She Runs: Whilst Autistic

I’ve had a few forays into running in the past. Between the ages of fifteen and eighteen I was in Army Cadets and participated in Cadet Cambrian (the toughest competition in the Army Cadet Force with a lot of running during training), but I tore my meniscus and had to have an arthroscopy at 17, so I paused my running to recover. That pause turned into quite a long stop.

I started running again semi-properly in 2016 after seeing the benefit it had on a good friend’s mental health. I even ran the Cardiff Half Marathon that year. Unfortunately, injury struck again – this time with plantar fasciitis – and as with my last recovery pause, it turned into a stop.

The thing is, I’m both Autistic and have ADHD. I’m not going down a road of generalisations and clichés, but for me I get very intense interests in things, but if I can’t (or don’t) focus on them for a while they end up dropping out of my life entirely. This is what happened with running. 

I’d been wanting to get back into it for a while because I know how good it is for my mental wellbeing. However, my brain operates in two modes: 1: do everything I think of right away without considering potential outcomes or consequences and 2: ruminate and overthink everything. Running fell into category 2, and I spent my time between February and April this year in a ‘Shall I? Shan’t I?’ battle. 

‘Shall I’ finally won and on 15th April I found some old running shoes in the cupboard, put on my sole running bra and leggings, and went out for a run. It was exactly what I needed. Lockdown while Autistic and being a carer for two disabled children was mentally exhausting and a constant sensory bombardment. That run was my first period of solitude for a month, and the frustration that had been building was released in every step. I posted about it on Facebook (I mean, is it even a run if you don’t tell someone about it?) and my friend Sara added a comment about She Runs: Cardiff, a supportive running group for Women in Cardiff.

I followed her advice and joined, but I didn’t expect to be there for long. Running was quickly becoming my intense interest (if you want to read more about that, you can do so here) and I already knew how this would go. I’d join, I’d post too much, I’d overshare, I’d empathise and celebrate by writing about my own experiences (therefore ‘making it about me’), people would get fed up with me and I’d leave. This is how it always goes, right? Wrong.

I do post a lot, but every single post is met with open arms, likes and comments. I do overshare, but this is met with kindness, advice and (when injured) sympathy. I do write about my own experiences while empathising with others (it’s the only way I really know how) but nobody has become frustrated with me, and mutual sharing is a big part of what makes She Runs: Cardiff so great. The most striking difference I’ve found so far is that despite being on my second injury, I’m not losing my running spark because I’m part of a community.

When I approached Myfanwy asking if she would like me to write about my experience for the site, I said this: 

She Runs: Cardiff is the first non-Autistic space that I’ve immediately felt comfortable and welcome in. 

Not once have I felt like an imposter, and I’m genuinely looking forward to meeting my fellow She Runners in person once we’re allowed. I can’t promise I won’t be awkward and talk too much to fill any potential uncomfortable silences, and I also can’t promise that I won’t be too loud and say the wrong thing. What they can promise is that they won’t judge me for it. That I’ll be welcomed with open arms and accepted for exactly who I am and how I communicate. They don’t even need to tell me; it’s shown with their actions and interactions.

If you’re a woman who runs – be that day one of couch to 5k or an ultrarunner – I can’t recommend She Runs: Cardiff enough. If you’re also neurodivergent, I honestly don’t think you’ll ever find a better club to join. Part of my job is to deliver neurodiversity training with a message of acceptance. This group is the first collection of neurotypicals who I can state confidently don’t need it.  Support, acceptance, and mutual respect are what’s on offer, alongside an awesome purple running kit and an eclectic Spotify playlist.

Kat Williams, She Runs: Cardiff Member

Rhowch eich treinyrs am eich traed ac ewch amdani!

Mae Hi’n Rhedeg: Caerdydd

Rhyw berthynas marmite oedd gen i â rhedeg. Erioed wedi f’ystyried fy hun yn rhedwraig naturiol ac i fo’n onest, ro’n i’n casáu rhedeg fel person ifanc. Roedd y syniad o redeg traws gwlad neu rasys mabolgampau yn yr ysgol yn codi ofn arna i braidd er fy mod yn mwynhau chwaraeon. Rwy’n credu mai’r teimlad hwnnw o fod yn rhedeg fel unigolyn a theimlo dan bwysau i gyrraedd rhyw amser neu bellter penodol oedd yn creu rhyw bryder. Y marmite roeddwn, bryd hynny, yn ei gasáu! Felly mae’n dipyn o syndod fy mod i erbyn hyn yn ysgrifennu blog ar gyfer cymuned o redwyr! 

