How to achieve your running goals by doing less

Want to know the secret for unlocking  your perfect running year? Achieve your personal bests and stay injury with one simple tip…

You might assume that the key to having your best year ever is all to do with how you train, how often and how challenging it is. But actually it’s far simpler than this as we revealed in a recent Facebook Live in our FREE Community Group.

All you have to do is plan your year. This one simple thing enables you to avoid the pitfalls that can derail even the best runners.

Planning your year…

Helps you to avoid injury

If you avoid injury, you remain consistent in your training and that will ensure the biggest improvements.

Reduces stress

When you’re juggling training with work and relationships, it gets stressful. It’s easy to get carried away with how much you love running and enter lots of events. But eventually, you’ll get stressed about it and start thinking, ‘oh god, I’ve got this race next week, how am I going to do it? And I haven’t seen my friends for ages and who is going to look after the kids?’

You want running to be an empowering and enjoyable experience, not one where you end up stressed. Planning helps you avoid these pitfalls.

Helps you to avoid overtraining and have planned recovery

Something that has been come up a lot in the blogs by our gRTW Project 26.2 runners is the benefit of recovery, both in terms of slow runs and time off entirely.

If you’re short on time because you’ve entered so much, you’ll often see women going out and just doing the hard stuff as they think it will get them fitter quicker. It mainly just means that you’re not giving your body time to recover. It’s in recovering – which means not racing all the time, that your body adapts and gets stronger.

Ensures you maintain your #runlove and motivation

Have you ever stopped enjoying running entirely because you suddenly feel like all you’re doing is training and or racing? It happens a lot. And it just means that you’re not putting in the right effort or attention to your training anyway. Do less. Not more.

 

So, here’s how to plan…

 

Spend some time looking at which races you really want to do and decide on a few A races, the ones that mean the most to you, either because you have a target time in mind or it’s a beautiful race that you’ve just always wanted to do in a stunning location.

Now, create a hand drawn breakdown of your year, broken by months and by weeks. You can use different colours to denote fun races that are just with friends, those that are important key training races and your A races themselves.

Most importantly, don’t forget to also add big work events, holidays and family engagements which will all impact on how successful – or sensible it is – to enter a race near that kind of time.

Once you’ve done that, add your a races, and then work from that, adding events that will help you to achieve your A race goal, which can be anything from wanting to achieve a PB or simply to finish and enjoy the race feeling strong. and training on the way to that A Race.

If you write it on paper, you can see more easily whether you’ve put too many races close together – or whether you are inadvertently thinking about a race that’s very close to your holiday.

There are a lot of fantastic race websites out there. FindARace.com for example to help you plan. Improvement comes from enjoyment, consistency and not getting injured.

If you’d like to see the full video of how to have your perfect running year, join our FREE Facebook community here.

#grtwproject26.2 ‘Having a virtual coach keeps me accountable – and running even when I don’t feel like it’

The final of our four winners of #grtwproject26.2 winners, Rachel Sparkhall, 43  reveals how accountability and b-run-ches have been so important for the first four week block of her Paris Marathon training…

Taking part in fun events can help to off load the stress of marathon training

Race: Schneider Paris Marathon

Target: 3  hours, 59 minutes

I read a quote this week, ‘the marathon is the victory lap’ and this struck a chord – it will be the culmination of 14 + weeks of not only running an amazing amount of miles but also the thinking time and juggling of work/life as well – I think the mantra ‘this is the victory lap, enjoy it’ might really help me on race day!

Running a marathon has never figured high on my bucket list until last year when I completed the South Downs 100KM Ultra Challenge. If I could cover 100KM with a run/walk/run method in 16 hours and survive training through the hottest summer in decades, then maybe, just maybe I could run a marathon? And so I was delighted when I won the #grtwproject26.2 competition to win a mentoring package worth £300. 

GRTW coach Tara initially loaded a four week block of runs on Training Peaks, which was brilliant as it allowed me to see the progressive mileage and speed work build up and I found the alternate run days worked well, allowing me recovery time and to also plan life around training rather than it dictating it. 

