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…
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 email@example.com) 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.
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…
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.
If you find it a battle in training, let alone on race day, the key to unlocking improvement may all be in the mind..
Don’t forget to join us for our Facebook Live Mental Strategies for the Female Runner, Friday 19th January, 7pm, £4.99. Secure your space via our booking page and join us in our special Run Like a Pro Facebook group wherever you live in the UK for our live event.
Whatever goal you set yourself, whether to achieve a promotion at work, build a business, gain a personal best at a race, lose weight or just get to the end of your first 5km, having a firm grasp of your why is key.
Why is this so important? Because when things get hard, such as weighing up whether to scoff a cream cake or resist, or when it comes to running, push your body to run faster in training when it hurts, your brain is constantly weighing up how hard it feels against WHY you’re doing it. If your perception of how hard it feels outweighs your motivation, you slow down or stop. If the opposite is true, you keep you going.
So, there are two ways to improve – train more so that you get used to the feeling and it feels easier OR, increase your motivation so the drive to do it will aways carry you through.
Easier said than done, you might be thinking. But there are some simple tips that will help you to define your motivations so they help carry you through.
Love what you’re doing
One of the world’s foremost experts on human behaviour, Edward L.Deci, psychologist at the University of Rochester argues that the strongest motivation comes not from some sort of external reward, like more money, increased social standing, losing weight etc, but ‘from the satisfaction that one experiences in doing an activity itself.” So learn to love your fast pace work, do it with people you enjoy training with and even turn it into a social occasion so that after your weekly ‘hard’ session, you go out for a drink together so it becomes associated with a fun pastime that you enjoy doing in and of itself, not just because you’re aiming for a PB.
In my own experience, the more I love the process of what I’m doing and embrace it as a way of improving rather than doing it for the end result, the more I enjoy it. Try to frame whatever it is you are doing as a personal quest to get better—to improve and beat yourself—and focus on the satisfaction you gain from doing just that.
Think of others
Fear, discomfort and tiredness are the most common reasons why we slow down, walk or pull out of training or a race all together. Yet, people achieve incredible feats of superhuman effort, such as lifting cars, when helping others in danger. So it stands to reason that thinking of others when you’re feeling in discomfort could help to pull you through.
In fact, when Shalane Flanagan, who became the first American woman in 40 years to win the New York City Marathon last November when asked how she’d pushed through the pain barrier, she said: ‘I was thinking of other people when it started to hurt.’ So try that next time you’re on a hard training run and see if it works.
Turn on, tune in, drop out
Mindfulness and meditation are the big buzz words nowadays and for good reason – if you can meditate and learn to let go of distracting thoughts, you feel calmer, less anxious and gain better focus. It can work to improve all aspects of your life, and the same principles can apply to running. Like meditation where you learn to ‘watch’ thoughts pass through your mind without attaching to them, so too, you can try this method when running. It can help to disassociate from voice telling you to stop running if you’re just starting out, and help to keep you focused to that finish line. This is one that worked for me in February 2017 last year dong the Seville marathon. And as you can see from the picture of me when I’d just finished, the pain was real but I managed to disassociate from it long enough to get my PB.
For many of us with our sights set on a Spring marathon, we’re already twenty weeks away from our goal race but how do you find the right training plan for YOU?
Generic plans off the internet and magazines
There are thousands of them all over the internet, printed in magazines, handed out my charities that you may be raising money for but, which one is good? All training plans are generic and we hazard a guess that 85% of them will have been written by men, who don’t have to juggle multiple responsibilities such as work, family, kids and everything else. Regardless of gender, few take into account running history, how many miles you are currently running NOW (i..e your running base), your lifestyle, or work/life commitments. Recognise this FIRST so that you can acknowledge in advance that it will feel like a clunky fit. It is.
If you go down this route here’s what we recommend
Choose one that includes at least four runs per week and starts NO LESS than 16 weeks away from your race goal. Only if you’re very fit, and regularly run marathons should you look at a 12 week plan.
Write out your plan – and add your own sessions print out your plan, or re-write it and plan in other sessions that are ESSENTIAL to help you avoid injury during your marathon training. This should include yoga/foam rolling/basic strength and continuing and sports massage at least every three weeks. Whoever said running is cheap had never run a marathon!
There are numerous training apps on the market, including Runner’s World’s MyRunPlan, and Training Peaks where you can pay for a plan, which again is generic, but it loads to a calendar as an app on your phone. It’s easy to log in, see what the run is, do it, and mark it off as done. The calendar will reward you by turning green once you’ve completed. Fail to do the session and you get a red square. Training Peak plans are good because you can see clearly what you’ve got to do but suffers the same problems of any of the generic plans that you get anywhere else – except you’ve paid for it.
Personalised training plans
Many running coaches, ourselves included, will write training plans specifically for you. We tend to send you an in-depth questionnaire, followed by a chat on the phone and then we deliver a training plan, specific to your goals, your current fitness, life-work balance. The advantage is that it’s exactly for you. The cons are that if you get injured, fall ill, etc, the plan does not change to accommodate this in the same way as anything generic doesn’t. However, with it being written specifically for you in the first place, the likelihood of injury occurring due to a plan that does not reflect your specific running history is minimal.
Mentoring & Coaching
If you can afford it, and you want to run a marathon and enjoy it, race mentoring is the gold service for any runner. It doesn’t matter whether you’re interested in achieving a certain goal time or simply want to achieve a sense of satisfaction with each training session you do, not just the final ‘race’ goal. We charge £100 per month (some companies charge more, some less) but it means you have a personalised plan that can adapt and change week by week, according to how your training is going or the unforeseeable life events that can derail your training for a week or so, leaving you unsure how to proceed.
Plus, wherever you live in the world, your training is tracked via Strava or Garmin so we know what you’re doing – or not doing. It helps to hold you accountable and to help you feel like you’re achieving something with each session, because this method if training is so closely matched to helping to challenge and progress you as an individual; if you’ve ever struggled with a generic plan, you’ll appreciate how frustrating or disappointing it can be when you’re following something too easy or too hard. Where we differ with our plans is that we have a holistic approach, recognising the many elements must be balanced when you’re a woman training for a marathon juggling multiple tasks.
THE most important thing, no matter which option you choose is to start thinking about it from about 20-24 weeks away from your marathon goal. And follow a 16 week plan as an absolute minimum.
You can read more about our marathon mentoring service here. Read about one woman’s experience of mentoring here.