My guest on today’s episode of Period Story is Matilda Egere-Cooper, an award-winning journalist, podcast host and founder of Fly Girl Collective – a platform and community launched in 2018 to help black women and women of colour level up their wellness and lifestyle.
In this episode, Matilda shares:
- How eating less sugar reduced her period pain
- The fitness and wellness journey that led to her getting into running
- The value of community in helping her stick with running
- How to start running
- How runcations help her explore new cities
- How she finds running marathons character building
- The experience of running an ultramarathon
- And of course, the story of her first period
Matilda says that running has taught her that it’s important for us to be courageous and tackle whatever life may bring.
Thank you, Matilda!
Get in touch with Matilda:
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Le’Nise: Thank you so much for coming on the show with Matilda, I’m really excited to speak to you, you do so many interesting things. But before we get into all of that, let’s talk about the story of your very first period.
Matilda: Oh, yes. This taking me way back! But I distinctly remember being 13. And that’s because at school, I remember that that was considered to be the bull’s eye age for when it was going to happen. So I remember when I turned 13, I mean, it certainly wasn’t on the dot, but I knew, okay, I think it’s going to happen this year. That being said, when it did happen, I was pretty surprised. I can remember having this feeling of wetting myself and I went to the old house that I used to live in. I remember going into our, there was a bathroom in our garage, so it wasn’t like our main bathroom went into the bathroom, put my pants down, and I was like, Oh, oh, what happened?
And I just remember just being like, just seeing all my knickers being wet. And then I just thought, Oh, snap. I think. I think this is it. I think this is my period. And I don’t recall anyone being in the house at the time. This was certainly before we had mobile phones. But I think when my step, stepfather got back home, I remember him sort of confirming, yeah, that you got your period. And then when mom came, she was sort of like, Oh yeah, get a tissue, kind of wrap up because, you know, I honestly can’t remember the process of learning about using sanitary towels because that’s all my mom ever used. But I remember it was like getting a tissue first, and then it was like, okay, right, get Always. And to this day I still use Always because that was like the first sanitary towels I started using.
Le’Nise: That’s interesting that you went and you told your your stepdad, because a lot of like a lot of the women I’ve spoken to on the podcast, they’ve very much wanted to speak to a female relative or a female friend.
Matilda: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s because he was in the house first, I think when he came back from work and at the time, I had a stepsister, so I just naturally presumed, okay, if this has happened to my stepsister, then he’ll kind of know what to do. But I remember there was a sense of, okay, when Mom comes home, she can probably tell, you know, about this and so forth. But I definitely didn’t feel embarrassed other than the fact that my knickers were, you know, completely drenched. It was just like, okay, right, this happens, you know, what do I do now kind of thing?
Le’Nise: And then once your mom came home, she gave you some pads and then did this this feeling of calm and lack of embarrassment around your period continue?
Matilda: Well. That’s it. That’s the interesting part. So I think I kind of knew the bare basics of when you have your periods. Obviously, sanitary towels. But it sparked an issue around hygiene because not realising that, okay, you have your period is what it is but there’s it puberty. So there’s all these other things that are kind of happening with you. And actually. When I was at school, there was a situation where. A couple of my friends, they almost had like a bit of an intervention. Like after PE once they kind of sat me down, they said, Matilda, FYI you’ve got an odor, you kind of stink. And I remember being so horrified at the time just thinking, Oh my God, what’s wrong with me?
And I think a lot of it just came into play because, you know, when you’re on your period and you’re sweaty and let’s say, you know, you’re not keeping your clothes clean and, you know, I was quite a sporty girl. It it was that for me was probably the most traumatic being that I associated with my period. So I think going forward, it became a thing where I just need to be really, really clean around this time of the month. I need to just make sure that I’m double washing, you know, all the things you can think of to just be as, you know, proper as a teen as you can be.
Le’Nise: All right. So apart from, you know, putting a focus on hygiene, like actual hygiene and like the real sense of it. What was your experience of your period like during your teenage years?
