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…
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