Want to hear from some of the most inspirational female runners in the UK today? Do you want to find out all the latest kit info? Then you need to get yourself to the first National Running Show at the Birmingham’s NEC on20th and 21st January
Girls Run the World will be at the show and hoping to bring you some podcasts and interviews with some of the incredible female runners who will be presenting, including Jo Pavey, Dame Kelly Holmes and the amazing ultra running mum, Susie Chan, who has completed the Marathon des Sables three times, and tackled running through a jungle for 5 days self-sufficient – a true Girl that Runs the World.
Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to have your gait analysed, which really helps you to see where you have biomechanical issues that strength and conditioning, flexibility and a different training shoe could improve. Plus, chat nutrition with the brilliant Anita Bean and visit the Nutrition Advice Zone, who will be offering valuable advice on what you should be eating and drinking as a runner..
And if that’s not enough, there will be plenty of running products and clothing to browse and purchase, with the likes of everyone from Vibram to Hoka One One and Saucony at the expo.
If you are considering entering an ultra, or even contemplating your first marathon, these tips from the GRTW ultra coach, Sarah Sawyer are well worth heeding…
Be a Tortoise not a Hare
There’s a reason why you’ll often see female runners perform better than men at ultras, and that’s because we pace ourselves like tortoises and not hares. My 100 mile PB is faster than some of my male friends who are sub 3 hour marathon runners, and that’s all down to pacing. I tell coaching clients that they should get to the halfway point of a 100 mile race feeling like their race hasn’t even started; do this and in the second half, you’ll tortoise picking off all those hares who have gone off too fast.
Learn how to walk
Don’t be afraid to take walking breaks in ultras; even the elites walk at times. On a hilly course, you’ll get natural walking breaks on steep up hills; on a flat course, I always take a short walking break every 30 or 60 minutes which uses different leg muscles and refreshes my running legs. However, when I say walk, I mean ‘power hike’ and not a Saturday afternoon amble round the shops! (anyone who has taken Sunday runs with us will be familiar with our ‘Be in control of that walk – stride it don’t slump it).
Eat little and often
After pacing, the second biggest mistake I see people make in ultra marathons is not getting their nutrition right. My rule of thumb is to start eating after 30 minutes and eat little and often from there onwards. People often make the mistake of waiting until they’re hungry before they start eating, but this means they’re going to be in a calorie deficit and will be trying to play catch-up all day. I aim for a minimum of 200 calories per hour and I get this from a combination of Mountain Fuel Extreme Energy drinks, Longhaul food pouches, GU Stroopwafels and 32GI Sports Chews. However, one size doesn’t fit all, so test out different things in training and find what works for you. And whatever you do, don’t try anything new on race day…..I’ve done that and it wasn’t pretty!
Deal with problems straight away
Things might go wrong in ultras. You can train and prepare, but there may be things that are outside your control on race day, such as adverse weather conditions, stomach issues, blisters and more. In an ultra marathon, everything is exemplified. So however much the temptation is to wait until the next aid station, where you can, deal with things straight away.
I ran the CCC (100k mountain race in the Alps) this summer and as I was climbing up to the highest point, the weather turned and I was subject to strong winds, freezing rain and snow. I wanted to keep moving and the last thing I wanted to do was stop and get my warm top, waterproof jacket and gloves out of my rucksack on the side of a freezing cold mountain, but I knew that if I didn’t, I’d be cold, wet and potentially hypothermic by the next aid station.
Ultras are like life
Sometimes everything ticks along perfectly, and other times, curveballs get thrown at us. As in life, the most successful ultra runners are those who deal the best with what ultras throw at them when things go wrong. I’ve had races which have gone like a dream and I’ve finished on the podium, and I’ve had races which have fallen apart and I’ve had to slog out a finish. In the latter, the easiest option would have been to quit. However, sometimes the races which go wrong and we have to slog it out to the finish are the ones we learn the most from, and the ones we end up ultimately the most proud of.