Matilda: Horrible. Like, I mean, my cramps were, they felt pretty traumatic and. There was no I mean, obviously, you know, we talked recently about the impact of like diet and all these things. And I mean, nobody diagnosed it. It was just here, take painkillers, take Feminax and actually got to the point where the painkillers weren’t even working. So I think I started off on like paracetamol and then I discovered Feminax when I went to uni around my uni age. And that was just sort of my go to I mean, I was completely wiped out. Water bottle, Feminax, sitting in a tub of hot water, praying to God that this, you know, let this pass. And it was always for a day, but it was just terrible. So it got to the point that whenever I knew my period was coming, I would literally just brace myself because I knew it would just be 24 hours of pain.
Le’Nise: And is it still like that?
Matilda: No. That’s the shocking thing about it. It’s like I can’t remember the last time I’ve had cramps. And the only thing I can guess is because my lifestyle has changed. So like when I was much younger, loved sweets, loved sugar, I loved all the things. But I think once I got into running the better part of a decade now, you know. You know, again, I can’t say I monitored it and suddenly it was like a switch whereby the pain went, but it just became a thing where it’s.like, Oh gosh, I don’t need Feminax anymore. I’m eating a lot healthier. I’m looking after myself. And it just meant period comes. It’s like nothing. I know. Shocking.
Le’Nise: Wow literally, just unknowingly through running started changing the way you eat and then the pain stops. Okay, That’s so interesting.
Matilda: Yeah. And it was just a weeding process because, like I said, I became so accustomed to using painkillers. But as I was going on, like my own fitness and wellness journey, I was thinking about holistic health as well. So I wanted to move away from using medication generally. So I don’t know if it just was one of those things where there was a period where I just stop until you need to firm this, and then it became a thing where I don’t actually need it anymore. But for the most part, I actually tend to avoid medication now. So if I have like any situations, I tend to just keep it 100% holistic and natural where possible.
Le’Nise: Right. So you mentioned that you were on your own kind of wellness journey. Can you talk about what triggered that?
Matilda: Yeah. So I moved to London as a teenager when I was 18 and I can’t say I was so body conscious to the point that I was like, I need to be healthy. But it felt like gym culture was the thing to do. And so I remember, especially when you’re a student, there’s always, like, offers and it’s like, Go to Fitness first for like ten quid or something. And I remember just getting to Fitness first. Absolutely just loving it, loving Spain, loving step classes and the things that were big at the time, sort of the late nineties. But once I got into running and I got into it in two ways. Firstly, I had some friends who were really into running and we signed up to do one of the Nike races. Nike used to do a lot of races and sort of like the early noughties, mid-noughties But then I discovered Run Dem Crew in 2011 and just getting into this habit of long distance running, suddenly getting stronger, getting fit. You want to do all the things so you don’t just get fit, start wearing great clothes, and then trash the diet. It’s like, actually, what would happen if I started drinking smoothies.
And you’re living this whole lifestyle? So I think that’s kind of where the wellness journey began, that suddenly I noticed, okay, physically I’m changing. I’m feeling good through running. I started writing in my work. I was working at time. At the time I started writing a lot about fitness, and so it just became like every part of my life, just thinking about how to be well, how to eat well, drink well. The Hemsleys, their cookbook when that drops kind of again, I think 2010 ish, it’s 20 turns. That book was like, Oh my gosh, okay, I like this approach to eating. It’s like, so wholesome and nourishing and holistic. So I got completely addicted to that book. And then, yeah, it kind of just took off from there.
Le’Nise: Well, so very much started by a shift to towards exercise. I, I had a Fitness first membership when I moved to London and it’s like.
Le’Nise: I remember going to the one I lived in North London at the time and I lived just, I lived on just off Holloway Road and went to the one on it was on Seven Sisters Road. Went in, Remember signing up, getting the backpack.
Matilda: Nice. Yeah. Oh, induction. Yeah, yeah.
Le’Nise: Yeah. So that, yeah, that’s a real rite of passage. So running and getting into exercise really triggered a change in many aspects of your lifestyle. Can you talk a little bit more about the running because it seems to getting into getting one with Run Dem Crew, first, can you talk about what that is?
Matilda: Yes, Yes. Yes. So Run Dem Crew is a community started by a deejay poet named Charlie Dark who used to work in the music industry. And I actually used to be a music journalist. So that’s kind of how I knew about Charlie.
