Tammy Swinney Always Thought Running Wasn’t An Option

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Today’s guest is a lady that I’ve had the pleasure of working with and getting to know over the past couple of years.

She’s currently gearing up for her second ultra marathon with the goal of enjoying the race more than she did her first 50k, in a large part due to technical issues.

I am looking forward to going a few easy miles with Tammy Swinney today.

Tammy Swinney

It’s Never Too Late To Start

For Tammy Swinney, the road to running first began when she turned 50.

She signed up for a local boot camp class with the goal to get into better shape.

The boot camp always started with a short run as a warm-up.

Tammy always disliked the running part and found it to be the hardest part of the class.

Her dislike for running stemmed from when she had a medical incident at a young age which resulted in reduced lung capacity.

The medical event required Tammy to have surgery in which she was left having one and a half functional lungs.

Running was never an option in her mind after that.

Seeking Out A Challenge

The year Tammy turned 50, is also the year that she lost all hearing in her left ear.

It happened suddenly one day with no explanation as to why it occurred.

Tammy was angry at her body and in response, she wanted to do the hardest thing she could think of.

The hardest thing for Tammy at the time happened to be running.

She got the idea to run from a podcast she listened to.

The host of the podcast frequently talked about interval running and how to start.

Tammy first tried the run/walk method in June 2018.

Tammy Swinney with Jeff Galloway


One obstacle Tammy has had to work around has been her hearing loss.

Initially, she experienced balance issues, but after working through that her main problem was and continues to be getting startled on runs.

Hearing aids have helped immensely, but she is still occasionally caught off guard.

Tammy came across a virtual run company early on in her running journey.

She found the prospect of a medal and other swag to be hugely motivating.

Tammy completed her first 5k, which was also a virtual race, on July 4, 2018.

Her experience was positive and motivated her to sign up for an in-person event the following month.

That first in-person race hooked both Tammy and her husband, who wasn’t a runner, to the sport.

A Seed Was Planted

After running various 5ks, Tammy wanted to sign up for a 10k.

Her husband doubted if she would be able to complete a race that was twice the distance of anything she had done.

His doubt in her ability furthered her desire to prove him wrong.

Rather than signing up for a 10k, Tammy went even further and signed up for a half marathon.

Tammy completed her first half marathon in June 2019.

A few months prior to running her first half, Tammy went to the Dallas marathon to cheer on some friends.

It was her first time watching a marathon and a seed was planted that day.

She wasn’t sure if she could actually do one, but she was willing to try.

Tammy Swinney

A Current Goal And a New Goal

Tammy was set to run her first marathon on March 1, 2020.

Unbeknownst to her, she snuck it in right before the world shut down due to the pandemic.

She chose to run the Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth.

The marathon had a generous cut-off time along with great support the entire way.

Toward the end of the marathon, Tammy met another runner that was running 5 more miles at the end of the race to complete a 50k.

Yet another seed was planted and Tammy set her sights on her next goal.

During the pandemic, the lure of a 50k along with some virtuals kept her running consistently.

An Ultra Marathoner

Tammy chose to run the Cowtown 50k as her first ultra for many of the same reasons she chose to run her first marathon there.

She was concerned about the cut-offs but felt she had adequately prepared with both her training and nutrition.

Tammy is an interval runner and had practiced what intervals she would do in all of her long runs leading up to race day.

At the start line, she realized that the timer she had planned on using had malfunctioned.

Tammy ultimately had to improvise and was able to proceed with her intervals as best as possible.

She was slowed down because of her interval fiasco and was the last finisher to cross the line at the race.

The Cowtown marathon gave the same race experience to all the runners regardless of their finish time.

Tammy found that all the water stations were still set up and when she crossed the finish line, the race director put the medal around her neck.

Tammy Swinney

Sharing A Passion

One of the things Tammy loves about running is that she can share it with her husband.

She and her husband sign up for almost all the same races.

Though they are at different paces, they see each other at the start and finish.

Tammy is grateful for the support of her husband along with family and friends that encourage her as well.

Running has taught Tammy a lot of lessons in the short time that she has been part of the sport.

She has proven that she can do hard things and that pain will hurt, but she can get through it.

Those lessons have extended to all other areas of her life as well.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Stay connected with Tammy Swinney by following her on Instagram.

Tammy Swinney always thought she could never run due to a childhood surgery. She certainly never expected to take up the sport at 50. Share on X

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