Meet Some of The Women’s Groups Taking On #HERVIRTUAL5K
Joining a running club or group can help keep you motivated, means you’re more likely to stick to a routine and is a great way to meet new people and have fun.
It has been a little more difficult during the pandemic, with group running largely shut down during the national lockdowns, but many groups have been able to adapt and look forward to coming back stronger as normality returns.
We spoke to three of the women’s running groups who have members taking part in #HERVIRTUAL5K to find out about how they got started, how the groups have developed and how they’ve adapted to the challenges of the pandemic.
SHE RUNS: CARDIFF
What’s the story behind how and when She Runs: Cardiff got started? She Runs: Cardiff was started by a group of friends who were all passionate runners. We wanted to share that passion with others. We wanted a club where the focus was to be welcoming and supportive of all women runners, regardless of speed, experience or fitness. We felt that the more traditional mixed sex clubs can be intimidating for many women for various reasons, and so the idea for an all female club where the focus is first and foremost on the “joy of running” was born. In Welsh “Rhed a Bydd Hapus” (run and be happy).
How many members did you start with, and how much have you grown? We started as a group of 30 who were all involved in the setting up of the club in October 2019. We have over 1,500 members in our Facebook group a year and a half later.
How have you had to adapt during the Coronavirus pandemic? Obviously our twice weekly social runs were halted in March 2020 because of the Coronavirus pandemic. We quickly established our virtual run club every Wednesday and Sunday. Our members run by themselves (or in small groups as per covid rules) and post up their selfies & a summary of how their run went in the Facebook group. At the end of the day we have a virtual run club round up. We have been doing various virtual medal challenges such as Miles for Mind, Run around the World and Run up to Christmas as a team. In addition we have developed our own monthly challenges such as Strava Bingo, Run around the Diff and we’ve held 2 virtual relays in aid of local charities. We’ve done some other things such as the Plank challenge too. All of these challenges have kept our motivation and engagement up whilst we have not been able to run together officially.
What are you most looking forward to when lockdown restrictions have eased? We can’t wait to get back to arranging some in person runs and having some meet ups at local races!
Have virtual events been a good substitute for real races? Virtual events have really helped keep the focus and motivation going. Initially we thought we would have to end our weekly Medal Monday feature once lockdown started but actually every week at least one or two of our members have a medal to share! It’s amazing the way race companies have responded to the challenges of the last year.
BADASS MOTHER RUNNERS
What’s the story behind how and when Badass Mother Runners got started? Badass Mother Runners started in October 2018, initially just as an Instagram page. I’d had a rough few months after losing my job and was in a very low place mentally. Since completing the couch to 5k app in 2016 running had become my go-to stress reliever and was helping me process my thoughts… but then I got injured. With no running I needed something to put my energy into. I’d been feeling so low and it bothered me that women (especially mums) are so incredibly down on themselves. I needed to feel more like a badass but couldn’t find what I was looking for. I set up BAMR hoping that if I can encourage other women to feel more empowered then maybe a little bit might rub off on me.
How many members did you start with, and how much have you grown? We started off with zero members, just little old me and my iphone. Luckily my background is in marketing and social media (I’m a total social media nerd) so was able to grow the instagram community and also a Facebook community. 2 years in and we now have a social media following of over 30k across various platforms.
How have you had to adapt during the Coronavirus pandemic? It’s been such a shame to see all the real-life events get cancelled but I think our members have needed the group more than ever which has led to it growing considerably despite the strange times we are in. BAMR was supposed to just be a hobby, a side hustle around my (new lovely) full time job but like many others I ended up on furlough then redundant. This has meant I have been able to give BAMR more time and attention; we launched virtual challenges to help keep our community positive and engaged and to keep people out running as we all know how beneficial it is for mental health.
What are you most looking forward to when lockdown restrictions have eased? So much! Actually seeing people in real life! Parkrun starting up again (and finally getting my 50 tshirt!!) Real races and the buzz of a real-life event! Have virtual events been a good substitute for real races? I think virtual races and challenges have really helped a lot of people during the pandemic! So many of our members say that they help them stay motivated and there’s something for everyone! I don’t think anything beats a real event but virtual challenges are great!
What’s the story behind how and when Dolly Mixtures got started? Dolly Mixtures was started when I asked a group of my running friends if they could meet to run at a set time twice a week. Initially this was to help me run more as it is always much more fun with company.
How many members did you start with, and how much have you grown? We started with 7 ladies and now our Facebook group has over 750 members. Before the pandemic we were regularly seen running in large groups and one of our first couch to 5k courses saw over 80 ladies join us in Welshpool, since then we have had to limit numbers as 80 ladies running down the canal path did not always go down well with other users.
How have you had to adapt during the Coronavirus pandemic? We have become much more active on Social Media and organised many virtual challenges to help ladies get out and about. We have tried to focus on wellbeing and the majority of the challenges were achievable regardless of fitness level. We wanted to encourage our members to enjoy the outdoors from their home, with their family or pets and many of the challenges were photo based which brought smiles to many.
What are you most looking forward to when lockdown restrictions have eased? When it is safe to do so we are very much looking forward to getting back together in small groups and exploring new routes. Just sharing our runs with our wonderful members and enjoying the company and no doubt laughter.
Have virtual events been a good substitute for real races? Virtual events have kept our members motivated but I am sure there are many who will be very excited to get back to the race scene.
FIND A RUNNING CLUB
If you’re considering joining a running club or group, do not hesitate! You can find information on the R4W website about clubs or groups available near you, whether it’s an athletics club or a more informal social running group that would suit you better.
Click here to find out more!