Max was a drug addict for 17 years, but her story of how she changed her life through running makes her the inaugural winner of our Inspired To Run competition.
WHY DO I RUN?
"When I was 14 I took my first line of cocaine. At 15 I added marijuana, acid and a smack-head boyfriend. Over the next 16 years I also tried ecstasy, crack, speed, magic mushrooms, ketamine, cocaine, temazepam and dospan. Those are just the ones I can remember.
"I had (and still have) no excuse. I don't come from a broken home or a deprived background. I was drawn to drugs by the feeling of escapism and euphoria. It came at a cost. I overdosed on more than one occasion. I lost the first couple of years of being a mum, I lost my friends and I lost myself.
"And there was nothing that anyone could have said to stop me. It had to come from me. Eventually it did. One day I decided to cut all ties with my drug-taking friends. I made excuses and lied, I became angry, remorseful and tired... but I stopped.
"I replaced drugs with food and my weight ballooned. By the end of 2004 I was off drugs but hugely overweight. That's when I started running.
"I did my first run in tracksuit trousers, a long-sleeved top tied around my waist (covering my backside) and a thick cotton T-shirt. I ran and ran as fast as my legs would carry me. I puffed and panted, the sweat was pouring off me, but I was doing it.
"Then I looked at my stopwatch – 30 seconds gone. No, that can't be right. I wanted to go home. I knew people would be looking at me and thinking, 'What's a fat lump like her trying to do?' I don't remember the end of my first run and I still don't know what made me put my trainers on again for a second time, but I did.
"My target was an autumn 10K, and although the furthest I'd run leading up to it was four miles, I still did it. I welled up crossing the finish line and I wore my medal for days. I was ecstatic.
"It was just a start. Numerous 5Ks, three 10Ks and two half marathons later, I'm still going strong. I'm only running 11-minutes miles and I'm still three stone overweight, but I'm not taking drugs. Running makes me feel happy and strong, and it's given me a whole new set of wonderful friends.
"I met up with an old flame recently who offered me something 'for the old days'. My first thought was: 'I can't because it would mess up my running'. That made me smile; in fact it still makes me smile."
Max is currently training for the Abingdon Marathon on October 22. This is her first attempt at 26.2 miles.
Click here to read an unedited version of Max's story and add your comments
Max's story was just one of the many stories sumbitted to our Inspired To Run competition, launched earlier this year by RW together with Reebok and two of our sister magazines.
For her story, Max wins prizes including £1,000 and a training session with Darren Campbell – pretty handy when she's got her first marathon coming up!
Click here to read more of the stories submitted by RW readers, and here to visit the Inspired To Run website.