This is our time, our time down here said The Goonies and all mothers descending into the kitchen after the littles finally nod off. Oh the internal jig-of-joy we dance, swiftly followed by wine, Netflix and – most likely not – running.
FOUNDER: Dorota Wieliczko
Running after a baby arrives is a battle against will, body parts which previously did not move, ill-fitting gym kit and the dark. Needing exercise and like-minded friends to keep her company, Dorota Wieliczko founded the Isleworth Running Club.
Working for an IT company, Dorota went back after her second pregnancy expecting to pick up where she had left off. ‘The team had changed, my manager had left. The HR person had 1200 employees in the UK they were looking after. They said, ‘At the moment we don’t have any roles. And we will take a month to look for something and if not we will start the redundancy procedure.’ It was horrible.’
With hard work and not a little luck, she found herself a new role, much to the surprise of the HR staff. But the role was working full time from home. ‘So after 13 or so years of working in the City with 100 people on my floor, I was at home on my own and I wasn’t into meeting Mums when often I didn’t feel like we had much in common.’
‘I talked my next door neighbour into running but sometimes she couldn’t make it and it was dark in the evenings. So I put something on Facebook and 2 new people joined. So we were just 4 in the group. We met at Isleworth station and started by running on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The first night I was terrified as I thought I’ll stand here for 15 minutes and no-one will turn up. But I went and there was one girl. She said it was amazing.’
Just 5 months on and the group now has 120 female members. They chat, forget that they are running and forget the stress, the children and everything else. Serotonin abound, subjects are positive, new ideas come, women they see running alone often join them.
Strokes of serendipity followed. A fellow runner and graphic designer made t-shirts, a friend of a friend with a printing shop made the t-shirts, another girl joined and built a website (coming soon) and then a photographer offered to help. As Dorota said, ‘I just think to myself, women are really amazing.’
Next, Dorota hopes to create a fun activewear range for the club then take it further. ‘I really enjoy creating running clothes, I don’t want to wear just any old thing when I run and so much of the stuff out there is boring. I like inspirational things and positive colours.’
‘This has taken me to a place where I can see myself as someone who does something outside the 9 to 5 – which I couldn’t have imagined before.’
What’s in the pipeline is more meetings at more stations, and possibly a running retreat back in Poland. Watch this space.
Isleworth Running Club is on Facebook. Website coming soon.
What is – or has been – your greatest struggle?
Believing in myself
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I never had a profession in mind but always dreamed about being an independent woman
Best advice ever received and from whom?
If you want to change something in your environment you have to start from within yourself. And another one that problems are only problems if you approach them this way.
Who do you most admire?
People who follow their passion.
What keeps you up at night?
Two thoughts actually: Am I a good parent? Will I find my true purpose in life?
When were you happiest?
I used to go to the same holiday place with my parents when I was a kid, that’s my happy place – hot weather, a lake, wooden huts and a pine forest.
Favourite object you possess?
I don’t get too attached to objects to be honest but from time to time I get excited by something. Recently, a concealer which I learned to use as a highlighter!
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
I remember the first time I realised I was learning a lesson in life – I was a teenager. I think it’s maybe not the most important lesson for me now but at the time the experience was powerful – you should always count on you if you don’t want to be disappointed by others.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Sorry, boring, but I don’t think I have one!
What change do you hope for in your lifetime?
I hope that in my life time a peaceful solution is found for dealing with terrorism.
Who might help you next?
I think life is full of opportunities and it can be absolutely anyone so I’m not limiting myself by looking out for a specific ‘helper’!
Please recommend a brilliant female-led brand or business you have used recently.
When I started the running club 3 ladies who have recently started or are starting their businesses helped me a lot. Camila Olmos Rossi helped me with the running tops design, Melinda Tófalvi built the club’s website and Agi Lebiedz from Hush Pictures helped with photos.