We’re all in this to­gether

When life seems hard, there’s so much com­fort and joy to be had in be­ing part of a com­mu­nity of like-minded peo­ple. As th­ese four women found, to­gether we can do great things…

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Be­ing part of a com­mu­nity can bring lots of joy, say th­ese read­ers

‘We’re mums on the run!’

Mel Bound, 44, lives in Bris­tol with her hus­band, Ian, and chil­dren, Lyla, seven, and Raffi, three.

‘Lac­ing up my train­ers, I can’t wait to get out in the fresh air. The great thing is, I know I won’t be alone: there will be dozens of us run­ning to­gether, en­joy­ing the ex­er­cise and, more im­por­tantly, grab­bing the chance to do some­thing purely for our­selves.

Since set­ting up This Mum Runs, our com­mu­nity of ac­tive par­ents has grown to around 17,000 run­ners, with 250 group lead­ers. The idea of get­ting fit out­side with a group of like-minded women seems to have struck a chord, and we’re go­ing from strength to strength.

Grow­ing up, I’d al­ways been ac­tive. I did a sports science de­gree at univer­sity and went on to work in gym man­age­ment, find­ing time for a run most days. But all that stopped when I had my two chil­dren. I loved be­ing a mum, but it

‘The beauty of run­ning out­doors is that any­one can do it’

was full on, and when I had to have surgery for a slipped disc, it be­came harder still to get out and do some ex­er­cise. I felt tired all the time, and I’d lost so much con­fi­dence that I didn’t think I’d be able to run even if I tried.

Feel­ing de­spon­dent one evening af­ter I’d put the kids to bed, I poured my heart out in a post on a Face­book page for lo­cal mums. I wrote about how low I felt, how badly I wanted to get back on track, and asked if any­one fan­cied be­ing my run­ning buddy. I hoped I might get a cou­ple of replies, but the re­sponse was over­whelm­ing. It was clear my mes­sage had con­nected with many oth­ers.

I planned to meet peo­ple by the gates of a nearby park at 7.30pm the fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day. When the day ar­rived, it was a cold, dark Novem­ber evening, and I was sure no one would turn up. Then, through the win­ter driz­zle, I saw a cou­ple of women ar­rive. It was a relief to know

I wouldn’t be alone. How­ever, to my amaze­ment, more and more women ar­rived. Be­fore I knew it, there were 75 of us, all look­ing to me to lead them on a gen­tle run!

All we did on that first evening was run to the end of the road and back. It was only 10 min­utes’ run­ning, but it felt like a huge achieve­ment, and we were all cheer­ing each other on. It was an ex­tra­or­di­nary mo­ment.

With our Wed­nes­day evening run a reg­u­lar fix­ture, our group be­gan to grow. Within a month, there were 300 of us, and women be­gan to get in touch from all over the city. De­ter­mined to help oth­ers ex­pe­ri­ence com­mu­nity run­ning, I started to train other mums to or­gan­ise their own events. We called them Run An­gels, and they branched out from the Bris­tol area to Bath, and then Lon­don.

One of the things I realised early on is that women have mas­sive is­sues when it comes to ex­er­cise. So many women come along and ask, “It’s not go­ing to be like PE at school, is it?” But the beauty of run­ning out­doors is that any­one can do it. Once the emo­tional bar­ri­ers are taken away, they quickly progress and em­brace the friend­ship and sup­port that run­ning in a group brings.

I never would have imag­ined my heart­felt plea for a run­ning buddy would have grown into such a huge net­work. My plan now is to get as many women run­ning in the UK as pos­si­ble and I’d love to hear from any­one want­ing to join us.

It’s great that so many mums are get­ting fit, but the best thing is the sense of ca­ma­raderie. It’s hard work be­ing a mum, and so many women have told me that the group gives them a few bliss­ful min­utes away from their hec­tic fam­ily lives, a time when they can re­dis­cover their old selves from be­fore they had chil­dren. If any­one is hav­ing a chal­leng­ing time, we have a thriv­ing Face­book group where there is al­ways masses of en­cour­age­ment and un­der­stand­ing. That’s what our run­ning com­mu­nity is all about.’

Mel’s run­ning com­mu­nity is go­ing from strength to strength

‘The best thing is the sense of ca­ma­raderie,’ says Mel

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