It meant some early mornings and dark evening runs, but I’m fortunate that I work from home on some days which allows me to be more flexible. Still, training for a marathon can be all consuming.  To compensate, I integrate my longer runs with coffee/cake or breakfast get together’s.  This means I have a destination to run to which is more motivating than constant laps/loops on the longer routes. 

In the first couple of weeks, I had a few issues with picking the right routes that suited the tempo and interval training and had a couple of rather frustrating watch malfunctions. All I really wanted to do was run and perform well, so I invested in a Garmin watch and I got this nailed.

Old watch vs new Garmin

If anything, the runs have been slower than I’ve been used to but with that, came more focus on tempo and interval work which forced me to actually start doing them rather than just reading about them.

I think the most important point to make about training with GRTW  can be said in one word – ACCOUNTABILITY. With all my training runs planned and any other training recorded, I’m motivated to get my trainers on and do the session, particularly as Tara can see my exact results on Training Peaks. 

The first 2 weeks flew by but by week 3 I hit a wall. I felt fatigued and had taken a lot of medication for migraines which I’ve suffered from for years, so every run became a challenge. 

Usually, running helps me feel like i’m cleansing my system of any medication but intense exercise can also trigger a migraine attack so it’s a double edge sword.  It’s very easy to curl up in a ball and drown myself in the vat of sugary products even though I know that it will only make things worse.

A hilly run on my third Sunday long run was awful and if it had not been for my coaching plan, I wouldn’t have gone.  The first hill run was truly awful and I stopped wanted to go home, but then I thought about Tara and the effort she was putting into helping me and I thought about how I’d feel if I failed to hit my goal. GOT.TO.KEEP.TRYING. Hopefully this extra little push is going to make all the difference in getting me closer to that sub 4 hour goal.

A beautiful but brutal run

Thankfully, week four has been a recovery week with less mileage and it’s been a fabulous week. Although the weather turned colder, each run was enjoyable and I ended it with the 10K London Winter run.  A fantastic fun themed event where 20,000 participants descend on London to run amongst penguins and snowmen, it was great to go as part of a group and enjoy the social aspect.

The London Winter Run 10k

I started the run, semi frozen in -4 temperatures and with the niggling doubt that I’d lost some speed with all the longer runs I had been doing but was pleased to see that I was achieving 7.30min/miles on course and ended with a PB of 48.10 on what is a flat but very busy course. 

Roll on the next block of training. Now, less than ten weeks before I stand under the Arc de Triomphe.

To  follow the journeys of our four Girls Run the World marathon training winners, follow #grtwproject26.2 on Instagram.

If you are interested in having a personalised training plan written by Girls Run the world or our mentoring package, please email info@girlsruntheworld.co.uk

How was your weekend running?

From the beach to The Beast, there were plenty of unique events taking place over the first September of the month – not to mention our monthly Parkrun get together…

Pic credit: Ian Corless

 

Just when you thought we were bidding goodbye to the summer, the warm weather returned this weekend but with much more manageable heat for running, which made for some fantastic events this weekend.

There was the Kent Coastal Marathon, a beautiful road half marathon that starts in Margate and travels along closed roads to take in Ramsgate and some of the rest of the Thanet coast. Word on the street is that it’s a bit of a loopy course though…did you run it?

And it was to Margate again this weekend that the inaugural RedBull Quick Sand event took place. A one mile race of two 0.5 mile loops, it sounds easy but it certainly isn’t when you learn that the event takes place on sand and you run up and down huge hills topped with stand castles and sand trenches that sap the energy from your legs. The event is split into male and female heats and you race other competitors to either go through to a semi-final or to a qualifying round. Let me tell you, it was a killer on the quads (race review coming up). RedBull’s goal is to build this event and eventually grow it so that the format can be taken elsewhere in the world. It’s a fun format, and definitely one to do with a group. But bear in mind, a mile is not a mile when you run it in sand!

And then on to The Beast, an event that one of the GRTW the community took part in over the weekend which caught our eye. A beautiful 12.46 mile trail event that takes in place along the beautiful Dorset coastal path…which means it’s brutal. With a maximum elevation of 1697 feet, this is one off road event that is all about the ups and downs! It’s too late for this event for 2018, but The Beast is part of a Purbeck Coastal Trail Series, which comprises six races – and there are some unique ones still to come this year, including the Studland Stampede, a 12km route over the beaches on Studland Bay on October 15th.