And what was so appealing about Run Dem for me was that this was one of those running groups that was atypical like it was very much catered to people in the creative industries. People who didn’t typically look like a runner. And I mean, at the time, you know, the only reason I liked running is because Nike kind of made it look cool. And then when I came across Run Dem, I was like, okay, you make it even cooler. How do I get in on this?
So I guess as far as my running journey, it really started with community. I think I would, you know, occasionally go out on my own, do a run, maybe stick with it for a week or so, and then sort of just run back to the gym, because that’s all I knew. But with Run Dem Crew and just being in a community every single week, every Tuesday without fail, we were doing a 10K. And so just having that accountability and that consistency meant that I suddenly became a lot more comfortable with running because my first run was horrific. It was like, What do you mean we’re running six miles today. What are you talking about? Aren’t we running a mile and then coming back and it’s like, Well, no, we’re running a whole 10K. And I’m just like, What? Because I was naturally a short distance runner at school. Absolutely loved running. Loved the 100M, loved track, loved Sports Day. But then when we got into the world of long distance running, it was a bit like, Oh, okay. And, you know, the more you do it, the more you get used to it, the more that naturally your body just kind of, you know, adapts. And so, you know, this has been pretty much a decade now of kind of just committing to it and don’t get me wrong. This morning, I wanted to go out on a run, and then I just thought, actually, no, I don’t. So I decided to go to the gym. So, you know, some days it gets like that. But it’s definitely been like my foundation for my my wellness journey.
Le’Nise: So talk a little bit about that kind of mindset of getting into long distance running, because I think what I’ve realised as I’ve gotten older is that it’s really there’s been a mindset set shift that’s happened where I can do the mental work that propels me further. Whereas when I was younger, I used to run a lot. When I was younger, I was a real treadmill queen and there would always be these mental hurdles where I would just kind of start to get in my own way. And I think maybe for someone listening who is thinking, okay, yeah, it’s, you know, it’s spring, what a great time to get into running. But I’m a bit nervous, especially at the idea of running, you know, longer distances. What would you say to that person?
Matilda: Yeah, I mean, it sounds a bit cliche, but it literally is just taking one step at a time. I think what’s been quite encouraging for me is over the years I realised it’s actually not about how long you run. It’s just about moving. I mean, during the pandemic I started a challenge with my community Fly Girl Collective, where it was called JAM, just a mile. And so it would literally be about going out for just a mile. And, you know, depending on your pace, you can finish a mile in like 15 minutes. Done. Go home, enjoy, have a smoothie. You know, I think it’s about just kind of taking it easy and taking it one step at a time. And if you discover that you like it, then it’s like, okay, let’s try to make that distance a little bit longer.
The other thing I say to people who do not worry about pace, people automatically associate running with speed. And actually that’s where it can be quite stressful and actually quite unenjoyable. But if you’re kind of just going out for a leisurely run with some music, banging joints or even just going to like a brand new neighbourhood and you’re just going on a bit of an exploration, then actually running can be quite enjoyable. Like people laugh when I say that I actually go and like I think the term is runcation, run holidays. It’s such an amazing way of kind of sightseeing and experiencing a brand new city. Like I went to Tokyo to do the Tokyo Marathon in 2015 and it just gave me a whole completely perspective of Tokyo that I wouldn’t have had if I just went for a normal holiday. So I think it’s about people separating, running from the fitness element, but also recognising that it offers adventure, it offers exploration and it’s so great for your mental health. Like I’ve never done a run and not felt better for it. I mean, I’m definitely going to run tomorrow, but I always feel better after doing a run, so that’s my encouragement. Just people to try it and to not put pressure on themselves.
Le’Nise: Right. Okay, so just take the first step. Don’t worry what you look like. Don’t worry about your pace. You could just run. You could literally. Run in like a pair of ratty sneakers and some jogging bottoms and like.
Matilda: Exactly that. I mean, one thing I would recommend is once people want to take running a bit more seriously, it’s always worth getting what’s called a gait analysis where a professional can actually assess how you run and get the right trainers for you. So it just means that you have a much more comfortable experience. And then for us girlies a good sports bra which just having something that can just hold you in support you that bounce. Nobody wants it, especially when you’re going for a run. And you know, I know women who, you know are bigger sizes who because of the right sports bra, they absolutely love running.
