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.
We don’t know about you, but we often fantasise about what we’re going to enjoy eating during a long run. And so after we tried a version of these at Ott0lenghi one weekend, we had to give them a go ourselves. They’re delicious, and make for a perfect post run brunch at the weekend…
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup plain flour*
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
3/4 cup of milk or non-diary substitute
2 large eggs, separated
2 tsp cinnamon
Butter for cooking
*for an added protein kick, replace the flour with almond flour although it will make for a denser, less fluffy pancake.
Combine, flour, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk ricotta, milk and the yolks of the eggs. Combine with the dry ingredients and add the egg until it forms a smooth mixture. It should be a thick batter so if need be, add more milk. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold into the mixture.
In a hot buttered grill pan, drop two ladles of the mixture into a hot pan. Turn the heat down and wait until you begin to see the edges brown and little bubbles appear on the surface. Now flip over. Cook until golden both sides, put to one side in a heated oven until all the mixture is done.
Serve with fruit salad, Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup. Sit down, devour!
The best thing about these pancakes is, if you make too many, you can keep them and eat them the next day as snacks.
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.
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’ve been hibernating or pounding out the miles for marathon training, NOW is the time to get out and enjoy the beauty of the trails in early summer…
This week is the start of our Summer Trail Series in Brighton, £45 for the entire series which runs to the end of June or you can drop in per session to suit.
We have two distances, a shorter one for those who simply want to build their endurance and start running on trails but for fun, and a longer distance that will build week by week for those who are joining us in training for the Bewl 15, July 1st.
This week’s run meets at Ditchling Beacon for a beautiful run along the top of the ridge before heading down for a loop past a local farm and back to the return. The total distance on the start of this season is six miles but it is also open as a four mile route, with runners being able to turn and return on their own should they wish.
Get fit, meet new runners, explore new trails. It is the BEST time to be on the Downs.
For details of the full season, click here. To book visit our booking page and choose the full series or book per run.
Plus don’t miss our once a month Running Adventures, starting in May. Details coming soon. If you’re not in our Brighton and Hove Facebook group, don’t forget to join.
A recent article in The Times by Peta Bee highlighted the rise of online virtual training apps like Strava.
Love it or loathe it (and she was on the fence due to being confronted when meeting her virtual followers in real life – read the article here), being on Strava creates some funny behaviour. Do you recognise yourself in any of these…? I certainly do, I’m embarrassed to say…
The one where you spell out every bit of your training regime
No, not come across this? Or perhaps you don’t even know what it means and you think it is some kind of secret morse code. It will read something like; WU, 2m@HMP, 2m@MP x 3, WD. And that’s just a simplified version.
I’ve done it, others have done it. Why? It helps you to keep track of your training diary so that when you scroll back through your activities, you can see what pace you were hitting and what training you did. But it could equally be seen as showing off about your running know-how.
Which is silly because let’s face it, none of us on Strava are Paula Radcliffe…erm, although I do hear that Jo Pavey is on Strava.
Run with RP
The secret runner…this is the one where someone keeps their running companion a secret. Is it because someone couldn’t make the effort to write out their companion’s full name (although why bother to write at all?) or that they want to keep their running partner secret?
Perhaps they’re having an affair, or they want their other running friends to know about someone new they’re running with? Maybe it’s a new boyfriend? Or maybe it’s totally innocent and we should all have something better to do than wondering who it is?
Easy run with the kids
The one where you want to make sure your followers don’t think you’ve run really slowly, more slower than you’ve ver done before. Fair enough if you really have run with the kids. Not so cool if you actually ran by yourself and you just wanted to go on a slower run but couldn’t bear not posting it because you’d miss out on your Strava monthly miles target.
Felt awful, feeling sick, last mile my leg hurt. Then my head fell off. And I lost my running shoe.
The traumatised runner…this is the one where a runner explains in minute detail every feeling and niggle that occurred on a training run. Usually written just after a long training run when someone is still so internally focused, they don’t quite realise how much they’ve just shared via Strava because they’re still reeling – and glycogen deprived – from the run.
Sun run, feeling fine. OR, Running off the work headache. Stress. Feel like I could punch someone.
The confessional runner where someone inadvertently (or perhaps not?) shares a little too much information about what’s going in their life in general.
Despite all of this, we are BIG fans of Strava at Girls Run the World as a training app. It helps you to set challenges, connect with others, keeps track of your training and even gives you ideas about how to train by following other people.
Our community is small, around 3000 around the UK with a few outpost in the US and Australia but we’re growing all the time. By joining our club on Strava, we’re creating a network of GRTW runners which means that maybe next time you’re travelling to New York, Sydney or Mumbai, there might be another GRTW local runner who could show you her city.
Join Girls Run the World on Strava here. And if you’re worried about privacy settings, here’s a little video about how you can create privacy zones. Click here
During our 2018 Girls Run the World® Runuary™ Challenge, over 500 women across the globe participated in running a tiny bit every day of January to help boost their own health, fitness and well being and to help inspire and encourage others. We also ran several competitions that were only open to those who registered for the event. Here are the winners – congratulations girls!
There were so many brilliant entries to our prize to win a running jacket and run leggings with Sundried. We asked people to share why they loved running but we thought the best was from Helen Monk, whose instragram picture and reason why she loved running summed it up. Congratulations Helen (or Molly as she is on her IG!)
And we are awarding Fi Thomson a three month subscription to The Protein Ball Co. for her posts which best sum up the ethos of support, inspiration and motivation through GRTW community, #bettertogether. And quite frankly, because her posts were so damn funny! (And yes, they really did create a Strava route in the shape of boobs!)
