WIN! Welcome to our Queens of Speed giveaways

Fancy getting your hands on some of these fab prizes? Read on to find out how you could win some Girls Run the World booty, including a goodie bag of Pukka Herb products or our top prize, the HokaOneOne Mach 2 road shoe, which hits the streets in March**

The HokaOneOne Mach 2

launches in the UK this March and is perfect for road running, being both responsive and cushioned so that it absorbs the impact without sacrificing the ‘feel’ of the road to help you maintain your pace. It’s a low weight shoe and has an upgrade from last season’s Mach with the addition of a dual density ProFly midsole, which means a softer heel with a more responsive forefoot for a better take off. Perfect for all your Spring road marathoners out there.

And the amazing people at HokaOneOne have offered the Girls Run the World Queens of Speed participants the chance to win a pair. (If you’ve missed out on our Queens of Speed virtual challenge this year, read more here and make sure you’re ready for 2020).

How to win the HokaOneOne Mach 2: 

Run 5km with each 1km being progressively faster than the last, ending with a final 1km at your 5km pace PB, or as close to it as you can. You will need to share an image of yourself with your post run glow, and a screenshot revealing your kms split to us on Instagram with the #grtwqueensofspeed plus @g_r_t_w and @hokaoneone. The winner will be the runner who most accurately showed a progressive run consistent with their running ability.  Closing date: Feb 14th 2019.

 

Pukka Herbs Goodie Bag

Win a goodie bag containing Feel New Tea, £2.99, a Pukka mug, £11.99, Turmeric Active Tea, £2.99 and Turmeric Gold Latte, £4.99.

This goodie bag contains the kind of drinks that are perfect for winter running, with delicious ingredients like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and saffron which can help relieve inflammation and hence your recovery after exercise. Plus, these ingredients are delicious and warming too, perfect for post winter runs.

How to win the Pukka Herbs Goodie Bag  

All you have to do to get your hands on this bounty is share a picture from one of your runs or post runs, and tell us how running makes you feel. Include the hashtag #grtwqueensofspeed, and tag us @g_r_t_w and @pukkaherbs. Best response will be awarded the prize. You can enter as many times as you like. Closing date: January 31st 2018

Badger Sleep Balm

Running is fantastic for your mind, body and soul but fitting it in can be tricky, which is why we often find ourselves having to run after work or just before bed. Which is not great as it gets the adrenaline pumping and the cortisol levels rising. Which is where the fantastic Badgers Sleep Balm can be useful, containing Lavender and Bergamot to help you relax and sleep.

Apply to your pulse points and add some of our Running for Yoga stretches and workouts from our channel YouTube and it could help even more.

How to win the Badger Sleep Balm 

Share a picture on Instagram which sums up your way of relaxing post run. Include the #grtwqueensofspeed and @g_r_t_w @badgerbalmUK. You may enter as many times as you like. Closing date: 31st January 2018.

Bare Biology Lion Heart Pure Omega 3 Fish Oil, £47.50

The Daily Telegraph dubbed this oil ‘the Rolls Royce of fish oils’. This is because, unlike many other other fish oils on the market, this contains high grade fish oils from wild fish meaning that it gives you over 2000mg EPA and 1000mg Dha per teaspoon dose.

It’s perfect for runners because it works as an anti-inflammatory, is great for mental health, heart and blood pressure.

How to win BareBiology Lion Heart Pure Omega 3 Fish Oil

Let’s have fun with this. Share an image on Instagram or Twitter from your run that illustrates best your courage on a run or route – your lion’s heart! Include the #grtwrunuary and include @barebiology and @g_r_t_w.

 

**Please note these competitions are only open to participants of the Girls Run the World Queens of Speed virtual challenge. 

 

 

Welcome to the new wave in women’s running

Two things happened last week which made us all cheer (and swear a little too) at Girls Run the World HQ.

Firstly, Jasmin Paris became the first woman to win Britain’s most brutal race, The Spine Race, beating the the overall course record by 12 hours.

If you don’t know much about this race, here’s some facts; it’s 268 miles taking in the Pennine Way and has over 37,000 feet of climbing and you have to carry your own kit.

