I LOOKED down at my phone, hunched over and desperately gasping for some breath, analysing the numbers on the screen.

According to the running app I downloaded just 10 minutes ago, I hadn’t even managed to get a half mile from my house without needing to catch my breath.

One year ago, running only a mile seemed like an impossible task. Nowadays I can enjoy a six-mile run without a bother, only stopping to document the beautiful scenery around me.

Last month the 35th Alloa Half Marathon took place with around 3,500 runners participating.

Inspired by those that got themselves involved, next year I plan to join in on the action and I hope, for some of you reading, that you will too.

Thirteen miles might seem like a daunting task but by gradually increasing your activity levels week by week you will be running like Mo Farah in no time – well, almost.

Having started my training last week, in the rare but beautiful Scottish sunshine, I ran three miles down ‘Look Aboot Ye Brae’. Accessible from Clackmannan, the flat land is perfect for those who haven’t run any amount of distance before.

Pace yourself slowly, break up your mile into a walk/jog split and test where your cardio level is at.

Don’t hit the road full throttle; throwing all your energy into the first 10 minutes of your run will leave you panting and wheezing before you’ve even got to the end of the road – trust me.

Start slowly and try not to Usain Bolt it, as tempting as it may be.

For those looking to start off walking, Gartmorn Dam County Park and Nature Reserve offers an idyllic setting to get the heart rate going.

A frequent route for many cyclists, walkers and runners is the short circuit, roughly three miles in distance, that runs around the edge of the dam.

The park, however, has extensive networks, linking neighbouring communities, allowing you to stretch yourself further and diversify your weekly distances.

Home to a range of local wildlife, even if you have decided to head off by yourself, you will be in good company.

From April 1 this year, a rule has been introduced by the UKA rules of competition prohibiting the use of headphones in road races.

Personally, I prefer training with my music in for motivation but be aware that you will not be able to do this on race day. Also, if you do choose to listen to your tunes be aware of your surroundings.

The key to training for a half marathon, even a 5k, is consistency and persistence, and maybe some comfortable trainers. Here in Clackmannanshire there are any number of places you can go to run with stunning views to keep the mind distracted from the inevitable stitch.

When you’re out and about I encourage you to snap a picture of where you are training and to send your photos in to us here at the Advertiser by emailing editorial@alloaadvertiser.co.uk