Need Inspiration? Got Inspiration?

Latest highlights from our reader-story project, from runners just like you. Read, enjoy (and add yours for a chance to win £1000!) - updated September 3


Posted: 1 October 2006

UPDATE: We had an amazing response to our Inspired To Run competition, launched in the summer by RW along with Reebok and two of our sister magazines.

Among the stories you sent us were tales of first-time marathons, extraordinary race day experiences and accounts of unforgettable runs on clear, fresh mornings. You can read the winning entry here – and here's a look at some of the best of the rest...

Carly Peart finds herself agreeing to running a 10K with a friend and enjoying the training, but…

    ‘I had miscalculated the dates! I had just over two weeks to train from running 0km to 10km! After that kick up the backside I went into overdrive, running 12 days out of the next 14. I managed to build up to running 5km non stop within three days, and built up a km a day. My main drawback was, and I didn't find out about this until the race day, my pedometer was wrong, as was my friend's - so what I thought was 10km was only about 8!’ (More from this story)

KRG on the challenge that is the New York Marathon …

    ‘We return to the island of Manhattan along Fifth Avenue; we only need to survive Harlem Central and Central Park will be upon us. We pass a gospel choir yet their songs are sung so quietly that they fail to lift our spirits. It is as if such an inspirational style of music cannot raise its voice in the face of so much suffering. We will have to count on our own resources in order to reach Central Park. The cadence of our stride drops but our mind focuses on the autumnal hues of the trees that we see in the distance that are our goal. It seems like an eternity yet we arrive, three miles to go, the multitudes have returned but our legs are giving up.’ (More from this story)

Nicky Postle on how running helps her battle with Crohn’s disease …

    ‘I ran that 5K and it took me 45 minutes, but I was so proud of myself that I thought I might burst. I still wasn't in remission but I was a different person from the girl stuck in the house for three months. I knew there had to be a connection between my recovery and the running so this inspired me to carry on. As I crossed the line after my first half-marathon I cried and cried. A year previously there had been a real possibility that I wouldn't even be here, let alone running 13.1 miles around Leeds.’ (More from this story)

Graham Frost, on losing seven stone and running a sub-four marathon …

    ‘At the start of the marathon, I was apprehensive about what lay ahead, but no more was I self conscious. I was confident and proud of what I had achieved and ran with my head up high through the streets with the crowds cheering me on. Luckily my knee didn't trouble me and despite typical Scottish conditions I finished in 3 hours 48 minutes, which I was ecstatic with.’ (More from this story)

Sue, on how two older ladies took to running …

    ‘We thought we would just run to the local park and back - in the early mornings, as we didn't want to be seen, did we? Did I say run? We crawled back to the gym. We couldn't breathe or speak for quite some while, but when we felt able we showered and had a coffee, and asked each other if we would be stupid enough to do it again. You've guessed it: a few days later saw us out there again - same result but we are a determined pair and kept at it all through the winter. The rain, even the snow, did not stop us; the injuries kept coming, but we had them treated an then out we would go again.’ (More from this story)

Sarah Strachan on the link between the physical effort of running and the positive effect on emotional wellbeing …

    ‘I fixed my gaze on the last post of a fence running along the beach. That last post would be my goal, I decided. I marvelled at the strength my body found to keep going in the face of such adverse conditions. Every muscle straining, my lungs heaving. And yet I could not think of stopping as I looked up at the vast sky! My inner turmoil continued too. I relived those sharp emotions, but as I did so they seemed to ease. My mind was mulling over everything that had happened, and acknowledged it all. It happened. It hurt. It is over. I felt I was almost meditating and the emotions were gently eased to the rhythm of my running.’ (More from this story)

Joe on how sometimes during a marathon he wants to stop, sometimes he worries that he’ll let people down …

    ‘But then I’ll remember. Remember why I’m doing this, remember why I decided six months ago to get involved. Remember how sick I really was: the tiredness in my bones, the burning in my nerves, the haziness in my head that I just couldn’t shift. Remember the days spent folded into an immovable heap, staring into space as my home disintegrated around me and a TV flickered on the opposite wall; the days spent on a worn sofa, unable to summon up the will to get washed or dressed, unable to do anything but drift in and out of exhausted sleep for chunks of hours at a time (More from this story)

Vera Gair on how sometimes you just HAVE to compete …

    ‘I reminded myself, that this was not a competitive race, it was a fun run. I would stay with Ellie just in case she needed any help which was more important than what position I came. I also realized at this point, that we were never going to catch John as he was still way ahead and still sprinting. This wasn’t the John that had been on the training run with me four weeks ago – that John had needed a rest every few 100 metres…

