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More women in Norfolk are running now than ever before – will Jo Pavey’s gold inspire others in Norfolk to take up the sport?

PUBLISHED: 11:27 14 August 2014

England's Jo Pavey who could inspire more women to start running. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

England's Jo Pavey who could inspire more women to start running. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

A 40-year-old mum of two who gave birth a year ago has just won 10,000m gold. ROSA MCMAHON asks if her triumph will inspire other women to take up running.

Top tips

Invest in the right pair of running shoes.

Buy a decent sports bra – running without one can be bad news.

Go for distance rather than time - slow it down, be patient, and don’t worry about your pace.

Remember that rest days are training days, too.

Join a running group.

Make running a habit, even if that means getting out for a few minutes per day.

Build up mileage gradually.

Don’t dread taking walk breaks.

Keep a training log.

Mix in cross training to supplement your running.

Set small, achievable goals.

Have fun!

Jo Pavey became the oldest ever winner at the athletics European Championships this week when she triumphed in the 10,000 metres.

Aged 40 and with two young children, her story of persistence and defying age barriers has catapulted the athlete into supermum status.

And although the reverberations of her victory on Tuesday night will not yet be felt in the running world, more women in Norfolk are running now than ever before.

Richard Polley, from City of Norwich Athletic Club and organiser of Norwich parkrun, said he has seen a huge leap in the number women picking up their trainers.

About 10 years ago only one in four of the people signed up for the Larking Gowen City of Norwich Half Marathon were women.

This year almost half of the competitors in the November race are female – the highest number the event has ever seen.

Mr Polley puts part of that record number down to the high-profile sportswomen who are inspiring others to take to city streets and country paths to run.

“Role models like Jessica Ennis-Hill and Paula Radcliffe have made it cool to run,” he said.

“And Jo Pavey’s win has shown it’s never to late to chase your dreams. She has competed for many years but has never won gold.

“It’s marvellous to see her seize this opportunity and run so well.”

Neil Featherby, who runs Sportlink, a running and fitness specialist store in Taverham, said other women will be inspired to run after Pavey’s victory.

“With the likes of Jo Pavey’s recent success, this can only lead to more women having a go,” he said. He has seen more men and women running – now all ages, shapes and sizes are trying the cheap sport.

But he said more women than men make up a significant amount of his business for footwear and clothing.

“Just 10 years ago, women made up for no more than 15pc of our sales, but that is now more like 60pc,” he said.“If you speak to the local running clubs and race promoters they will tell you the same thing: There are more women joining clubs and entering races.”

Running store Sweatshop, in Westlegate, Norwich, have seen a big take-up of their beginners club by a majority of women.

Citing the health benefits as well as a chance to meet other people and shed the stresses of working life, Laura Hedtke, the assistant manager, said an increasing amount of women are turning to the shop to start out.

Another part of that, she says, is down to Race for Life events and ‘colour-runs’ which put the fun back into the sport.

“More and more women are investing in themselves to take up or return to running, from a good bra to running shoes,” she said. “There’s a huge social element to running which women really enjoy. Being with other people makes you feel more confident and comfortable.”

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