It took Jasmin 83 hours, 12 minutes and 23 seconds, with just seven hours rest, during which she also breastfed her 14 month old daughter Rowan.

It is one of the most outstanding achievements in female ultra running, even more impressive when you consider the fact that Jasmin is not a pro runner. While she is sponsored by Inov-8, she works as a vet and is currently studying for a PhD.

Reading this, you are probably wowed by her achievement but may also be thinking, ‘I could never do that.’ But to our minds, she’s an everywoman.

 She fits training in around her lifestyle, and entered the race as a way of gaining motivation and inspiration after having a baby.

Maybe as a consequence of contentment, my motivation to train took a definite nose dive,’ she said. ‘I found it harder and harder to leave my bed for the cold darkness outside, and realised that I needed a new focus.’

And how did she manage the training? Like most of us. Juggling all the demands on our time.

A lot of running has taken place really early in the morning so that’s kind of the how I squeeze it in and still balance it with spending time with my daughter.’

Jasmin is indicative of the new wave of female runners who have the confidence to aim high, set their goals and work towards them.

And the other news that showed that female runners are now demanding more and believing in their ability  is the response that Ironman UK received when they launched IronGirl UK, a 5km evening ‘fun run’ last week.

In a statement to announce the event they said: ‘This particular event opens up the Ironman weekend to even more people – not everyone wants to do an Ironman but some might quite fancy a 5k run with their friends.

It caused outrage across the UK, amongst runners including ultra runner Susie Chan. One female runner responded on the organiser’s event Facebook page:

On a day a woman has not only won, but beaten the course record, in the MIXED Spine race, you decide we are only good for 5ks? This woman had a baby 14 months ago and was pumping milk at rest stops by the way.’

Other, such as Jackie Hassan Twitter poked fun with this comment:   “Ooh fantastic! Can I stop half way to do some knitting and put my husbands dinner on? I may need to redo my hair ribbons and make up too! Absolutely shocking concept. Sort it out.’

And they did. Kind of, rebranding it as a 5km evening run for everyone.

But this notion that women are only capable of a ‘fun run’ and that we don’t like a challenge is endemic amongst many race organisers. Just take a look at Rat Race UK’s event Girls Get Fizzical.

A 5km or 10km race with ‘top flight’ obstacles, which judging by their website includes wading through soft balls like at a baby’s soft play area. But hey, that’s alright because you can finish with a glass of Prosecco. God forbid we might actually want to race for the challenge and sense of achievement.

Thankfully, things are beginning to change. Maverick Races for instance are doing their bit by having a female trail running division to help encourage more women to hit the trails.

And it’s why we launched our virtual Queens of Speed Challenge this month, inviting women to become the best runners they can be with our online training to improve speed over the month of January.

But as female runners we can do more and make our voices heard by using our feet, and running in the kind of events that challenge and help empower us while inspiring other women to participate.

Jasmin Paris is an inspiration to us all and illustrates exactly what you can achieve if you define your goals, take ownership and work towards them.

(Psst. And as the temperature drops around the UK, it might be worth knowing what Jasmin wore in her race, which can see lows of -20 Celsius and 45 mph winds – it was the Inov-8 Long Sleeve Half Zip Mid-layer, £55 under the Inov-8 AT/C Protec-Shell Waterproof Jacket, £270.)

Review: Hoka One One Torrent

If you’re looking for a great trail shoe to get you through your training to the Spring, then look no further…

Features

  • Open engineered mesh construction
  • PROFLY midsole
  • Multidirectional lugs
  • Protective outlays
  • Weight: 254g (size EU 42)
  • Forefoot height: 18mm
  • Heel height: 23mm
  • Drop: 5mm
  • Colourways: Lichen/seaport, sodalite blue/very berry, nine iron/steel grey (wouldn’t you love the job of coming up with the colour way descriptions?!)
  • Price: Online prices range from approximately £55

At Girls Run the World, we’ve always been fans of the Salomon Speedcross but on our recent training camp to Ethiopia in November, which saw us taking our runners out into the eucalyptus forests and trails around Addis Ababa, we tested out the Hoka One One, Torrent.

