Featured Runner: Paula Ko

When and why did you start running?

I started running in 2008 at 38 years old. I’d lost a lot of weight by restricting my diet. I wanted to maintain the weight loss without any restrictions. Running was the fastest way I knew to burn calories.

What or who inspires me to run?

I never want to regress to the “old” me. I want to be 90 years old still running races and winning my age group. That keeps me going. If I have a race coming up and it’s a distance I’ve ran before, then it’s a competition with myself to beat my previous time.

What is your preferred race distance and why?

15K. Far enough to feel like I got a decent workout without the sore legs later.  🙂

Do you remember the first moment you felt like a runner?

My first race. It took me a year to be able to run three miles without stopping; two years to work up the courage to run a race. I did the Friehofer’s Run for Women in Albany, NY. My time was 36:?? for a 5k. I was hooked. The atmosphere, the people, the comradery. My boyfriend jokingly calls other runners “my people” and he’s right. There were people that understood my obsession and passion for running. They “got” it and I was thrilled to be among them!

What is your favorite race or coolest place to run?

Favorite race- Hot Chocolate 15k. Still bummed I missed it this year. Coolest place- Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike trail in Schenectady, NY. 35 miles of paved trails along the Mohawk and Hudson rivers. To call it beautiful is such a major understatement.

What was your worst injury?

I’ve been very fortunate. Other than a few bouts of ITBS and some Achilles tendinitis, I haven’t had any injuries.

What do you like and dislike about running?

I can be having the worst day and go for a run and suddenly my problems don’t seem quite so bad. It clears my head, burns away stress and probably keeps me from having other more serious addictions.

I dislike those days when running seems so hard. There are days when it’s absolutely effortless and I feel like I could run forever if I only I had the time. Then there are days when it’s hard to put one foot in front of the other and I have to tell myself to “shut up and run.” Makes me appreciate the good days even more.

What is one piece of advice you can give to a new runner?

Have reasonable goals and don’t give up. It’s not easy but there will come a day when it’s not quite so hard. Stick with it long enough and it WILL change your life. Guaranteed.

What is your next running goal?

Previously I would have named off a race, distance or a time to beat, but my focus has changed from that to just being able to run and enjoy myself.

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