But over to you. Where did you run or race this weekend? Did you Parkrun debut or PB? Did you do a unique event that you want to shout about? Let us know!

 

 

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

Date: 20-22nd July

We’ve never had a summer quite so hot, although one way to steer clear of the heat this weekend was to take part in the Lunar-tic Marathon River Marathon which ran through the night. But we thought it was the perfect conditions for our inaugural GRTW Run Wild trail and yoga retreat. How did you fare this weekend in training or racing?

 


 

Over the weekend, we spoke to lots of runners at our GRTW Trail and Yoga retreat and opinion is evenly split – some people love warm summer running, others much prefer the cooler conditions of autumn or winter.  Whatever the case, a little nifty trick for you – put your running vest in the freeze for 15 minutes before you go out…it will keep you cooler for a little while.

On our trail weekend, we kept our runs to the early morning or late afternoon with a route through Houghton woods for one of the steamiest runs of the weekend on the Sunday. And even on those hotter, hillier runs the reward was stunning views and a delicious breeze on the way back to base. And of course, nothing feels quite as good as yoga after a run, particularly outdoors in the shade.

Elsewhere this weekend, was the Lunar-tic Marathon, a 3 lap night trail along the River Adur, the perfect antidote to the day’s heat and perfect conditions.

We’d love to hear where you trained or raced over the weekend, particularly further afield in Scotland, Wales or further north. Let us know.

 

How was your weekend running?

Summer is a time of trail races and those with a bit of a twist…

I didn’t race this weekend as I was busy checking out  more routes for the Girls Run the World Trail and Yoga Retreat this coming weekend (July 20-22), and it sure was a hot one! Which is why I headed off for an open water swim in the beautiful Weirwood Reservoir rather than run again.

But elsewhere, there was lots going on in the trail running stakes, not least the spectacular Gran Trail Courmayer, with distances of 30, 50 and 105km to choose from…the winning woman of 30km took 3 hours 50 mins, 47 seconds while the 102 kms took 18 hours, 51 minutes and 12 seconds. That says it all about the elevation, eh? Still, it’s a race that’s on my bucket list.

Closer to UK shores, literally, was the Beat the Tide 10km in Worthing on the South Coast. This is a great concept, where you run an out and back along the beach, trying to beat the return of the tide to avoid getting wet feet.  One GRTW runner who took part, Tanya Taylor said this about the race: ‘It’s always fun when you do a race that’s a little bit different to the norm- and running with a few hundred people across the sand definitely felt more fun than not. Well organised, relaxed & beautiful scenery- win, win.’ One thing to remember though, wet sand…it’s a little tougher to run on but definitely not as tough as soft sand! And of course, this weekend saw the 100km Race to the Stones, along The Ridgeway. Did you run it?

And for those The other big race of the weekend was The British 10km in London, which goes right through the heart of London. Did you run it?

 

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

Mountain running and park runs , I’m a little late with this weekend post from 7th-8th July but my excuse? Holding running in the lovely Italian Dolomites and Lake Garda…


 

If you ever fancy a DIY running holiday,  I can’t recommend Lake Garda and the Dolomites enough. I was there last week, firstly in the Dolomites to take part in an arduous but absolutely amazing cycle sportive, Maratona Dles Dolomites. I then stayed on and just ran the trails that I could find. Hilly, hard but absolutely stunning with nothing but the babble of mountain springs and the gentle ring of cowbells through the clear air.

The amazing thing about this area, Alta Badia is that during the summer, they even put on regular weekly runs for five euros, that you can just join and they’ll guide you through amazing mountain trails. I didn’t have time but I definitely plan to return. Details here

Running is big in every country now but, until I went to Italy I had no idea just how huge the trail running scene is, not to mention fantastic ultra trails. Just a weeks before,  was the Laveredo Ultra Trail Race  which The Guardian’s Adharanand Finn wrote about last week (read it here).

A few days later, I travelled from the Dolomites to Lake Garda, where I kept coming across placards on the mountains and billboards advertising incredible races. On one hike, I saw signs for the Lake Garda Mountain Race. Sounds amazing, I thought. The clue was in the name though, this is a race that starts on the lake level at the beautiful Malsecine and climbs from 68 metres to 2128 metres. Bearing in mind I had DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) for 48 hours from walking down, you can imagine how crazy fit you’d have to be.

