Each month, we select a lucky newcomer to RW's 410,000-strong member community and reward them with £100 of Asics kit. Here we catch up with our three most recent winners...
Donna (aka Strump, our Member of the Month in April) was always a sporty youngster. She even sprinted for Surrey as a schoolgirl. That was until her 30s when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and, after a double mastectomy, was unable to continue her active lifestyle.
Fast forward 10 years and Donna was dealt another blow when she was diagnosed with arthritis. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise - she was encouraged to take up light exercise to alleviate the symptoms. "My doctor told me I couldn’t run but I was really insistent that I wanted to," she says. "Eventually, he let me."
Donna’s new gym recommended she look at runnersworld.co.uk. "I wasn’t comfortable running with ‘professional’ runners. They suggested I try the site as it was the best place to get support and advice on running for beginners. The other forumites make you feel at home and are great at offering tips and advice to beginners like me."
The effects have been incredible: since taking up running, Donna has lost three and a half stone and is now raising money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Cancer Research UK – keen to give back as much as she can to the charities that helped her during her recovery.With Race for Life 2008 coming up she is keen to break the 30-minute barrier for 5K. "I’m building up towards the Flora London Marathon next year,” she says. “With the support and advice from the RW forumites I’m confident I’ll be able to build up to the distance. The website makes you feel that everything is achievable and gives you the motivation to keep going."
Approaching the age of 40 and "nearing a midlife crisis", Cate Munro (aka Blaqueen and our Member of the Month in March) decided to take up running.
"I used to run on a treadmill until a motorcycle accident in Thailand about two years ago stopped me," says Cate. "It’s taken me a while to recover but a couple of friends have done half-marathons and that has given me the motivation to start taking running more seriously. I only started running again about four months ago."
"I came across the Runner’s World website after searching the internet for somewhere to get help and advice for beginners. I couldn’t believe how much information there was on the site. I’ve found the other online members very supportive and willing to offer help and advice. It made me realise how many other people there are out there in the same boat as me. I’ve found the FLM stories from other members very inspiring too, and the product reviews are really useful."
Next stop is Race for Life before she makes the trip to Leeds to run the Jane Tomlinson 'Run For All' 10K in June. "I’ve also entered the ballot for the next year’s London Marathon," she says. "I think what I’ve learnt since taking up running is that if you put your mind to it you can achieve anything."
It’s a brave soul who starts their running career from scratch in the dead of winter. But 32-year-old Zoe Withnall (aka Xorro and our Member of the Month for February) did just that. "I started running in February of this year after I’d reached a weight I really wasn’t happy with," she says.
"I started with a 5K plan running on the roads and round a local park near my home in Northamptonshire. I ran for a minute and walked for a minute, slowly building it up from there."
She’s certainly been an active forumite since joining the RW community. "After a week or so of running I came across the RW website. What I’ve found it useful for is getting advice and tips from other 'plodders' such as myself. It’s a good source of motivation when things aren’t going well."
She’s been setting herself small targets to work towards. She’s currently running two and a half miles, three times a week and is losing weight as a result. "If there’s one piece of advice I’d give to a new runner it’s to go to a running shop (and the product reviews on the RW website) and get properly fitted for a pair of running shoes.
"I enjoy running but I do find it hard. Now that I know I can do it and that I’ve got the support of other forum members I don’t want to stop!”
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