Created as a trail racer, it is lightweight helping you to stay agile while also boasting cushioning, which is useful for long, steep downhills. Plus, unlike many trail shoes, it offers enough traction to make you feel sure of your footing on rocky and muddy trails alike, without being so pronounced that running on anything else feels uncomfortable.

And yes, we appreciate that not everyone gets the opportunity to run in Ethiopia (although, you can you know…join us this November for our next training week), but the Torrent is also great on the muddy trails of the UK too.

 

Rating

Style: ****

They look a tiny bit clunky, even though they are lightweight. But then, that is a characteristic of Hoka One One shoes.

Performance ****

Best suited to those who need some cushioning comfort when they run. If you’re a mountain goat, these may feel a little bit constrictive.

Terrain: *****

A great all rounder, as great on rocky trails as the red earth of Ethiopia and the very muddy trails of the UK countryside in the winter.

 

Introducing our #grtwproject26.2 runners

At the end of 2018, we ran a competition to win a virtual marathon training package with us. These are the four women who won and who will be sharing their marathon training journey with the GRTW community over the next four months…

 

Kerrie Flippance, 43, legal executive and mum of three, Warwickshire 

Instagram: @kerrie.runs.26.2

Goal race: Manchester Marathon

Target finish: 3 hours, 50 minutes

Why Kerrie applied: Support in juggling training with being a mum of three

It’s my first marathon and I so I’d love some help and support to know what to do and how to train, particularly around my job and juggling family life.

This will be my first marathon. I am scared but excited. I am worried about hitting the wall, about being away from my family for far too long whilst training and also whether I actually get to cross the finish line without being taken away in an ambulance. I also thought these things for my first half and now it’s my favourite distance.

My dream goal would be to one day get a good for age for London.  I want to do something for myself but hope that this will also inspire my children.

Current PBs

  • 5km 22.12
  • 10km 49:02. 
  • Half Marathon1:49:01

Marie Knight, 40, export manager wine industry from Brighton 

Instagram: @wightyknighty

Goal Race: Brighton Marathon

Target time: 4  hours, 35 minutes

Why Marie applied:

I have a busy work schedule that involves travel and time away from home so I need help with a flexible training plan, that will offer support when things change at the last minute! My previous training plans for half marathons have fallen down when I’ve become ill and slipped behind and lost confidence.

I have always said I would never run a marathon and I now find myself 16 weeks away from race day. It honestly still feels like something I could never do despite having watched so many fantastic runners of all different levels complete the Brighton marathon this year. I’m genuinely terrified and that in turn makes me even more determined to train properly, complete the 26.2 miles and enjoy every moment! I was also asked by a friend of mine to join in fundraising for their 3 yr old daughter who needs a life changing operation to give her the chance to walk. Little Ufi was born 3 months premature and suffered severe brain injuries which mean she cannot walk amongst various other learning disabilities. There’s a little girl determined to walk, and it feels like there is no good reason for me not to show the same determination to complete a marathon to give her the chance to walk. 2019 is the 10-year anniversary of the Brighton Marathon and having started running in 2016, I would be super proud to be running my first marathon in my home town. Running has been an important part of settling into a new life in Brighton, making new friends with an amazing and inspiration group of women of all ages and fitness. I’ve been lucky enough to run with the GRTW runners at a huge variety of events and always been encouraged to give everything my best shot and supported even when I was one of the last runners the finish line. It would be great to start 2019 with a clear and focused ‘end in mind’ plan to get me to the point of crossing the finish line feeling strong, happy and knowing that I’d raised money for a fantastic cause.

Obstacles: Work travel often puts pressure on ability to train / run as I planned. Usually week days with tempo / speed sessions but occasional weekends which then impacts long slow runs. Previously with half marathon training I’ve struggled to ensure strength training happens as well as the running part of the plan.

Strength – enjoy speed work / tempo sessions. Weakness – technique on hills, overstriding, can talk myself out of a long run when on my own.

Personal Bests

  • 5km, 27.38
  • 10km, 1:00:43
  • Half Marathon, 2:12:45

Catriona Ward Sell, 31, a soldier in the British Army, Ipswich  

Instagram: @_thiscatcan_

Goal Race: London Marathon

 

Target time: 3 hours, 17 minutes

Why she applied: Wants to get faster

 

I started running more seriously last year, and improved quickly with a 19:18 5km, 40:28 10km and 1:29:15 half marathon. Now, I’ve stalled and I don’t know how to progress.

