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IWD Community Stars

IWD Community Stars

This week, for International Women's Day, we launched our Community Superstar initiative – giving us the chance to shine a light on the many amazing women in our community who go "above and beyond" as volunteers, or as community members, supporting others or inspiring them to be healthier and happier through moving more.

Our community stories are what we value most at This Mum Runs. The sweaty selfies that accompany run updates, motherhood moments, stories about overcoming challenges, triumphant stories about goals achieved and stories that share the different perspectives and barriers some women face when it comes to their lives and their access to running and community.

We are so honoured to be sharing these stories and create a community where all women can find connection and belonging.

Here are the stories of five of these women as part of our #IWD2022 celebrations.



CLAIRE

“I'm Claire. I started running on the 3 January 2016. I was nearly 41 and very overweight with two young daughters. I started running after buying a fitbit and logging 10000 steps a day. I wanted to be the positive role model for my daughters in a world that is far too easily influenced by social media. I wanted the norm to be fit and strong rather than skinny. It’s a delicate balance and I knew I had to lead by example.

I write a blog about my running and how I started and how hard I found it and I’m proud to say that lots of women read it and contacted me to say how much it resonated with them. It’s painfully honest (www.chunkyrunner41.com).

I’m slow but determined. I’ve completed 5ks, 10ks and a few half marathons. I don’t love the running whilst it’s happening (this is an understatement!) but I love the feeling I have when I’ve finished. It’s so important that my daughters see that I struggle with it but do it anyway.

I have met so many lovely ladies through TMR and I found the support of the community invaluable.

I’m a fierce advocate for the slower runner and my motto is that if I can do it, literally anyone can.

You don’t have to win but owe it to yourself to try.

If my 40 year old self could see me now, she definitely wouldn’t recognise me, but running and exercise have become as important to me in my 40s as gin and nightclubbing were in my 20s. They are part of my personality, and this blows my mind.

I’m always keen to keep pushing myself and running led to me to triathlon. I’m currently training for 2 middle distance triathlons later this year – the big one being the Half Ironman in Weymouth in September.

There is a genuine chance that I will be last over the line (even if I make the cut-off times for each section) but I will train hard and try my best but my biggest motivator is that my daughters will be there to see me do it.”



RUBA
 
“I’m Ruba and I live in London and work for the local council. I am also a mum of two young girls. My running journey started in late 2018 after experiencing multiple bereavements; I wasn’t coping and so decided to run as a form of ‘therapy’. I then joined a running community in January 2019 and as my confidence grew, I entered races and I haven’t looked back.

For me, running has led to a journey of self-discovery. Although sporty in the past, I was never a natural runner and so it was very daunting at the beginning. However, not only have I become fitter, but I have made some amazing friends through running and I am now a better role model to my children. It has also boosted my self-esteem and I feel more confident about taking on new challenges. I achieved a childhood dream last year by completing the London Marathon; it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

What I love about running is that you don’t need a gym membership and you have flexibility in when and where you can run. I also love the sense of freedom it provides and how it has become part of my self-care. I’d like women to know that with planning, discipline and hard work, anyone can be a runner. Find your ‘why’ and remind yourself every time you think you can’t do it.

As a Muslim woman of colour in hijab, I have overcome many obstacles to get to where I am now: societal expectations, injuries, childcare issues, a lack of understanding, self-doubt, and time management, to name a few. It’s been a huge commitment, but I truly believe that I am a better person now because I run, and I am looking forward to smashing new goals!”




KATHERINE

“I never thought I liked running! I ran a bit and did a few races in my twenties, when living in London and South Africa (where I lived and worked for a few years), but at the time I preferred swimming, gym classes…and a social life!

Fast forward a few years, now living in Bristol, busy with three kids (wonderful teenagers – how did that happen so fast?) and work (I’m a medical editor for a diabetes research journal), and I needed to carve out some time for myself and my fitness.

Just after my 50th birthday, a friend suggested I join her on a TMR social run, and I was sold from the very first one! I realised just how much more enjoyable running is with a supportive, friendly group of chatty women, and soon trained to be a Run Angel, as I love being able to give something back to the TMR community.

