#grtwproject26.2 How running slower is making me faster

After winning a virtual marathon coaching package as part of the Girls Run the World project26.2, Marie Knight reflects on her first month where she discovered the value of recovery runs… 

Marie, at the start line of the Maverick Race

I can’t quite believe it’s the end of week four of my training plan, and it’s been a learning curve; getting to grips with new running shoes, new training app (Girls Run the World use Training Peaks to deliver personalised plans from their team of female coaches), a new approach to nutrition, not to mention learning to programme my Garmin watch correctly, which I’m ashamed to say I’ve owned for 2 years without ever doing this. And then there is the small matter of the running itself.

I usually take part in GRTW Runuary to kick start my year of running without any particular focus for each day’s run other than the fact that I know I need to complete one at some stage. So it’s been an exciting change to having weekly plans delivered to my in box detailing distances, pace, focus, tips on form and type of run, all designed to help me to achieve running the Brighton Marathon in a time of approximately 4hours 35 minutes.

I’ve loved being able to look at the plan for the week ahead and shift things to fit around work and play. I’m also enjoying not having to worry about what training I’m going to do each day, trusting the coaching process to get me where I need to be in the end.

I’m a classic over-thinker and I would already be panicking about having the week off for skiing I’m having in February and what impact this would have on the rest of fitness and plan.

The biggest thing I’ve learnt is the value of running slowly…which sounds a funny thing to say as I’m not what you might consider a fast runner to start with. Settling at the correct recovery pace has been so challenging but it’s also given me the chance to focus on form, breathing, cadence. It’s also been the hardest thing to nail because it often feels like I’m barely moving faster than walking pace.

But most interestingly of all, it’s helped me to achieve more during the speed interval sessions , as well as providing valuable time on feet with active recovery. I guess the clue is in the name? (D’oh!)

The strength and core work included on my plan via the Girls Run the world YouTube channel have been a love/hate addition to my plan. It’s the area of my normal fitness routine that I’ve always abandoned when training for half marathons, thinking I didn’t have the time.

It turns out these short, guided, 20-minute workouts can fit in but they leave me feeling more exhausted than the running (which I know is exactly why I need to include them) and deadbugs have become my new personal nemesis. 

My favourite run so far has been the Maverick Inov-8 West Sussex, which was part of the GRTW January meet up. Stunning scenery to distract me whilst tackling brutal, muddy hills and undulating forest routes.

The focus that I was given was to treat it as training rather than a race  by keeping at easy pace throughout (which I eventually did after starting off way too fast with the excitement of the starting line), running alone rather than with run buddies to help give me a feel of how it will be during the marathon, and completing the distance without the use of gels. The theory being, your body can fuel aerobically using fat storage and if you get your body too used to gels, it won’t be able to get the maximum benefit when racing.

Marie, finishing strong, gel free after a 14 mile trail race

I hadn’t even considered it possible to run that far without gels and it felt great to finish and know that I have the endurance to run without gels, allowing my digestive system a chance to be without them for a while. It’s also given me something to think about in terms of using them for future training runs at easy pace, as I clearly don’t always need them.

It was a tough and challenging 14 miles all-round, but I got to the finish to be cheered in by a smiling GRTW crew. Plus a beer in my goody bag to go with the medal.

If you want to follow the journeys of our four Girls Run the World Project 26.2 runners, follow the IG #grtwproject26. Lend them your support and learn through them as they journey towards the marathon finish line. 

Girls Run the World offer personalised virtual run coaching from £92 per month. For more details email info@girlsruntheworld.co.uk.

 

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. 

 

 

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.

 

 

Launching #grtwproject26.2

Have you got a Spring marathon lined up next year? Read on to find out how to you could WIN our silver service training package worth £480 for  as part of #grtwproject26.2 2019…

With our training service, it will feel like you’ve got someone running and guiding you at all times

 

Signing up for a marathon is exciting, whether it’s your first or your fiftieth time of running 26.2 miles. But juggling training, family, relationship, work and lifestyle commitments can derail even the most enthusiastic and committed runner amongst us.