Also, I wanted to be part of a female running community as only 9% of women in the Army are female. I can give the guys a run for their money, but ultimately their training styles, intensity and routine is different to my own. They don’t understand what it’s like to have short legs and a faster cadence, nor do they understand certain monthly cycles that we females have to deal with.

Personal bests

  • 5km, 19.18  
  • 10km, 40:28
  • Half Marathon, 1:29:15

 

Rachel Sparkhall, sales and marketing manager, 43, Bedfordshire 

 

Instagram: @rachel.sparkhall

Goal race: Paris Marathon

Target: 3 hours, 59 minutes

Why she applied: How to juggle training with work and migraines

‘Running my first ever marathon and would like to do really well, but I suffer from migraines and juggling work commitments so need  guidance to get me there.’

I enjoy it but it has also really helped with my general well being, having suffered with chronic migraine for +20 years. Exercise helps to keep them under control.

Recent PBs

10km, 49 mins

Half Marathon, 1.47.48

 

These women will all be sharing their trials and tribulations with us via their Instagram channels and via our blog once per month. 

If you are interested in receiving virutal marathon training with us, please get in touch. Rachel and Cat are being coached by Tara Shanahan and Kerrie and Marie by GRTW founder, Rachael Woolston.

 

Project 26.2 – who will win our marathon training package?

In November, we launched #project26.2, which is going to provide four lucky women with the chance to win virtual marathon training and mentorship with GRTW founder, Rachael Woolston and head Brighton coach Tara Shanahan. Between them, they’ve run around 15 marathons and have seen their times drop to just under 3 hours 16 minute. 

We thought we’d share some of the entries out of the hundreds that we’ve received so far. There’s still time for YOU to apply yourself though. Entries close 17th December. To read about the terms and conditions and to enter, click here

 

 

Mona Sorenson, mum of two

Mona, is an experienced runner but with two young children, finds it hard to devote the time or headspace to achieving what she would like in marathon running.

Being a busy working mum especially means I don’t really have the luxury of time needed to really coach myself or take myself to the next level.’

 

For Rachel, it will be her first time running a marathon; ‘A marathon is my ultimate running goal and my best chance of achieving it is by committing to working with a coach to train for it. I’ve only been running regularly for three years, but if I were to win this competition I would learn what I am capable of.’

Judith: I’ve got a charity place to run London for MyelomaUK, a charity close to my heart as I have Myeloma and AL Amyloidosis.

I’m in remission at the moment. I’ve been building up my running over the past year and completed a trail marathon in the summer. Running on roads isn’t my thing so I’ll need a lot of support and advice to help me complete London in a time and way that will make all my sponsors proud.’

 

The hardest thing about running a marathon is not the race, but navigating the training and that’s where we step in with our silver and gold service packages. We write your plans personalised to YOU, taking into consideration not just your running background but what’s going on in your life too. After all, what’s the point of following a 70 mile per week training plan when you’re juggling work, family and relationships? Running should reward and challenge, not punish and add to your stress levels.

 

 

Why strength training can transform your running

If you want to avoid injury, improve your running form and progress your running fast, the missing magic ingredient is strength training

Strength training which works for women
(copyright Girls Run the World)

Over the last ten years, I’ve coached hundreds of female runners from beginners right the way through to sub 3 hour 30 minute marathon runners – and the one thing that stands out as making the biggest difference to improved running is strength training.

To help the women we coach understand how vital it is to improved running, I like to use the analogy of ball that is pumped up and one that is slightly flat; the pumped up one bounces up high off the floor, the flat one can not lift off the floor or does so poorly.  That’s the difference that a conditioned muscle makes to your running form compared to a running body that has not been conditioned.

How strength training helps you as a runner…

  1. You’ll be able to keep running consistently without having to take time off for injury
  2. It improves your running economy by up to 8%, making you more efficient which means less tired and faster
  3. Improves your ability to create force – exactly what you need to be able to do in order to drive your body off the floor and land with every stride
  4. Improves your V02 max by up to 4%, which is a measure of your aerobic capacity

All of this matters hugely if you’re training for endurance, whether that’s a half marathon, marathon, triathlon, or ultra.

