Cheryl Cleary of Central Mass Striders (CMS) has more than 15 years of running under her belt, but not until recently did she start running her all-time best. This past weekend, for example, at the Nahant 30k, she took the women’s title in the USATF-NE Grand Prix race, setting a major PR in the process and breaking the course record. Her time of 2:01:05, a 6:30 per mile pace over the course of more than 18.5 miles, is impressive in itself — but what may be most impressive is that Cheryl will be turning 40 in January and has four kids.

Cheryl Cleary of CMS about to taste victory at the Nahant 30 - Photo by Krissy Kozlosky

Cheryl Cleary of CMS about to taste victory at the Nahant 30k – Photo by Krissy Kozlosky

So, what has been the key to her success? We got the inside scoop from Cheryl herself. Here’s what she had to say.

On her…Recent Racing Successes 

  • “Winning the USATF-NE Grand Prix Nahant 30k was the greatest moment in my running career to date. After 15+ years of running, my training has jumped to a new level since I decided to accept coaching from Kevin Beck in June. I’ve done everything he has told me to with adjustments along the way and his brilliance and specificity in workouts has obviously done the trick. My goal this summer was to break 18 in a certified 5k, which I did at Canal Diggers 5k, running 17:40 to win and take the course record there in early September. I’ve also set PRs in the 5 mile and 10K. Coming up next is the Hartford Half Marathon and Manchester Marathon.”

…Training and Diet

  • “I’ll be 40 years old in January and have four kids ages 7, 5, 3 and 23 months. A lot of my training is on my treadmill with long runs done outside with my training partner Arthur Besse. We’ve hammered out 18 milers with the last 12 around 6:45 per mile pace average, sometimes bringing the final two miles down to under 6:30 pace. I also do two other quality speed sessions per week. In my opinion, the biggest key to my recent success and ability to stay injury free is diet. I don’t eat anything special but have made changes in the direction of ‘clean eating.’ It helps in recovery and I include a lot of raw foods in my diet each day like nuts and avocados and lots of grilled chicken.”

…Pack Racing with the Guys

  • “During the Nahant 30k, I joked with a group of guys around mile eight that I was running with, and said ‘so, you guys going to help pace me to win this?’ (I was in third place at the time but could see the two ladies in front of me slowing). I heard some chuckles, but it was those guys that led the way for me, and I thank them dearly. Working together in a race is key and I do not wear a watch but run by feel in races. By mile 15, the group broke up but I managed to catch Justin Soucy of Gate City Striders with a couple miles to go and he talked me through to the finish, keeping me relaxed as I envisioned the feeling of what was about to be mine. It was extremely emotional to capture the victory. A Grand Prix race. All that I have worked for, one moment.”

We congratulate Cheryl on her well-deserved victory and wish her the best of luck in her upcoming races, including the Manchester City Marathon on November 3rd, the final race in the 2013 USATF-NE Road Racing Grand Prix series.