We all know how amazing morning runs can be for how they make you feel, the sights you see, the people you pass…yet our morning run-meet today beat them all as our path crossed the amazing Rosie Swale-Pope, who spent five years running across the world…
If you live in Brighton and Hove and run regularly, you may have noticed a little red cart on the seafront of late. Look a little bit closer, and you may be aware that there is often someone sleeping in there, cooking, reading or just generally keeping warm. That woman is the inspirational Rosie Swale Pope, MBE, the only person in history, man or woman, to have undertaken an epic solo, unsupportedrun around our world.
It took five years and 20,000 miles and as she told me this morning on Hove seafront, she slept in conditions of minus 46 degrees in some places and faced extreme dangers – but through it all, she learned lots and met so many amazing people.
She’s currently staying on the seafront in Brighton and Hove, where she spends her time writing a new book – and training for her next adventure, running solo from Brighton to Berlin. Of course, we asked if she’d like some company on the run ….
In the day and age of Instagram and YouTube runners, Rosie Swale is a true original – and is a role model for all us Girls who Run the World.
Her tip for getting your feet warm if you’re about to go out running and are on an adventure? ‘Boil some water, fill up a small plastic bottle and put them in your trainers and socks to warm them up before you go out running.’
Remember, look around you when you run, say hi to other female runners, explore not just your location but the people within it – you never know who you might meet.
Next year, we’ll be bringing you podcasts from ordinary female runners who have done extraordinary things – along with online workshops which will help you learn new techniques from heart rate training to mastering mental techniques to improve your running and your racing.
It’s just a hill. And we’re going to get over it together…
Our hill training course for women in Brighton and Hove starts July 5th and is aimed at helping you to build strength, stamina and confidence to take on hills, both up and down. As long as you can run 5km or have completed one of our courses, THIS course is suitable.
Every week is different, some game-based sessions, some including strength and conditioning and some straight intervals. You’ll learn techniques to help you get up the hill and down easier, as well as build your confidence.
July 5th, no training the following week, July 19th, July 26th, August 2nd, August 9th and August 16. Book and pay online £48 for the course. Can’t make all of them? As long as you can attend a minimum of 3 you can attend at drop in rate. Email email@example.com for more details.
Where we meet: We will meet at the corner of The Droveway as it intersects with Goldstone Crescent at 7pm promptly although not every session will remain here so be on time!
Fancy doing a team relay? Here’s our review of the recent Endure 24 relay race, along with a look at some of the other unusual relay races on offer around the UK, including a running cake-athon!
Tents, tick. Rugs to lie on, tick. Sugary sweets, tick. Coffee, tick. Drugs*, tick. This may seem like the list of someone about to go to a music festival. But running relay races are now taking the place of festivals for some former ravers turned runners, plus a whole new generation of runners who are as interested in the experience of running and community as they are pace or placing.
Endure24 is even coined the Glastonbury of Runners and involves running as many (almost) five mile loops through the countryside in Wasing Park, just outside of Reading as possible. The first lap of the day at noon on Saturday started in hot, windy conditions making the leafy, woody run a welcome respite. But make no mistake, the route is not an easy one with a hill greeting you as soon as you go through the first gantry. What goes up, must come down so you are rewarded with some downhills before more uphills and a wiggle through wooded, single track.
This event attracts all kinds of runners, from expert ultra distance runners to solo runners who walk the laps, and from big teams of ten, comprised of running clubs out for a social with some running included, to professional sponsored teams aiming to beat the course record. One thing that unites everyone is a love of running and the desire to support each other.
The atmosphere created by everyone at the event is fantastic, from the marshals who line the route, to the runners and walkers themselves who cheer the fast runners and lend a helping hand to anyone who looks like they need their spirits – or their legs – bolstered.
Finding the motivation to run the same lap, over and over again though is difficult, unless you’re competing for number of laps or to experience the special kind of transcendental meditative state that some runners report. Which is why the best part of this event is really when darkness falls. It not only becomes more magical – helped by women dressed up as fairies in the woods and music from the VDub bar making it seem like you’ve stumbled upon a rave , but because it makes the route appear different.
