It’s mid April as I start writing this and it’s the week of the Paris Marathon. I don’t know what it is about doing a big race but it always causes me to be very thoughtful about a lot of things, my life, my family, my successes, my failures (thankfully not too many of the latter). I’m even more thoughtful at the moment as I know in the next week Run Mummy Run will hit a huge milestone. For what I once described as my little hobby we will succeed in reaching 10,000 members on our Facebook community. I still pinch myself when I think how oblivious I was when I started the Facebook group. It started with 3 women and my intention had only been to find a few like minded women who had the same busy lives as me but still wanted to maintain their running. Never did I think in just over 2 years we would have grown to a staggering 10,000 and won 2 awards.
I remember in the beginning after a few months when I hit the 100 members mark. I was amazed that there were this number of people that actually wanted to join my little group! I loved meeting the new members online, all who shared a love of running and I got so much from it on a personal level too. Soon I found my motivation for running had increased. ‘Well’ I thought ‘If she can get out for a run before she starts work after a night awake with a teething baby, then why can’t I?’ and off I’d run. The posts and pictures kept me enthusiastic and dedicated to my running, the group was becoming infectious!
From the very beginning I always wanted to keep the posts positive and inspirational, steering away from negativity or anything that might bring the members down. As it grew bigger it was becoming a huge task managing the group and by then a Twitter following was building too. After talking to my (very supportive) husband we agreed he would support me, our family and Run Mummy Run so that I could dedicate all of my time and energy into my exciting new venture. In Summer of 2013 I made the big decision to leave my part time job.
Constantly caring for and looking after the group was essential for me and for nearly 2 years I worked day and night, 7 days a week even on my holidays abroad to maintain this. I sacrificed a lot to ensure that I nurtured the group and made sure nothing came in the way of the special community I’d created. Life was hectic, I was juggling phone calls around the children, dashing to meetings and back to get to the childminder on time. I remember on one occasion I went to see a solicitor for some advice and as I rushed to pull my notepad out of my handbag and my son’s dummy shot out and flew at him nearly taking his eye out, there was no need for an explanation, Run Mummy Run is our name after all. Tears were regular, usually from the late nights and exhaustion of it all but I loved the group with a passion and got so much from seeing women become as motivated in their running as I was. They were all supporting each other and empowered by the good that running brings and it was enough for me to keep pushing harder.
So 28 months on, the pressure has eased thankfully and I am lucky enough to say I have gained a livelihood from my passion. We now have our online shop famous for its multi-coloured compression socks plus other items. We host our own weekend running retreats where our members can come for the weekend to meet, have fun, socialise….oh and run of course. I have recently co-founded a separate company RunFitUK. These are running specific fitness clubs which benefit many of our Run Mummy Run members. Lastly we mustn’t forget the new craze of virtual races which has really taken off this year and these races keep our members motivated. I am so lucky to be facing many exciting challenges and opportunities and when they say ‘dreams happen’ yes they absolutely do!
On a few occasions I have been criticised by using a name that is not inclusive to all. I completely understand this point of view. All I can do is assure people that we are one of the most inclusive communities around. We welcome any female who wants to or loves to run. As you may have guessed by now, the group was formed purely to benefit me and a few friends that had children. Never did I imagine the membership grow to whopping 10,000. The name was based on myself, a Mum who struggled to keep her passion for running going when she had children. The name is where our roots have come from and to change this now would be like changing the whole story. About 25% of our community are not Mothers and regular feedback we receive says they are enjoying the community as much as members with children.
So what is going on behind the scenes now to keep the trainers on track? Well firstly we have a fabulous Social Media team who work tirelessly on the Facebook group ensuring posts, conversations and the overall ‘feel’ of the group is positive. These girls work intermittently day and evening, they deal with some difficult situations, have to think on their feet and are also great mediators. Their role is so important and they are an integral part of what keeps the group’s wheels turning. We also have our team of 9 amazing Community Ambassadors. These ladies fully believe in the Run Mummy Run ethos and everything we stand for. They believe in our vision and what we want to achieve for the future and help push this forward. They are also a wonderful support to our community, offering help, advice and guiding our members in whatever way they can. Not only do they help our community members but they provide me with great support. I now have a team I can bounce ideas off, they tell me when an idea is great but also tell me when one isn’t. I need this and I don’t believe Run Mummy Run would be expanding at the rate it is without their hard work, dedication and passion (love you girls!).
So we’re nearly there apart from one set of people, the most special people of all, the ones that without them we would not be here. Without their loyalty and passion we would not be able to carry on our journey and that’s our members. In just over two years I have seen some of the most heart warming, tear jerking inspirational stories that I’ve ever seen in my life. Not all stories are happy ones. Many are dealing with illness, sick loved ones, fighting battles with cancer and other illnesses, watching a loved one pass away and dealing with the bereavement that follows, there are too many to list. Still, with all of this these amazing women are lacing up their trainers and getting out of the door and running. Running for health, to improve their weight, dealing with a mental illness, wanting to be a good role model for their son or daughter or running through the pain of a lost friend, relative or even child. Whatever the reason, they know running in their life makes them a better person and they are happier for it. They show courage, tenacity and determination. The support and confidence we all give each other is special. As a group they are an extremely powerful force and when watching the conversations unfold at times it’s not difficult to come away sometimes thinking ‘wow we could move mountains’.
There’s a saying I love ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much’ Our amazing community of special women epitomises this. Long may these days continue……
This blog was released on achieving our 10,000th member. Happy days.
A very special thanks to our team for their continuous hardwork and dedication:
Community Ambassadors: Magdalena Kratynska, Shona Darley, Julie Bond, Lisa Mia Edwards, Fiona Wright, Tracey Brown, Shelley Nightingale, Clair Ramsden, Julie Bassett.
Social Media Admin Team: Charlotte Harding, Ellie May, Belinda Bryant, Catherine Mulrenan
Web Support and Reviews: Sarah Dudegon also available at Art of Your Success
Merchandise: Gemma Henderson