Andrew Knowles

Qualified running group leader under UK Athletics
I used to see people running the local roads and say; “Next time you go out, take a mirror with you and check out your face – You’re NOT enjoying that exercise – you’re barmy!”
How wrong was I?!
I was passionate about running at school, I absolutely hated it.
But with the threat of type 2 diabetes hovering over me, hearing about people of “my age” becoming unwell, and grandchildren on the way, I decided I would change my life style, my diet, and get fit, lose some pounds and try to give myself the best chance I could of enjoying my autumn years.
That was 7 years ago. I wasn’t excited about the gym but I actually enjoyed walking.
This was easy to take up so I got up of the sofa and stepped out of my front door to walk a little.
I got shin pain pretty quickly!
It took many ‘little walks’ before I could do a couple of miles.
During these walks I saw runners and thought I’d actually like to try that. A few yards in the middle of my walk, became more and more extensive.
I can remember clearly running a whole mile, non-stop, an absolute epiphany – I was bitten.

I ran alone (with my music) for a few years until I saw Stoke F.I.T. club runners running locally. At first I thought it could possibly be an initiative linked to my beloved football club, what with all the red ‘n’ white.
I’ve never been a ‘club’ type person, always a happy loner.
I went along to my first meeting early August 2014 – signed in and stood in a corner feeling nervous.
So, when they announced it was Time-Trial night …. My nervousness went from a 10 to an 11!
I did it, I survived, I joined up and I attend as many club nights as I can.
I absolutely love it.
I value my home life immensely and will be forever in debt to my wonderful wife Jayne who supports my new found passion.
I am honoured to wear the Leader shirt and will step in to cover leads as often as I can.
I am never going to be long distance runner (full marathon and more) but I try very hard to instil in others the belief that you can run more than your first mile.
I target my encouragement towards those nervous new starters who have taken that brave first step (not a joke), and want to improve.
It’s great when they happily announce 5k, 10k and Half Marathon PB’s beyond what I want to do.
I run for pleasure (I’ve learnt that non-runners don’t understand that philosophy), running with no pressure, knowing inside that I’m comfortable doing what I do, at the speed I do it
It doesn’t have to completely take over your life.
Finally, with the help and advice from the established at the club, I’ve also learned that hills don’t actually kill you, they want to be your friend; you just have to approach them with the correct mindset.