    '...the competitive urge overcame me again. I knew Ellie would be OK now and with a final burst of energy I ran to overtake a handful of people. John was standing near the finishing line and shouting ‘Come on Mum’. I felt like I was in the marathon and I managed a final sprint as I crossed the finishing line.’ (More from this story)

Tessa on how some addictions can be good…

    ‘I think you know when you are hooked on something because you start getting moody when you don’t have your regular fix. That is what running has become for me. I don’t compete in races or constantly aim to run further or faster. I just run for enjoyment. Actually, I’m more of a plodder than a runner, but it’s what works for me. My boyfriend is now my husband and often sends me out of the door with my running shoes if he senses me getting moody.’ (More from this story)

Cameron Miller on a vicious attack, a demanding physio, and running as a celebration…

    ‘Casualty’s diagnosis differed from mine – two broken legs and sundry other injuries. A short stay in hospital followed, with a full bionic rebuild, not conferring superhuman qualities, but serving to hold bodily parts together while nature healed them. Nature and hard work... I was able to complete 10 kilometres more quickly than I had once struggled to totter the length of the hospital, clinging to my Zimmer frame.’ (More from this story)

Matt Thompson, on how waiting for the right time to start running means you’ll be waiting too long…

    ‘This time last year I didn’t know what over-pronation meant, I thought shin splints were fractures and those people I drove passed on a Saturday morning dripping with sweat, red-faced, running god knows where…well I won’t tell you what I thought of them. But now I’m one of them. And guess what?! It’s free membership for life.’ (More from this story)

Nigel Thomas, on his journey from being morbidly obese to finishing in the top half of the field…

    ‘Monday 5th June, 12st 7.5 lbs, total weight loss 54.5 lbs, ran 10 miles last Sunday and also completed a 32 mile bike ride. On Friday 26th May I completed a race; it was a spur of the moment decision and I entered online after finding the event on the Runner's World website… It was good to see such a friendly bunch of people all looking forward to the event on a lovely evening in beautiful countryside. I completed the 5k in 21.48, which was very pleasing considering the lumpy nature of the course. The event organiser kindly e-mailed me the results and I was 35th out of 83.’ (More from this story)

Joanna Gregory finds her mum an inspiration…

    ‘I gasped my way around the block for the first few weeks, adamant that I was not going to give up. I figured that if Mum could fight her way through cycles of gruelling chemo, I was sure going to make it round that 5km course. Then a funny thing happened – I started to really enjoy my runs around the block, running further and faster with each week that passed, and even found myself missing my runs on days that I was too busy to get out. Running gave me a distraction from the stress and worries of Mum’s illness and also gave me something positive to focus on achieving.’ (More from this story)

Richard Whitehead on the challenges of running marathons when you are a double above the knee amputee…

    ‘I started my training in the February of 2004, running mainly on treadmills in my local gym on my knees - as that's how I run when I don't have my prosthetic legs on. I then braved the roads, running mainly at night not to attact any attention! This was hard work, running in the dark I found myself getting pains on top of other pains; somedays I thought I was just running backwards. At that stage the most I could run for was about half a hour. But I needed to keep going, as November was getting closer and yet I hadn't run anywhere near five miles, so marathon distance seemed impossible.’ (More from this story)

Mat Dowle on running – and running, and running, and running…

    ‘I've been running for more than 24 hours now, and I’ve completed 90 miles of Britain's longest and toughest non-stop race. I've got another 55 miles to go before I reach the finish of the 145 mile Grand Union Canal Race. The race starts from the centre of Birmingham and follows the Grand Union Canal all the way to the centre of London. Of the 70 competitors who started the race, only 27 will go on to cross the finish line in Little Venice, in times ranging from Matt Giles’ winning time of 29 hours 6 minutes to the official cut-off time of 45 hours.’ (More from this story)

Hugh Martin, on how even radiotherapy didn’t stop him running…

    ‘I decided I would keep going for as long as possible, partly because undergoing radiotherapy is a stressful experience and the fitter you are the easier it is to cope with; I managed to keep running uncompetitively and slightly fewer miles per week throughout the treatment.’ (More from this story)

Linda Bethell on how there IS a place for competitiveness in amateur running…

    ‘But being competitive is inspirational, and competition is a good thing. There, I've said it! In today's overly PC climate, daring to say such a thing may make me a social outcast and will no doubt cause great offence to many - but where would we be without healthy competition? All sports need positive role models and enthusiastic, competitive club runners fill that position nicely. ’ (More from this story)

