Ultra Runner & Hawaiian Ola Enthusiast
“My goal is to inspire people to keep dreaming,” says Polina Carlson, Hawaii based elite runner. “If I know that my actions inspire others to dream more, do more, and become more then I’ll be satisfied.” This sentiment is what fundamentally drives Polina to push through her rigorous daily training schedule and continue to take first place in Half Marathons and Marathons worldwide.
Along with her motivation to lead by example in chasing her own dreams, she attributes much of her success to a combination of her health conscious awareness and nutrient dense diet and her hard work. Hawaiian Ola Noni Energy and Immunity shots have become a staple to support Polina’s early morning workouts as well as to aid her recovery.
Most recently, the runner and Hawaiian Ola enthusiast dominated in the Tokyo Half-Marathon followed by another victory at the Colvis, CA Half Marathon several weeks later. She is currently working toward her next race, a full marathon in Sacramento, CA in the beginning of December, where she hopes to continue her first place streak We got a chance to catch up with Polina in Kailua, HI to get some insight on her training and what keeps her mind, body and spirit balanced and strong!
Hawaiian Ola: First of all, we just want to congratulate you on your career thus far in your professional running career! When did you start running. What attracted you to running as opposed to other sports?
Polina Carlson: Oh, Thank you so much! Well, I actually competed for the University of West Alabama in tennis, and it was there that my tennis coach noticed that I outran everyone in running drills, including the members of the men’s tennis team. He encouraged me to work out with the cross-country team to simply “stay in shape” for tennis. Eventually I decided to give up tennis in order to focus solely on my running dreams. I am incredibly blessed to live my dream and train as a professional distance runner. This sport continues to introduce me to new places, new faces and new experiences. Also, to give my all in something that I love is very rewarding. I love this sport because it is not just about winning or losing, it is about the journey. My journey so far has been amazing and I am thankful for how God has provided so many opportunities and supportive family and friends.
HO: Wow! So you have come quite a long way from your tennis running drills! Talk a little bit about running in Hawaii? Why did you choose Hawaii and what makes it a unique place to run/live/train?
PC: I’ve been living in Oahu for over two years. While here I finished my Master’s degree, competed in cross-country for Hawaii Pacific University, and got married. Living in Hawaii is great! The warm climate allows me to run anytime I want to. It’s perfect for athletes and people who enjoy outdoor activities so I feel like I’ve chosen a right place. There are so many beautiful routes and different terrains, which makes it more exciting. I love the Kailua gravel trail, Tantalus and Manoa routes for my training.
HO: Yes. I bet it makes it a bit easier to train when you have all this beauty around you! From your perspective, how is healthy food intake and running related?
PC: As a professional athlete I choose the food, which is healthy and high in nutrients, because I know that this is my health and it starts with food. I try to eat real food: meat, eggs and lots of fruits and vegetables to get vitamins from natural sources. My lifestyle supports healthy eating and being active; that’s what I promote as a professional athlete. I’m passionate about using organic and healthy ingredients, which helps my body to replenish and recover quicker. After my runs I get incredibly hungry and I always try to look for nutritious food. My breakfast usually consists of Special K with linseeds (a good source of omega-3), strawberries, bananas, a hard-boiled egg, and a sandwich containing salmon and avocado. I’ve learned that eating healthy is a big part of being a professional athlete and I also try to choose food that I really enjoy!
HO: What are your thoughts on the organic food movement?
PC: I was raised on organic foods and try to eat organic whenever possible. It’s better because it has more nutrients, more vitamins, and no processed chemicals or stuff that is harmful to our bodies. I try to eat locally, as fresh as possible, simple, and low ingredient.
HO: And as an athlete, it is so important for you to get the highest nutrient content out of your intake. At Hawaiian Ola, we focus a lot on putting our values back into our food. What values do you like to see in the food companies (and other companies) you support?
PC: I love supporting local farmers and businesses, and promote healthy living within the local community. I teach other women how to put an end to unhealthy cravings and relationships with food, so it can change their lives for the better. Some of the values that I’d like to see in the food companies are producing food sustainably using organic methods that are good for the environment and making food from scratch.
