5 Questions With: Polina Carlson

Polina Carlson
Matt Orlando
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Matt Orlando

Matt is a 30 something year old runner/father/husband from New Jersey. Along with writing for TheRunnerDad.com, he occasionally writes articles for other blogs and websites. He is an IT guy by day, with a passion for running, traveling, and photography.
Matt Orlando
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See all my interviews with Polina.

Welcome to 2015 everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! I am excited about all the possibilities that 2015 holds, and I hope you are too. What better way to get things rolling again than with a new “5 Questions” interview! I am pleased to start this year by speaking with elite marathoner Polina Carlson!

Polina started running in 2009 at the University of West Alabama. With her bachelor’s degree in hand and a cross-country season of eligibility remaining, she enrolled at Hawaii Pacific University to pursue a Master’s degree in Communications and captured All-Region honors. Polina has since started entering road races and found immediate success.

Polina CarlsonHer accomplishments include 1st in the 2013 Xterra 1/2 Marathon World Championships, 5th in the 2013 Honolulu Marathon, and 1st in 2014 Great Aloha Run. In June of 2014, Polina ran under the Olympic Trials marathon qualifying standard by placing 7th at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota with a time of 2:38:15. Polina currently resides and trains in Hawaii (“As an ocean and mountain nut, I’m so grateful that I live in such a beautiful place.”) and has her sights now set on Olympics.

She has a strong faith and believes that God made her for a purpose, to shine His light and to bring people closer to him. Polina is a happy runner and often finishes races with a smile on her face…which is why she recently signed with Brooks! Be sure to share your thoughts with Polina in the comment section below!

5 Questions With: Polina Carlson

You originally started out as a tennis player in college. Was it hard to let go of tennis to make the transition to distance running?

The transition wasn’t hard! Cross-country running was completely new to me, but I found it enjoyable and it challenged me to get better in something that I’d never done. Before I became a distance runner, I’d been competing in tennis since I was little. My college tennis coach noticed my running potential while I was a sophomore at the University of West Alabama and he suggested that I help out the cross-country team. That’s how I discovered my passion for running! Looking back, I’m extremely happy for making the choice to switch sports in college and for coaches that supported my decision.

The switch definitely paid off! In June you ran under the Olympic Marathon Trials “B” Standard at the Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota. What were some of the emotions you experienced during the race and as you crossed the finish line?

I was really happy with my race at Grandma’s marathon, then my next goal was to run under the “A” standard at the CIM. Getting under the “A” standard has been a goal I’ve been working towards for the last two years since I graduated from college. When I saw my time while crossing the finish line at the California International Marathon, I got very emotional which is pretty unusual for me! 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! Now I’m really hoping to become a U.S. citizen by 2016, so I will be able to participate and compete in the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials.

You have been quoted as saying that with God by your side nothing is impossible. What role has your faith played in your life and career?

I believe God gives individual and unique talents to everyone. Running is a gift that God has given me. Therefore, I want to use it as a way to glorify Him. Bible verses motivate me better than sports psychology books as they give me strength and confidence before races. I believe that God doesn’t set limits on how fast I can run, and I trust that He has great plans for my running career. I have become better at being okay with whatever God has for me in a race knowing that at the end of the day, it’s not all about my accomplishments, but my relationship with Him.

As a professional woman runner, how important do you feel it is for elite women runners to act as positive role models for young girls who also have dreams of becoming an elite one day?

I love talking to young girls and to share in their passion towards running. I would want them to see that no matter how successful one becomes, it’s important to remain thankful and humble. Running is selfless … When we are out there running a race, the experience is so unique that it unites all the runners. I would like to tell young girls aspiring to be professional runners to always be supportive of other runners, teammates and people with similar goals.

With the Olympic trails still over a year away, what does 2015 look like for you? Will you be making any changes to your training, and do you have any races planned?

I’m really looking forward to work on more speed and compete in some major track meets this year. I trust my coach with making the right adjustments in my training plan and we are planning on focusing on developing more speed this year to improve my marathon time. I consider myself more of a long-distance runner, but I’m also excited to see how focusing on more speed work this spring will help me to hit my goal times in track races.

Most likely I’ll be racing at Mt. Sac and Stanford earlier this year and then will start gearing up for Chicago. Running Chicago has always been on my “running bucket list”, so I’m definitely looking forward to the 2015 racing season while representing Brooks!

Bonus: If you could get any three people in the world together to run with, who would they be and what would the conversation be like?

I would be thrilled to meet Deena Kastor, Amy Hastings and Paula Radcliffe to talk about training, nutrition, chocolate, travelling, and their experiences competing in the Olympics!


Be sure to leave some love and support for Polina in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on future interviews!

5 Comments

  1. David Monti

    Polina is still a Russian citizen, so she is not eligible to run in the 2016 Olympic Trials. She is hoping to get USA citizenship, soon.

    –David Monti, Race Results Weekly

    Reply
  2. Lauren

    What an inspiration. This has brought my faith back into focus.

    Reply
  3. jeff fleming

    Great interview and provided me with two new reasons for me to follow Polina. First as a former tennis player to know that I share that with her. The second is that she ran at West Alabama. I have a friend who runs at that School now and have some friends who have played other sports there. Being from Alabama any connection I can find to our State or one of it’s schools is an inspiration. Best wishes and good running.

    Reply
  4. Tony

    Oh, man! I LOVE telling people that Polina Carlson went to school in Alabama. And seeing you at the CIM was so cool. Best of luck in Hawaii. Alabama will miss you 🙂

    Reply
  5. Michaella Swanson

    I definitely need to work on following my heart more, and Polina inspires me to do that. I am excited to follow along in her journey.

    Reply

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