Fe wnes i greu rhyw berthynas newydd â rhedeg yn fuan ar ôl gadael y brifysgol mewn ymdrech i golli pwysau a theimlo’n well. Ac yna yn ystod cyfnod o gael plant roedd y Marmite yn ei ôl a’r syniad o fynd allan i redeg yn teimlo fel rhyw dasg amhosibl a diflas ar adegau. 

Mae hyn i gyd yn teimlo fel rhyw oes wahanol erbyn hyn gan fod rhedeg yn rhyw norm newydd imi a dim byd gwell gen i na threfnu cwrdd â ffrind i redeg. Ac allan fydda i ryw deirgwaith yr wythnos yn loncian a chlebran, dwy droed o flaen y llall! Mae’n rhoi cyfle i mi fod yn fi fy hun – meddwl, ymlacio, cael hoe, rhannu sgwrs a theimlo’n llawer gwell o wneud. Mae’n bwysig o ran fy iechyd meddwl , fy iechyd corfforol a lles y teulu yn aml iawn – dwi fel arfer mewn hwyliau gwell o fod wedi bod allan yn rhedeg!

Mae’r profiad o fod yn rhan o gymuned o redwyr yn un gwych hefyd a chewch chi ddim gwell na chymuned o ferched Mae Hi’n rhedeg: Caerdydd. Criw o unigolion cefnogol, brwdfrydig sydd yno i’ch cymell chi o’r soffa i’r stryd. Does dim angen poeni am gyflymdra, am bellter, am wibio neu loncian, am gyfuno’r rhedeg â cherdded. Mae pawb yno i’ch cefnogi chi ar hyd y ffordd ac i’ch annog i gymryd amser i chi eich hun a dyna sydd wedi fy annog i fachu ar bob cyfle i fynd allan.

Mae’r gefnogaeth ar-lein yn ystod y cyfnod clo wedi bod yn wych – negeseuon cyson ar Facebook a Trydar yn cynnig cefnogaeth ac ysgogiad i wisgo’r treinyrs a mynd allan am awyr iach. Roedd cael bod yn rhan o’r ras gyfnewid ddiweddar fel aelod o tîm 4 She Runs …a relay yn brofiad a fydd yn aros yn y cof – criw o ferched nad oeddwn yn eu hadnabod yn cefnogi ei gilydd i redeg – nid er mwyn ennill na thorri record ond er mwyn codi ymwybyddiaeth o’r heriau sy’n wynebu rhai merched bregus yn ein cymdeithas. Mae’r syniad o fod yno i eraill yn rhan o’r ethos – cymuned o ferched sy’n cefnogi ei gilydd ym mhob agwedd ar fywyd.

Erbyn hyn dwi’n ffan mawr o marmite ac yn awchu am gwrdd â ffrindiau allan yn yr awyr agored i redeg strydoedd Caerdydd. Does dim teimlad gwell o godi ben bore, rhedeg o gwmpas parc y Mynydd Bychan neu lyn y Rhath a rhoi’r byd yn ei le gyda ffrind. Y gorau o ddau fyd a llawer mwy.

Rhowch eich treinyrs am eich traed ac ewch amdani – fe fyddwch chi yn sicr ar eich ennill mewn sawl ffordd.

Angharad Naylor, aelod Mae Hi’n Rhedeg: Caerdydd

Angharad Naylor

“Go at your pace, don’t worry!”

One of our members, Catrin Mair Griffiths describes how she found the confidence to run again with She Runs: Cardiff
Catrin (second from left, bottom row) at one of our twice weekly Social Runs.

“If you’ve put your trainers on and you are running, you are a runner!” 

These were some of the quotes that I heard on my first day running with She Runs: Cardiff.

I had not been for a run since I ran (or struggled through!) the race for life 5k in 2015, but I’d heard from a friend about She Runs and how amazing they were. So, on a cold but sunny November morning, I put on a pair of worn trainers, my running leggings and an old sports bra and headed out the door. 

In my mind, I was having an internal argument that almost made turn around and walk back home a couple of times: “I’m not kitted out, they will laugh at me!” “I can’t even run for the bus, what am I doing!?” “My water bottle is plastic, not a fancy sports bottle!” 

So many reasons were pushing me home – my anxiety was through the roof. I arrived 15 minutes early (typical me!), and I was so nervous that even  after getting there I turned around and walked half way home. But then I saw two girls running towards me and heading to the meeting place, and that made me go back and wait for everyone.

I am so glad I pushed through the anxiety and nerves because that was the best decision I’ve ever made.

I am telling you this because I am sure there are people out there feeling the same about running or joining She Runs (virtually for now), and I want to tell my story because… you can do it!

