WHEN Mary Cairns victoriously ran past the finishing line of the Women's 10K in Glasgow last year, she said it was a team effort.

The 24-year-old civil engineer explained that if it was not for the enthusiasm and encouragement of Glasgow Club Running Network she would never have put on her running shoes.

She went from no experience of distance running to competing in the 10K in just four months and is the perfect example of how we can all make our lives active and healthier if we put our minds to it.

Mary, from King's Park, Glasgow, joined the Running Network last February with the goal of taking part in the city event in May.

So positive was the experience she went on to take part in the Glasgow half marathon in October, completing it in a respectable 2hrs 10mins.

"I was a complete beginner and had never run any great distance before, so I signed up to the beginners' group, where we ran twice a week with two network coaches," she said.

"This was a great way to build up fitness levels, with the coaches varying the routes, increasing the distances each week and mixing it up with speed sessions, which I really enjoyed."

She said the network's pasta parties were a great way to keep motivation levels high and keep the training light-hearted and fun in the build-up to each race, by running through the city centre to Di Maggio's and meeting other runners from the network.

She said finishing the 10K in an hour gave her a great sense of achievement and something to be very proud of.

She said: "I continued running with the network twice a week during the summer and did the half marathon alongside one of the network coaches who helped to keep me going - another milestone in my fledgling running career.

"The next step for me will be the Edinburgh Marathon in May and I will train with the Running Network's marathon training course, which starts in a few weeks.

"I have gone from a complete beginner to marathon runner in a short space of time and it is all thanks to the Running Network."

For anyone inspired by Mary and thinking of running but not sure where to start, there is plenty of help to get in training for the Bupa Great Women's 10K on May 11.

To get you motivated we are giving away 25 pairs of free entries to the 10K.

Glasgow Club Running Network is also offering a free trial session at any Running Network beginners or refreshers 10K courses to help prepare you for the event. There is also the chance to be entered into a prize draw to win a spa package at the Refresh Spa at Emirates Area.

The free trial session gives you the chance to find out if the support and encouragement from coaches and other runners is what you need to become one of the thousands of women who complete the 10K every year.

The 12-week 10K beginners' courses are located throughout the city and tailored to get you off the starting blocks to the finishing line.

You will meet twice a week and coaches will help you gradually build up your time and distance to a point where you will be able to jog the full distance.

There are also 10K refresher course for those who can already run for 15 to 20 minutes without stopping yet don't feel ready to take on the challenge of training for the 10K on their own.

The Running Network 10K beginners' courses start in the week beginning February 10 and refresher courses start on March 10. Alternatively, if you just want to get started and do not require a free trial session, call 0141 287 3831 to book your place on the course of your choice.

Our Active 2014 campaign, with partners Glasgow Life and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, is targeted at improving the health of Glaswegians in the year of the Commonwealth Games and building a lasting legacy of physical wellbeing.

Focusing on events and individuals of all ages, we aim to improve the health of as many people as possible in the community.

The positive message of this campaign is that even the smallest of changes in activity and lifestyle can make a huge improvement in health.

We will target a series of health goals, including basic fitness, obesity, diet and smoking cessation and deliver the message that small changes in activity and lifestyle can make a huge improvement in health.

We want to do all this by raising the profile of health and fitness initiatives and opportunities.

angela.mcmanus@ eveningtimes.co.uk