The Women's Running Network
Some women can feel intimidated by running with men, who are often more competitive. Packing in the sport is not the answer, but joining a women-only running group like the Women’s Running Network just might be. Running in a group can act as an extra motivation and many women will feel more confident with the safety in numbers.
The Women’s Running Network, founded in Devon in 1998, was the brainchild of Peggy Wiseman and Pauline Beare. The aims and objectives are to:
- Inspire women of all ages to run for fun, fitness and health.
- Give women the chance to participate in amateur athletics at all levels.
- Target and support the complete beginner of any ability.
- Bring women-only running groups to local areas.
- Recruit and train leaders to provide appropriate support to new women runners.
Although the Women’s Running Network is affiliated to UK Athletics, it is not a typical running club. For instance, there is no single club night and there is not a single clubhouse. Instead, it consists of locally organised groups that are coordinated through the network. The majority of these groups are in the south west of England.
The Women’s Running Network prides itself on supporting the complete novice. The groups aim to be fun, social, non-competitive and open to every age, shape and size. Even unfit women who have never run before can find a starting place at the Women’s Running Network. Novices will be given sensible advice, support and company while they run, and Women’s Running Network will help them to identify and reach their goals.
Group LeadersEvery group leader at the Women’s Running Network holds either a Leadership in Running Fitness or Fitness in Running and Walking qualification gained through England Athletics, and because the groups are relatively small and local, runners get individual attention and their group leader will get to know them personally.
Annual membership is £20 plus a £5 England Athletics registration fee for a competition licence if you intend to participate in events. There are lots of opportunities to meet both socially and at Women’s Running Network-organised events that raise considerable sums of money for charity. A quarterly newsletter keeps members up to date with events and offers advice, running tips and information on groups throughout the country. Members also receive a Women's Running Network T-shirt, a training log book, a hand held water bottle and a membership card offering discounts at running shops.
The Women’s Running Network’s group leaders are as varied as the members themselves, with all ages, sizes, shapes, abilities and experience levels represented. What all these leaders have in common is a love of running. Those interested in becoming a group leader must enjoy sharing their knowledge and experience of running, be patient, value a complete beginner as much as anyone in their group and delight in the success of others.