A woman managed to transform herself from a couch potato into a running coach through a national campaign that encouraged her to take up sport.

16 months ago, Emma Crowley, from Morpeth in Northumberland, did no form of exercise and was a self-confessed couch potato.

Through a friend's encouragement, she took part in small-organized runs, before coming across the Active Newcastle This Girl Can running groups.

As a way of achieving a short term goal of running 5k, she signed up to the group for motivation, even though she was terrified of attending. Just over a year later, Emma trained as a running group leader with This Girl Can and is taking on the Simplyhealth Great North 5k with a team of 26 of the group's runners, on Saturday 9 September.

The event forms the biggest sporting weekend in the North East, with the Simplyhealth Great North Run taking place the next day.

Emma will then also take on the world's biggest half marathon the next day, meaning she will have ran four half marathons since joining the group.

Emma said: “I am over the moon to be running with the This Girl Can squad at the Simplyhealth Great North 5k. “I started running around 16 months ago and have never looked back and this is all to do with This Girl Can and the incredible support network of the ladies I have met and had the pleasure of running with.

“In the past, I would definitely never been classed as your typical fitness person. I have always been social but took part in as least exercise as possible, especially the organised kind.

“I was never able to even run to the end of the street, let alone 5k. Then in April 2016, I came across the Active Newcastle This Girl Can running groups and thought this would be an ideal way to start running and achieve my goal.

“I almost didn't go to the first as I was so nervous, I thought I'd be left behind and wouldn't be able to run. “I plucked up the courage to go and couldn't have met a more supportive, lovely group of ladies.

“No one ever gets left behind and the encouragement and inclusion is amazing. We regularly do running events together and always support each other no matter what.

“I'm now really happy to be able to count these ladies amongst my really good friends, both within and outside of running.”

Emma and the This Girl Can runners will join 1,000 others for the Simplyhealth Great North 5k, which officially kicks off the biggest sporting weekend in the North East.

The event is perfect for those who are aiming for a shorter distance and is part of the build up to the world's biggest half marathon, the Simplyhealth Great North Run, which takes place the next day.

Emma is still relatively new to running and believes that running together can improve confidence and self esteem.

She added: “Although I am still relatively a beginner in running, I am always up for trying new challenges, and This Girl Can has been massively fundamental in that.

“This Girl Can and running has massively improved my confidence in both my running and other areas of my life, and my self esteem.

“It has also given me the opportunity and drive to try new things, that I would never have tried before.

“It's been great to meet even more incredible ladies, learn a new skill, be challenged and have fun so it will be amazing to have over twenty ladies on the start line on Saturday."

For more information about the Simplyhealth Great North Run weekend, visit: Greatrun.org/North