Running may not be for everyone but, says Emma Hardy, the force behind Wakefield-based Running Mamas, with the right shoes and a lot of gentle encouragement, most people who try it find it’s a great way to keep fit and have a lot of fun into the bargain.
Emma set up her women-only group in March 2013 in a bid to lose the four-and-a-half stone she’d gained during her second pregnancy.
No stranger to exercise - she’d been running since the early 1990s and swam competitively for Wales - she realised there was nowhere that catered for those women who just wanted to run for pleasure and companionship.
After attending a Run England Leadership in Running Fitness course in February 2013 and receiving her licence, she began the group with a handful of friends and now has a regular core of around 50-60 members.
Emma says: “The vast majority are mums, one or two are grandmothers.
“The group is made up of women of all ages and they come from all walks of life but they all have the same body issues.
“Since forming the group I have relaxed the ‘mama’ rule to welcome dads on a Thursday.
“This is known as the dad’s division and they quite often decide to go for a bike ride together while their partners are out on a run.
“I’m also starting an over 65s session - the first one of which is this Friday.
“One woman who joined Running Mamas and who had never run before came with a personal goal of running 5k.
“She has just completed her second marathon - and all in the space of a year.”
The group meets four times a week during the summer and three times during the winter.
“I never wanted to join a club when I was a regular runner as I thought I’d be too slow,” says Emma. “But at Running Mamas that is never an issue.
“Here, there’s no such thing as being too slow although the Monday and Friday groups are geared more to improvers.
“No one gets left behind.
“We start beginners off with intermittent walking and running and within a couple of weeks they are usually running.
“If we have any more advanced runners who want to make progress we just get them to go on ahead, loop around and come back to join the main group.
“And on the first Monday of the month I run a Just Run session for improvers where we cover around 8-10 miles.
“Running in a group helps with motivation. If you’re chatting to a friend as you run along, it’s amazing just how quickly the miles go by.”
Beginners and improvers: Sunday, 9am, Sandal Castle; Thursday, 6.45pm , Thomas a Becket School (dads welcome). Improvers and advanced: Monday, 6.45pm, Walton Playground; Friday, 7pm Pledwick Well Pub car park, Newmillerdam (summer only)
Prices: £3.50 per session; £10 for three sessions; £20 for six sessions; £20 per hour for individual training
Contact: mobile: 07939 100857