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'We're not a running club. We’re like agents of change for women who have been inactive for a long time'

Mel Bound
Mel Bound leads the This Mum Runs group in Bristol - Andrew Fox

Mel Bound enjoyed an active lifestyle growing up and in early adulthood, but after becoming a mother-of-two and coupled with a serious injury, her physical confidence shrunk and she struggled to find the will to exercise. That was until she founded This Mum Runs (TMR), a nationwide community empowering women everywhere to be healthier and happier. 

 

I was knackered after I had kids and suffered with postnatal depression. I then slipped a disc in my back, had surgery and spent a year learning how to walk again. I went from being someone who was very confident physically, to thinking, ‘I don’t think I can ever run again.’

One day, I posted on a local mum’s Facebook group, pouring my heart out, asking if any women felt the same who would want to come and meet me for a run in Bristol after I put the kids to bed? Over 75 women turned up. It was terrifying. I realised there were lots of women feeling the same as me, many had been active before and had just lapsed because of kids. Eight weeks later, a woman posted in the Facebook group saying that she was an overweight mum-of-two who had been sitting on the sofa for the past 20 years drinking wine. She didn’t feel she could come along and join us. Lots of women replied on the post, saying that they felt exactly the same. That was a pivotal moment. A few months later, I quit my job and went full time with This Mum Runs. 

Mel Bound says This Mum Runs couldn’t be any less like a running club Credit: Andrew Fox

About two thirds of the women at This Mum Runs have done no exercise since leaving school. They turn up in their husband’s decorating T-shirt or a pair of really faded maternity leggings. They’re terrified it’s going to be like PE because they had such a bad experience at school, which they’ve carried with them into their adult life. A lot of what we do is about allowing women to reconnect with themselves physically. We train women from not being able to run at all, to running for half an hour. They get their confidence back and buy some new kit. About three or four weeks in you see them having a bit of a wobble, but it’s a fear of success. 

We are not a running club. We’re more like agents of change for women who have been inactive for a long time. This Mum Runs is about stripping away the pressure and having time to yourself, a bit of headspace and meeting new friends. Everything we do is about the number of minutes moving. We have a looping system so everyone runs together. Our team of ‘run angels’ are volunteers and the heartbeat of everything we do. They lead the 30, 45 or 60 minute runs in Bristol, Bath, London, Cardiff, Gloucester, Salisbury and Portsmouth.

Loads of non-mums run with us, to the point where we almost changed our name! The average age is 35-55, but mums in our community have started bringing their mums to runs and mums  have started to run with their daughters. We’ve got a community of 80,000 women with 350 ambassadors, but by 2023 we want to have a million mums active. Our community runs happen twice a week, on a Wednesday evening and a Sunday morning.

Mel Bound was speaking to Fiona Tomas