In this way sport can also help women to gain economic independence. Most of all, women doing a sport have access to community and institutional resources as well as mentors and female role models. These contacts boost their self-determination, encourage them to take the initiative and foster their desire to become leaders.
Run Mummy Run (RMR) began the day Leanne Davies created a Facebook group in 2012. “I’m not an elite athlete or running coach, I’m just a mum who loves to run for all the good it brings, and I’m passionate about helping other women do the same,” she said.
When Leanne became active on social media, she just wanted to motivate a small group of friends to run because when she had children, she could barely fit time into her overloaded schedule to do any kind of exercise. She would often find time to run only in the evening when her husband had finished his work and was back home.
“It would often be late on cold, dark nights when I would pound the pavement alone. I missed having the company and the support of other runners to chat to about my running highs and lows,” Leanne wrote.
In Dec. 2012, after running with her friend Wendy, she told her she was determined to do something about her frustrations and limited time to run. Back home she decided to create a network of like-minded women who shared her love of running and wanted to talk about it. The initial group consisted of three members: Wendy, Leanne and another female friend.
“As well as arranging runs, we motivated and encouraged one another to get out the door, especially on the days when we had no choice but to be alone and staying inside in the warm felt more appealing. We also shared our kit recommendations, funny experiences, and the running knowledge we were gaining via trial and error.”
The group became increasingly popular and the number of members grew to 1,000, then we were 5,000 and at present RMR has more than 50,000 members.
What is so special about this group is the human factor. The members support and encourage each other tremendously. Nobody criticizes or judges anyone. And, said Leanne, “despite the name of the group, you do not have to be a mother. All women are invited to join the group.”
Running provides many physical benefits. It helps to keep your heart healthy, strengthen your bones, muscles and tendons and reduces your risk of developing a serious illness such as cancer. And numerous studies have shown that runners live longer than inactive people. “As running raises the heart rate and burns calories, around 100 per mile on average, it will help you maintain a healthy weight while still allowing you to treat yourself occasionally to cake and chocolate,” Leanne said.
An early-morning run in the fresh air makes you feel so good. And the reason for that is when you run your body releases endorphins. These hormones act as a stress-reliever and they reduce symptoms of depression. When you start running you often find out that something that was bothering you is no longer a problem.
Tracie Kirby runs because her son can’t. “I’m a single mum to a profoundly disabled, gorgeous little boy who was diagnosed with a life-limiting condition. Running helps me zone out and clear my mind,” she said. And Hayley Milam runs to escape. “It’s my ‘me’ time away from three young children. Being a stay-at-home mum is hard work and running is my mental and physical stress release.”
Many women believe they cannot run. They think it’s only for slim and trim women, so RMR has come up with a popular slogan: “She believed she could, so she did.” One of the members of RMR, Sarah Spells, was overweight and convinced she was not meant to run. Then, one day, she had the courage to go to her local gym.
“What a life-changer it has been! I have progressed beyond my wildest expectations. I have lost six stone, had three children and finished an ultramarathon. Running has given me confidence, a belief in myself that anything is possible and lots of friends … Always believe in yourself,” said Sarah.
This book provides a wealth of advice for novice and seasoned runners. One of the first things a recruit learns is the importance of “Jeffing.” Jeffing is an abbreviation of the name Jeff Galloway and stands for the Run Walk Run method developed by this former Olympic athlete. He discovered that regular walking breaks enable novice runners to fight fatigue and reduce their chance of getting injured. Jeffing means that you can run for five minutes, then walk for two minutes and repeat four times to run a total of 20 minutes instead of running for 20 minutes continuously when you have never run before for such a long period of time.
Novice runners also often believe that energy drinks will boost their reserves. Unless you are running a long distance it is much healthier to drink water, and after a long run there is no need to spend money on costly protein drinks and bars. The best way to recover is to have some food that is high in protein, such as a glass of milk, nuts, egg or cheese.
Lately, beetroot has become increasingly popular after studies showed it can enhance one’s stamina and endurance. The secret behind beetroot’s enhancing powers is its high content in nitrates. Drinking beetroot juice regularly or incorporating the vegetable into meals can increase the energy available to muscle cells.
Bananas are also particularly good for runners because of their content in carbohydrates, which play the role of fuel, and they are high in potassium which maintains blood pressure, strengthens the muscles and regulates the body’s fluid levels.