At The Finish Line With… Karen Connell


In our fourth Installment we talk to Karen…

Tell us a bit about your running history

I started getting into running while I was out teaching English in Japan. I was roped into running in my town’s annual fun-run one year. I really enjoyed that so I joined the town’s running club and got involved in a range of running events. When I returned to the UK 10 years ago I got out of practice and didn’t take it up again until I joined OS recently.

When and how did you start running for OS Runners?

When I joined OS I took the opportunity to join Mark Aston’s Desk-to-5k programme. It was great motivation for me to get back into running regularly without too much of a shock to the system. I’ve now graduated up to Viv’s mixed ability training and am looking forward to giving the handicap a go soon. Everyone in OS runners has been really encouraging and I’m particularly thankful to everyone who helped out in the desk-to-5k.

How often do you train and what sessions do you do outside of the club?

After I completed desk-to-5k I completed my first Parkrun in Southampton and since then, thanks to Viv’s mixed ability, I’ve been steadily improving my Parkrun times by a minute each week.  I’m still relatively slow but am really motivated that the more I run the fitter I feel. When I get a chance I also run on my own near my home in Chandlers Ford.

Which is more satisfying… going for a training run or running a race?

I don’t do many races at the moment so I guess a training run, although if I was faster I think running in a race would be more exciting!

What is your running highlight so far?

One year I was the first woman to finish in my town’s fun-run in Japan. To be fair, not many women participated but my victory won me lots of kudos from the kids I taught who were cheering me on.

What are your future running goals?

I recently did my first 10k and very narrowly missed out on getting under an hour, so I think I’d like to improve on this. I’ve also just signed up to do the Great South Run for our corporate charity, Holding Little Hands (, so my new goal will be to complete the whole 10 miles in a respectable time without dying!

What’s the most valuable piece of running advice you’ve ever been given?

Erm, just keep running.

Where do you like to run and have you anywhere particularly memorable?

My runs in Japan were certainly memorable. The event that stands out for me the most was a winter ‘Ekiden’ (long distance relay race) on a mountain side. It was a really spectacular place to see but the steep hills were killers. When I was half way round my lap it started to snow but at the time that was seriously refreshing!

Do you have any running experiences you’d care to forget?

When I was little I was running with my dad. He stopped to tie his shoelace and I ran ahead. I turned round to boast that I was the fastest and went smack into a lampost! That taught me!!!

Do you have any other passionate interests?

I love travel, but don’t do nearly enough of it these days. One of my less energetic hobbies is sewing and I’ve recently been busy making 50s inspired clothes. And of course, I’m pretty passionate about my little boy who also keeps me very busy.

Finally, which other OS Runner do you most admire?

I’m pretty much in awe of all the OS runners, everyone is really determined and committed to improving themselves and also at supporting each other. Viv does an amazing job at motivating everyone and running really effective and fun training sessions. I’m really impressed by how fast everyone is and I hope I can start to keep pace a bit better in the future.