FORMER County Gazette worker Linda Meek decided she had to do something when her world stopped in its tracks a year ago.

Her work in social media management dried up in an afternoon and her five-times-a-week gym visits were halted as lockdown descended across the country.

So Linda slipped on her trainers and took off on her first run in nine months following an injury lay off.

Pounding around the local country lanes she hit on the idea of setting up Start Running Stay Running at a time when many people had taken up jogging.

Kinda Meek, third right, with a group of runners

Linda Meek, third right, with a group of runners

Linda, who was joined in the new venture by personal trainer and gym owner Simon Evans, said: "Our business was born in the lockdown when we recognised the growing numbers of people taking up running.

"With many new runners on the street, we want to create a relatable community for new runners, along with a team of coaches and specialists on hand to help with motivation and advice.

"Running isn't as simple as putting on a pair of trainers and taking to the streets.

"If not done correctly, injuries will creep in and running ceases - sometimes never re-starts."

Linda and Simon wanted to offer one place for running newbies to find all the information and support they need to start running and keep going with minimal injury risk.

They developed a membership platform, The Inside Track, a one-stop-shop for runners to converse with specialists in all areas of running, health and wellbeing and find all the information they need.

They took on coaches and specialists in all areas of fitness and wellbeing.

The pair have also come up with an exciting way to keep runners motivated to move over the course of a season with Seasoned Runner Virtual Run Challenges, with monthly medals for movement in both running and walking, detailing personal achievement.

Start Running Stay Running has a Facebook community group with local members and others from as far afield as the US and New Zealand, all supporting and motivating each other.

The company received a boost from retail tycoon Theo Paphitis, from Dragons' Den, who chose it was one of his six weekly winners, with the prize a retweet of their business details to his 500,000 followers.

"It's an exciting venture," said Linda, who is pitching her message to a wider audience at events such as The National Running Show.

"It's something I'd never have done if it hadn't been for Covid and lockdown."