HO: That is great that you have been able to convey your knowledge on nutrition to a larger population! So, what is your history with Noni? Were you a Noni fan before trying Hawaiian Ola?
PC: Actually, Hawaiian Ola was my introduction to Noni, and I was a huge fan of Ola shots before I became a sponsored athlete by you guys. One of my good friends, who is a competitive triathlete, introduced me to the product as a natural caffeine source. I did some research on the benefits of noni fruit and decided to try it myself and fell in love with the product. I have an active lifestyle with more than two training sessions a day. Hawaiian Ola energy shot is a constant choice for me before my hard morning runs. I also love drinking Ola shots mixed with water during my gym workouts. It helps me sustain my energy and Noni fruit helps my muscles to recover quicker. I love using the product, because Ola shots are a small, handy source of vitamins, which is easy to carry around.
HO: Definitely! Have you noticed any significant changes in your performance since using Hawaiian Ola products as opposed to other products you’ve used in the past?
PC: I’ve never tried using other energy drinks in a past because I know that they tend to give a sudden burst of energy followed by a crash. Most of the popular energy drinks are basically just sugary water with some artificial chemicals. Noni energy drink is a healthy option for athletes, because instead combinations of multiple energy-inducing ingredients they use green tea and yerba mate, which are natural energy sources with many other benefits. The Noni fruit helps to speed-up recovery and reduce post-workout soreness!
HO: Well, it’s great to hear that both the Energy and Immunity shots have aided in your training and recovery. I know you work and train extremely hard to reach your personal goals as an elite runner. What is your daily regimen, and how many hours/miles do you shoot for daily/weekly?
PC: I usually get up around 5-ish and, after some bread and honey and a drink, head out to start training. I run about 100 miles per week; sometimes I run a little less during the week, but usually only when I taper for a race.On my return home in the morning, I will have run about 10 to 15 miles. After aiding my recovery with compression boots, I have a big mid-morning breakfast. Training is such an integral part of my life that it rarely seems like a chore, and my husband usually runs with me and pushes me during the hard workouts. When my breakfast has gone down, I do a core workout and various exercises to develop strength. After the morning strength/core session, I have a meal. The final run of the day is an easy local one of an hour. The total workout comes to about three to four hours a day. I never eat dinner after 8pm and I’m usually in bed by 9 or half past. I have a rest every eighth day and I take two weeks off at the end of the summer and winter seasons. At first it feels fantastic to be able to relax and sleep in, but within a week I’m itching to get out and run again.
HO: That is a lot of work! I think you are on to something with the well rounded training approach. Any tips for novice runners?
PC: Just enjoy what you do! And don’t give up if you have a failure. Set reasonable goals and work towards them.
HO: Nice. What do you enjoy when you are not running?
PC: Photography is another passion of mine. I love taking photos of the stunning nature and the ocean. I’m also learning Japanese; I’m a huge fan of Japanese culture!
HO: Definitely important to keep those other creative outlets flowing. What inspires you most? What revitalizes you and renews you?
PC: I’m inspired when I hear other runner’s stories of struggle and success. I’m inspired to keep running when I hear the stories about people overcoming serious medical issues, or those with a desire to run but are not physically capable of running. I feel very fortunate to live in Hawaii and to continuously see, touch, and breathe the many beauties this island has to offer. It makes me feel happy, in harmony with nature, and invigorates my body and soul.
HO: What do you live for/What makes you the happiest?
PC: I believe God made me for a purpose: to shine His light and to bring people closer to Him. And, I am incredibly lucky that I get to do that through running. It makes me extremely happy to be able to train, be coached, and encouraged by my husband, who is also a competitive runner. I’m happy that my husband and I share the same deep passion for running. Besides that simple things make me happy. I love the ocean and find solace in the mountains; I also love traveling and exploring new places.
HO: What impact do you want to leave on the world?
PC: My goal is to inspire people to keep dreaming. If I know that my actions inspire others to dream more, do more, and become more then I’ll be satisfied.
HO: Polina, thank you so much for taking this time to talk with us. It’s been really great to get some insight into your daily life and flourishing running career. One last question. If you had the opportunity to give a piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?
PC: Be grateful in life no matter what. Live in the moment. The more appreciative you are in life, the more present you become.Read More