From the start, I was congratulated by all the running buddies for just coming out and reassured that I didn’t need to worry. That day, I ran with a running buddy, Samantha, and another girl who joined us at the party at the back.

We ran most of the way, stopping now and then to walk whenever I got a stitch. We finished, and I couldn’t belive I’d run 5km! I decided to go for tea and cake even though I didn’t know anyone apart from my friend Joanne. I couldn’t believe how good it felt after running, sitting there in Coffee Number One with these girls who I’d met just an hour before but who had made me feel so welcomed and confident.

I went home with a smile on my face, and bragged to my housemate that I’d just run 5km – I could not believe it! 

For about a month I was telling all of my friends to come running with She Runs (still waiting for someone to join me) and kept on raving to anyone who would listen to me.

Fast forward four months, and I had a 31minutes personal best and I was running 8km!

I have now gone back to basics due to not running during lockdown for mental health reasons, but I am getting back into running again with the help of all the buddies virtually (especially Tanya who offered to run the She Runs virtual relay with me) supporting me by believing in me and not judging that I can only run shorter distances currently.

I have never felt so welcome in any group. I had no self belief and was told that I wasn’t good enough in school. I believed it for so many years but She Runs has changed that for me, they believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself. They celebrate your highs and give you advice during your lows.

If you are reading this and you have identified with anything I’ve said, please join the Facebook group, get inspired and start running.

“No matter the distance, no matter the time. If you are running, you are a runner.”

Catrin Mair Griffiths, She Runs: Cardiff member.

Catrin with Run Buddy Tanya

“Ewch ar eich cyflymder chi, peidiwch â phoeni!”

Dyma geiriau Catrin Mair Griffiths am sut daeth hi nôl i rhedeg gyda help Mae Hi’n Rhedeg: Caerdydd.

“Os ydych chi wedi rhoi eich hyfforddwyr ymlaen a’ch bod chi’n rhedeg, rydych chi’n rhedwr!”

Dyma rai o’r dyfyniadau glywais y ddiwrnod cyntaf yn rhedeg gyda Mae hi’n Rhedeg: Caerdydd.

Doeddwn i ddim wedi bod yn redeg ers i mi redeg  Y ras am Bywyd 5k yn 2015, ond roeddwn i wedi clywed gan ffrind am She Runs a faint o anhygoel oedden nhw. Felly, ar un bore Tachwedd oer ond heulog, mi wnes i wisgo pâr o esgidiau ymarfer redeg hen, leggins a hen bra chwaraeon a eshi allan. 

Yn fy meddwl, roeddwn i’n cael dadl fewnol a oedd bron â gwneud i mi droi o gwmpas a cherdded yn ôl adra cwpl o weithiau: “Dydw i ddim yn edrych fel rhedwr, byddan nhw’n chwerthin arna i!” “Alla i ddim hyd yn oed redeg am y bws, beth ydw i’n ei wneud!?” “Mae fy mhotel ddŵr yn blastig, nid potel chwaraeon ffansi!”

Roedd cymaint o resymau yn fy ngwthio adref – roedd fy mhryder trwy’r tô. Cyrhaeddais 15 munud yn gynnar, Ac roeddwn i mor nerfus nes i mi droi o gwmpas a cherdded hanner ffordd adra hyd yn oed ar ôl cyrraedd yno. Ond yna gwelais ddwy ferch yn rhedeg tuag ata fi, a gwnaeth hynny i mi fynd yn ôl ac aros am bawb.

Rwyf mor falch fy mod wedi gwthio trwy’r pryder a’r nerfau oherwydd dyna’r penderfyniad gorau i mi ei wneud erioed.

Rwy’n dweud hyn wrth a chi oherwydd rwy’n siŵr bod pobl allan yna yn teimlo’r un peth am redeg neu ymuno  She Runs, ac rydw i eisiau dweud fy stori … I helpu chi. 

O’r dechrau, cefais fy llongyfarch gan yr holl buddies rhedeg am ddod allan a rhoi sicrwydd i mi nad oedd angen i mi boeni. Y diwrnod gynta, neshi redeg gyda running buddy, Samantha, a merch arall a ymunodd â ni yn y parti yn y cefn.

Naetho ni redeg y rhan fwyaf o’r ffordd, gan stopio nawr ac yn y man i gerdded pryd bynnag oni agen brec. Fe wnaethon ni orffen, a doeddwn i ddim yn gallu credu bod oni wedi rhedeg 5km! Penderfynais fynd am de a chacen gyda pawb. Doeddwn i ddim yn gallu credu pa mor dda oedd yn teimlo ar ôl rhedeg, eistedd yna yn Coffee numbe one gyda’r merched oni Dimon wedi cwrdd awr yn nol ond oedd nw wedi gwneud i mi deimlo bod cymaint o groeso a hyder i mi.

