Name: Taryn Buckley

Age: 30

Family life: Husband Dante (engineer at RTI Surgical), two sons Xavier (5) and Quintin (9 months)

Career: Project manager for North Florida AIDS Education & Training Center at UF.

Taryn Buckley is a true Wellness360 Renaissance woman. She balances her roles as mom and wife while pursuing her career as a project manager at UF. In addition, she is also a marathon runner extraordinaire. In 2014, she completed her goal of doing twelve marathons in twelve months, a feat many would not even dare to attempt. She lives by the motto, “just keep swimming”, and by the looks of it, she has no intention of stopping!

»How do you live a 360life?

Maintaining a strict exercise regimen with two small kids is tough. I try to incorporate physical activity in simple daily activities i.e., parking a little farther away from the building at work/when shopping, taking the stairs when possible and choosing outside family activities that promote movement.

»What is your wellness mantra?

“Just keep swimming.” You’re always going to have obstacles in your way. You have to find a way to power through them for the sake of your own health and ultimately for your family’s well-being! A healthy momma is a happy momma, so make sure to take good care of yourself!

»How long have you been running?

I started taking running seriously in 2013 by registering for races.

»Tell us how you started in marathons?

After finishing Giggle Magazine & Sweat Life Fitness’ Big Weight Loss Challenge in 2013, I recalled hating running the most during the entire challenge. I decided that tackling the thing I hated (it was mostly fear of being too slow to keep up) was going to help me maintain my new active lifestyle. I decided to train for my first half marathon that day. I googled “training plans” online and found one that seemed reasonable for my 16 week goal and stuck to that! Bless my sweet husband. He’s a much faster runner than I, but he’s never left my side during any of these races. He’s a good motivator and a super running partner.

»Please share your favorite race, in detail, and what it meant to you.

Each race is so very special to me for various reasons. The only race where I cried at the finish line was the OUC Orlando Half Marathon. It was the grand finale of running one half marathon each month of the entire 2014 calendar year. That it was my 12th half marathon in one year — and that I was able to finish out the goal I set for myself injury free AND in my hometown — was really special for me! I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my love for Disney races here. Yes they are crowded, yes they are stressful to register for because they fill up so quickly and yes the 3 a.m. wakeup call on race day is brutal, but these races are like reunions for all of the many running friends I have made along the way. They are also filled with so many people who are running their first race. The course is filled with characters and photo stops. We don’t run for personal records at Disney. We run for fun.

»What keeps you motivated?

There’s something so special about the “you” time you get to spend with yourself when you hit the pavement. I love running because I get time to think freely without worry about deadlines or frantically checking my phone/emails/texts for a short amount of time. You just unplug and enjoy the alone time! Although I must admit, the medals you get at the end of a race aren’t bad motivation either!

»Why did you have a goal to get through so many races in a year? Tell us about it!

After running that first half marathon, I was hooked. I wanted to run so many more! My friend Megan introduced me to this group called the “Half Fanatics.” I saw it as this exclusive running club, and I wanted to be a part of it so badly! One of the ways you could qualify was by running back-to-back half marathons within 14 days. A few of my enabler friends encouraged me to go for it since I already had signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. So I found a race a couple weeks before it in January, and used those two races to qualify as “Half Fanatic #6578.” Of course that community just pushes you to do more and more. So I decided to make a full year of it. Running outside in the Florida heat from June to September is HORRIBLE, so we decided to take the show on the road by hitting up a new state each month. That year I ran half marathons in Kansas, Tennessee, Illinois, California and Maryland. What cool little family vacations we made out of all of those race trips! Meeting new people and planning the next race only keeps you motivated to keep going!

»Do you have races that you would like to complete on your bucket list?

Well, my ultimate bucket list is to run one half marathon in all 50 states in the U.S. I’ve only made a little dent in that challenge — 40 states to go! I’ve been eyeballing the Grizzly Double Dare, a back-to-back weekend of half marathons in Jackson, Wyoming and Yellowstone, Montana.

 »What are you training for right now?

I decided to tackle my first international race at Disneyland Paris in September. It’s basically another fun family vacation. Dante and I are going to take the boys out with us and renew our wedding vows on the trip. My biggest challenge is training outdoors in this Florida heat!

»What is your go-to diet?

On days leading up to a long run (5+ miles), I stick to lean proteins, lots of veggies and extra virgin olive oil/sea salt coating all of that, and I drink half my weight in ounces of water. Fruits with peanut butter are also a favorite go-to snack. It’s hard to avoid that glass of wine, but it dehydrates me so I try to steer clear of that before race days. In the morning before a long run I typically eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a banana. That combination keeps my belly full for a long race.

»How would you encourage others to start living a 360life?

It’s simple. Start now. It’s doesn’t have to be big — make small changes. Eating clean is hard, so start with mastering just breakfast. When you’re comfortable with that, add lunch, then dinner and then snacks. Exercising five days a week is tough so start small with little 10-minute increments of activities. Add 10-minute increments until you get to 60 minutes. You know yourself best. Work at your own pace!

»What is your daily workout routine?

I hate working out after work. It hardly makes sense to schedule workouts after 5 p.m. for me. I won’t make them unless I’m meeting a friend. So I try to get my workouts done first thing in the morning or on my lunch break.

When I’m training for a race, I run three days/week and do strength training/cross training for two to three days/week.

»What is the most important lesson running and competing has taught you?

You’re tougher than you think! When you’re out there on the pavement your main competition is yourself. I swear I try to talk myself into quitting somewhere around miles 8–10. Once you get that doubt of your head, you can do anything!

»What is one thing you wouldn’t run without?

My BondiBand! Keeps my hair back and the sweat out of my eyes!!

»Anything else you would like to share?

My first race I remember wondering why all these people kept stopping to walk mid-race. I ran the whole way through but was dog-tired and my legs were sore for a week! At the finish line I asked someone how they looked so chipper at the end of such a tough race. She told me she followed the “Galloway Method,” a popular way to run long distance race by running and walking in intervals. I tried it the next race and was shocked at how great I felt after 13.1! It was incredible. I haven’t looked back since. Interval running makes running long distances possible. My favorite interval is a four-minute run with a one-minute walk. I’ve been able to finish a half marathon in two hours 30 minutes with those intervals.

»How have you made it a family activity?

One of our favorite activities as a family is to run. The boys hop in the double stroller and enjoy snacks as mom and dad do all the hard work. Xavier is now old enough to join us for the final mile. He’s definitely improved his pace over time. He’s about to run his first 5k on his own! Even the baby joined in on the fun at the diaper dash last race weekend! I love watching my boys love the sport and enjoy physical activity all because they witness us enjoy it!

»What is the craziest memory you have had?

I have some nightmarish port-a-potty stories. Yuck! One of my most favorite memories is meeting these girls on the course at Iron Girl Half in Clearwater. We all three fell well behind the pacing team and decided to make our own little team. After talking on the course we realized we all had so much in common — two of us were diehard Gator fans, and two of us were giving birth to our sons at the same exact day and time! I walked into that race running solo, never knowing I was going to find my “sole sisters” that day! Years later and we’re still close and still run races together! 

»Are there any regrets? Injuries?

No regrets, because we just always go with the flow! Minor injuries and lots of aches/pains. So grateful for Gainesville Health and Fitness’ cold therapy pool to help me get through training season!!! 

»What would you say to someone who wants to do their first marathon, but isn’t sure how to start?

Research some methods like “Galloway Method” or “Hal Higdon Method.” Then download some running apps. Couchto5K got me started, and I now use Runkeeper to track all of my runs. When I’m working on speed work, I use Running For Weight Loss.