10 years ago after months of running on my own I decided I was ready to take the next step.
On a cold February night I pulled up outside my local club, spotted the gathering of super-fit people and fled.
The week after I went again, this time got out of the car. It changed my life forever, here’s how.
A decade ago it never occurred to me to want to run, it seemed a particularly unpleasant way to spend your free time and something only for the super fit.
I had done the odd Race for Life which only served to confirm running was not for me.
Recently divorced and a single parent I was in need of a new challenge; something that would improve my mental and physical health, help me find a social life as well as being cheap and fit around child care.
Running ticked all these boxes so I reluctantly pulled on my trainers to give it a go.
Initially I ran in the dark with a hat and a scarf as I was terrified someone might spot me. I soon realised no one was really looking and if they were I really did not care.
After a few months I started to actually enjoy it, however I found it lonely and often challenging to find motivation.
I spotted a newspaper advert for Keighley and Craven Athletics Club beginners’ group and it seemed like a good opportunity.
As mentioned my first visit to the club was a false start, but when I finally made it through the gates it changed nearly every aspect of my life.
The girls I met in those early few weeks became amazing friends and I still run with many of them today.
It did not matter that we weren’t as fast as the elite runners in the club, it mattered that we turned up, got on with it and gave it our best.
Under our coach Richard Taylor my confidence sky-rocketed and we all went from strength to strength.
We did one training run a week with Richard and met at the weekend to do an off-road longer run. We ran in all weathers; torrential rain, ice and snow high up on the moors of Haworth.
I became fitter than I had been for years and my mental health and all round well-being improved tremendously.
There really is no better therapy than running over a freezing moor with 20 girls at ridiculous-o’clock on a Sunday morning.
Pushing my body to do things it had never done before gave me a great sense of purpose and confidence.
I took part in 10k races, long distance team relays, Leeds Half Marathon twice with my biggest achievement being the Yorkshireman Half Marathon – a challenging 14.8 miles off-road race across the moors.
But to be honest it wasn’t the racing that really mattered to me it was everything else that running with a group of people offers; friendship, fun, challenge and purpose.
Running has become part of my life now, I was also fortunate to meet my husband through the club some years later.
I’m temporarily out of the running game at the moment but ran with the girls until the summer and I will be back with them as soon as I can.
So my advice is if you’re thinking of joining a club, do some research about what level of runner they welcome and maybe speak to some members.
And if you find yourself hovering at the gates desperately wanting to join in – take the plunge you really won’t regret it.