Welsh Simon on how he started off worrying about heart disease, and ended up running a marathon …

    ‘I’d been warned about ‘the wall’, but no one had mentioned the fence, barrier, dyke, hurdle, moat, roadside furniture, kerbstone, small privet hedge, stumbling block, and stud partition—all of which seemed to crop up in my path at alarmingly frequent intervals! While I cannot recall sailing past many Kenyans – well actually, none - there were some notable scalps on my path to the finish line, including Jeffrey Archer (15 minutes ahead!), at least two of the Monopoly board pieces (hat & iron), three gorillas, the Thunderbirds team (though Virgil may have slipped past me), Mr Tickle and a black Rhino.’ (More from this story)

Emma Bayliss on how she found herself through running …

    ‘Before I was a runner, I don’t know what or who I was, but I do know that I don’t ever want to go back to it. Ever…It’s not all about the time and it’s not all about losing the weight and getting a better body. Yes, these things are great, but they’re not enough. We runners, we run because it fits. We run because by pounding out the pavement we know we can achieve anything that we truly set our minds on. We run because we can and because when we run we meet ourselves. Dig deep and keep running.’ (More from this story)

Jane Bird on the benefits of running, and how it helps her overcome depression …

    ‘Running improves circulation and makes respiration more efficient. It strengthens bones and muscles, and it is cheap (the only specialised gear is shoes) and easy to do wherever you live or work. The other benefits are less tangible. Number one is stress relief. It is nearly impossible to worry and run at the same time, so it gives me space to deal with life’s ups and downs. It has become my only anti-depressant, with no side effects. It delivers a mental high - without a hangover.’ (More from this story)

Jaime Ashton on how weight loss and determination got her around Lake Vyrnwy – and how her local running club welcomed her with open arms …

    ‘It was so daunting, turning up on the Wednesday night, knowing that I was a slow but determined runner. I needn't have worried; they were all fantastic, really supportive of what I was hoping to achieve. From that moment I gained so much confidence - me, a member of a running club! The next few months flew by in a flurry of training sessions until the big day arrived - Lake Vyrnwy... This was the biggest challenge that I had ever set myself and I hoped to make everyone proud of me. Two hours and fifty seven minutes later I crossed the finish line...I could not believe what I had achieved.’ (More from this story)

Jonathan Tait on some of the highs and lows of the New York Marathon, and why…

    ‘I am running through Harlem. And Harlem is quiet. There aren’t as many people out cheering us on here. Don’t ask me why. After everything that’s gone before, this quietness feels odd. And it’s late on in the race so the banter has subsided. Less whooping and hollering from our lovably mad American brethren. So it’s quiet. The carbohydrate gels consumed at mile eighteen are beginning to wear off. Everyone is digging in. The only (surprisingly big) noise is of thousands of running shoes striking tarmac. Another water stop. A last chance to drink before the final push. And for a while you run on a carpet of wet Gatorade cups.’ (More from this story)

Suzi W on the joys of running in the rain…

    ‘There's something about running in torrential rain which I absolutely love. Because you know you'll soon be home in the warm and dry so it doesn't matter. Because your hair is already ruined by sweating all over it, so the rain won't make much difference. Because you are truly communing with that otherwise annoying wet stuff that makes this country so wonderfully green. Because you're sticking two fingers up at nature and saying: "Yes, you're raining. And yes, I'm running. And do you know what? I'm not going to stop, so there!"’ (More from this story)

John Baker on those magical running moments…

    ‘Just occasionally, maybe three or four times a year, something happens to my running and it's this that has kept me coming back through illness and injury, and keeps me going out in rain, sleet or snow. Suddenly my usually leaden legs become weightless, and then metamorphose into steel springs. My laboured breathing becomes regular and measured. My head comes up and my senses sharpen until I can hear every bird song or rustle in the bushes and see every rabbit bolt or leaf fall. The everyday smells of wood and field become wonderful deep aromas of earth, trees and grasses and I can actually look within myself and feel my body working. Not struggling, but working smoothly and strongly as it was always meant to. ’ (More from this story)

Nick Lee on his running journey through sadness, and fitness, to achievement…

    ‘Sadly my sister passed away a week after I was accepted for the marathon. I hadn’t announced to anyone that I was doing it – especially at that time. Now I nervously approached the family to see what their reaction would be, and quite rightly they were all very pleased and supportive. My running had to move up a few gears now and the fundraising began in earnest. I had never asked anyone for sponsorship before and with a newly made website and ghastly picture of me in running gear – I decided to really go for it. …Coming up to the finish line was amazing – I'd done it – all the months before had just culminated in a time of 3 hours and 41 minutes. I was well chuffed. We had raised over £5000 in the process and everyone had been very kind and generous. I was pleased - I managed to loose three stone and get reasonably fit. ’ (More from this story)

