Wearing bright colors and patterns, a huge smile, and often pigtails, you can't miss Karen Brady, aka KJ, when she's out on a run. Positive and encouraging doesn’t even begin to describe her approach to life and all she loves, running, supporting other women, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. She serves as an ambassador for Nuun, BibRave, and Newton Running and is supportive of Ponya as well. In fact, she’s introduced many friends in the local Louisville running community to Ponya Bands with her enthusiasm for the bands.
A later-to-life runner, this 40 year has been running for 10 years now. She was always active, playing softball in her youth, enjoying long walks, and even attempting to play basketball, she confessed “I’m not an outdoorsy person except when it comes to running.”
The running bug comes from KJ’s grandfather, who is about to turn 100. He got her interested, and as she said, “I sort of took it up when he had to stop.” She took it up and ran with it, put totally intended with a current aim to run all 6 of the World Marathon Majors. She’s already run 3 (Chicago, New York, and Boston) and will run a 4th, Berlin, in 2022 leaving just London and Tokyo left.
Running has not come without challenges for KJ. She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease around the time she started running, and that has definitely come with its own nutritional challenges but she makes it work.
She was also diagnosed with a hip labrum tear 3 days before the 2015 Boston Marathon. “I did go and hobble through to the finish line, but I want to run that course again on my own terms,” she explained. “I have gotten a qualifying time 2 more times, but just didn't quite make the time they chose for the cutoff that year. So, I’m going for it [a BQ] again at the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis in November.” She is determined to requalify this year.
While KJ is focused on another BQ, it’s not all about the marathon distance. “My short term goals are to PR in any race distance. It's been years since I could claim a PR,” she enthused.
She first discovered Ponya Bands several years ago at a local running store. “Since 2011, when I started running, I have worn a band of some sort around my head,” she stated. “I had used a different brand for awhile but hated how they would ride up. But Ponya was a game changer!”
She loves more than just the fit as well, she loves the variety in both width and color/pattern. She added, “And the bands stay in place, which is always a plus!” We certainly think so too! The Bamboo Jersey-Lined Sweatbands are her favorite because they are comfortable and soft. “As for patterns, I love anything bright and colorful,” she mused. “The more colors and the brighter colors the better. I am a true child of the 80s and LOVE to be a riot of color.”
In addition to running, KJ is a Peloton enthusiast, especially their spin classes and has found Ponya Bands to be great for that and everyday wear as well. “Whether I'm riding my Peloton bike or running, I have to have a headband on,” she asserted. “Gotta keep that sweat out of my eyes. During the pandemic, when I had to go back in-person to my office, I bought a bunch of the bands with the buttons on them to loop my mask around so my ears could have a break.”
Whether on a run, or on her Peloton bike, or at work, KJ keeps everything in perspective. “I just want to say that as a runner who has gone through a big injury comeback, never give up on yourself,” she reiterated. “Never count yourself out. It takes time, but the journey is always worth it, even when it feels impossible. Keep it fun, even when you are being competitive. And never take any run for granted.” Give her a follow on Instagram to follow her journey!