The founder of Fly Girl Collective talks about her training and her ambitions for the group
How did you get into running?
I was always fond of running as a kid, I used to participate in sports days and I loved running the 100 metres at school. But I didn’t take long distance running seriously until I joined Run Dem Crew in 2011. Since then running has become one of may main hobbies in life. It gives me a lot of joy, it’s awesome for my mental health and has helped me find and create a community.
What sort of running do you do?
I’m primarily a long-distance runner; my favourite distance is half marathon. I try to do one marathon a year because I find it character building. I usually run three times a week; probably a six-miler, a track session and a long-distance run at the weekend, and then I support my running by going to a gym or fitness studio twice a week to work on strength.
Who do you like to run with?
I love running in a group but I find I do most of my running by myself. I love any opportunity to lead running groups and to lead people on their first runs. Over the years I think my favourite runs have been with friends.
What races have you done?
Too many to mention! I’ve run at least 15 half marathons, an ultramarathon and four marathons. My favourites were London, Tokyo, Hackney Half, and the Berlin Half.
Which race are you most proud of?
London! It was a big one because I was supported by New Balance, and because this was the one when my family finally clocked I was a serious runner. They live in Birmingham and came down to support me.
How did Fly Girl Collective start?
I started Fly Girl in 2018 because I wanted to encourage more black and brown women to discover the joy of running. I run regular runs once or twice a month. We have membership seasons where people collectively train for Conquer Crystal Palace, the Big Half and an Olympic Park 10K, and we’re working on the Hackney Half this year.
My ambition is that we become more known around London. And I hope to develop programmes with schools to reach out to young girls to inspire them to pursue a running journey.
Matilda lives in Hackney, London, and works as a project manager and editor. She set up Fly Girl Collective in 2018 to inspire black women to pursue a fitness lifestyle, and to celebrate and promote diversity and representation in fitness. Find out more at flygirlcollective.co, or follow @flygirlcollective on Instagram.