Es i adref gyda gwên ar fy wyneb, a ddeud wrth frind fi bod i newydd redeg 5km – allwn i ddim credu’r peth!

Am  misoedd oni yn dweud wrth fy holl ffrindiau i ddod i redeg gyda She Runs (yn dal i aros i rywun ymuno) a dal ati i ruthro at unrhyw un bysa yn gwrando arnaf.

Hedfan 3 mis, a chefais amser orau personol o 31 munud ar gyfer 5k ac roeddwn i’n rhedeg 8km!

Erbyn hyn, dwi wedi mynd nol i’r cychwun achos dwi heb redeg ers lockdown achos o iechyd meddwl, ond dwi’n redeg eto diolch i’r cefnogaeth gan pawb (yn enwedig Tanya a gynigiodd redeg ras gyfnewid rithwir She Runs gyda mi) yn cefnogi fi trwy gredu ynof a peidio a barnu mai dim ond pellteroedd byrrach y gallaf eu rhedeg ar hyn o bryd.

Nid wyf erioed wedi teimlo cymaint o groeso mewn unrhyw grwp. Doedd gen i ddim hunan gred a dywedwyd wrthyf nad oeddwn yn ddigon da yn yr ysgol. Roeddwn i’n ei gredu ers cymaint o flynyddoedd ond mae She Runs wedi newid hynny i mi, maen nhw’n credu ynoch chi pan nad ydych chi’n credu ynoch chi’ch hun. Maen nhw’n dathlu’ch uchafbwyntiau ac yn rhoi cyngor i chi yn ystod eich isafbwyntiau.

Os ydych chi’n darllen hwn a’ch bod wedi uniaethu ag unrhyw beth rydw i wedi’i ddweud, ymunwch â’r grwp Facebook, cael eich ysbrydoli a dechrau rhedeg.

“Waeth beth yw’r pellter, waeth beth yw’r amser. Os ydych chi’n rhedeg, rydych chi’n rhedwr.”

Catrin Mair Griffiths, aelod Mae Hi’n Rhedeg: Caerdydd.

Catrin, Bydi Rhedeg Myfanwy a Shan Cothi pan aethon nhw ar Radio Cymru i drafod Mae HI’n Rhedeg: Caerdydd.

Physically Distanced but Socially Connected!

She Runs: Cardiff Tremorfa Parkrun Takeover on International Women’s Day

Races postponed. Parkrun cancelled. Run groups unable to meet up. Restrictions on movement.

The coronovirus pandemic has had a huge impact on running communities globally. And at a time when many of us needed our runs more than ever to help cope with the life altering impact of the virus.

And yet amongst all the challenges the pandemic and lockdown has posed, many positives can be found and as a group we’ve much to celebrate:

She Runs: Cardiff has seen an increase in membership with many first time runners joining, assisted with the launch of our first ever SRC Couch25k programme in June.

As a running group we’ve adapted to providing more support virtually and via our social media as we’ve been unable to meet in person and hold our twice weekly runs. This includes Virtual Runs twice a week where we encourage members to share their runs (and obligatory running selfies of course!). A virtual relay took place in May which saw the baton head to more postcodes of SE Wales than the career of your average local postman!

We’ve taken part in some fantastic fundraising challenges including #milesformind in May and Autism Awareness Day in April, raising much needed funds for charities needing our support more than ever. And On Sunday 28th June 116 women of She Runs: Cardiff took part in our first virtual event. Between 7am and 930pm there were 4 women running every half an hour for exactly 30 minutes before handing the virtual baton on to the next 4.
We literally turned Cardiff purple! And in the process raised an absolutely phenomenal £2900 for Cardiff Women’s Aid; a huge thank you to all who took part to make this such a fun, happy event and to those who donated in support.

Lockdown has also seen not one but two kit drops, a SRC playlist (head over to Spotify to hear the brilliant tunes) and the SRC book club. We were fortunate enough to have author, ultra marathoner and endurance adventurer Lowri Morgan as one of our featured authors, who kindly joined us for a hugely inspiring zoom chat about her latest book, Beyond Limits.

As if ALL of that wasn’t enough we launched a very successful bingo during the month of June, whereby our members ticked off bingo squares on each run- not particularly surprisingly, hill sprints and an early morning run pre-7am weren’t the most popular squares… whereas a post run slice of cake was DEFINITELY a favourite!

