O'Fallon Progress

Running is a ‘way of life’ for new YMCA Health and Wellness director

Karyn Weber is the new O’Fallon YMCA health and wellness director.
Karyn Weber is the new O’Fallon YMCA health and wellness director. rkirsch@bnd.com

The new O’Fallon YMCA Health and Wellness Director Karyn Weber lives and breathes for running.

Weber is in her second career. For 20 years, she was a physical education teacher and coach. Now she is continuing to do what she loves — promoting health and wellness and helping others attain their fitness goals.

While she is around and about the facility daily to help members, she also offers health and wellness sessions by appointment too.

“I love to run. I’ve been doing it since I was 7 years old, so I’ve been running a long time, all through school and college. Now I am an ‘ultra-runner,’ not just running marathons, but taking it a step farther,” Weber said as she rubbed her hand where there is a tattooed word in cursive ‘Run.’

Born and raised in Chicago, Weber said she is in the market for a home in O’Fallon. She currently is commuting from St. Louis, Mo. Despite her city-girl ties, Weber loves country living more.

“I love the country. I love this area and the country feel it has, so I’m excited to move here soon,” Weber said.

So what motivates a person who has participated in several marathons, which is 26.2 miles, over the years to jump a notch up to ultra-running, which is 50-100 mile races?

“I got tired of roads and road running. I really like trails and being outdoors in the woods, so I did a 50K race, which is 31 miles, and jumped to a 50-miler, and then 100 miles,” Weber said.

Weber said people usually say mile pace doesn’t really matter on the trails much just because it’s so technical.

“You have to change your mentality from road running to trail running where there are going to be times when you’re going to have to climb, jump, creek or trail walk, so you have to learn how to power walk really well,” she said.

It’s all in your head, according to Weber.

“I think it’s just so much more of a mental challenge because there are times when you find yourself asking, ‘why am I doing this?’ sometimes after you’re 18 hours into it,” she said. “It’s miles and time under feet basically, so I don’t always necessarily say I’m going to go out for a 10-mile run, but when training, I need to do a two or three-hour run because you have to build your feet up.”

Time and crosstraining are imperative elements needed to become a well-rounded and healthy ultra-runner, or runner in general, Weber said.

“So you’ve got a lot of time involved and crosstraining. I do and think it’s very important to train all your muscles, not just your running muscles because those muscles get really fatigued, so if you have your small muscles strong then you have a great support,” Weber said.

The benefits of being an ultra-runner isn’t all physical and mental, but also social and cultural too, she said of her league of super ‘runners’ niche.

“It’s a fun community. It’s a simple community. It’s more of a team spirit. Everyone’s helping each other. If there’s an issue, most of the time you’re going to sacrifice your own time just to stop and help a fellow runner — that’s what I like about it,” Weber said.

Part of the 2016 Midwest Ultra Challenge, Weber has put many miles under her laces already with a 50-miler in July called ‘Cry Me A River.”

“I have a 100-miler in a week, and a 50-miler the next week, which I’m not sure how that happened because I try not to schedule them that close together, and then a 100-miler in November,” Weber said.

She also mentioned in between her 50 and 100-milers, she has “a couple marathons too.”

Weber has four children. Her youngest Faith Weber attends high school in Chicago. Her son, Austin Weber, is a U.S. Marine living in Japan with his new wife. Sharee and Miranda Weber are both in college.

Weber’s furry, four-legged children are her dogs — Teddy and Dakota.

“Each YMCA is different because of the community, so even though we have the same procedures and structuring each Y has its own personality. This Y in O’Fallon is so supportive of the community, and it’s very nice to witness, and you’re not going to get that everywhere you go,” Weber said.

Weber said aside from her wellness appointments and representing the YMCA at health fairs, she usually can be found somewhere in the building, mostly in the fitness center.

“I come in with a set plan usually, but it always changes because of the needs of our members. So if something breaks or malfunctions I help with that, or if someone needs help to his or her car I’m going to do that too — it’s about making connections, but it’s also working behind the scenes on equipment maintenance, or budget or program development,” she said.

The YMCA in O’Fallon is more than just a fitness center, it’s a family, Weber said.

“It’s like a family. People look forward to seeing people in their class, and they make these great friendships,” she said.

Weber has worked on and off with the YMCA in different capacities in a personal trainer, an instructor for fitness classes, and more recently worked at the Edward Jones Family YMCA in St. Louis before coming to O’Fallon.

“I was a camp kid too, so the YMCA has always been in my life one way or another,” Weber said.

It’s like a family. People look forward to seeing people in their class, and they make these great friendships.

O’Fallon YMCA Health and Wellness Director Karyn Weber

Meet Karyn Weber:

Q: Do you have words to live by?

A: “Be true to yourself.”

Q: Whom do you admire most?

A: “My good friend and old time running partner Tara Hoeft-Rundee. She is just the kind of person to be around to make you a better version of yourself. Tara inspires you to be better in all aspects of life. She finds the positive in everyone and everything. I am blessed to have her in my life.”

Q: If you could spend time with a famous person, past or present who would it be?

A: “Kathrine Switzer – first female to run Boston.”

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: “What’s My Purpose?”

Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation?

A: “I am an ultra runner so I run a lot. I love to be outdoors being active.”

Q: What is the usual state of your desk?

A: “Clean and organized.”

Q: What did you want to do career wise when you were a kid?

A: “I wanted to be a counselor.”

Q: What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?

A: “I am very caring and compassionate to others.”

Q: What irritates you most?

A: “When people are mean and rude to others.”

Q: What type of music do you listen to?

A: “All types of music due to instructing classes, but I enjoy alternative.”

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: “I get to work with amazing people and I get to meet new and wonderful people each day.”

Q: If you were independently wealthy, what would you do?

A: “I would coordinate races and fitness events for everyone to enjoy.”

Q: What would people be most surprised to know about you?

A: “Most people think I like to be going all the time, but I enjoy peaceful moments sitting by the fire with hot cocoa.”

Q: When they make a movie of your life, who would play you?

A: “Sandra Bullock”

Q: If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you bring?

A: “My puppy Dakato”

Robyn L. Kirsch: 618-239-2690, @BND_RobynKirsch