Shawanna White: Toeing the Line for an OTQ

There is an overwhelming consensus among the Saltines that Shawanna White is simply amazing. We love following her on IG! We admire her tenacity, her positive attitude and her incredible work ethic.

For those of you that don’t know Shawanna, she is a marathoner with the dream of qualifying for the US Olympic Trials in 2020. Her running talent spans across the entire spectrum of race distances, but the marathon holds a special place in her heart. She is an elementary school Physical Education teacher, originally from Georgia and currently living in South Carolina.

I have been following her journey via social media for the last few years and I recently had the privilege of picking Shawanna’s brain about all things running and recovery! Here’s what she has to say:

First, tell us a little bit about your running background. When did you get into the sport, did you run in college, etc.?

I was encouraged to run by my high school coach, who thought I just looked like a runner and so he invited me to join the track and cross-country teams.

After high school, I ran for the University of West Georgia Women’s Cross-Country & Track teams. At UWG, I was an all-conference runner for four years and once placed 2nd in the Gulf South Conference for XC. Since leaving West Georgia, I have continued to compete in running events ranging from the mile to the marathon.

When did you first realize that chasing an OTQ was something that you wanted to do?

After running a PR of 2:52:42 at City of Oaks in 2012, it gave me the confidence and belief that I could qualify for the 2016 trials. The B standard at that time was sub 2:46, but I had to put a hold on that goal due to hip injury that required surgery in spring 2013. Learning how to run again was struggle, but I am eager and determined to make it to the starting line in 2020.

How did your training change at that point (if at all)?

My training changes based on what I need at the time. At the moment, we are focusing on tempo runs because I need the speed endurance which gives me the ability to run farther faster.

Tell us about your coach’s (who is also your boyfriend if I’m not mistaken :)) training philosophies. How many workouts each week do you do? How many times a week do you run?

Yes, he’s my boyfriend. Orinthal Striggles, also known as Coach O, has the philosophy of being open minded to all possibilities.

Workouts consist of Sunday long runs, easy 6 to 10 on Monday, a Tuesday speed or tempo session, easy Wednesday. Thursday and Friday and a Saturday race or race-workout. I usually run seven days a week with exception to resting a couple of days after a marathon or whenever I feel exhausted.

You race a lot! I love it! Tell us how you are able to do so many back-to-back races. I feel like you have the recovery process nailed down and we all want to know your secrets.

There’s really no secret because I am probably doing what most people are doing. I think what’s different is my mental conditioning. I believe I can run back-to-back races and for the majority of the races I don’t taper. We go into them on tired legs and just compete with the understanding that there is always a benefit to be gained from every run. Sometimes I run fast, but PR or not, I am just grateful to be able to compete.

As for recovery, I think the most important thing is running EASY when it’s time to run easy. I usually run 8:00-9:00 pace on easy runs. I also find it helpful to take Epsom salt baths 2-3x a week, recovery boots nightly, stretch, rolling, and Jasyoga.

How do you choose your goal races and how to you determine how frequently to run a goal marathon?

I chose a goal race based on that distance at which I am trying to get faster. In 2016, my goal was to run a 5k PR so I picked Jailbreak 5k because it is very competitive. Right now, every single time I step on the line for a marathon, I am going for an OTQ.

You got SO incredibly close to that OTQ at the 2018 Newport News One City Marathon in March! Tell us a little bit about your recent PR marathon and how that race unfolded for you.

It was a beautiful day because marathon temperatures were perfect (high 40s). The first mile was fast, but I didn’t panic. I decided to focus on my coach, Orinthal Striggles, because he was pacing me. I only saw the time when a clock happened to be at a mile marker. We came through half at 1:20 something and I still felt strong. We ran by Christopher Newport University at mile 16 and I tripped. At that moment I thought the race was over. A guy behind me saw it happen and told me to shake it off and keep going. Mile 20 was a struggle and I also struggled to get the Run Gum out my pocket. I believe I ran 6:37 for that mile if my memory serves me correctly. I hustled to catch up with Coach, who was running in circles waiting for me. With 5k to go it started to hurt but I kept turning the legs over and Coach was shouting, “You can’t let up.” We were getting closer to the finish, I took a quick glance at my watch and was like I got it. Unfortunately, as I got closer to the finish I saw my dream wasn’t coming true on that day; however, I ran a PR 2:45:18. Just 18 seconds away.

Lastly, tell us what is up next!  

I am running Vermont City Marathon on May 27!

Thank you SO MUCH to Shawanna for taking time to “chat” with us! Do you love Shawanna as much as we do? Send her some good vibes and encouragement for her upcoming race!

I am a running and racing enthusiast. I love racing everything from the 1 mile to the 50K! I work as a CPA in public accounting. I enjoy running (obviously) and spending time outdoors (especially near the water). I am also a big fan of coffee, naps, puppies and sunsets.

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