If you take one thing from this post, it is this – in  Sieler’s Hierarch of Endurance Training needs, which ranks eight fundamental training practices in order of proven impact, the fundamental foundation of training is volume – if you become injured because your body is not strong enough, that volume and consistency is undermined.

 

I recently spoke with Chrissie Wellington at the Training Peaks Endurance Coaching Summit and she spoke about her amazing London Marathon time of 2 hours 44 minutes and she credits strength work as the secret to her success;

‘I magnate to do it off the back of strength and conditioning, which meant that I stayed strong off the back of the end of the marathon which becomes even more important as we age.’

How do I fit it in?

All this is all very well and good, I hear you say, but how do I fit in marathon training, relationship, work and family?

This, and lack of understanding about strength training and how to do it are the single biggest reasons that female runner neglect strength training. But it doesn’t need to take long – 10-20 minutes of the RIGHT strength training will help transform you as a runner, much more than just slogging out the same miles at the same pace over and over again.

To help women who are training for endurance to get that secret ingredient into the running or triathlon mix, we have created a four week strength training programme, encompassing three workouts per week of approximately 20 minutes. Each workout is different and is delivered via our membership portal to your phone, and all the exercises are filmed so you’ll know exactly what to to do and how. You must have access to a gym.

It costs £29.99 and once purchased you’ll own it for life and will be able to repeat the programme whenever you like, whether you want to build strength for an endurance event or you just want to do it in order to get fit and in shape.

It will be available to purchase in December, perfect timing for anyone who is doing a Spring marathon helping you to lay the foundations upon which your volume of training can build.

We’ll be offering limited special offer deals for the first 20 to purchase the programme and these special codes will only be delivered via our newsletter. To sign up, click here. 

How was your weekend running?

As the clocks went back this weekend, the wintry temperatures moved in but there was still lots of great racing around the UK…

Top of the races on the South Coast it seems, was the Beachy Head Marathon and 10km, which starts in Eastbourne. We had lots of runners from the community taking part in one or other of the distances. If you’ve not heard of this race, look it up for next year (Oct 26, 2019) because it is a stunning route (particularly the longer marathon route) which takes in the beauty of the South Downs National Park in the Autumn.

Picture: Jo Prior

Renowned for spectacular scenery, steep ascents, punishing descents and a fantastic friendly atmosphere (even a music band and a tabletop  of currant buns and sugary tea at some of the refreshment stops), this is a fantastic bucket-list event. Or you can use it as training for an ultra.

In, fact, we were  on a 50 mile bike ride the following day with the third placed women’s marathon finisher, Bethan Male, who got to the podium with a time of 3 hrs, 21 minutes and was using the event as training for an ultra race in about a month’s time which involves a double – almost-ascent of Pen Y Fan!

As the clocks go back, this was the weekend that saw the launch into the night trail races, with Maverick Silva Dark Series in  West Sussex (try their Surrey one on 10th November if you’re in the South). But  our favourite of the weekend was definitely an event that one of our Scottish GRTW contingent ran this weekend, the Illuminator Night Trail Race, a 15  mile route with four big ‘ole climbs, lit by your head torch only. Well done all those who ran it, it looks beautiful and tough.

Which brings us to another race that we  missed mentioning last weekend when we missed our regular debrief, The Dramathon, which offers a marathon, a half or a 10km, with the full route tracking the Speyside Way from Glenfaricas Distillery to Glenfiddich and ending, of course with a dram.

Scotland, we salute you! Definitely winning hands down on the variety of the races offered, both in terms of challenging terrain and exploring!

 

 

How was your weekend running?

There were some big hitters in this weekend’s races, such as the Chicago and Chester Marathon. But what caught our eye was an event that helps put on the agenda the question of how much waste is produced by running events… 

So, Mo Farah won the Chicago Marathon this weekend in a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 11 seconds, his first marathon win. Meanwhile, on European shores, the Chester Marathon took place. This is an event where age group recreational athletes are invited by English Athletics to compete for their country. If you think there is no way you could ever represent your country, it is worth taking a look at the qualifying criteria and applying if you are interested because it IS possible.  For more details, click here.

