Passion To Payday - Women's Running UK

Passion To Payday

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  November 2, 2016

Sarah Loftus: “I volunteered at events and ended up running them”

Passion To Payday

Sheila Rose/Fiona Sheppard/Milton Keynes Marathon

“Volunteering at parkrun and races helped land me my two dream jobs: Event Crew Director at the Milton Keynes Marathon and running the children’s version of Rocksolid mud runs and obstacle races,” says Sarah Loftus, 38, from Milton Keynes. “I was a stay-at-home mum with a toddler by the time I started running. At first, I was a lone runner, and it wasn’t something I enjoyed, but then I found parkrun and my new friends there convinced me to join a running club. I first volunteered at parkrun in 2013 and, over the next couple of years, I gained experience through race directing parkrun and junior parkrun and being water-giver-outer and general dogsbody at innumerable events. In 2015 I was offered my current role at the MKM, which involves supervising over 600 volunteers. The Rocksolid Race came about the same way: I volunteered in 2014 and by 2015 I was running the STARS event I’d been helping at!

“My previous roles also stood me in good stead in my new jobs: as a development designer I was running projects and sticking to deadlines and, as a mother to two young children, I learned to be extremely organised. The biggest highlight is knowing that, when the event is over and you’re surrounded by happy runners all thrilled with what they’ve achieved, you played a small part in making that happen.

“There are two encounters from this year’s MKM I’ll always remember. I walked Ben Smith (the charity runner who’s running 401 marathons in 401 days) from the finish to where his kit was stored and it took us almost an hour as he chatted and took selfies with absolutely everyone who approached him. It was lovely to see someone so genuinely pleased to meet his fans. The second was when I walked Steve Way (who became an elite athlete after being a 100kg smoker) from the finish to meet his wife. When security stopped us at a barrier Steve said, ‘I’m with her!’ in an attempt to get through too. Steve Way! With me! Made me smile all day!”

Enter the Rocksolid Race and Milton Keynes Marathon at and

Kelly Knight: “Chi Running helped me overcome injury and now I teach it”

Passion To Payday

“A string of injuries inspired me to become a Chi Running instructor,” says Kelly Knight, 33, from Swadlincote in Derbyshire. “Most recently, I had shin splints that lasted for 10 months. I kept getting injured because I never listened to my body and failed to take a logical approach to recovery. I began running over six years ago when a classic drunken New Year’s resolution saw me signing up for a 16-mile race. Having completed that, I did the London Marathon and then joined South Derbyshire Road Runners and raced competitively.

“I attended a Chi Running workshop after reading Danny Dreyer’s Chi Running: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running. I’d been investigating running techniques to help with injuries and get faster but always found conflicting advice. Chi running is based on the principles of t’ai chi and helps runners of all ages move more mindfully, efficiently and effectively, thereby improving performance and reducing their risk of injury. But the benefits aren’t just physical. When running is easier, it’s also more fun! Chi running always comes back to alignment and relaxation, which I knew were two hugely important adjustments to my form that I needed to make. Having practised chi running for the past 18 months, I certified as an instructor and passed Run England’s Leadership in Running Fitness course.   

“I still work as a marketing officer but deliver chi running workshops and one-to-one sessions in my spare time. When I began chi running, I tried to change my body and movement habits too quickly, but learned that patience, along with positivity and gradual progression, are key (that’s also true for life in general). I’ve only recently certified as an instructor so I have lots of ideas but I will see where this path leads.”

To book a Chi Running course anywhere in the UK, visit Like Kelly’s Facebook page for regular updates and information on Chi Running:

Vicky Tzanetis: “Running was my therapy and now I share it with others”

Passion To Payday

“I set up RIOT Squad, a course that helps women to run 5K in five weeks, because I felt local running clubs didn’t offer enough support to beginners – unless you were already good at running, you didn’t really fit in,” says Vicky Tzanetis, 37, from Sandhurst, a mum of two and full-time account manager for a global software firm. “I teach 10 classes a week and in just five months I’ve helped over 200 women to fall in love with running – whether they’re battling poor mental health (RIOT stands for Running Is Our Therapy), stress or self-doubt. When I founded RIOT Squad I had a sports science degree, an advanced degree in psychology and a diploma in life coaching, and was an England Athletics Running Coach. I’d also done over 100 marathons so I felt I had something unique to offer wannabe runners.

“I know it’s a cliché but running saved me from my demons. I suffer with anxiety and chronic depression and last year was diagnosed with ME. That’s why I’m also an England Athletics Mental Health Ambassador – I’ve been there, bought the t-shirt and come out fighting. No matter how rubbish I feel, a 40-minute run turns my world around. I love the sense of achievement or, as I tell my squad, the smug pants you deserve to wear afterwards!

“I’m still doing my day job, and it’s hard to juggle everything, but the gold medal is so much shinier when you’ve worked your butt off to get it. The best bits are things such as witnessing one of my first group cry in disbelief when she nailed her challenge of running 5K (oh yes, I had a cry too), hearing that two clients had reversed their type 2 diabetes and seeing others lose loads of weight. I believe anyone can run and I say to any sceptical potential clients, ‘Give me your best excuse – I guarantee I’ve tried that one before myself!’”

To join RIOT Squad, visit

Leanne Davies: “My Facebook page became a full-time job”

Passion To Payday

Mark Lewis Photography Surrey

“Having turned my passion for running into a permanent job, for once in my life, I love Mondays,” says Leanne Davies, 38, from Surrey, the founder of Run Mummy Run. “I started RMR because, as a mum of two, I could rarely attend sessions at my club and needed an alternative way to connect with my running friends. I did a little WordPress training, but most of what I’ve learned has been self-taught. After a year, I gave up my day job in marketing, which was a scary decision! We’re heading towards 30,000 members now – they’re incredible women and there’s definitely a special RMR bond we all share.

“My former career in the airline industry gave me a lot of experience in customer service, revenue management, sales and marketing, and my love for art and design has lent itself well to social media and RMR. Juggling my family and job has been the biggest challenge: being an online running community, RMR never stops. In the early days, with a baby and toddler, it was exhausting doing everything myself. I still work every evening and weekends but now have a fabulous team so I’m able to finish work at about 9pm.

“Starting our partnership with Race for Life in January has been the biggest highlight so far: this year RMR has raised £30,000 for Cancer Research UK. My father has cancer and recently I lost a friend to the disease, so the charity is very close to my heart. Another high point was winning Gold at The Running Awards in the Online category for two consecutive years.

“I want every one of our women to be supported and lead a happy, healthy life through running. At the forefront of our ethos is being kind to others – I love the ‘pay it forward’ idea. If I can make this my job for years to come, I’ll be one happy lady!”

To join Run Mummy Run, visit

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NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

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