Linda Spooner wins the Middletown 5K
Faculty | 5/10/2024

Pharmacy Faculty Joins Elite Field at Half Marathon in Indianapolis

By Jennifer Persons

Dr. Linda Spooner winning the Middletown 5K hosted by the Hartford Marathon Foundation in April 2024.

Linda Spooner wins the Middletown 5K
Dr. Linda Spooner winning the Middletown 5K hosted by the Hartford Marathon Foundation in April 2024.

Dr. Linda Spooner balances being a pharmacist, a professor, and a parent as she chases her competitive running dreams.

Dr. Linda Spooner, a professor at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), isn't just a force in academia—she's also a dominant presence on the running circuit. She started running in her 30s and has built an accomplished running career, marked by nearly 300 victories in races ranging from 5Ks to half marathons.

“Running takes the edge off other things that are stressful or add pressure,” she said.

This May, Spooner, PharmD, will chase another prize at the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis. The 13.1-mile course features a lap around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

No matter where she finishes, the experience will be special. She will be part of the elite runner field for the first time in her two decades of competitive running.

“My husband has a bucket list of races for us, and this has always been on it,” she said. “Getting accepted to be an elite runner is a really special experience.”

Hitting the Ground Running

Dr. Spooner never attempted to run until she turned 30 years old. One day, she went out for a run and decided it was fun. Shortly after, she and her husband signed up for a small 5K in their town.

“I finished first in my age group, and that was it. I was hooked.”

Over the next few years, Dr. Spooner kept racing and kept getting faster. But she says her speed breakthrough came after having two daughters.

“There are studies showing that when women have children, they get faster,” she explained. “I don’t know what it is physiologically that changes, but for me, it was true.”

She also started expanding her horizons with distance, tackling a half marathon four years after she first started running. Two years after that, she ran her first full marathon. She has run several marathons since—including the Boston Marathon twice—for the experience, but it’s not her distance of choice.

“Marathoning is difficult on the body, and I’m not as competitive in a marathon as I am in shorter distances.”

On most weekends, Dr. Spooner will be on the starting line of a road race, some big, some small. She doesn’t always set out to win; sometimes, her competitive nature can’t be stopped.

“I recently ran a four-mile race, which I was just going to do as a tempo workout, but then there was a woman in front of me, and I went a little faster than I probably should have to try and win,” she said. “Winning isn’t everything, but it motivates me.”

Staying Grounded

Running at Dr. Spooner’s level is like a full-time job. She begins most days with a 5 a.m. lap swim, followed by a workout class or a run. Then, she heads to her actual full-time job at MCPHS.

Dr. Spooner primarily teaches courses relating to infectious diseases and coordinates a patient care seminar for second-year pharmacy students. She also accepts students for clinical rotations at Saint Vincent Hospital, where she has an internal medicine inpatient practice.

“I feel like I get the best of all worlds,” she said. “Every day is completely different.”

As a mentor, Dr. Spooner shares her running successes and training chronicles with her students.

“Modeling this lifestyle for them is really important to me,” she said. “I also always tell my students they want me to work out before I meet with them because if I don’t, I have so much energy I’m about to burst.”

Dr. Spooner thrives on busy scheduling, balancing every part of her life.

“This routine stabilizes me,” she said. “I rely on it for my mental health and my wellbeing. It makes me a better person, a better mom, and a better professor.”

All Eyes on Indianapolis

Dr. Spooner is in the thick of her training for the Mini-Marathon and is ready to get to the starting line.

“The logistics leading up to a race can be stressful, so I’m looking forward to the excitement of being on that starting line. Everything after that is the easy part.”

While she may not expect a win this time, Dr. Spooner looks forward to checking this and several other races off her and her husband’s bucket list. More than anything, she’s putting in the work to run and stay healthy for as long as possible.

“I want to be able to do this when I’m 95,” she said. “My biggest goal is to stay healthy enough to keep going and enjoy running in whatever capacity that I can.”

May 7, 2024 update: Dr. Spooner completed the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in 1:29:50. She finished second in her age group and among the top 50 women out of more than 8,000.