LOSING weight gave Janice Cairns the impetus to get in shape, now she has set her sights on a race that could be life-changing in more ways than one.

After dropping a stone and a half, the mum of two from Maryhill wants to keep it off and says if she gets through the finishing line of the women's 10K in May in a good time, she has pledged to keep her fitness levels up and hopefully train for a charity climb of Mount Kilimanjaro next year.

Someone who has only done basic exercise before, Janice took part in the women's 5K last year.

After the event in June, she hung up her running shoes and hasn't been back to the gym.

In the months between now and the 10K, we'll be following her training progress in our Active 2014 campaign, from absolute beginner to accomplished runner in our couch potato to 10K challenge, with the help of the Running Network at Glasgow Club.

"I'm hoping to be able to run the 10K successfully rather than having to stop, start, stop, start," says the 45-year-old administrator for NHS education.

"I really want to be serious about it and achieve a good time.

"I'd love to be able to do the 10K in an hour but I doubt it, maybe an hour and 10 minutes would be fantastic."

Now focusing on a healthy diet, Janice eats lots of pasta and rice, and most importantly, doesn't overindulge.

"I was a yo-yo dieter before for years, but I now know depriving yourself of food is the worst thing to do. Everything in moderation seems to be the key and my weight is staying the same, which is really good. I just need exercise now to tone up."

Janice says she signed up to join the Running Network at Scotstoun because she wants the motivation of training with a group rather than on her own.

"And going along with someone else means you actually go," she laughs. "There's none of this, I can't be bothered tonight. You've got to go."

From now until the 10K, Janice will be attending two Running Network training sessions a week and fitting in trips to the gym.

After her first meeting with the group on Monday night she says she was feeling a bit sore after exercising muscles she hasn't used in a long time but was delighted to report she had covered two miles.

"We started off walking for a minute and running for a minute three times, then it was up to two minutes, then three minute and in between always a minute walking. Then we worked down the way again. The first minute went in really quickly and we thought, is that it? But by the end it felt like five minutes instead of one."

There are about 20 women in Janice's group, from their 20s to their 60s, given encouragement along the way by three leaders.

"I'm glad I've done it," she says. The group leaders are really friendly, they chat away and get you to talk while your running because if you can't talk you're running too fast. You should still be able to run at a pace and be able to converse and keep your breathing correct.

"It's very social, I spoke to two people I didn't know before and I imagine that will increase if we all keep going to the group."

For details on the Running Network, visit www.glasgowlife.org.uk/running.

It features a breakdown of network sessions, training courses, costs, locations and booking information in detail.

Weekly Running Network sessions are suitable for people who can currently run three miles or more without stopping.

They operate across the city, meeting at Glasgow Club centres and community venues.

Pay per session, take out a one-off annual membership, pay by direct debit on a month-to-month basis or if you are an existing Glasgow Club Fitness Unlimited member get the Running Network as part of the membership package.

Throughout the year there are also complete beginners' courses, 10K beginners' courses, 10K refreshers' courses and marathon training courses, most of which tie in with events such as the annual women's 10K or the Great Scottish Run. Coaches are all qualified Jog Leaders.

angela.mcmanus@ eveningtimes.co.uk