GRTW Explore the Downs Trail Run, 24th June

Love running off-road but unsure where to run or worried about getting lost? Or are you visiting Brighton for the weekend and have your trainers with you and would love to explore? Join us this Sunday for a gorgeous run that will take you through poppy fields and via the amazing Breaky Bottom vineyard 

here at GRTW, we colour our running seasons, January – March is usually the white season – skies full of cloud, snow on the ground. March to April, is yellow season for all the daffodils, then it’s the Blue Season, which is all about the carpets of bluebells.

But right now, we’re at the tale end of the Red Season, with poppies carpeting the fields with the Purple Season edging in with the powder purple of flowering flax. This and more you’ll get to see on our nine mile run open to anyone who can run the distance.

For those wanting a shorter route, there is a 4.5 mile route, with the latter part returning on your own on a easy -straight back to car park – route.

Book online, £10. Details of where to meet can be found here. All runs leave at 8.30am.

 

 

How was your weekend running?

So, I’m a bit behind with our #medalmonday post – while most of you were running fantastic races like the Two Castles Run (from Warkwick to Kenilworth) and the St Alban’s Half Marathon, I was taking time out from the purity of just running to participate in the 113 Cotswold Half Ironman

 

 

Graeme always has terrible weather at his events,’ confided one of the marshals the day before the 113 Cotswold Half Ironman, as I eyed up the lake I was due to swim 1.9km in the following morning. The next morning, I stood there again, having awoken at 4.30am to rack my bike in transition by the cut-off at 5.40am and to be ready to swim. Except we didn’t. The fog was so thick, you couldn’t see 100 metres on to the lake, let alone the buoys to swim to. And so we waited, all 1000 participants, for 90 minutes until it was safe to get out on the water.

This was my second half ironman distance triathlon this year, which comprises a 1.9km swim, 56 mile bike ride and a half marathon.

If you’re a runner who feels like they need a bit of a change, or you’re injured and need your ‘fix’ without running, or you value the importance of an all over body discipline, then triathlons are a great accessory to add to your running arsenal.

Running is my first love but I decided to take six months out of just ‘pure’ running to help my body grow stronger in different areas, try something new and give myself some ‘mental’ space from chasing marathon PBs. And triathlons have certainly given me that – as well as providing me with new mental strategies that I will now take forward to my final half of the year, focusing on my next ‘A’ race, the Girls Run the World Get Together at the Maverick Snowdonia off road race.

When you’ve got a swim, a bike and THEN a run to do, it’s easier to keep focused and not get overwhelmed by expectation, which can tend to happen with running after you’ve spent 16 weeks training for just one event. Triathlon teaches you to break everything down into manageable segments. On the bike, instead of thinking, ‘Jesus, this is so hard, I’ve got 20 miles to go,’ I focus on eating every 20 minutes, keeping my legs moving and thinking of the strategy for my run.

And on the swim, I just enjoy the vibe and think about what I’m going to do when I get out of the water as I transition on to the bike. (To be fair, I haven’t mastered this and generally tend to faff about!).

And like many triathlons of a longer distance, the runs are almost always broken into laps. As a runner, I used to HATE laps, thinking it was so boring. But when you’re focusing hard, laps have a curiously comforting element to them. This weekend, I focused on one lap at a time, putting the thought of the pain and discomfort of the entire distance away in a box.

Although a great thing about triathlons if you’re runner is that you’ll find that you often get overtaken on the bike, and then you’ll reel them all back in on the run. So,  rather than succumbing to the heat and discomfort on the run, I decided to count every person that I passed and those who passed me. I counted 346, which means that I passed over a third of the field on the run, with only two passing me.

How can I apply this to running, when it really isn’t so easy to pass people? If you tend to go off too quickly in a running race, being secure enough in your running to let others go in front, keeping your pace in check and then reeling people in is a great race strategy. I’ll be trying it.

As for the Cotswolds 113, I’d recommend it if you’re after a longer distance triathlon, friendly, and flat for great PB potential – plus some GREAT pubs to celebrate in!

Thanks to all those who kept me entertained virtually on Sunday morning by sharing where you were running, from the Chew Valley 10km to the Stanwick Lakes Half Marathon to the Parkrun mile to the Hull 10km. We’d love to hear how your running went the past weekend. Let me know!

Psst, if you like the vest design, they’re our limited edition ones, if you want to get your hands on them, give us a shout. They’re £15 plus P&P.