(By the same token, if you have your heart set on running the London marathon, or any of the other Majors, it is worth looking at the qualifying times you’d need to get for your age. You have to be in it, to win it as the saying goes and our virtual marathon training can help you get there).

Elsewhere in the UK, our core GRTW team were also taking part in events. Tara Shanahan, our Brighton and Hove Co-ordinator took fourth woman at the Bright10, a ten mile flat road race in Brighton in a time of one hour, 2 minutes and 37 seconds while co-founder, Dawn Buoys took on the Downlink 38 mile ultra. Elsewhere, we had lots of runners at the Oxford Half marathon – well done!

But it was an event run by one of our community, the Penicuik House Trail 10km, a new race that takes place in the grounds of Penicuik Estate in Midlothian, Scotland that caught our attention. Obviously, a beautiful part of the world to run in Autumn but it was the medals that caught our eye, made of wood that had from the Estate while the the first lady and man home received hand carved bowls from trees from the estate.

At at time when so much is being written about the waste in the fashion industry, perhaps it’s also time to turn our attention to running races. How many plastic bags are given out at a race finish, often containing lots of useless items including at least three printed leaflets. Then there are the t-shirst? How many of us really wear them again?

So, we applaud any event that introduces a way to prevent the waste of materials and plastic.  And if you’re interested in this subject, do check out the community interest company, Re-Run. Set up by ultra runner Dan Lawson and his wife, Charlotte, they are prolonging the life of running kit by re-purposing old race medals or event t-shirts to make new items which they are selling and using the profits to go back into supporting running projects.

How was your weekend running?

As we officially hit Autumn, the running season is hotting up with road and trail races taking place all over the UK this last weekend. Not least the Maverick Inov-8 X series Snowdonia 2018,  the first of our UK wide GRTW Get Together Events

From 3,145 feet on the shortest route to 4,055 feet on the middle route and up to 6,277 feet, the Maverick inov-8 X series Snowdonia race offers three distances, 17km, 23km or 43km but all three require a different approach than any usual road – or even trail – race because this is the mountains. And they take no prisoners!

We had 20 runners taking part, across all distances and everyone set off together up the Llanberis path  towards the summit of Snowdon with most runners adopting a fast hiking method before the tarmac even ran out.

My approach was to run everything I could, and if it became so steep that running became ineffective, to hike as quickly as I could. It wasn’t long after the tarmac section that I joined everyone else in walking. Lots of runners had set off with collapsible poles and, having not done any mountain races before, it was interesting to note the way runners used them, swinging them forward and using the swing of the pole to almost glide forward up the hill. (If you want some tips on techniques for running up or down technical terrain, listen to our YouTube interview with the women of this year’s marathon winner, in a time of five hours and 1 minute, Julia Davis by clicking here).

We could not have had better weather as we climbed up and up, the sound of everyone’s heavy breath joined by the huff and puff of the Snowdon train, a plume of smoke trailing behind it, as it chugged up with the many passengers who must have been surprised to find the trails full of up to 500 numbered runners.

As we climbed, the weather got colder and windier, so it was time to stop and put on a jacket, buff and gloves, which was at just about the point that the 17km route turns to descend again (not quite making the summit, which disappointed some of our runners) while the middle route continued up to the top and then it was a thrillingly, hairy descent (near the top, the marathon route also veers off to follow a separate route) to the refreshment table at the bottom.

After a big ascent and then trying to jump from rock to rock, my thighs were like jelly, and I certainly did not look like the couple who had climbed next to me and then disappeared down the trail, literally dancing amongst the jagged rocks, seemingly oblivious to the tiny narrow spaces where you had to place your foot.

By the time I hit the refreshment table, I was very glad of the coke, salted crackers, potatoes and cola bottles that were on offer, all which went in, in one handful. A short road section on the level was soon followed by another ascent along a zig zag path and then finally, a runnable trail path back to the race finish.

This was the first of our UK wide Get Together races, where we invite runners from around the UK to join us at an event, which we choose based on it offering a challenge but in an inspiring location – we provide the training plan, you train and meet us there. So well done Kate Dolphin from Malvern who joined us there and took on the mighty marathon and her sister, Lily Price.