I went from running my first 10K race in 2018 to a half marathon in 2019, and have now become a total trail-running addict – I love the longer, slower runs in the countryside and the challenge of planning and following routes (and the snacks!). I have run two ultramarathons over the past year, and here I am at the Green Man 30 mile (Green Boy) round Bristol last week, with the support of some other wonderful TMR friends!”




SEEMA

"I’m Seema. A doctor, mother, runner. I'm a full time hospital consultant in Bristol treating emergency patients and also have a leadership role there. I’m mum to a 10 year old and between my husband and I, there's lots of juggling of work, school/club drop offs/collections and of course, trying to fit all our runs in!

Running didn’t become core to my life until I became a mum. After a pretty harrowing birth, I experienced a level of trauma which made me feel highly anxious and isolated. My GP advised me to start gently running again for my mental well-being. The best decision. Running gave me a sense of freedom, a level of control and a powerful proximity to nature.

However, the sense of isolation remained. It wasn’t until November 2014 when I was added to a group on Facebook called "This Mum Runs", that the desire to run with others who may be feeling just like me, became a possibility. I was so nervous the first few social runs. We didn’t have Run Ángels then and the distance could be variable. But the kindness of all the women in the group and looping gave me confidence.

I went on to become a Run Angel and then a Run Maker as I felt so motivated to give back to this fab running community. It was so joyful coaching women who had never run, to achieve their goal of running for 30 minutes.

In 2017 I started trail running. As my hospital job became more and more intense, it seemed to me that the hillier, rockier and muddier the trail, the more able I was, to deal with the stresses of the job. I started a little off-shoot Facebook group for TMR Ladies who trail run

My most wonderful moment as a member of TMR was in January 2020 when I offered to lead an off-road route for Ladies interested in trying out trail running. Over 30 women turned up! What an adventure! We didn't know at that point that we would soon face months without being able to run together. 

The friendships made that day and over the years through TMR, continued during Lockdown and gave strength during the challenging times of treating very sick patients with COVID, clinically leading the launch of the hospital vaccination programme and improving healthcare equity across the city. This is the power of the TMR community!"



AMY

"I’m Amy, I am a 37 year old mum of one (Poppy, 8) and I am a primary school teacher from near Peterborough. I did a bit of running when I was younger when I was at school and I think I quite enjoyed it but I was never one of the ‘sporty’ girls.

When I was 21, I watched the Great North Run and randomly decided to sign myself up for the following year. The running was hard, it’s safe to say I was under-trained and I was lucky to be fairly fit so I got round but vowed never again!

Fast Forward to 2016, I had my daughter and was doing very little exercise and my anxiety had been at an all time high having had post-natal depression and struggling for several years. Once again, I had another sudden urge when watching the London Marathon and got myself in the ballot! The next thing I knew I’d got a place, joined a running club (something that terrified me) and found myself in London surrounded by thousands of other runners lapping up the incredible atmosphere.

Since then, I’ve run London again and all sorts of distances in between and made some amazing, life-long running friends.

Although my mental health will always have its ups and downs, the endorphins from being outside really help to lift me and I truly believe I have running to thank for the parent I have become. 

What keeps me going is the community- online and in real life. I love to see other women going out and doing their best no matter what that is. I don’t have to be running- just volunteering and cheering others on will have the same boost. No matter how many races or parkruns I’ve done I am always nervous and the people around me keep me going- I love a chat at the start (usually in the queue for the toilets) about “why on Earth are we doing this?!” or trying to spot other TMR kit!

The community This Mum Runs provides supports all women to get out there and I am so proud to be a small part of this. My goal with running is to encourage others to get out and get started, particularly my own daughter who over the past couple of years has developed into a great little runner. I don’t want her or my nieces (most of whom now run parkrun) to become one of the statistics we see of young women dropping out of sport in their teens. I also see this as my role as a teacher to show the children I teach that we can all enjoy movement and you don’t have to be the fastest or the best.

Being a runner isn’t about running marathons or running races though, it is about lacing up and getting out there for as little or as much as you can. Find a group of people who feel the same (online or local) and it really can change your life!"

 

#IWD2022

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