 

Event Review: Vitality London 10km

Nowadays, marathons and ultra races get all the glory but a 10km race is just as challenging – and can be just as fun as the recent Vitality London 10km proved…

Imagine running through the closed streets of London, past steel bands and cheering supporters, past the Houses of Parliament and right along the Mall before ending right in front of Buckingham Palace. Sound familiar? Yes, the Vitality London 10km takes in all the very best parts of the London Marathon route but without the months and months of training or the agony of having to run 26.2 miles. What’s not to like?

The Vitality 10km takes place over the May Bank Holiday and is part of a weekend of activities, with kids’ races and the Vitality Westminster Mile taking place the day before. The 10km race is actually doubles as the British 10km Championships, which means that as I lined up, I found myself about 100 metres from the elite pen (where one of our GRTW coaches, Tara was – lucky her!) where Mo Farah was getting set to race.

 

This is a BIG event with over 8,000 taking part but it is brilliantly organised with six different pens and a clever filtering system that sees you having to file through some barriers before you actually hit the start line, helping to avoid a mass pile up when the klaxon – and Jessica Ennis Hill – started us off.

A 10km race when running hard is, well, hard. But having the kind of support that you’d usually only ever get at a marathon helps you to pick up your feet and keep pushing, past the two water stations, through the shower to cool everyone down on the run and finally, heading straight for Buckingham Palace and the finish line.

If you’re starting near the back of the pens, it’s a long wait to the start line as I saw people on their first kilometre as I was finishing but it’s such a great atmosphere and a rare opportunity to race through the streets of London in the summer when it’s not freezing cold (except for this year’s London Marathon of course which broke all the records!), I don’t think many people minded.

Mo Farah won this one in 29 minutes and 44 seconds, but just as impressive in our eyes was one of the Girls Run the World coaches’ , Tara Shannahan, who PBed with a time of 37.44 minutes – she’s getting faster with age!

After the race, you can hang around in the park where they even have a yoga space where you can unwind and chill out from the run. I nearly didn’t go to this event but I’m so glad I did; whether you run it seriously in a bid to PB or to just enjoy it for the London scenery, this is a destination race (even if you’re a Londoner) that’s worth doing.

 

For details of next year’s Vitality London 10km visit https://www.vitalitylondon10000.co.uk

 

The Good

Great location, brilliantly organised – with added yoga too!

The Bad

Long wait to start if you’re not in the front pen, but that’s standard with London races

The Ugly

Nothing truly bad to say about this event. It’s fab.

If you are training for a 10km and want to get a PB, check out virtual training mentoring which provides customised training, direct to our training app so it’s right at your fingertips. 

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?

Sleep, or more widely, how to maximise your recovery has been on my mind this weekend. This is partly because I was chatting with Jonathan Robinson, exercise physiologist at the University of Bath at the recent Elevate conference, and because it appears to have then cropped up in numerous conversations with clients over the weekend.

Time and again, as runners – and particularly if we ‘re also mums and runners, we tend to focus on running only as our training, and perhaps if we’re really good, a bit of foam rolling and yoga. But this is NOT what we mean by recovery, and if we got this right, we’d optimise our performance, prevent injury and avoid mental burn out.

All the research points to how recovery is the cornerstone of your training, not an add on. Ignore it, and you effectively undermine all those hard training sessions that you’re doing.

So, what do we mean by recovery strategies? 

What might come to your mind are compression socks, ice baths, recovery footwear and the like, but according to scientifically proven studies, your foundations for recovery are simple -sleep, body management and nutrition.

Grantham and Jarvis 2005, Recovery Pyramid

 

Sleep

When we sleep, our bodies get to work, helping our muscles to repair and adapt to grow stronger. According to research in the British Journal of of Sports Medicine  cognition, metabolism and tissue repair are critical physiological processes that contribute to training capacity, recovery and performance and are all positively affected with the right amount of sleep.

What you can do? 

Start tracking your sleep to see how many hours, on average you’re getting. I have a Garmin 920XT watch which tracks not only my sleep, but the quality of my sleep. It’s a helpful reminder to show when I’m not. If you are consistently getting injured, or not seeing improvement despite lots of training, take a look at your sleep patterns.

Body Management

Simply put, this means how you are managing your body. Are you only running or are you adding strength training, yoga and foam rolling?