Speed Bump on why he understands why award-winners have a list of people to thank…

    ‘You will cross the finish line because someone is waiting for you. You will do it because others believe in you. Others want you to succeed. Others love you. From the strangers lining the route to your closest friends and family we all need each other. Sooner or later you will need someone…This medal I’m wearing as I write represents all those people who helped me. I didn’t get it, We got it because I looked inside my heart and saw them there.’ (More from this story)

Max on how she found herself running away, in every sense of the word, from a destructive lifestyle…

    ‘When I was 14 I took my first line of cocaine and started smoking marijuana. At 15 I carried on taking those and added acid and a smack-head boyfriend into the equation. At 16 I thought I’d add ecstasy to the list. The list increased including a lump of crack once for a Christmas pressy in 1991. Nice… ‘I nearly lost my life, I lost the first couple of years of being a mum, I lost my friends, I lost myself … ‘Running makes me happy. Running makes me feel strong. Running has given me a whole new set of wonderful friends - some are virtual, many I’ve run with, drunk with, laughed with (usually in that order). I met up with an old flame recently who offered me something ‘for the old days’, and my first thought was “Oh I can’t because it would mess up my running”. That made me smile; in fact it still makes me smile.’ ’ (More from this story)

Paula (not THAT Paula) on the hard graft that was her first half marathon...

    ‘I chipped away at the miles, kept my head down and just ran. The air was thin and sultry; some kind of black flies hovering over the quiet secluded lanes were pests. Two miles from the finish and it was beginning to get tough again. With my legs feeling sore and tired I pushed on, grabbing every bit of energy I could, chattering away to myself with positive thoughts. A motorcycle passed, the rider announcing that the leader of the full marathon was coming through. He looked fresh, with the sort of energy I could only dream about. With tears rolling down my face I crossed the finish line in 3 hours and 12 minutes.’ (More from this story)

Michael on how running dug him out of the depths of depression after an accident forced him to retire from boxing...

    ‘With tears rolling down my face I crossed the finish line in 3 hours and 12 minutes. The feeling of crossing the finish line was on a par with my winning the British title - a day I will never ever forget. The London crowds showed why London is the greatest city in the world, and I'd like to say thanks to them, and to Runner's World. I can't wait till next year. I now intend to join a local running club and race as much as possible and raise as much money as I can for charity along the way. Running saved me. I just hope I can help to save others by running for charity.’ (More from this story)

Matthew Baldwin on returning to running after open heart surgery...

    ‘Over the next year the nine inch scar down my chest faded from a livid red and my fitness gradually improved. I entered a few local races and was pleased to find that my reconditioned heart worked more efficiently. I’m too old now, of course, to run as quickly as I did in my 20s, but the added boost of a correctly functioning cardiovascular system has spurred me this year, at the age of 45, to make an attempt on my marathon personal best. The training is going well and a sub three-hour clocking is now a real possibility.’ (More from this story)

Rhiannon on why she runs...

    ‘There’s a primeval joy in running through landscape, of being alive. But running has also given me a sense of great comfort in less happy times. As I ran along Sydney’s beautiful beaches I seemed more able to put a perspective on my marriage problems. I found solace by running through a New Zealand forest when the news of my father’s death reached me from the other side of the world. Times spent running are moments of stillness and beauty when everything around you may be crumbling. I run to let the adult brain become a child’s again … if only for a while. I can jump into puddles, run through streams, let the imagination go and ultimately, take a little time out from responsibility.’ (More from this story)

Lou Hodgson on running all over the world...

    ‘I've run over the Mourne mountains in Northern Ireland, and along the Bangor coastline. I've covered the Pembrokeshire coastal path time and time again, and I've run up the Steps of Woe in the early hours of the morning to see the amazing view from the top. I've run through the Iraqi desert, wearing a bandana to keep out the dust. I've run with no purpose, with nothing visible in the distance to run to, and I've run laps of airfields in intense heat. I even ran a half-marathon while being cheered on by beautiful Iraqi children on the other side of the wire. Currently I'm enjoying the amazing scenery in Kabul, Afghanistan. I run early before it gets too hot, when the dust is quite settled. Running while the sun is rising over the mountains is amazing - it makes me forget that we only have a lap of 950m to run on.’ (More from this story)

Shane K on how, after tragedy and other setbacks, he decided to fulfil his promise to his mum by running the London Marathon...