Phew! I’m not sure about you, but all this fantastic activity and engagement has led me, for one, to need a rest day! Although we may be limited in running all together for a little while longer, one thing is for sure, for a running group only nine months old, She Runs: Cardiff is going from strength to strength during these unprecedented times.

Kate Morgan, Run Buddy at She Runs: Cardiff.

Kate as “Tail Runner” at Tremorfa Parkrun.

Miles for Mind

In May 2020, 45 of our members pledged to run #milesformind with RUNR to raise awareness during mental health awareness month. What a month it turned out to be!
The main focus was to share our own positive stories and experiences in a safe and comfortable environment, whilst virtually supporting each other. Mental health does matter and it’s ok to talk about it. 


Our members set their own individual goal of miles to achieve ranging from 25 – 150 miles, and regardless of the distance the virtual support for each other was there throughout.  There was also the opportunity to encourage the younger generation to run with a kids medal available and many mums took this chance to spend quality time with their kids….Not all of the kids were willing but they did it nonetheless! 


As a team we pledged to run 2950 miles, we actually achieved more than 3600!!! Every single woman committed to the challenge and it was so rewarding being able to see the progress being made throughout the month.

Tanya O’Neill, Run Buddy and Miles for Mind Team Captain.

She Runs: Cardiff Virtual Relay in a Day – Round Up

On Sunday 28th June 116 women of She Runs: Cardiff took part in our first virtual event. Between 7am and 930pm there were 4 women running every half an hour for exactly 30 minutes before handing the virtual baton on to the next 4. 

Having seen other clubs do virtual relays recently we decided to have a go. As our club is all about the taking part at your own pace, doing our own virtual relay rather than joining in with a competitive version amongst other clubs was perfect for us.

I tentatively put up a post on our club FB group asking who might be interested in joining in. Well, the response was phenomenal. Initially I was looking for 1 team to run 12 hours between 7am and 7pm but by the Saturday eve pre relay I was still adding ladies to the event and the time was stretched to 14.5 hours across 4 teams!

This was a fun free event for our group but I set up an optional Just Giving page for Cardiff Women’s Aid in place of a fee for the event. I set a target of £100. As a women’s running group based in Cardiff, Cardiff Women’s Aid is the perfect local charity for us to support. Sadly during lockdown the charity has been needed more than ever with a rise in incidents of domestic violence towards women and their children.

As I’ve mentioned, our club ethos is focused on taking part, enjoyment and supporting each other. We are not about pace or distance. Taking part in our relay we had a huge variety of women of varying stages in their running journey. Some women are in the middle of couch 2 5k, whilst some are accomplished ultra runners! The team spirit was fabulous with support both on our facebook group and in WhatsApp groups we set up for each team. For some women it was their very first running event. It was a privilege to witness.

Our teams were Pobol Porffor captained by Gemma Brimble, Rainbow Runners captained by Cathryn Scott with support from Caroline Privett and Sara Knowles, She Runs…a Relay captained by Sharon Eckley and She Runs for the Tram (don’t ask!) captained by AJ Thomas.

So at 7am we were off! Once ladies completed their 30 minute slot they updated a thread on our facebook group with their distance and of course the obligatory selfie. The support and camaraderie throughout the day was amazing. Everyone gave it their all and were so supportive of each other. Many women came away with a PB for a hard effort. Half way through the day I did a Live update in the group on the standings. All the teams were so close so it was all to run for!

The afternoon continued well with our runners experiencing all kinds of weather during their runs. Some said it was like all 4 seasons in 30 minutes! We had some virtual handovers in person (socially distanced of course) and for some slots different teams ran together to give each other support. Most areas of Cardiff (and beyond!) were covered. We also had ladies running virtually as far away as Portugal, Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire!

Fast forward onto 930pm and we were all done. 116 women had run, 14.5 hours covered. Our final totals were 559km or 347 miles between us. Our teams were incredibly close but just pipping Pobol Porffor to the post were She Runs for the Tram with 89.8 miles or 144.5km. Pobol Porffor were only 0.3 miles behind with 89.5 miles/ 144.1 km. Rainbow Runners came in at 84 miles/ 135.3km with She Runs…a Relay only 0.1 miles behind them with 83.9 miles/ 135.1km. 

As of 10pm on Sunday our fundraising total for Cardiff Women’s Aid was £2,180. Three days later our total raised is now at £2,833 and we are still receiving donations. We are absolutely blown away.

The enthusiasm and commitment that our runners showed and the team and community spirit was wonderful. It has brought us even closer to each other as a group and has given everyone who took part a massive boost. We will most certainly be doing it again and hope for it to be an annual event!

Myfanwy Thomas, Run Buddy at She Runs: Cardiff.