Le’Nise: Yeah that can be that can be a real barrier. I remember when after I gave birth and I was breastfeeding, I thought, okay, let me try to get back into running. And I had to you know, breastfeeding made the girls bigger and I had to wear two sports bras to feel comfortable.
Yeah, well, what I find really interesting about your journey is that you, you, you started, you found this community, you started running, you found this community. And then I read online that you said that you run one marathon a year because you find it character building. So that’s a kind of a real, a leap. Can you talk a little bit more about what you mean by character building?
Matilda: My gosh. That’s funny. I’m actually not running any marathons this year, but I am running one next year. It is incredibly character building because there’s absolutely nothing like it in the sense that, you know, you start running for a while. There’s actually some runs that you can blag like you can, you know, you can run a 5k, and if you’ve had the minimal training, you’ll finish that fine five here, you’ll be absolutely fine. You can run a 10K, same story, you can run a half. I would suggest you train for it, but you can get away with it.
You have to train for a marathon. And the process of training for a marathon says and tells you so much about yourself because it is challenging. It’s hard. There are going to be tough moments, but those tough moments help to build resilience and character and it makes you recognise that even when the going gets tough in life that you can still push through. And so it was character building in the sense that, you know, as we’ve experienced, you never know what’s around the corner, you know, a pandemic, you know, bad news, a work situation. But if you can still kind of maintain a real strong sense of character and resilience, you can definitely push through. So I think, you know, I like to do those marathons just to remind myself that, okay, Matilda, you’re a lot stronger than you think. It’s going to be tough, but you’re also tougher and it becomes a bit of a touchpoint. So when things whether it’s, you know, in life and work, things are really hard. But tell them, but you’ve run 26.2 miles. If you can run 26.2 miles, you can certainly get through that. So, you know, it becomes this a bit of a bit of encouragement for me.
Le’Nise: That’s so interesting because I, I, I’ve done a half marathon. I’ve never done a full marathon, but sometimes I do. That’s one of the things that I come back to in my mind. There are lots of, I have about five touch points that, you know when things get tough I think, okay, but you got through that and you in that the half marathon is one of them. It’s it because I trained but I don’t think I trained properly and I like I was running regularly.
Matilda What do you mean running regularly? As in are you following the training plan?
Le’Nise: I kind of made up my own training plan. I was running regularly and I was doing long distances, but it was just it was hillier than I thought it was going to be. And I just got like the last kilometre I was crying while I was running because, because of the emotional side of it. I was just so tired and just running, crying as just a mess. But I that’s one of my kind of resilience points is, you know, that you can you can definitely get through through this.
Matilda: Exactly. And also the thing about marathon training that I appreciate is if you train for it. You know, regardless of what time you get, you trained for it, you will get through it. If you don’t train for it and that is a bit of a metaphor for life that if you don’t prepare, if you don’t do all the right things, if you don’t look after yourself, it’s going to be hard. You know, like last year, I mean, another member from Fly Girl, we got a very last minute place for London Marathon, and because we did a marathon early in the year, we did Paris, which we did train for, we were like, Oh London, sure, we can train in seven weeks.
That day came and by the time we got to the half marathon mile, we were like, Girl. Oh. okay, this is why you train 16, 12, 16 weeks are bad because you just can’t blag it. It will tell you about yourself. MM How much water did you drink? Were you prepared for this? Did you miss any long runs? So it’s just a nice way of kind of keeping you in check. But, you know, I’ve got a lovely team of women who are doing the marathon in 2023, and, you know, they’ve put the work in and so, you know, they’re going to reap the benefits of that. And I think there’s something about you really get to reap what you sow.
Le’Nise: Yeah. Yeah.
Matilda: So yeah, reap what you sow.
Le’Nise: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You reap what you sow. Definitely physically and mentally. Yes. So you mentioned the collective that you founded Fly Girl Collective. So firstly I have to ask about the night because when I think Fly Girl, I think in Living colour.
Matilda: That’s right.
Le’Nise: Rosie Perez. Jennifer Lopez Yes, that’s where I came from.