Which is why we have created our one to one virtual silver coaching package, which provides you with personalised training plans written for YOU by one of our team of qualified and experienced running, yoga and strength and conditioning coaches, including GRTW founder, Rachael Woolston and head coach, Tara Shanahan. Plus, god forbid anything goes wrong, co-founder and qualified physiotherapist will provide the support to help you get back to training.

We write a plan that fits YOUR lifestyle, your goals and your running background and experience.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced runner who would like to achieve a personal best, we’ll deliver your training via our software partners, Training Peaks, one of the world’s best training software packages,  with your progress reviewed weekly and a monthly coaching call via Skype, telephone or email.

Training plans and workouts delivered direct to your phone with email reminders

We don’t just help you with your running, but your mental approach, nutrition, stretching, strength and more, enabling you to train without the stress and anxiety of being unsure of what you’re doing or how you can fit it in. Plus, if something goes wrong – illness, injury or a holiday and your training is derailed, our plans change to accommodate this and get you back on track.

So, no stress, no injury causing you to crash out of your A race, and progress that you can measure and see to help you build your confidence day by day, ready for race day.

To launch our silver service, we are now offering FOUR women the chance to win our mentoring service taking you from January right the way through to your Spring marathon race day.

In order to be in with a chance of winning our special #grtwproject26.2 2019, worth £480, enter below and like our Facebook or Instagram channel, where we will be sharing stories of our entrants and inviting votes from our community. ENTRIES CLOSE 17TH DECEMBER 2018.

 

 

ENTER #GRTWPROJECT26.2 HERE

 

 

Terms and Conditions 

  • Only open to women 18 or over
  • You will need write a short weekly post for our blog, detailing your training to help inspire and motivate others – even when training is NOT going right
  • You can be any level, beginner or experienced
  • If you are currently injured and unlikely to be able to start training in December, please do not enter
  • The judges decision about the winners is final
  • Training will start in January
  • You must be able to commit to doing a minimum of four training runs per week
  • You will need to have a Garmin training watch
  • Training Peaks Premium account is not included

 

 

 

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?

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?

August Bank Holidays, it appears, are very quiet on the race front although there was the South Coast Challenge, an ultra marathon of 100km from Eastbourne to Arundel over one or two days, as well as the some oddball village races involving a 5k race from one pub to the next…

Just when we thought the gorgeous holiday running photographs had petered out, up they pop again as everyone makes a last minute escape to warmer and drier climes than the weather that confronted most of us in the UK this weekend. Luckily for those taking part in the South Coast Challenge, a supported 100km ultra that can be done over one or two days, Saturday was beautiful.

We had one of our runners who undertook this event, a courageous attempt considering she’s only done two marathons before this, one of which was this year. An insane amount of climbing, this is a tough event with the knowledge that you have to run through the night if you’re doing the one day event. Did any of you take part? We are not quite sure about the part of the route where runners had to come all the way off the South Downs Way and down to the seafront in Brighton on a busy Bank Holiday, only to have to ascend again right the way back up to the South Downs Way. Did you run it? We’d love to hear what you thought.

Meanwhile, on Bank Holiday today, myself and the amazing GRTW Brighton head coach, Tara Shanahan (you’ll understand why I say this in minute) undertook the rather brilliantly named, King’s Head Canter. A 5km race over undulating village roads, it starts outside the Six Bells in the village of Chiddingly and ends at the King’s Head pub in East Hoathly, where you can exchange your race number for a pint at the pub.

This village race was started 21 years ago and attracts all kinds of runners, from young juniors to those in their seventies who run-walk it right the way through to club athletes. And we must congratulate Tara, who was running for her athletics club who took the 1st lady position in a time of 18 minutes and 24 seconds. And before you think, ‘Yeah, well she’s probably been running all her life and was always good at running.’

Not so. Tara is testament to the fact that you can start at any age, and keep improving no matter what your age. Which mean at 48, Tara is beating many runners half her age. (Psst! She’s also a very good coach and mentor).

Where did you run this weekend? We’d  love to hear about any funny Bank Holiday Monday runs similar to the King’s Head Canter. Comment below. 

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.