 

 

Elsewhere in the UK, there was also lots of other events going on including the Windsor Half Marathon , a two lap, undulating race that takes place with Windsor Castle as a backdrop. Well done to Jenny Hall, who ran.

There was also Barnes Green Half Marathon, a road half marathon, renowned for fast times and for attracting lots of club runners. It’s definitely one for the calendar if you’re looking for a good one to train for next September. Although if you’re looking for the perfect Autumnal run for next year…one of our runners took on the Forest of Dean Half Marathon.  She reported that it was full of trees ablaze with the colours of the season.

So, well done to all of you who ran this weekend. If you’re interested in our Get Together races in 2019, sign up to our newsletter (visit the main page of our website) as we are just finalising the events and will attempt to organise discounts with the event organisers. 

Did you PB this weekend, run somewhere amazing that other women would love to hear about? Comment below and share your news.

 

 

 

 

How to thrive, not just survive a Ragnar Relay

Want to know the best way to approach a multi-stage team relay event? GRTW Co-owner, Dawn Buoys reveals all …

A few months ago I got a call from my friend Tom asking if I fancied taking part in a relay team for Ragnar in Hamburg. Our last event in 2013 had been in San Francisco, where I’d run over the Golden Gate Bridge so, to be honest, the box was pretty much ticked with bells on. But since I’m currently training for a 38 mile ultra event, I thought at least it would be a good training weekend.

I didn’t realise I’d totally missed the point.

You see, Ragnar is not really about running, it’s about everything else that goes with it; it’s an adventure with your friends where you get really tired, probably lost, and go a bit feral. And if you get the right team, you spend most of the time struggling to speak not because you’re out of breath due to running but from laughing so much.

To get the most out of the weekend it’s all in the planning. Think about how best you can look after everyone on the team so that they can enjoy their experience. Our team leader knows what he’s doing so he matched each relay legs to each individual’s running ability based on distance (each relay leg can vary in distance), running experience and who would be best to run in certain areas in the dark. For instance, some of the relay legs are van supported and so, while they can be a bit longer, suit runners who prefer the security of a van nearby.

Sorting out a buddy system over night so that everyone has company when they need it is also vital – and most importantly, get an extra, non running person to drive.

Needless to say, in Hamburg we had no driver so were doing it all ourselves which unfortunately meant a few mess ups, like turning up at the wrong checkpoints at the wrong time. It meant one of our runners, Will was left stranded at the end of his leg but he fortunately made friends had eaten chips and got chatted up while he was waiting for us.

Also, keep the van tidy – I can be terribly messy but it’s exhausting if you can’t find what you need when you need it, especially at night. We kept a food, drink and lie down section at the back of the van, wipes, loo roll, bin bags in the passenger door and all the high viz and lights in the driver’s door. On that note, any extra head torches, or lights of any kind are super useful at night.

As a physiotherapist, I’d also recommend you try and keep moving. Once it gets cold at night it’s really tempting to hibernate in the van but your legs will stiffen quickly. Get out, walk around, support the others runners and do a few stretches; your legs will really appreciate your efforts.  And eat!

Realistically, sleeping is unlikely so keep fuelling your body so it can keep going. Try and rest but don’t be upset if sleep doesn’t happen, your adrenaline will be pumping and it’s hard to totally switch off. Even if the day is warm you will get cold, I thought I had over packed in Hamburg but was so grateful for all my extra layers and especially my beanie hat and waterproof.

But most important of all, bring the right attitude. We vowed to never mention if we were cold or tired, as it’s pointless. That’s the challenge and that’s the bit that makes it worthwhile.

There are big highs and big lows often in the same mile. I was running through a cabbage field at three am panicking that it looked like an episode of Wallander when suddenly the clouds cleared, a huge moon appeared and shone so brightly that I found myself singing my heart out to Razorlight feeling like the luckiest girl in the world to be there.

So am I pleased I went to Hamburg? Of course. Was it better than San Fran? Actually it was, because I made some amazing new friends, had the biggest adventure and enjoyed so many belly laughs and that’s what a Ragnar is all about!