Matilda: Yes. So, you know, I was born and raised in the U.S. And the thing about Fly Girl, even though running has been our main activity, I wanted Fly Girl to just be a representation of black women and women of colour being awesome through movement. And so when I think back to those days, I mean we’re talking like nineties, maybe even late eighties and you saw the fly Girls Looking fly. So they had the gear, they were moving, they were dancing, they were athletic and they just looked dope. I always, that was always a very powerful image for me because when you look at the broader fitness space, there are definitely pockets of stereotypes of women. So you’ll get sort of the yoga girl, usually not black, you know, very slim.
And then when it comes to women, sometimes you don’t even get women put in a very feminine box. Sometimes they’re almost lumped in with the fellows. And actually a lot of sports brands, they very much don’t. They’re very patriarchal. So it’s almost like women have to fit into this patriarchal box as we do in society. And there aren’t very many images of women looking just incredible and amazing through movement, and they don’t necessarily have to be athletes. So it’s almost like I wanted to create something that really encompassed the amazing beauty, feminine energy that women can emanate by just being devoted to movement, whatever kind of movement that is. We just so happened to do running because running is very accessible. But whether we’re on a spin bike or we’re stretching, doing yoga classes, we show up and show out.
And then on top of that, because there is a bit of a diversity and representation problem in wellness and fitness, I wanted to make it crystal clear that when Fly Girl Collective in the room, we’re here and we’re here to stay and to inspire other women who may not be accustomed to spaces where black women and women of colour occupy. So yeah, very much inspired by J.Lo and them. But then every single dope active woman that I’ve encountered over the years, be it a a Janet Jackson, Ciara, Destiny’s Child, all of those women wrapped up into one that was very much the essence of it.
Le’Nise: Talk a little bit about diversity in in the wellness space. So, you know, I’m a yoga teacher in London and I definitely see this you know, I see this in it, particularly the the students that come to my class. I mean, I teach in West London, but I teach in Hammersmith, which is a very diverse area. And, you know, my classes actually, I think, have become more diverse because I think, I teach the classes. Yeah, but when I first started teaching there, I was just kind of like, okay, well, talk a little bit about your experience, particularly in London, which, you know, is an extremely diverse city, but diversity and wellness in, in London, in your experience of that.
Matilda: Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s an interesting one because black women work out. Right. Like, there’s no doubt about it. I think there’s a bit of segregation as far as, you know, if you’re seeing a black neighbourhood, there’s a black gym, there’s going to be black people there. Fantastic. But what if, let’s say you’re in central London or you’re in a neighbourhood that used to be black and is now gentrified? What I was discovering is that I would go into gym spaces, beautiful studios, and be the only black woman there. And it was like, okay.
Why is it? And you know, there’s talk of, oh, maybe the cost. I’m like. Is it a cost thing though? Cause you know, we will pay whatnot for our hair and we will pay whatnot for, you know, So I don’t necessarily know. It’s that I think a lot of it is to do with representation. I think, you know, it’s the saying is true that sometimes you can’t be what you can’t see. Whereas if you didn’t see it, that’s the inspiration that you need to pursue it.
So marketing is really important as far as attracting diversity, the way studios are staffed, you know, black teachers, people from, people of colour. If that is a norm in those spaces, then hopefully the membership should reflect that. But I know to this day I’m still the minority in gym classes, you know, and I live in a very well pretty gentrified neighbourhood. But, you know, it’s still a neighbourhood where black people live. So it’s like, why aren’t they coming to the gyms? And, you know, I think also. Maybe we’re the generation that’s going to normalise it for our kids so that they realise actually part of your lifestyle isn’t just, you know, hanging out with your friends and doing X and Z. It’s like it’s also exercising and it’s starting like a little. I don’t know what I was. I think it was like on a bus and I heard these like two young girls talking about fitness. They must have been like 14. She was like, Yo, you need to go to the gym. Like, we need to get some exercise. And we it also was like, Oh, wow, That was just like a normal part of her dialogue. So, you know, I guess my hope is there will be something of a generational shift. I mean, shame has to be a whole generation, but I think that’s kind of where we are.
Le’Nise: That’s really interesting because we then bring in that everything that happened in 2020, you know, that like Black Square Monday or whatever it was or Friday and all the commitments to diversity and all the committees that were started. You know, from your perspective, how do things look three years on in the wellness space?