    ‘The training started in December 2005 and it was so hard to get back into. After a few months I found I was enjoying my running again - yes, even on the dark cold nights - and it was helping me focus my mind and giving me time to contemplate everything that had happened. On April the 23rd 2006, and now down to 18 stone, I ran the FLM as my first full marathon. It took me six hours, but the feeling of achievement when I crossed that finish line is like nothing I have ever known, it was one of the most emotional days of my life. It’s taken me a long time to get from 100 yards to 26.2 miles and it’s been a journey filled with heartache, jubilation, self realisation and commitment. Running has given me both the physical and mental strength I’ve needed to achieve my goals.’ (More from this story)

Andy on how he owes his recovery from bulimia, his happiness, health, wellbeing and direction in life to running – and his mum...

    ‘My mum was in her fifties but was running every day, averaging about 70km per week. She forced me to join her on her runs, even only for 10 minutes at a time, and to take meals with her over the summer holidays. The lethargy and sense of worthlessness I'd been experiencing was suddenly dispelled. ‘I distinctly remember coming back from my first pre-breakfast morning run, literally buzzing. The sun seemed to have put a glow into my body that I hadn't felt for a long time - as did the fruit and yoghurt we had for breakfast (a meal I usually missed). My mind gradually came to accept that my body could work for me, and as my fitness improved, I stopped starving and vomiting. Food was once again a life source and a joy.’ (More from this story)

Sibyl on how coming to running in her forties helped her leave an old illness where it belonged, in her past...

    ‘Although I’ve done longer distances since, I won’t forget the day of that fun run. Until then I’d only run on my own, and suddenly there were hundreds of us. As we began to move away, my nerves disappeared and my spirits soared Not only did I complete the course, I even managed a sprint to the finish line. I was forty-five years old and I’d never felt stronger.’ (More from this story)

Siggy on how he lost his job and his self-esteem, and then he ran a marathon...

    ‘…I began my eight months of training for the unbelievable 26.2 miles. It was an incredible journey. In those eight months I had some real highs but some terrible lows and nearly threw in the towel on more than one occasion. Thankfully the weight started to drop off slowly while my fundraising increased quite quickly. The support I received from family and friends was amazing, and along the way I even got myself a decent job.’ (More from this story)

Neil Price on how running helped him find a new direction in life...

    ‘Two years ago I was depressed and worried. I was unhappy in my career as a teacher even though I held quite a senior position, and I felt that I was achieving very little in life. My wife has always been an inspiration and support to me and it was she who suggested that I tried running the London Marathon… ‘Two years later and life has changed. I have downsized at work and am now simply teaching drama... I am feeling more rewarded than ever. I am also regularly performing stand-up comedy and have reached the final of a National New Act competition, as well as getting paid for gigs, and I am building a good reputation. I have also written a novel... I have had a book published about school plays and their value within schools." (More from this story)

Nicole on how running took her from teenage dread, through triumph in two races, to self-esteem...

    ‘I am extremely proud of myself. I have lost 10 pounds, and best of all I have turned something that used to give me so much anxiety into something I love and look forward to. I've learnt that you don't need a natural gift to succeed. If you start small and stay committed, you can do anything!" (More from this story)

Zoe on how running helped her through her eating disorder...

    "It was during this time that I first started running - not in any positive sense, just as a way of further punishing my already tortured body. Have you ever tried to run on 300 calories a day? I have. I remember distinctly the leaden feeling in my legs, how hard it was even to keep myself upright. There was no enjoyment there. It was hitting the wall on a crash-test dummy scale. ‘[Now] the thing I love most about running is not what it's done for my body - though being fit is certainly no bad thing! - but what it's done for my mind. When I'm out running an eight-miler, taking in the capital's sights, I am at peace." (More from this story)

Jim Hamilton on how not even cancer and chemotherapy could stop him running...

    "I was in no conditon to run a marathon so thought I would go over and watch the race. But when I got to Dublin I went to register because I had been looking at past results on the website and some people were taking nine and ten hours so I thought mmmmmm - maybe? Anyway I started the race and was doing OK walking /jogging for the first eight miles, but then I started to tire and by ten miles was totally drained. I was sitting on a wall cursing myself for being so arrogant to think that I could get round 26.2 miles. I was getting plenty of encouragement to carry on so thought I'd to make it to halfway and catch the pickup bus, but when I got there I carried on and finished in eight hours. It felt great." (More from this story)

Al on how his chief goal in life was to beat his father at running, and he even joined the Army to help him...

