Initially, Karen Seeley started running to lose weight. “I kept using the excuse that I gained weight because I quit smoking, only to realize that I quit almost 10 years ago,” she said. “ When a friend said that he was coaching a Learn to Run clinic, the opportunity was too tempting to ignore.
“I was never large enough to have true mobility issues, but being larger makes everyday tasks more difficult. Proving to myself that I can do this, that I’m tough enough and dedicated enough to boost my pride and confidence has been such a rewarding journey.”
This has carried on in Karen’s running, for which she doesn’t look at events, distances or times for goals. “Right now, I’d like to lose some more weight and continue to get into better shape,” she says. “ I’ve never been particularly athletic, so just getting out there and doing it is it’s own reward. I’m really happy that I can run over 10 km, but my dream goal is really to be an example for loved ones who I’d like to see in better health. It’s cliché, but if I can do it, anyone can.”
This January, Karen is putting that goal in motion with teaching her first Learn to Run clinic, and one of the people registered for it is her husband. “I’m pretty excited, and we enjoy doing so many things together. I’m glad we’ll get to share this as well.”
Running several times a week, Karen finds that having company on a run can be very motivating for her. “Ultimately, you run by yourself, aware of your own body and thoughts,” says Karen, “but I like being alone among a crowd. The people I run with are fun loving, amusing and interesting and I can’t say that about all the people I know.”
Often found running in North York, Karen’s favourite trail is the Betty Sunderland Trail, which runs from Duncan Mill Road to Sheppard Avenue. “My running group refers to the run as, ‘doing Betty.’ It adds a lot of variety to our runs and is fairly low traffic,” says Karen. “Once, one of the sharper-eyed runners spotted a salmon swimming up the Don river. I’ve also walked this trail with my husband and have seen deer, muskrats, and cranes, and have also heard owls and coyotes.”
The most memorable moments for Karen haven’t necessarily been about running. “Just getting out there to run made me realize how much I love the early morning, and how much I just love being outside,” she said. “One of the things that is so great about running is that you don’t really need anything fancy, just a good pair of shoes.
I’ve also learned that recommending certain gear isn’t just a ploy to get people to buy stuff, because if you don’t have the right shoes, for example, you can really suffer on longer distances.”
When asked what her favourite part of running in Toronto is, Karen is happy to say the people that she runs with. “Toronto has great people, and the variety of routes can take you to so many different places.”