Fancy doing a team relay? Here’s our review of the recent Endure 24 relay race, along with a look at some of the other unusual relay races on offer around the UK, including a running cake-athon!
Tents, tick. Rugs to lie on, tick. Sugary sweets, tick. Coffee, tick. Drugs*, tick. This may seem like the list of someone about to go to a music festival. But running relay races are now taking the place of festivals for some former ravers turned runners, plus a whole new generation of runners who are as interested in the experience of running and community as they are pace or placing.
Endure24 is even coined the Glastonbury of Runners and involves running as many (almost) five mile loops through the countryside in Wasing Park, just outside of Reading as possible. The first lap of the day at noon on Saturday started in hot, windy conditions making the leafy, woody run a welcome respite. But make no mistake, the route is not an easy one with a hill greeting you as soon as you go through the first gantry. What goes up, must come down so you are rewarded with some downhills before more uphills and a wiggle through wooded, single track.
This event attracts all kinds of runners, from expert ultra distance runners to solo runners who walk the laps, and from big teams of ten, comprised of running clubs out for a social with some running included, to professional sponsored teams aiming to beat the course record. One thing that unites everyone is a love of running and the desire to support each other.
The atmosphere created by everyone at the event is fantastic, from the marshals who line the route, to the runners and walkers themselves who cheer the fast runners and lend a helping hand to anyone who looks like they need their spirits – or their legs – bolstered.
Finding the motivation to run the same lap, over and over again though is difficult, unless you’re competing for number of laps or to experience the special kind of transcendental meditative state that some runners report. Which is why the best part of this event is really when darkness falls. It not only becomes more magical – helped by women dressed up as fairies in the woods and music from the VDub bar making it seem like you’ve stumbled upon a rave , but because it makes the route appear different.
If you want to enjoy a running event with a team – not to mention warm, clean showers, then Endure24 is a great one to try. There’s none of the transport issues involved that you experience with relays that have a linear route, and there is water and race nutrition available. Shame the beer tent doesn’t stay until Sunday though, just at the moment when you can drink, it’s gone!
(*And by the way, we’re talking Ibruprofen).
What our runners said:
High point: ‘The camaraderie and running around at 5am when the birds were all waking up and the light was just changing, it was magical.’
Low point: ‘Losing a member of our team to illness, which meant having to run more laps!’
High Point: ‘Crossing the finish line with my team mates on the last lap.’
Low Point: ‘Going on a tired and lonely hunt for the showers at 2.30am after a very wet and dark lap.’
High point: ‘Running as fast as I could over the painted tree roots at midnight, lit up by fairy lights and the glow from my head torch.’
Low point: ‘My first lap, hot, hilly and hard – and worrying about pace, letting my team down, and how many more laps I’d have to do!’
High points: ‘Camping with like-minded women, the readily available and reasonably priced massages, and great showers.’
Low points : ‘Only unhealthy food available (Ed: we agree!), only one water point on the route and the loop got a bit tedious – why not open up a second lap later in the day?’
Five of the most unique relay races
Run as many of the 4.37 mile laps as possible in eight hours and be rewarded at the end of each lap with some homemade cake! Organisers estimate that each lap burns 500 calories. And it comes with a fantastic race medal!
Another 24 hour individual or team relay race held in the beautiful Bathurst Estate, just outside the town of Cirencester in the heart of the Cotswolds. An off-road 9km mixed course The race is run over an off-road 9km mixed course including forest trails and open tarmac paths. And what attracts our attention – healthy food stalls. Here’s hoping as Endure24 definitely was a let down on this score.
This event comes fresh from the US where it is so popular, many runners travel around the US to take part in as many of the relays that are put on around the country. You can understand why as this event offers the opportunity of ‘travel’ and to explore as you run. This one overs approximately 170 miles and will see runners start at Maidstone and finish in Brighton (it’s been put on by the organisers of the Brighton marathon). An event like this requires a very organised team captain – plus the finances to cover the cost of hiring two vans if entering a team of ten, on top of the £1000 entry fee. It sounds great fun though.
Explore 220 miles of the Green Belt around London on this 22-stage running relay race which starts in Hampton Court, 8.30am on Saturday and ends in Ham at 6pm on Sunday. It’s been running since 1995, put on by local running club, The Stragglers. So don’t expect bangs, whistles and overflowing goodie bags. This is about the purity of running and exploring. 11 runners per team, one stage per day for every runner. Unlike some other relay races though, this is open to all levels with prizes for both the fastest team to finish and the slower. With a barbecue at the end, this sounds like a challenging, but friendly way to spend a May weekend. Just make sure you recce your leg first.
Now in it’s 25th year, this event is operated as 10 back to back races, starting each stage with a mass start at the expected arrival time of the 1st runner from the previous stage, as opposed to other relays where the next runner on your team starts only when their other team mate has completed their leg.
Running from Chipping Campden in the early morning, through to the arrival at Bath Abbey in the early evening, you follow the way-marked route of the Cotswold Way over 90% off-road, taking in hills, woodlands, fields and tracks, all offering spectacular views of the countryside around…if you have time to look up! Each leg varies in length and ascent with no marshals, making the route finding just as much part of the race as the running itself.
If you’re going to run a relay race, then it’s important to do it in spectacular surroundings we think. That’s why this Welsh version appeals, offering two day, 20 stage event covering 211 miles, mostly on road, but with hills and mountains to overcome as you travel from Caernarfon to Cardiff, with an overnight stay in Newtown. And it’s in June, so hopefully, not the weather typically associated with Wales! There are six mountain stages, with three team mountain stage prizes so this is a race that suits – or requires some hill training. Get your entry in early, only 66 teams accepted and it is always over subscribed.