Stopsley Strider Club Member Profile – Karen Bull
Occupation: Intervention teaching assistant, breakfast club and after school club assistant.
Did you do sport at school?
I enjoyed playing netball when I was at High school – hated cross country – I loved playing rounders and generally came first or second in the 100 metre sprint when we had athletics.
When did you start running & why?
I’d read about Stopsley Striders running club on the internet and it piqued my interest – however I never took it any further and put it to the back of my mind thinking maybe one day…
In May 2016 I saw that Stopsley Striders were advertising a beginner’s course to run every Thursday for twelve weeks for one pound per session. There was my opportunity to give running a go. I attended every session – graduated from the beginners group in the July and here I am seventeen months later.
What made you come to Stopsley Striders?
The recommendation and encouragement from my friend and fellow strider Penny Kilbey.
What is your favourite run/course?
Of the races I have completed so far, I absolutely loved the Love Luton 10k. A very well organised race – excellent support from all the marshals and the atmosphere was phenomenal. Makes me proud to live in Luton.
What is your best run?
I made a resolution last year to be able to run sub 30 for a 5k by the end of this year. I managed this on the 21st October with a time of 29:30. I was absolutely over the moon and felt very proud of myself. My PB is currently 29:12 – I may not be the fastest runner but I have definitely improved.
What was your worst run?
Definitely the Luton 10k that I ran as part of the Luton AC summer series. I felt unwell on the day but was determined to run this race to go alongside the other two that made up the summer series. With the support of my husband, I managed to run non-stop until I got to 8k and then it went downhill from there. Every time I put one foot in front of the other I felt like I was going to be sick. This made me very emotional and cross with myself. My husband turned around and at this point I had started to walk. He could see how upset I was and with his ongoing support and encouragement, I managed to finish the course with a mixture of running and walking. To see the finish line was such a relief – I sprinted the last part and sat on the grass for a while drinking as much water as I could get down me, muttering to myself that I was never going to run this race again.
We shall see until next time…
What was your most memorable run?
Running in my first Stopsley 5 with my fellow striders. This was when I first felt like an actual runner and realised how far I had come. The weather was awful and this made this run particularly memorable for the wrong reasons. It was windy and raining and I was covered in mud and soaking wet by the time I finished but I loved it!
Do you like cross-country?
So far, I’ve ran in two cross-country races and I loved them both (I may not have felt the love for cross-country during the run but I certainly did at the end).
The club spirit is fantastic and it doesn’t matter if you are the fastest or slowest everyone is very encouraging and supportive of one another.
I’m definitely going to be signing up for the next two.
Assuming you have spare time, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I am very lucky to be blessed with The Best Boy in The World – my twenty one month old grandson. He keeps me on my toes and when I’m not giving him my undivided attention I like to spend quality time with my husband and four sons.
I’m a great advocate of parkrun and all that is stands for – when I’m not running at Luton Wardown I like to volunteer. I’ve recently started volunteering at junior parkrun too which is awesome!
If I do manage to get some time to myself I enjoying reading, watching dramas and eating chocolate.
How many times a week do you run?
I always try to make club nights on Monday. I did use to run on Thursdays and take part in hill and speed work – I’m hoping to fit Thursdays back in after Christmas. If I fancy a run in the week my husband joins me when he gets home from work. And of course Saturday is parkrun time!
What is your average weekly mileage?
At the moment it’s at least 10 – I’m going to be training in January for my first half marathon which takes place in March 2018 so this will certainly increase.
Do you do speed work or specialist training?
I have done in the past (speed work and hills).
Do you follow a diet regime before competing?
The longest I’ve ran so far is 10k so as long as I’ve had my morning cuppa, I don’t generally have anything to eat until I’ve finished the race.
What piece of your kit do you think is the most important?
Decent running leggings that don’t full down when I run.
Who is your hero?
What do you like about the club?
I have made a completely new circle of friends. Stopsley Striders is a friendly club and has been welcoming from the start – it’s good to feel part of something and this has helped me to continue to embrace my love of running.
What would be your advice to a new club member?
Join the Facebook page so you can get to know people and put names to faces. Be brave, come in with a smile on your face and remember that you are there for a reason. Be willing to seek out people who will support you and run alongside you and also offer your support and knowledge too. We all have something to offer at club and remember we were all a beginner at one point too.
Come to the social as well to get to know more striders – a well laid-out buffet is always on offer.
What is your running song to get you over that line?
I never listen to music when I am running. If I ever need a song to get me over the line, it would be Paradise by Coldplay.