Recovery methods, such as at home yoga, stretching even for 20 minutes per day can help promote blood flow to the muscles and improve range of movement, which in turns helps you to run with better economy, which means less stress on the body.  Moreover, focused, good quality strength training not only helps prevent injuries. Research shows that the fitter and stronger you are, the less time you’ll need to spend on recovery strategies.

What you can do?

Try a Yin Yoga class, try to remember the poses that are the most challenging for you and do those ones on your own at home. Strength wise, we have lots of free exercises on our YouTube channel that you can follow to build stability. Our more dedicated month long gym or at home strength workouts will launch in a few weeks for our dedicated Virtual Training Hub members. Pre-register here.

Nutrition 

Follow the three Rs, rehydrate, refuel, rebuild. Running is BIG business, and nutrition has kept pace with this resulting in the proliferation of products from protein shakes to beet and sour cherry shots. Some of these can be useful if you have a very heavy training load or are short on time.

What you can do?

You can get all the nutrition you need from the food you eat or drink, whether it’s a chocolate milk/almond milk shake after a run, foods rich in polyphenols, such as beetroots (grated in a salad or juiced with ginger and apple) to help with inflammation, fish, meat or pulses for a protein kick and green leafy vegetables and fruit for a vitamin kick to boost your immune system. It can be useful to keep a food diary for three days, noting what you eat and when you eat, plus when you run. That should be enough, without any expert advice for you to evaluate whether you are eating right for running.

We’d love to hear how you manage your recovery strategies, and if you have any tips that are useful for super busy women.

 

Explore the South Downs Trail Run, Sunday 13 May

Whether you’re a visitor to the area and fancy a trail run or you’re a local looking to explore or build your miles, join us this Sunday for a beautiful off-road run starting at Hove Park

This route starts at the park but immediately takes an off-road route until we arrive at Waterhall Mill.  Built in 1885 by James Holloway, it worked until 1924 and was used in World War II as a lookout post. It was finally converted into a house in 1963.

Here, we’ll leave those runners who would prefer to do four miles to return via the way they came on their own steam. Those who would like to do 8 miles can continue with us up on the South Downs Way, before joining the Sussex Border Path and returning to Hove Park.

If the weather is nice, a 10 minute al fresco yoga session to finish the Sunday run leaving you feeling strong and supple.

Book via our booking page, £10 or £45 for the entire 8 remaining runs. 

Location and details can be found here

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.

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

This was a big weekend for running, with Rome, Rotterdam, Manchester and Paris marathons setting off the Spring marathon series, along with some more unusual races such as the 24 hour track race

 

Paris marathon was only my third marathon back in 2013, and so it holds a special place in my heart.  Although it was freezing cold on the start line when I ran, so much so that I couldn’t feel my feet (you can read about it here), I know from other participants who that it can often be unseasonably warm, which appears to have been the case this year with temperatures hitting 22 degrees.

We had runners in both Paris, Manchester and the Berlin Half Marathon and all but one of these races (go on, guess which one?) looked baking hot, so well done to ALL you runners who reached the finish line.

And spare a thought for Lizzie Roswell, who ran the Paris Marathon today and will continue running ‘In the Footsteps of the Fallen,’ via the Western Front finishing with the London marathon – that’s 360 odd miles in about two weeks!

If that inspires you but makes you run for your slippers, what do you think of Girls Run the World Ultra marathon coach, Sarah Sawyer who won first female at the Crawley 24 hour track race this weekend, running a total of 127.5 miles in 24 hours. Crazy, huh? Once she’s had a chance to recover we’ll be interviewing Sarah in a podcast about the mental strategies she used to get her though it. But running doesn’t HAVE to involve big long distances to create an enjoyable challenge that works you hard to give you that endorphin buzz.

This weekend, I missed my Half Ironman training (oops !) to take part in the Sussex Road Relay Championships, a 2 mile, flat-out, bust-your-lungs, eyeballs-out relay race. Just because they’re shorter, they’re no less anxiety provoking at the start but they are over much more quickly. And they’re fun. Yes, it hurts but there is something absolutely exhilarating about trying to go as fast as you can over a short distance.

So, if you have just finished or are just about to do a marathon and are wondering what your next goal is going to be, don’t assume it always has to be another marathon or a longer distance. Taking time out and moving your body in a different way – which it does if you run faster, can be a good way of pushing the reset button.

Well done to all your fantastic finishers of whatever race or training you did, including all our GRTW runners who came together for our Girls Run the World Get Together Parkrun this weekend all over the UK.

