Karin on hill running in Scotland

Karin, one half of a running couple, talks about the joys and struggles with running outdoors around her hometown Stirling, Scotland. She admits that staying motivated can sometimes be hard and that the only person she competes with in races is herself.

How does your training routine look like?

I am quite relaxed (or some might say lax) when it comes to a training routine. I usually try and get out 3-4 times a week but unfortunately this doesn’t always happen due to other life commitments (and sometimes I just don’t want to!). The truth us, I train much better in the Autumn and Winter and attend training sessions on a Tuesday and a Thursday with the Ochil Hill Runners which is a running club my husband Jack and I are members of. I’m by no means the best or fastest runner but they give me a lot of support and encouragement; it’s a great club to be a part of. Other than that, I get out around the local trails at the back of the house for 5-8km routes as well as further afield on weekends.

Favourite training route for hill running?

I like to train around the Trossachs when I can as there is a good mix of trails and hills with some longer, runnable routes. In particular, I like the routes around Loch Venachar and the cycle path from Ben Ledi to Strathyre. If I am going up a hill I have to agree with Jack and Dumyat (a hill at the back of Striling University) is the one I will head for.

How did you get into sport and your specific routine?

I didn’t run at all until I met Jack so he can take the credit for getting me into the sport. I remember when I first started I was only able to run for ten minutes around Inverleith Park when we lived in Edinburgh. Since then, I have steadily progressed and ran half marathons and two marathons. More recently in the last couple of years focused on trail and hill running. Joining the running club has introduced me to hill running and the realisation that whilst it can be hard, it’s far more rewarding than running on roads (plus there is always an excuse to stop at the top and take some photos for a break!).

Karin running through the high lands

For how long have you been doing sports and how regular are you doing sports?

I’ve been running for about 3-4 years now. However I have always been a keen hill walker and I’m lucky that Jack is the same so we try and get out in the hills as much as possible whether it’s for running or walking. I have found a passion for climbing and was surprised to find I am quite good at it. So I’m definitely going to try and keep up with this for variation. I also attempt to keep up with swimming but I tend to let this slip especially when the weather is nice.

Why are you doing sports?

I like to try and keep fit. So getting outside is exactly what I need after being in the office all day. I’m an overthinker and get stressed by a lot of things (some big, some small) so a half hour blast can be all it takes to clear my head and relax. I love being outside and the feeling I get once I have done some exercise.

How do you stay motivated to keep going with you training and not give up?

To be honest, I do find it hard to stay motivated. Sometimes even though I know I should be running, if for example I have a race coming up, I just don’t want to and in this situation I can quite easily pass an evening on the sofa instead. I usually end up regretting this, when I am on the start line. However I run for myself and in races I am only running against myself as I’m not competitive so I don’t give myself too hard a time. I knocked a lot of time off two of my personal bests in hill races this year so that definitely motivated me to keep getting out. Jack is a much better runner than me and races more throughout the year so going to the races as support crew and watching him and others gives me a lot of motivation.

Thoughts before, during and after a training?

Before – it is a bit of a struggle. On the one hand I know I would love to go for a run, but actually getting out and starting is not allways easy 🙂

During – It takes me a while to get into a rhythm and warm up. So spend a lot of thoughts on about how crap I feel. Luckily that melts into enjoyment as I get into the swing of it and then I just take in all that is going on around me and think about what I am going to eat when I get back!

After – I think about how the run has gone and pat myself on the back for getting out.

How does sport influence your daily life?

I follow a range of athletes (both amateur and elite) on social media. Plus I have a few runners who are my inspiration. One being Emelie Forsberg who is just incredible. A few of my friends are also into hill running. So we are always on the lookout for new races and events to take part in.

Karin competing at a race

Would you say you are competitive: when it comes to sport? In general?

Not at all. I only compete against myself really (and the person breathing down my neck as we get to the finish line!).

Is there anything positive or negative you would like to share?

Positives – It’s a really welcoming and sociable sport. Lots of fitness benefits and you see the hills and outdoors in a different way.

Negatives – Washing Jack’s smelly kit!

… running isn’t just about your physical fitness, it’s about determination and your mental strength as well.

What was your most memorable moment?

The first hill race I did was the Whangie Whizz in 2016. I wasn’t quite last but not far off it. Although this doesn’t bother me, I was determined to do better this year. I ended up knocking a whole 9 minutes off last years’ time and I couldn’t have been more delighted! Apart from that, finishing the Kielder Marathon in a decent time despite having an ankle injury and only doing 13 miles as my longest training run. It showed to me that hill running isn’t just about your physical fitness. It’s about determination and your mental strength as well.

If you weren’t into sports what would you be doing instead?

Spending way more time on the sofa watching TV programmes than I already do!

In five key words: What are the best things about your training you want to share with the readers?

Determination, wellbeing, outdoors, adventure, inclusive.

Your favourite motivational quote?

“Don’t be shit”. My friend Tess and I saw this on the back of a runner’s t-shirt at the finish of the Ring of Steall race in Glencoe. We have decided that this is our new mantra!

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