon is the distance you will focus on in the next few years?
Polina: Absolutely! I still haven’t run Boston and Chicago, so doing one of the major marathons is on my bucket list for 2018. Seeing so many of my friends and other Hawaii runners running Boston this year, inspired me to be a part of it next year!
LRY: Switching gears, and looking back at 2016, in December you ran back-to-back weekend races, winning the XTERRA World Trail Champs and then lining up for the Honolulu marathon just a week later? It’s not totally unheard of – two of the elite men and many local runners also did the same, but how did you prepare for that challenge of running two big races close together – physically and mentally?
Polina: It was a challenge! Both races are completely different. So, I combined doing high mileage with a lot of strength training. That’s what I felt would make me prepared for both races. Since I love running on trails, having the XTERRA Worlds on my racing schedule was a good excuse to spend more time on trails between my key marathon workouts. Leading up to two big races, I spent a lot of time in the gym working on strength which gave me confidence, especially for the XTERRA Worlds where you need to have power to muscle up those big hills!
LRY: It seems as though you really enjoy trail running? What is it about the trails that keeps you coming back for more?
Polina: I never get tired of running trails! I feel such a sense of freedom and happiness being surrounded by nature. I always feel re-energized afterward. And, since we don’t have snakes in Hawaii… that’s a bonus! 🙂
LRY: How do you manage to combine the speed work and strength you need for competing over both road and trails?
Polina: I focus on hills, and for my long runs, I often choose a hilly route. I also spend time in a weight room – at least twice a week.
LRY: Can you give us a few insights into how you relax and recover after a big race? Do you ever take a total break from running?
Polina: Yes I do! After BMO Phoenix marathon I took a week and a half off from running with no exercise. It felt good to give my body a total break and take care of the little pains and aches. After every big race, I make sure I have enough time to get completely healthy before I jump into a new training block.
LRY: We noticed that you have tried cryotherapy in the past? What was that like and how did you feel afterwards?
Polina: I was curious to try cryotherapy after I read that Usain Bolt started adding full body cryotherapy to his training routine. Luckily enough, Egan Enue, invited me to have a session at the Cryo Therapy Hawaii where I got my opportunity to jump in a cryosauna and feel the effects for myself. It was cold. Very cold! Despite being surrounded by vaporized liquid nitrogen reaching minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit, I felt incredible. The effect the cryotherapy had, specifically, the decrease of inflammation around my muscles and tendons, continued after I got out and throughout the next day.
LRY: There are so many different types of athletes: some people need to focus 100% on their sport during a training cycle for a specific event, with very little outside distractions, and others prefer to maintain outside interests. Which group do you think you fall into? What interests do you have outside running?
Polina: For me when it comes to running, it’s important to not over analyze my training and keep things fairly simple. I enjoy photography and working in editing software. It takes my mind off a hard workout that I may have the next morning.
LRY: As a Brooks sponsored athlete – which is your favorite shoe right now?
Polina: Brooks Asteria is my favorite right now. They are super lightweight, great for tempos, and a perfect racing flat.
LRY: And finally, where can people see you racing over the summer on Oahu, and elsewhere? Which races are you most excited about?
Polina: I’m excited to be a part of the Team Hawaii Sport for the Ekiden Relay in May! It’s always fun to be around local runners and run as a team! I also have a mountain race debut this summer. I’m getting ready for the Broken Arrow 54K Skyrace with the ascent of more than 10,000 feet. Many runners, including Max King, called the event “the hardest event of its type in North America.” I get nervous and giddy when I think about this race. One thing I know for sure – it will be a true adventure!
LRY: Thanks being part of Tuesday Talk Polina and good luck at Broken Arrow!!
Awesome, as always to hear from one of Oahu’s fastest runners! You can keep up with Polina online via Twitter @polinaruns and Instagram @polinaruns where she shares some beautiful photos of running in Hawaii – extra motivation to pursue those dreams you’ve been chasing! Go get’ em!