Matilda: Um. You know, I think there are some brands and studios and organisations that have endeavoured to change. So, you know, I’ll call out, say the London Marathon, there was a world where London Marathon was not a diverse space. The other races that London Marathon were organised were like, Oh great, yeah, diversity is here, but how come it’s not over there in like one of the world’s biggest races?
And I think they’ve really made strides to engage with community groups, especially the ones where, you know, the focus and priority is about diversity and wellness and fitness. You know, another brand I’ll call out Lululemon. You know, they’re a brand partner for Fly Girl, and they’ve really listened and they’ve made the effort to kind of bring diversity into their marketing. And so, you know, you look at their gram, you look at even in-store, there’s so much more diversity than maybe when I first moved to London 20 odd years ago. And equally, there’s some organisations that have just kind of reverted and they’re like, Well, we’re not really accountable to anybody, so we’ll just keep it business as usual. But it’s a shame because people don’t realise that diversity is actually really good business.
You know, it’s not about kind of keeping things to who you know, but actually broadening that perspective and allowing other people to kind of enhance what you do.
Le’Nise: Thinking about running specifically the I read an article where you talked about how running remains a largely white and middle class activity, and you just used the example of London Marathon. Diversifying, diversifying. It surprises me that running would be such a white and middle class activity when all you need is a pair of trainers and you know something comfortable. But tell me but I’ll talk a little bit more about that and why that is and what you what what you see changing in the running space.
Matilda: Yeah. I know. I find it quite bemusing as well. But I think the reality is, is that when you think about the origin of run culture, it actually starts in the US with brands like Nike. There was actually a book as well that came out. I think one of the first books around How to Jog and it was very much written from a white perspective for a white community. So the actual origin of running as an activity, a hobby, is rooted in whiteness.
So I think even though a brand like Nike, for instance, they’ve obviously been at the forefront of showing a lot more diversity at the roots of it, it’s still from a white lens and a white perspective. So I think unfortunately the roots and the origin is still played out today. You know, I get, I know don’t know numbers, you know, day to day new stats. But I’d be curious to know specifically with running, if they were to look at the demographic of buyers globally. And we’re not talking about lifestyle. When I talk about Nike, it’s like who’s actually purchasing the running shoes? I’d be interested to see if it’s as diverse as we think running actually is. So I think it becomes a thing where something feels very exclusive, which running did for a very long time and people don’t know about it, then that’s where you get into a diversity problem.
But then that’s where communities like Run Dem Crew, who kind of just shattered that completely because it was like, okay, I know this is what people assume running is, and I know it is something of an exclusive boys club. But actually I’m now going to make it a thing where it’s absolutely for everyone and it’s a lot more democratic. And I think for me, I wanted to take things further with Fly Girl by showing that, look, running can also be for fly dope, aspirational, ambitious women, too. And it doesn’t have to be in this box of athleticism. It can just be very much aligned to lifestyle.
So I think from what I’ve seen in London, there’s a lot of exciting things happening. There’s so many more communities that exist. I mean, ten years ago there was just Run Dem. You know, now you have Black Girls Who Run UK, Emancipated Run Crew, London Selects, of course, Fly Girl Collective. So there’s so many more communities now that are really putting diversity and representation at the forefront of what they do. And so I think naturally we’re just going to see how that evolves.
Le’Nise: Yeah, very exciting. So if someone’s listening and they’re thinking, okay, Fly Girl collective, That sounds really cool. I live in London. I’m a woman of colour, a black woman. I want to get involved. How how do they get involved?
Matilda: You just need to sign up to the mailing list? So we have a mailing list which very much is like the community hub, and it’s where I kind of share the events and activities that we’re doing. So once they’re on the mailing list, they’ll kind of find out when we organise runs and events, you know, we do brunches, we do all sorts and so that’s probably the easiest way to plug in.