    "I went home on my first leave as a "Para" and went out for the usual five-mile run with Dad. I finished first - with almost 15 minutes between us. I don't think I have done anything since that has come remotely close to giving me such a sense of achievement and pride, not even passing the Para depot. Now,14 years and many races and marathons later, I still think it was because of this that I have taken to running the way I have." (More from this story)

Ali on how running is helping her to control bulimia...

    "It's only really in the past week or so that I've realised something - I haven't been sick in almost a week. This might not sound much but that's a huge achievement for me! Not only that, my running has gone from strength to strength. Weird coincidence? Don't think so!" (More from this story)

Paul Carr on how running helped him give up alcohol...

    "On my days off I do core training, but it's the runs which have burned off the fat. I'm now running 28 miles a week: two runs of eight miles and an end-of-week run of 12 miles. I'm now 13 stone 8lb and I can now see my (bits) and feet. I haven't had a drink for nearly five months and I feel great. So if an overweight obsessive drinker - now ex-drinker - can do it, anyone can." (More from this story)

Jacqui on how running saved her life – twice – after she was diagnosed with coronary heart disease, and then cervical cancer...

    "It’s often called the silent killer. I had absolutely no symptoms. If it hadn’t been for the running... well it doesn’t bear thinking about. Because I was fit, the recovery was perhaps quicker than that of a lot of ladies I have spoken to.

    ‘After major surgery and further treatment I have started to run again. Not being able to run for five months made me realise just how important it was for me. Picking it up again has been so hard. From being able to run four miles a day and five at the weekend to struggling with one mile was hard. But the day I achieved a pre-cancer time and distance will stay with me for ever." (More from this story)

Timothy Scott on how running helped him to battle through serious illness, and cancer, and to make the most of his ninth remaining life...

    "In all of this the most difficult thing has been to understand my mind. I was so close to being brain damaged, and it has only been over two years' recovery that I have gradually understood how ill I was. Standing up and driving a car will fool most people that you are well and able to do your sales job.

    Bit by bit I have put my mind back together, like a jigsaw puzzle. In the puzzle there are bits I do not want to put back in, so I leave them out. I make the pieces that I do want back in take up more space and change shape. Many things that connect now to the past have helped; concerts, films, family and friends, Dr. Who on the TV and Daleks by the Thames. It all makes wonderful sense and I hope I can keep on running." (More from this story)

Lesleyk on how she stopped life passing her by, by catching the running bug...

    "I left my GP’s surgery knowing that if I didn’t change my lifestyle I wouldn’t be around to see my children follow their dreams. I was seven stone overweight, with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a thyroid problem. I was feeling, at 44, that life was passing me by...

    "I sprayed my hair pink, dressed in the pink fairy outfit and very nervously caught the bus to Greenwich… I spoke to so many people: some in costumes, some expecting to finish in really quick times and some planning to walk. Wow, here was little me, just about to take part in one of the most famous races in the world." (More from this story)

Ian Miles on how running helped him to be a better father...

    "How can it be that when it is my turn to close the loop, to run alongside my own son, I am just not up to it? In the previous 10 years I had let my penchant for food and drink get the better of me, to the point where I was living off the memories of the guy who used to play football, cricket and rugby. I was now the ultimate armchair athlete…

    "Finishing Chicago was an anticlimax because I had already won my race. In the summer of 2005 I was there, running alongside my son, telling him he was safe, and that I was holding him - from far enough away that I could only be holding him with my magic hands." (More from this story)

Miss Bethany Clague on how running took her from anorexia and self-harming to running marathons in America and Spain...

    "So I started training in earnest and what a difference it made. I felt light and free during running, I felt my self-esteem and self-confidence increase as I reached mini-goals along the way. I stopped self-harming and began to look after my body, a body that was getting stronger day by day." (More from this story)

Phil Royle on how a couple of bottles of wine turned into a three-day, 76-mile run along Hadrian’s Wall...

    "There was a tidal mud flat and a notice to say that this was where the Romans came to a stop with Hadrian`s Wall – NO WONDER! I had a hacking cough and felt like death warmed up. And I was at the start of a 76 mile run."