Still some way to go

But this area holds a special place in my running heart, as it is Lake Garda that was my very first marathon – it was hot, it poured with rain, the race refreshment included biscuits (which I tried – doh!) and there was Prosecco on the  finishing line. (You can read the article I wrote about the race here). It was also the location of one of our busiest race trips with over 32 Girls Run the World runners joining us for the 10km and 15 mile race.

But back here in the UK,  it was a super hot weekend with lots of our runners reporting suffocatingly hot park runs from Scotland to Southampton. Did you run?

And if you are off on holiday soon, what do you do about running? Do you still run, how do you explore?

We’d love to hear from any of you who race, where you ran, what you thought, would you recommend it? Comment below or in our Facebook group.

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

some of the stunning views on this weekend’s running

From fun runs to the Decathlon 5km series and Race to the Kings, this weekend summed up the beauty of summer running…

 

During the winter, many of the athletic clubs take part in cross country races, fast, fierce and tough races, short in distance, usually extremely muddy, and fierce in hills and weather conditions. They do it to pitch themselves against other clubs for points. Come the summer, many of these clubs hold summer ‘fun runs’, those same types of short distance races – 3 – 5 miles – on off road conditions but in beautiful sunny, warm weather. Plus, they have beer tents at the end. A win-win in our book the Downland’s Dash 5 miler!  Do check out your local club wherever you live and see if they are holding any summer races as the adult races are often preceded by one mile races for the youngsters. Great fun.

Here in Brighton was also the first Decathlon 5km, a slightly under distance free event put on at Preston Park. It is one of many free running events that the French based sports superstore is putting on in an ambitious UK expansion plan. The verdict from one GRTW runner was: ‘OK but same route as park run and only 2.9 miles rather than 3.1. The emphasis is on it being a fun run, with music and a warm up but it’s not timed. ‘

So, it sounds inclusive and perhaps less intimidating that a park run as it’s not timed but perhaps not going to help you progress your running if you’re already a runner. And as for the free goody bag? Apparently, you have to go into the store to pick it up. A clever marketing ploy but then again, we do quite like Decathlon stuff, it’s well made and at a good price point.

Elsewhere this weekend, the big event was Race to the King, a UK based two day ultra with day one covering 23.4 and day 2, 30.2 miles. It’s a great introduction to ultra running, a long a beautiful stretch of the South Downs and during a stunning part of the year. What’s even better is that you can choose to do just one day, rather than the full two so you don’t have the pressure of going straight into a full 50 miler race. This is a way to hone your technique, get experience at what it feels like to be amongst runners who are well versed in ultras and take on some tips for future races.

But well done to GRTW runner, Florence Theberge , who is being trained by our ultra marathon coach, Sarah Sawyer who placed first on day one. She’s looking good for her ultra marathon goals.

So, did you run Race to the King? What did you learn? And if you didn’t run there where did you run?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

What running or events did you take part in this weekend? 

 

Down here in Sussex, the first weekend of June is always the renowned South Downs Way Relay, a lung-busting, leg sapping relay race involving six men, women or mixed teams all racing their way from Eastbourne to Winchester over 100 miles. It’s an invitation only event and a hotly contested race every year. I was very fortunate to be part of the winning Arena ladies team last year, who amazingly have gone on to win it again this year. And what’s most notable about that is that ALL of the women in the team are over 40, showing that age does not necessarily mean slowing down.

Instead of racing hell for leather across the Downs though, I spent the weekend experiencing all the very best that makes up Parkrun. Because Parkrun is for EVERYONE, for the very fast and competitive, to the very new and just starting out, to the older athlete who wants to keep moving and the mums who want to get moving again.

I ran it with my sister, who has only just started getting into running at Maidstone Parkrun (beautiful course, very narrow though!) and the following day, ran junior park run with my five year old niece, for whom it was only her second ever park run. It’s a reminder just how rewarding running can be, helping EVERY runner, new and old feel a sense of achievement.

