We Catch Up With the Founder of These Girls Run, the Community Aiming to Empower Women and Beat the Winter Blues

Words: Emily Bicknell
Photos: These Girls Run
Thursday 28 December 2023
reading time: min, words

We spoke to Notts’ own Molly Slater-Davison on the founding of a new running community aiming to empower women and beat the winter blues. Safe, sweaty, supportive: These Girls Run and they’re here to stay…

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As the leading all-female running and wellness club in the UK, These Girls Run are helping to change the way women and non-binary people run in Nottingham for the better. Founded in October 2021 by Nottingham-born Molly Slater-Davison, These Girls Run has since grown to include nine city locations across the country, starting in York and now including Manchester and London. The Nottingham group alone has over 230 members. They meet every Saturday morning at 10:15am outside Sweaty Betty on the High Street, for a five kilometre ‘Build Me Up’ run, jog or walk. By offering an empowering community and safe, supportive environment, These Girls Run is helping more women across the country to participate in city centre running.

Beyond the benefits of increasing physical fitness, running is great for mental health, which is especially important as winter sets in. Despite this, concerns for safety in the darker winter months are impacting the way that women exercise outdoors. A recent study by These Girls Run found that 97% of this community changes their approach to running in winter because of safety concerns, whilst 43% stop running completely. Yet, thanks to clubs like this one, women’s running groups have risen in popularity across the UK in recent years, allowing safety in numbers.

Molly explains, “I wanted to feel safe and help other women to feel safe too. I was running in the dark again after long summer days and completely forgot the fear and prang of anxiety that night-time running can bring. So, it was born out of a desire to feel safe and meet new people, too. Living in your twenties can be a tricky time as you transcend through various friendship groups and cities!”.

As part of a movement to empower women to feel safe and confident enough to run all year round, Sweaty Betty partnered with These Girls Run to launch country-wide running clubs. “I really resonated with Sweaty Betty’s messaging in my early twenties - empowering women through fitness and beyond. I went to their York shop with a proposition, to help out with their existing run club and bring more women together. TGR had just started in York and we were getting a great turnout, so I offered to help by merging the two groups - it was a hit, and the rest has all come from lots of hard work with their amazing team at head office and in-store. They completely trust me, and I’m really grateful for that.” Each running club meets at their local Sweaty Betty for a circular five kilometre route that finishes back at the shop, with different ambassadors setting different paces, so walkers are welcome, too.

These Girls Run is the matchmaker to finding community in a sport that can too often leave you flying solo

These Girls Run offers a welcoming environment for all ages, including many students who’ve moved to the city for the first time and since become core members. It’s a great way to meet other like-minded women and bond over a shared hobby, no matter your ability. By creating safe spaces, These Girls Run is helping more women try their first 5k, run with others for the first time, or return to the sport, with confidence. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a seasoned runner, the goal of this community is just to enjoy getting out and exercising. If you’ve ever exchanged a smile with a fellow runner as you passed them in the street, thinking wistfully that you could potentially be running buddies, These Girls Run is the matchmaker to finding community in a sport that can too often leave you flying solo.

“In November 2023, our Winter Safety campaign went live, showcasing our community and the research I’ve been doing over the last month to find out how unsafe women feel in the winter. Seeing this go live, with a brand that I’ve always wanted to work with, has been such a powerful moment. It feels like the culmination of all our hard work - and seems to have led us to a place where we can support and encourage women this winter. I’m feeling very grateful and proud of our community.”

The community spans beyond the weekly runs to other events, including September’s These Girls Run retreat. This weekend escape to Worlingham Hall was filled with active wellness activities like yoga, swimming, dancing and, of course, running. But there were also dinners, discos and countryside walks that helped to build the foundations of strong and meaningful friendships between women that otherwise may never have met. As a member of the These Girls Run community, you realise that this is the aim of every run, coffee and chat. 

“Seeing TGR in the city where I’m from is a massive pinch me moment. Growing up in Nottingham was great, and I spent most of my weekends in the city centre with family and friends. My grandad is an ultra runner, but a lot of my family didn’t see running as an opportunity for them, particularly the women. So, I hope I can create a safe space in the city which I love, to give something back to the area for women of all backgrounds.”

So, what can you expect from a These Girls Run event? You’ll be welcomed by the ambassadors, with a chance to leave your bags and coats in the shop whilst you run. There’s a group warm-up outside on High Street, where the ambassadors talk you through the route before you set off on a chatty 5k at your pace.

The ambassadors lead each run; one at the front of the group for those wishing to run at a faster pace, one in the middle of the group and one at the back for gentler paces and walking. Even if you’re not feeling the run that day, the group always goes for a drink and a chat after. Blend is a particular favourite spot.

These Girls Run is much more than a running group. It’s a space to meet new people and make friends in the city, explore routes you’ve not yet encountered and chat about womanhood. Finding your people can sometimes be tricky, but communities like these are a real helping hand for women who want to build supportive friendships, while also feeling safe to exercise in winter. Good weather isn’t guaranteed, but great company and a generous helping of endorphins are.

Check out ‘These Girls Run: Nottingham’ on Facebook and join their first run of 2024 on Saturday 6 January


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