    "Liz was to meet me in two miles to see whether I wanted to pack it in for the day. I started off down a hill and saw an elderly (by comparison) runner coming up the hill. Pride forced me into a trot and I started to feel better as long as I kept running." "I have told Liz that if I start talking about a repeat performance she is to break at least one of my legs! But then again – I wonder, would it be easier the other way?" (More from this story)

Ingrid Persaud on how an overweight mother of twins CAN run the New York marathon…

    "It was a celebration of hard work towards what seemed an impossible goal for someone who was 39, unfit, and with no running talent. ‘I still have no talent. But I have enthusiasm. And I have dared to hope and to dream and to have faith. I have not felt so much joy apart from the birth of our beautiful sons. And, like childbirth, it was not all pleasant but you are changed forever. Get this – I am now an endurance athlete. Yeah, baby… that is what I am putting on the CV from now on." (More from this story)

Jo on how she took the plunge and offered her 10-minute mile pace to her local running club…

    "Now there’s one thing I really hate, more than anything in life, and that is walking into a room full of strangers who all know one another. Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about. As soon as I opened the door to the clubhouse I was greeted by Tracey H, who filled me in on the club and made it clear that participation, not speed, was their motto. When I came to leave I was bursting with energy. I had a feeling I was going to like it there.

    And like it I did. Over the course of the past two years I have run with many interesting women from all walks of life." (More from this story)

Pennya on how running has helped her to deal with the grief of losing her father...

    "I could raise money for Cancer Research and do something new. So I started, and God, I was crap. I hadn't run since school when they used to send us out over the fields and up the Chase in red PE knickers and a vest, all through the winter. And then I started to like it, and then I started to get endorphins. And then I started to love it." (More from this story)

Wallace Currie on how even having a lorry run over both his feet didn’t stop him running...

    "I went to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow to meet a consultant surgeon, who agreed to amputate. Slowly but surely I learned to walk again. Yet still I wanted to run. Maybe it was a lot to do with my age - I'm 59 now - but it took the best part of five years to talk my prosthetist into prescribing a leg that I could run on."

    "Now I'm back. OK, I am competing in the veteran category, but age doesn't matter. In my opinion age is only a state of mind!" (More from this story)

Nikki on the overwhelming excitement of her first race...

    "I started out quickly, running down the hill while fiddling with my iPod, desperate to get into my ears the motivational tunes that I knew would get me through to the end. The music was pumping. My arms and legs were pumping. I was running in my first ever race. Marathoners and half marathoners passed me by but I didn't care. I had a number on my chest and I was a part of it; we were all a part of something so special that it was making my spine tingle all the way down the hill, powering up a VERY steep hill, running alongside the traffic, and heading for home." (More from this story)

Jaana on overcoming illness and weight gain, and learning to do something for herself...

    "I was the fat girl in PE who was never chosen in any team, I could neither kick nor catch a ball and since running and jumping were out of question I kept getting E's (and even one F) year after another.

    "Two months later I found myself pounding the pavement. My initial goal was to run ten metres. That was it. I couldn't even manage five before getting so out of breath I had to slow down and walk…

    "After three months I was able to complete the same route, this time running all the way. I think I cried a bit for joy. A year later I found myself running Brussels 20K." (More from this story)

Issy Magee on how she went from being a lazy know-it-all to someone who was addicted to running – after a patient challenged her...

    "I've only been running for three months and hope that this new-found enthusiasm continues. I love Sunday morning runs; other joggers say hello and they think I'm one of them, and that makes me feel so good. I love that YES feeling when I get home that I've got out of bed and done it...again! I love my body shape, the thunder thighs are more a heavy rain storm now. And I'm eating carbs again, only now it's basmati rice or pasta instead of bread and chips. I reward myself with the occasional bar of chocolate. And guess what, I can now run three miles in 30 minutes!" (More from this story)

Amanda Mortimer on how meeting a stranger during a race in Portugal inspired her...

    "…anywhere there are people you will always find runners who can motivate, influence and change the way we live our lives. If I had to pick one type of person to live on a desert island with, it would be a runner." (More from this story)

Si the Plodder on how, with hard work and determination, he overcame his lifelong dislike of exercise...

    "It doesn’t matter how old you are or how ‘anti-run/exercise’ you are. If you are determined and you are patient, you can do it. It doesn’t happen overnight – the benefits will be there but you have to work at it. And it even becomes enjoyable!" (More from this story)

Bea on how she was once so heavy that she needed crutches to get about, until she discovered exercise...

    "Now eight months down the line I am three stone lighter, can run for 30 minutes and have the Race for Life three-mile run coming up in a week! I am also signed up for the Bristol Half Marathon in four months’ time. I love to exercise and feel that running is now part of my life. It’s also great that I am already three dress sizes smaller." (More from this story)

The Comeback Kid on how it makes her sad so see so many people wasting their lives as couch potatoes...

