Karen attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she ran Cross Country and Track & Field. Running is a huge part of who she is. She started running in high school in her sophomore year. She initially started running to stay in shape for tennis but instantly fell in love with its competitiveness and pushing herself to be the best she could be. This love for the sport continued into a road racing career. She started with local 5K’s to half-marathons and eventually the full marathon. She recently got a great opportunity to sign with Brooks for one year.
After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?
The love for the sport brings me back to run everyday but more than anything knowing that I can push myself to the next level every time I step onto that starting line.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?
That’s a tough one! I still have my days when I get lazy; we’re human. I try to meet up with friends so it is difficult for me to text or call them and say I can’t make it. But the best way to motivate myself when I don’t feel like running is reminding myself of that goal that I’m trying to achieve. Even if it’s just a personal best in a local 5K. My biggest secret is getting a great pump up playlist on my phone and jamming out to it on my run!
On average, how many times and miles do you run a month?
On average I run 6 days a week. I do need that one day off to relax physically and mentally from running. When mileage starts getting high sometimes running twice a day is needed. My typical weeks are around 70 miles per week, which is about 280 miles a month.
What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?
I’m a big fan of foam rolling, core exercises and weight training. The weight training consists of lunges with dumbbells in each hand, squats, planks, pull-ups and also getting on the step master.
What did it take to qualify for the Olympic Trials?
It took a lot of dedication, sacrifice and determination to qualify for the Olympic Trials. During the race, Jacksonville Bank half marathon, the easier path would have been to slow down when getting tired but when I thought of all the time and effort I had put in for the race I choose to accept the pain and embrace the possibility of qualifying and running a personal best.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
I think the funniest thing that has happened to me was back in high school. I was running with my teammates chatting away and I ran into a light post. It was so embarrassing but we all had a good laugh after it happened.
What are your favorite types of fuel for running and why?
I eat tons sweet potatoes and beets. Recent studies have proven that beets or beet juice help with improving endurance. Prior to races I get pretty nervous so my stomach is sensitive to what I eat. I usually have oatmeal with a banana and Gatorade. But everyone is different so you need to learn what works for you.
What's your favorite cheat food & drink?
My favorite cheat foods are McDonald's french fries and Coca Cola.
Do you like ice baths? Why or why not?
I love ice baths! They are essential for recovery after tough workouts.
What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?
Take it slow at the beginning. It’s so easy for an injury to occur if you’re not used to the pounding. For new runners or experienced runners coming back from an injury it’s better to run on grass or turf. Also start off with running 30 seconds and walking 30 seconds then move up to one minute and so on.
What's been your favorite race to compete in so far?
This one is a tough one but I’m going to have to go with Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon. The director, Richard Fannin reached out to several athletes who have yet to reach the Olympic trials standard to see if he could get a group of girls to work together to achieve the standard. He got two pacers, Brianne Nelson and Esther Atkins to pace us to achieve the standard. It was a great atmosphere at the race; we were not there to compete against each other but to help each other achieve our goals. Even during the race we had the pacers really help us all the way to the finish line.
What is your favorite running accomplishment so far?
So far my favorite accomplishment was qualifying for the Olympic Trials for the marathon last January.
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