Running regularly can slow the ageing process, a recent study from the University of Colorado revealed. For me, that was reason enough to step up my weekly 5k parkruns to a 10K race. I only started running in my 40s, but research suggests this is a good thing, as it means I’m ‘young’ in running terms – fewer running miles on the clock add up to fewer injuries.

My issue with running is motivation, so I signed up for an organised event where I could raise funds for charity – that way I couldn’t back out! I chose to run for CLIC Sargent, which supports children with cancer. So on an early, but thankfully, sunny Sunday in March, I found myself on the start line of The Salomon Citytrail 10k and Half Marathon in Richmond Old Deer Park (along with 3,000 others).

Was I nervous? You bet! I’d failed to follow a proper training schedule (I blame work and the weather), and had never run that distance, ever. However I’d needn’t have worried. This was a relaxed, well-organised family event – not elitist or scary – and a fun warm-up helped put me at ease.

My general fitness helped. I cycle weekly, I’m 8lb lighter than I was a year ago and my blood pressure is healthy. I finished the race time in a respectable 1hr 3 min 28 sec, and I raised a cool £300 for charity (a big thanks to my colleagues and friends). By pacing myself I wasn’t a blotchy mess and didn’t collapse in a heap at the finish. Would I do it again? Too right! I’ve already signed for my second 10k in May. If you’re a beginner too, here are some tips to help you find your stride…

1. Sign up to an organised running event. The free parkruns every Saturday morning (parkrun.org.uk) helped me get started and improved my stamina.

2. Join a running group. Many are free – my local sports shop organises a run every Wednesday evening for all levels with no charge.

3. Remember, you’re not Mo Farah, so don’t set unrealistic goals. For example, I know I’ll never run a marathon (period!).

4. Running needn’t be stressful. Unlike cycling, you don’t need to stick to the road, dodging pedestrians and traffic. I like to run in the park or along quiet streets.

5. A fitness tracker is a great motivator, as there’s nothing as uplifting as seeing your steps add up.

To register your interest in the 2016 Salomon CityTrail™ Richmond Half Marathon or 10Km event, visit richmondhalf.com