    "If I could bottle the feeling I get running, and after a good race, and if I could let those people have just one sip, they would see what they were missing." (More from this story)

Caroline Brown on improving from 100 metres to 13 miles in a year...

    "I went from fat to fit in 12 months, but did it in small, manageable steps. 10 years on, I use running to make me happy..." (Read Caroline's story)

Michael Rix on a dramatic turnaround...

    "I was 32 (feeling 52), three and a half stone overweight, an asthmatic ex-smoker, with high blood pressure and zero motivation... Then I heard the seven words that changed my life: "I've entered you for the London Triathlon"! " (Read Michael's story)

Nigel Best on a complete transformation...

    'Three years ago, I went to Florida and took the camcorder. I looked at the video of me on Daytona Beach and thought I was a prime candidate for Greenpeace to save the whale. At 42 and a desk-bound accountant I realised that I had to do something about it. I am 5ft 8 and weighed very nearly 15 stone, yet in my own mind I was still 20 and able to do all the things I remembered I could do at that age...." (Read Nigel's story)

Amy Kate on the pleasure of running for its own sake...

    "... And that’s why I love running: it doesn't have a point unless you want it to. You can wake up in the morning a zombie, run the grogginess of sleep out of the bottom of your trainers, replace it with sunshine and suddenly everything becomes much less 'dawn of the dead' and far more 'morning has broken'." More from this story

Darrin on the transforming power of running...

    "'Fat Daz' is what everybody called me. 38 and 15st. 23rd July, my birthday, I asked myself why am I like this? I was once a soldier, a rugby player, a fit young man, now an overweight man heading for serious health problems.

    "I decided I would lose weight, I needed a goal, something to aim for. I decided I would run the FLM. Now you should have seen the faces of my family, friends and colleagues. [...]

    "I was eventually covering 50-60 miles a week, and boy did it feel good. No more fat Daz but people asking me how had I done it..." More from this story

And Cas on the same:

    "I was 30 years old, weighed 21 stone and smoked 40 cigarettes a day, had unsuccessfully been trying with my wife for a baby for 6 months and was depressed. Dad’s death was my wake up call.

    "I gave up smoking. I joined Weightwatchers and I tried to run. The truth was that I couldn’t run a bath and certainly couldn’t jog for more than 30 seconds, but I was determined that this time, this time it would be different. [...] I eventually finished the London Marathon in just under 4 and a half hours, raising £26,200 for Macmillan..." More from this story

YP on an amazing recovery...

    "I was nearly in tears when we touched down at Manchester and an ambulance was waiting outside to take me to hospital. When my cast came off the doctors were horrified..." More from this story

Natalie Doran on the incomparable feeling of racing...

    "I finished the marathon in 5 hours 9 mins and 57 secs. It was the greatest feeling of achievement I had ever felt.

    "I had smiled all the way round, the spectators cheering you on; volunteers supplying drinks and first aid were amazing and the atmosphere so uplifting. Now, I am not saying the marathon was easy, but I would do it all again in a heart beat. So much so that I came home joined my local running club, March AC. I run every week and have since completed the Liverpool Adidas Half Marathon with a personal best of 2 hours 11 mins 2 secs with the help from the Runner’s World pacemakers. I have applied to run New York again in November and continually look for the next challenge and place to visit." More from this story

... and Nicky Donbavand on watching someone race...

    [At the New York City Marathon] "I welled up just looking at the picture of agony on some of their faces. But also there was determination and it was amazing to watch. People who were suffering but knew they had only 800m to go. People who were inside their goal, if they could only just push that little bit further.

    "People who had trained for so long to get this far... then I saw my husband. He looked absolutely knackered. He was outside his original goal but not surprising really considering the missed training. He was not expecting to see me on the course and the lump in my throat was growing so large I could barely shout any more. I feared he would miss me, but he turned his head and a look of recognition wiped off the look of exhaustion then he grinned. He staggered over and then collapsed in my arms, his legs barely able to support his weight.

    "I hugged and kissed him and held him until his legs recovered and then seeing he could make the next time bracket his sense of urgency increased and he set off down the road. The crowd around us were cheering like crazy, it was the best moment of the whole journey. Not the holiday journey, the marathon journey." More from this story

Truce fesses up about running as a means to an end...

    "I know it's vain, but I became a runner to make someone fancy me. Simple as that. I could tell you I started running to give me more energy, to help me fight depression, to improve my cardio-vascular fitness and to help me get up in the mornings and it would all be true, running has done all of those things for me... but the real reason was Gorgeous Greg.

    "I'd liked him for ages, but he already had a girlfriend... More from this story


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