There’s also our Instagram. Another great way to plug in and one of the things we’ve been doing since the beginning of Fly Girl is sort of regular challenges. So at the moment we’re doing like a Fly Girl 30 day challenge, which I think over 60 women have signed up for, which is amazing. And that’s just the easiest thing. Like, I think what I’m trying to prove is that access to fitness, wellness and inspiration should be quite easy. And once you’ve kind of are involved, then where that takes you is completely down to you. Normally once a year, I organise a training season, so I’ll get like a group of women say 8 to 10 women and we’ll all together train for an event. So for we’ve had about seven seasons where we’ve trained for half marathons, ten Ks, five Ks. Next season’s going to be a bit of a surprise. I’m going to switch things up a little bit, but yeah, sign up to the mailing list, follow on the gram and kind of. Yeah, just see where it takes you.
Le’Nise: Okay, cool. What if. What would you say to someone who’s listening who wants to join Fly Girl or wants to join some other running collective that’s close to where they live, but they’re a bit nervous. Like they don’t know anyone. They’re scared to go on. They’re on their own. They like the idea of community, but they’re nervous. What would you say to them?
Matilda: Mm, I get it. Um. It’s tricky, right? Because people have said, bring flying down to Birmingham, to Liverpool, and I’m like, I’m one woman, was wish I wish I could.
But couple of things I think. Try and just try. I mean, I’ve rocked up to all types of communities before I even found Run Dem Crew and just test it out as you would with anything else. It’s kind of like dating, right? You got to be in it to win it so you can try it out, see how it goes, test the chemistry. And if it’s not your thing, keep it moving, you know.
And the other thing is sometimes, you know, you have to build the table that you want to occupy. And even if that’s just getting a couple of friends or one friend and say, Hey, girl, let’s start this thing, because as we’ve talked about, running is that accessible? All you need is like the trainers. You can find training plans. Parkrun is, you know, they’re every Saturday helping people learn how to run five Ks. So I think being proactive is key, but also just recognising that, you know, it is very much a journey and see how you get on. But it’s always nervous kind of stepping into a new space. I mean, I remember the first time I went to Run Dem, I was like , Oh my gosh, what is this? But I also say if people, you know, when they come to flag events, we are a very warm, welcoming, lovely bunch. It is very much the remit of being a part of the collective that we’re all encompassing and inclusive in that way. So yeah, definitely just yeah, take a step.
Le’Nise: Amazing. So you’ve shared a lot. We’ve talked about diversity, we’ve talked about Fly Girl Collective. Of course, you talked about the story of your very first period. What’s something that you would like to leave listeners with if you can leave them with one thought?
Matilda: I would say that it’s so important for us to be courageous because like a period, you know, that can be such, Quite a don’t want to use the word agonising but an unpredictable time in our lives, even monthly. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s going to happen. So, you know, I think there’s just something about approaching. With a degree of courage and willingness to. Tackle whatever life may bring. And that’s very much what running has taught me, that actually stepping out, trying new things before you know it, you end up being so much further along in life than you thought you could ever be like. When I did my very first run ten years ago, you couldn’t have paid me to run a marathon. I was adamant I would never do it, you know? And now I’ve run five, and now I’m going to run more. You know, in total, I’ve run like over 40 races, and that’s not something I planned. Nobody could have told me. Oh, Matilda, you’re just going to be a serial runner. And so I think there’s just something in testing yourself, seeing what you’re capable of, and actually just allowing that door to kind of take you to new heights. You know, you just never know what may happen.
Le’Nise: Amazing. I mean, we didn’t even talk about the fact that you’ve run ultramarathons.
Matilda: Yes. I was like, cool one and done. Let me just stick to distances I like.
Le’Nise: Was that is that a hundred kilometres?
Matilda: We did 50K.
Le’Nise: Okay. Yeah.
Matilda: was like, there’s no way I could do that. And it was a great day. It rained.
We ate a lot of cake. We walked, we talked. We jammed. It was such a great sisterhood moment. And that said, I think something about running and community. The two things actually work together for an activity that’s so kind of solitary. Like if you connect with people in running, it can be such a brilliant experience for you.
Le’Nise: Thank you so much for coming on the show. Where can people find you? Where can they find Fly Girl Collective?
Matilda: Yep. So the website is Fly Girl Collective.Co, but we’re also on Instagram Fly Girl Collective. You can find us at Facebook on Fly Girl Collective and then on Twitter at Fly Girl CO But if you Google Fly Girl Collective, you’ll find us!
Le’Nise: Great. Thank you so much.
Matilda: Well, thank you.