Runner Spotlight: First marathon in 3:20

I started RunToTheFinish as a place to talk about my personal love of running and how it’s helped me create a happier healthier life. Over the years I have met so many of you with stories that remind me running changes us all in different ways! This new Runner Spotlight series will show us how to get faster, maintain weight loss, tackle trails and more.

Today I bring you Carly who first made an impression on me with her kind heart and seriously goofball personality…but then blew my mind by running her first marathon in a Boston Qualifying time!Carly

Carly Swanson
Producer and freelance reporter, News 14 Carolina
Communication Master’s Student, North Carolina State University
Oakley Women Brand Ambassador (which means you’ll see her intelligently sporting Oakley Sunglasses like moi!), fitness model.

Race:Thunder Road Marathon
Final time: 3:20:49

When did you start running? My parents told me I ran before I walked when I was a baby. I’ve always had fast legs and after beating all of the little boys in my elementary school, it was  obvious I needed to run middle school track. I was a sprinter in middle and high school (I refused to run over a half mile!) until I tore my ACL.

After rehab and recovery for three months, I started doing longer distance gradual runs with my mom. We made a pact in December 2010 to run a race a month together and are still going strong today! She is super fit and in amazing shape for a 52-year-old!

My parents—they were both coaches: my dad coached collegiate baseball, as well as Team USA Baseball in the 1996 Olympics at Atlanta, and mom was a track coach (even when she was pregnant with me!). They are both active runners as well, which they definitely passed that passion on to me (in the womb haha)!

How long did you train for this marathon? How many weekly miles? I found out I was accepted into the NYC marathon about two months before the race, so I was lucky I was already taking mid-distance runs. I would not recommend fast training like that and I was lucky I didn’t face any injuries in the process. I would run anywhere from 20-40 miles each week. I don’t run everyday though, I have to change things up so I don’t lose my passion to run or become sick of it! I also feel that runners are more prone to injury when they run everyday.

What is your favorite running workout? My runner’s circuit workout, it combines both running and strength, perfect for a rainy weather/treadmill day!

How often do you cross train and what are some examples? Carly Swanson
I cross train about every other day (in between runs). I really like Les Mill’s Body Pump classes, as well as spinning, TRX and creating my own circuit workouts. I’ve also gained a new respect for yoga after marathon training…I’m not a very patient person, but I love how it clears my mind and lengthens my running stride! You can’t beat the stretch as well. 

What do you have your sites set on now? I definitely want to compete in Boston, NYC and Marine Corps marathons, as well as continue my monthly races!

How long have you been vegetarian? People think it’s hard too hard to do marathons on a vegetarian diet, any tips?
I’ve been vegetarian for almost a year and a half. It was easy to convert over because my mom is vegan and my sister has been a vegetarian for about three years. I was already creating and eating a lot of vegetarian meals with them, so I slowly eliminated all forms of meat out of my diet. I still eat eggs and cheese every once in a while when I crave it.

It can be challenging (like any diet) to train for a marathon as a vegetarian. You have to be in tune with not only what you are fueling your body with, but also the timing of when you eat and run. My first marathon was definitely a trial and error process. My usual morning oats were switched with rice cakes, banana and almond butter because the heavy carbs were not easy on my stomach with long runs. I also learned how to fuel during runs and every 8 miles or one hour of running, I eat honey stinger chews. This was something new to me, as I never really fueled during my half marathons.  I’ve discovered that brown rice, teriyaki veggies and tofu are my go to pre race dinner meal. It all depends on the runner and I highly recommend you train and test your fueling methods as much as you focus on running, it does make a huge difference!

As a vegetarian is is key to get enough calories and protein. I do use Vega protein powder, but I also like to eat foods in their purest form. My main go to forms of protein include almond butter/flour, most types of nuts, beans, tofu, quinoa, cheese and eggs.

Your inspirational words for people out there pursuing their dreams: Know what your goal is and go for it. Life has no remote control, you can’t change it from sitting on the couch…you have to get out there and get after it! You are always going to have bumps in the road, but let the setbacks make you a stronger individual. And just because someone tells you that your dream is unachievable doesn’t mean it’s impossible…prove them wrong! (and Perform Beautifully while doing it!)

Read last week’s Runner Spotlight>>
Gratitude Journal
Feb 22
I am grateful for the ability to flip flop my schedule any time I want, making Thursday an easy day and Sunday a focused writing day.


Activity Tracking Devices: Worth it or Not?
100 days to Summer: Stop procrastinating

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