Karen is an aquathlete who got back into competing after a serious injury. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
Yes, I swan competitively from the age of 8 until 16. I had been also doing some running for a few years so when I gave up swimming, I then focused on running.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
I got a serious injury 4 years ago and started swimming again with a pull buoy to keep fit as it was the only form of exercise I could do pain-free. Last year, I started running again and I was still swimming and saw that Glasgow University was holding an aquathlon. I decided to enter as I was keen to compete again even though I was only running twice a week.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
The Scottish Aquathlon Championships last July when I became the Scottish Champion and overall winner. It was my 3rd aquathlon ever and 1st open water and I loved every minute of it. The swim went better than I expected along with the run. Also, to have my friends, family and partner there supporting me in the rain was a special day. I didn't realise I was in the lead until the last 400m so had been running without any pressure.
And your proudest achievement?
Being a Scottish champion in two sports - athletics and Aquathlon. Especially winning the Scottish Aquathlon title last year as it was unexpected as I was very new to the sport.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
My first aquathlon last March as I hadn't raced in 4 years and had only recently got back into running, which isn't great preparation to run a hard 5k after a swim. The 5k run was very hard and hilly and I hated every minute of it.
How do you overcome setbacks?
By being determined and never giving up. At the end of 2018, I still had a lot of pain in my knee and I was told that I would never run again. However, I found a way with support from my partner that meant I could get back competing and manage the pain in my knee.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
To put Vaseline or sports balm on your feet as well as your body. My shoes cut my feet in my first aquathlon.
What are your goals for 2020?
To run close to or break some of my running PBs from 2014, and also to perform well at the World and European Aquathlon Championships.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Rose Reilly, she was the first Scottish woman to win the World Cup and is from the same town as me. She was so determined to play football that she first played with boys and then moved to Italy so she could pursue her love of football.
Also, my mum, as she is such a hardworking person and brought me and my sisters up as a single parent and even when times were tough in terms of money she encouraged us to take part in lots of different sports.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I like the ethos of the brand as it appeals to me. My sister works for The Scottish Fair Trade Forum so I have become more conscious of where my clothes come from and the rights of the workers. My favourite piece of kit is the trisuit which is comfortable and looks good.