Friday Focus: Charlotte Turesson Is Ready For Champ Season

Photo by Brandon Miles

It did not take long for Charlotte Turesson to take to the sport of cross country after beginning her career at Richard Montgomery. After running 19:08 and placing 26th at the 4A state meet as a freshman, she shot up the state rankings as a sophomore. Turesson swept county and regional titles last year, throwing in a personal-best 18:09 5K and a runner-up finish at the state meet. Her rise hasn't stopped as a junior, either. She has shaved 19 seconds off her Interstate Classic time and 27 seconds off her Great American time (where her 17:42 performance is a MD #2 mark) as a junior.

Now Turesson enters championship season with a chance to defend her Montgomery County and 4A West regional titles. It won't be easy, as she will have to face the much-improved Jenna Goldberg at the three championship races over the course of the next four weeks. Before she toes the line to defend her title on Saturday, we reached out to her to get her thoughts on how her career at Richard Montgomery has progressed, and what's to come.

MileSplit: When and why did you begin running? Was it the first sport you got into as a kid? If not, what was?

Charlotte Turesson: I didn't start running competitively until freshman year of high school when I decided to do cross country to stay in shape for my other sports, basketball and lacrosse. I started basketball and lacrosse in third grade, and in middle school I played soccer, basketball and lacrosse. I had started running a few miles here and there with my mom on a trail about once a week when I was in about seventh grade just to stay in shape. In middle school, I decided for some reason to get super competitive in the dreaded (by most) PE mile. I would get nervous and prep myself mentally until eventually I started to chip away at the middle school record (held by former Richard Montgomery runner Nefret El-Masry). I got closer and closer until the last week of school of my eighth grade year hit, and I came in every day before school to run and try to break it. To my disappointment I didn't break it, but little did I know I would be running with my biggest competition (Nefret) all throughout my freshman year of cross country.

MS: What has been the hardest race, mentally, you have run in your high school career?

CT: The hardest race for me mentally was probably Frank Keyser last year. Even before I started the race I wasn't in it mentally. I didn't have that fire. I ran a lot of that race along, trying to hold on and catch up which just depleted my energy. Then, at the end I got passed by a bunch of girls. I really had to take that race as a learning experience and learn to find the grit to hold on and finish strong, and to run smart.

MS: Did you do anything differently this year during the summer that you believe has helped you reach a new level as a junior?

CT: This summer for me was mostly focusing on being smart. Training was more focused off of how I felt and listening to my body. For the beginning of the summer I was going on runs and keeping up with our summer schedule, but towards the middle of the summer I got plantar fasciitis which forced me to meet me new friends: the pool, the elliptical and the bike. I made sure I was training enough and keeping up my cardio for the upcoming season, but surprisingly, running actually wasn't the bulk of my summer.

MS: Richard Montgomery currently has a very good boys team. Do you guys feed off each other's success? Do you find yourself training with some of the guys and using them as competition during practice?

CT: I definitely do feed off our boys team. I train with them during practice and on all of our runs. It provides a lot more competition for me, as well as consistent and challenging pacing. I am able to compete with some of them during workouts which pushes me, and makes it easier when I am supposed to be running a little slower than some of them so I can gauge how far off I need to be from them. It's a lot of fun with the boys team also because I know that we are all there to get better and work hard, which only motivates us to push each other and do our best. Their success as a team definitely aids in my motivation for success and helps me believe that anything is possible. We all look out for each other and are with each other through the bad times and the good times.

MS: Sometimes Richard Montgomery doesn't go all-out at some of the county dual meets but it seems like you have gone pretty hard in most of your team's mid-week meets? Any reason for this? Has it made you more comfortable running hard alone?

CT: Most of the time the boys and I are on the same schedule as far as racing dual meets or not, but sometimes they interpret "tempoing" as something a little different than I do. Usually we have some splits around which we are supposed hit to help work on pacing and act as a training run instead of going all-out and having to taper off the day before. We mainly try to focus more on the invitational meets and the training gets us ready for those.

Turesson won last year's Montgomery County Championship as a sophomore.

MS: You went out last year and left the rest of the field behind at last year's county championships. Does knowing you've already won a title on this course and against these teams help your confidence level heading into Saturday's race?

CT: Knowing that I won counties last year has definitely given me confidence this year, mentally and physically. I definitely feel super comfortable running this course and hope this year I can defend my title through hard work and grit.

MS: You have already gone head-to-head against Walter Johnson's Jenna Goldberg this season. Is there anything you took from that race at Oatlands that you think will help you going forward as you race her and some of the top runners in the state?

CT: Jenna Goldberg was super strong at Oatlands this year. She has a strong finish and is a smart racer.

Turesson's achieved her sub-18 goal this year in the Race of Champions at the Great American XC Festival in North Carolina. (Photo by Tony Morales)

MS: After running 18:29 on a fair course at Oatlands, was 17:42 something you expected out of yourself at Great American? What were your goals and strategies heading into the race? Did knowing you had run 18:09 a year ago at Great American give you confidence heading into the race?

CT: Heading into Great American, I knew I just had to go out and run to let it all go. It has always been my goal to break 18 but I didn't have any expectations of myself going into the race. We run that course every year and have had a lot of success as a team on that course which fed our collective confidence. It's a fast and rhythmic course and I always enjoy running there.

MS: Do you think running and previewing the regional course at Coyote Run last week will help you guys at regionals? What are some of your thoughts on the course at High Point Farm?

CT: I think going to Coyote was beneficial for us to see the course. It makes it easier going into regionals because we don't have to do the course walk, and we all have something to visualize. I think it's definitely going to be a fun run, especially with all the twists and turns, but definitely some risky footing.

MS: The 4A West region is not a very forgiving one, but with a front-runner such as yourself have you guys talked about team goals heading into counties and regionals?

CT: As a young team going into counties and regionals, this year we are looking to gain experience and hopefully qualify for states.

MS: Do you have any postseason race plans at the moment? Perhaps a return to Cary for NXR?

CT: I plan on going to NXR this year and hopefully qualify for NXN.

MS: Has your outlook on running and training changed at all over the past year? Have you picked up on certain philosophies or strategies that you think have made you a better runner?

CT: I've learned to listen to my body and not to second guess myself or push through things that I don't need to. I've learned the importance of training for purpose; easy days are easy and hard days are hard. I believe the scale for hard work and improvement is the effort you put in, not the watch times you clock. It's super important to trust the process and understand that there is a mountain to climb and every day is a step; sometimes forward, and sometimes back. Over the past year I've learned a lot about myself as a runner and as a person, which has created a mindset to not only do the "big picture" things, but the little things as well. Everyone is different in their own body and mind, and going through the ups and down has helped my learn from myself and what works for me and what doesn't.

MS: Have you thought seriously about running in college? If so have you started to think of places you would be interested in running?

CT: Yeah, I would to run in college, and I think it would be a super amazing experience and environment. I have started looking at some colleges but right now my list is still pretty long.

Quick Questions

Favorite place to run?

The C&O Canal

Favorite running shoe?

Nike Zoom Fly

Favorite TV show?

Big Brother!!! Or Hawaii Five-0

Funniest teammate?

Garrett, Ethan and Henry (it's too hard to choose just one)