 

If you are in town for Brighton to support friends or to run, please let us know by commenting. We will be at mile 19/22 so if you want to join us in support or want us to give you a special cheer or call out (and those miles can be crucial) comment with your name and race number. 

Marathon Mastery Series: The Mental Game

We’re now just a few days away from the start of the marathon weekend extravaganza that is Paris, Manchester, Brighton, ending in London. You’ve done the physical stuff, now it’s time to ensure you’ve nailed your mental game..

Seville, the one where I managed to avoid the cracks!

Some of what you’re going to read now is going to see so obvious, you’ll be thinking, ‘Jeez, I’m not THAT clueless.’ But really, it’s amazing the impact that pre-race marathon anxiety can have on your mind so do everything you can NOW to nail  your mental game.

Race pace

So, you’ve probably been training using your race pace for certain parts of your training for between 12-20 weeks by now. But write it down anyway, and keep repeating it.

What to do: Perhaps even write it down on the back of your hand on race day. Seriously, I can’t remember the amount of times I’ve stood on the start line and had a panic about what my race pace is because I suddenly can’t remember it.

Prepare for the marathon mile crunch points

I’ve run about ten marathons and every event I’ve had crunch points at the same mile markers. These are where a chink appears in your mental resolve, which can quickly turn into an ever widening fault line if you don’t have mental strategies in place. Personally, my crunch points are mile 15 (‘Oh jesus, I’ve got to run nine more miles at this pace?‘), mile 18, (seconds after you think, ‘Wow, I’m flying,’ you realise the remaining miles are going to feel like a 10km race and there’s no flying feeling going on with that) and mile 24, when you’re SO close but suddenly calculate those miles into pace and how much time that means is left on your feet (personally, two miles seems less to me than calculating time).

What to do: Everyone has their own mantras and strategies for getting through the battlefield that goes on in your brain when you’re running. If you don’t, write them down now, whether it’s a memory of a training run that you didn’t think you were going to get through, a reason for why you’re running or even organising someone to be at what you think will be  your crunch points to help get you through. Mine is very boring, I just count backwards from 100 to filter out the voice telling me to stop.

Beware the wormhole

You can get so deeply introspective when running a marathon, it’s easy for one negative thought to send you down a wormhole until you feel like you’re legs are like lead and you’ve convinced yourself that you’re crap and you won’t ever finish.

What to do: Break the pattern, look outward and talk to someone else. In fact, if you pass someone who looks like they’re struggling, encourage them. It can take your mind completely off your own struggles and you’ll probably be fine within a few minutes.

The positive panel 

So many women do this; they think of all the miles or the training sessions they didn’t do, or the runs that went badly and have all this shored up when they stand on that start line. Bin this. You all rock, you’re on the start line!

What to do: Write down all those training runs where you felt fantastic, where things went to plan, the tuning races that you did to get where you are, the friends you’ve made along your training journey. Have this front and foremost when you hit that start line.

 

What mental strategies do you use when running a marathon. We’d love for you to share them so do comment below and help others.  

 

 

 

 

South Downs Trail Run, Sunday 8th April

Work off that Easter chocolate frenzy this weekend with a beautiful off-road eight mile route from Rottingdean

This is a challenging but stunning route with as many lovely, recovery downhills as uphills to build your strength and endurance on hills (particularly beneficial for those of you joining us for the Girls Run the World get together at Angmering BlueBell Trail Races or the upcoming Snowdonia Maverick Race in September.

The hardship will be rewarded with stunning views, gambolling baby lambs and a route that overlooks Breaky Bottom vineyard (who produce some delicious sparkling wine!) before heading down through Saltdean and along the cliff for a stunning sea side finish.

Will it be 8 miles, or will you add some more at the end to really fire up your face finish for the Bluebell 10 mile trail race? Remember that dastardly hill? Whether you’re taking part in the event or just joining us for the runs, this is a beautiful run that takes in Downs, sea and even a glimpse of Breaky Bottom vineyards!

Location: bottom of Bazehill Road, Rottingdean here/ Parking free.

Footwear: Road shoes will be OK but trail shoes are preferable!

The run is open to all as long as you are regularly running this kind of distance. This is our LAST run before the BlueBell Trail Race. Summer Season starts Sunday 29th April when we drop distance again.

Book online under weekend runs. Lift share via our Girls Run the World Brighton and Hove Facebook group.