And I tell you something else, kids can be great training partners and you can be great partners to them too. While kids tend to go off like rockets and then often splutter to a halt, mums can do the opposite. So, here’s what you should do to help both of you improve for park run. Do some fast, short interval training sessions with your kids where they make YOU run faster over a short distance of 50 metres, with walk recoveries. And then YOU become their coach and force them to go slower over a longer distance to learn to pace themselves. Win, win.

We’d love to hear from anyone out there who knows of any long distance relay races. Plus any park run or race successes you had this weekend. 

 

Oh, and ps. it was great to meet Lucy Jayne Barratt, at Maidstone Parkrun who took part in Runuary this year. Hope some more of you met up with fellow GRTW runners.

How was your weekend running?

The weekend just passed had us thinking a lot about motivation and will power to push through when training or racing gets tough…

Perhaps this was partly due to my taking on Grafman, a Half Ironman event, which comprises a 1.8km open water swim, followed by a 56 mile bike ride and rounded off by a half marathon at the end. But it was also because it was a weekend of running events that require a lot of mental reserve, such as the Night of the 10km PBs and the North Downs Way 50.

Fittingly enough, the Girls Run the World ultra distance coach, Sarah Sawyer, took home first place this year at the North Downs Way 50 (for coaching advice and mentoring with Sarah, email info@girlsruntheworld.co.uk) and another reason my focus was on mental strategies due to a podcast that I did with her last Friday. After all, who better to ask about mental strategies than a woman who came first in the Crawley 24 Hour Track Race a few months ago, running 127.8 miles in 24 hours around a 400 metre track?

You can listen to the podcast later this week, but what was most interesting about our chat is that Sarah didn’t say ANY of the usual things when it comes to mental strategies. Instead of counting, music or mantras, her main approach is grounded in the fact that she loves running and whenever anything gets tough, she reminds herself of how lucky she is to be running. That and switching up her events so that her ‘journey’ to that final event destination goal stays interesting and enjoyable seem to be her main strategies for staying strong.  At the beginning of this year, she focused on the 24 hour track race, then she switched from flat running to the hills to take on the North Downs 50, which leads her on to the Global Limits 200km Stage Race.

So, when I was running my final six miles of my Half Ironman this weekend, with the sun belting down, I reminded myself that ultimately, I choose to do this, as we all do. At any time, any one of us can say, ‘That’s it, I don’t want to do this any more,’ and stop.

We take part and participate because we enjoy the challenge, the camaraderie and the sense of achievement. And if we remember this, that when we train and it feels tough on a tempo run, or a long run when we’re just not feeling it, try to shift your thinking to accept that that discomfort is simply part of your end goal, making you stronger, and helping you to get to the fantastic end feeling of achievement. If it wasn’t challenging, none of us would feel quite so good at the end of it. Besides, it makes the celebratory beer feel even more amazing.

We’d love to hear about your weekend racing and any strategies you use when the going gets tough. Comment below.

How was your weekend running?

Running can get you fit, help you meet new people and explore the world. But as #milesformatt has shown, it also has the power to do a whole lot of good and drive positive change and action…

Matt, right, with his father Martin and brother, Josh

Looking at our Strava club, this weekend was not about races or parkruns (although there were a fair few of those around too) but about running 3.7 miles in memory of the 2017 Masterchef finalist, Matt Campbell who collapsed 3.7 miles before the end of the finish line at last weekend’s London Marathon.

What most people already knew about the 29- year old from the TV show, was that he was a likeable and extremely talented chef and that he’d sadly lost his father, suddenly and unexpectedly in 2016. But then The Brathy Trust, a charity who work to help inspire disadvantaged children and whom Matt had been helping raise money for, released a press release.

It revealed that Matt was not only a fantastic chef and runner (he’d run the Manchester marathon two weeks before in under three hours) but a pretty amazing human being full stop, setting up the Martin Campbell Memorial Fund in memory of his father, which had raised £14,000 to help young people with mental health problems.  He’d been planning to run his third marathon, the Windermere Marathon next month to raise even more money.

So far, £250,000 has been raised in his memory but runners across the UK and beyond running the last 3.7 miles of his marathon. It doesn’t change the fact that a young man has lost his life, tragically leaving behind a family who will miss him terribly. But if anything positive can be drawn from this, it is the power of a running community coming together virtually.