If you want to enjoy a running event with a team – not to mention warm, clean showers, then Endure24 is a great one to try. There’s none of the transport issues involved that you experience with relays that have a linear route, and there is water and race nutrition available. Shame the beer tent doesn’t stay until Sunday though, just at the moment when you can drink, it’s gone!
(*And by the way, we’re talking Ibruprofen).
What our runners said:
High point: ‘The camaraderie and running around at 5am when the birds were all waking up and the light was just changing, it was magical.’
Low point: ‘Losing a member of our team to illness, which meant having to run more laps!’
High Point: ‘Crossing the finish line with my team mates on the last lap.’
Low Point: ‘Going on a tired and lonely hunt for the showers at 2.30am after a very wet and dark lap.’
High point: ‘Running as fast as I could over the painted tree roots at midnight, lit up by fairy lights and the glow from my head torch.’
Low point: ‘My first lap, hot, hilly and hard – and worrying about pace, letting my team down, and how many more laps I’d have to do!’
High points: ‘Camping with like-minded women, the readily available and reasonably priced massages, and great showers.’
Low points : ‘Only unhealthy food available (Ed: we agree!), only one water point on the route and the loop got a bit tedious – why not open up a second lap later in the day?’
Five of the most unique relay races
Run as many of the 4.37 mile laps as possible in eight hours and be rewarded at the end of each lap with some homemade cake! Organisers estimate that each lap burns 500 calories. And it comes with a fantastic race medal!
Another 24 hour individual or team relay race held in the beautiful Bathurst Estate, just outside the town of Cirencester in the heart of the Cotswolds. An off-road 9km mixed course The race is run over an off-road 9km mixed course including forest trails and open tarmac paths. And what attracts our attention – healthy food stalls. Here’s hoping as Endure24 definitely was a let down on this score.
This event comes fresh from the US where it is so popular, many runners travel around the US to take part in as many of the relays that are put on around the country. You can understand why as this event offers the opportunity of ‘travel’ and to explore as you run. This one overs approximately 170 miles and will see runners start at Maidstone and finish in Brighton (it’s been put on by the organisers of the Brighton marathon). An event like this requires a very organised team captain – plus the finances to cover the cost of hiring two vans if entering a team of ten, on top of the £1000 entry fee. It sounds great fun though.
Explore 220 miles of the Green Belt around London on this 22-stage running relay race which starts in Hampton Court, 8.30am on Saturday and ends in Ham at 6pm on Sunday. It’s been running since 1995, put on by local running club, The Stragglers. So don’t expect bangs, whistles and overflowing goodie bags. This is about the purity of running and exploring. 11 runners per team, one stage per day for every runner. Unlike some other relay races though, this is open to all levels with prizes for both the fastest team to finish and the slower. With a barbecue at the end, this sounds like a challenging, but friendly way to spend a May weekend. Just make sure you recce your leg first.
Now in it’s 25th year, this event is operated as 10 back to back races, starting each stage with a mass start at the expected arrival time of the 1st runner from the previous stage, as opposed to other relays where the next runner on your team starts only when their other team mate has completed their leg.
Running from Chipping Campden in the early morning, through to the arrival at Bath Abbey in the early evening, you follow the way-marked route of the Cotswold Way over 90% off-road, taking in hills, woodlands, fields and tracks, all offering spectacular views of the countryside around…if you have time to look up! Each leg varies in length and ascent with no marshals, making the route finding just as much part of the race as the running itself.
If you’re going to run a relay race, then it’s important to do it in spectacular surroundings we think. That’s why this Welsh version appeals, offering two day, 20 stage event covering 211 miles, mostly on road, but with hills and mountains to overcome as you travel from Caernarfon to Cardiff, with an overnight stay in Newtown. And it’s in June, so hopefully, not the weather typically associated with Wales! There are six mountain stages, with three team mountain stage prizes so this is a race that suits – or requires some hill training. Get your entry in early, only 66 teams accepted and it is always over subscribed.