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.

 

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. 

Event Review: Race to the King

Whether you chose 23.4, 30.2 miles, or run the whole she-bang, Race to the Stones has quickly established itself as a fantastic race event in the summer trail calendar. And for GRTW runner, Florence Theberge, who came first female for the Day one race, the perfect training race for her first ultra the South Coast Challenge in August 

The morning of the race was gorgeous, with the temperature already warm at 5am, lovely as a start but promising hot conditions for later for the many runners, joggers and walkers taking part in the RTTK 2018. As I was allocated wave B start at 8.15am, I arrived at Arundel train station at 7.15am to waiting for the event shuttle (£10) to the race start.  I arrived there to find many other runners waiting for the shuttle too and we all exchanged stories, some had signed up for both days, some to run it continuously, others to break for the evening and some, like me just doing day one.

Most were from UK, although there were a few runners from as far afield as Poland, who looked very experienced judging by the running kit. And the age range was really diverse, including two ladies in their sixties or seventies who told me they walked the race every year.

Soon we were on our way to the  race start at Gaston Farm (BN18 0RS), arriving just a few minutes before the first wave went off at 8am. The atmosphere was great with the usual warm ups, long toilet queues and the excitement of the runners, support crew and event organisers all in the middle of a farmer’s field just north of the beautiful city of Arundel.

Ten minutes later, my wave was started by a man dressed as a King, carrying a fuming torch,who ran in front of the runners before quickly stepping aside for risk of being trampled over by a hoard of eager runners/walkers.

The start was quite narrow for about a mile, making it difficult to overtake walkers/slower joggers & runners, so I’d recommend anyone else doing this next year to start nearer the front. But soon the path widened and wound through a mixed of shaded, wooded areas and South Down chalky trails, including some steep hills! I love  hills but these were even quite an ascent for me but it gave everyone the opportunity to have a  power walk and refuel. And the reward of the climb was stunning views and picture-perfect landscapes which made me regret having buried my phone at the bottom of my running bag.

Over the 23.4 miles there were 2 feed stations (8 and 16 miles approx.), which were both well provisioned with fruits, sweets, squash, flat cola, and water, while the second stop included for the 1st and the 2nd had savoury snacks and sandwiches – and both hand hand santizers, a new one on me!

I ran most of the race on my own but chatted to a few runners who gave me advice on how to manage cramp during ultras – the Monty Python Walk.  Apparently, if you feel your calves starting to cramp, practice that walk and you’ll be fine. It didn’t quite work for me but that might be due to being already too tired to be able to reverse the process. Thankfully, I was close to the finish for day one where were were cheered in and ushered towards hot food and salad bar.

At the finish, there were also small tents for those who were staying overnight or for the runners who needed a break before pushing on. They were quite close together, so if you are a light sleeper, I’d bring ear plugs. The best thing though were showers, yoga mats for stretching as well as a massage tent provided by Birmingham physio students.

I loved the race but the downside of finishing in such a remote area was the complete lack of mobile phone reception (3 mobile) , and being nine miles from the nearest train station. I didn’t want to wait six hours for the next shuttle at 7.30pm, and so I had to walk another mile to Compton village for a bus (every two hours to Havant).

 

What I learned from the race:

  • A change of scenery is great for fighting the ‘tiredness’ of the training
  • Never, ever neglect 2 things: sleep and strength training, especially your upper body; your body gets tired and you really need your upper body to switch on and help support your body
  • Practice, practice, practice: I used this event as a training run for my A race – my first ultra – and it was a great occasion to test running gear, refuelling on the go, pacing in race conditions.

 

The Good

  • Great organisation from start to finish with clearly marked route and well stocked pit stops (even ice cream!); love the hand sanitizers at every pit stop.
  • Finish area (day 1) greatly set-up; my favourite was the bean bags areas with free newspapers and a giant TV screen to watch the World Cup 2018 football
  • Very good atmosphere, friendly staff and great post-run massage from Birmingham physio students.

The Bad

  • Narrow start meant a very slow jog over almost 1 mile before getting into one’s own pace.

The Ugly

  • No phone reception at the finish area.

Flo is being mentored and coached by GRTW ultra running coach, Sarah Sawyer. For details on our virtual coaching packages please click here

 

Event details:

https://www.racetotheking.com/

Next year date: 22-23 June 2019

Day 1 2018 entry fee £57

Shuttle from Arundel station to race start: £10

YouTube video of full length (not official video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnaaC9A8RRo

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

Mountain running and park runs , I’m a little late with this weekend post from 7th-8th July but my excuse? Holding running in the lovely Italian Dolomites and Lake Garda…


 

If you ever fancy a DIY running holiday,  I can’t recommend Lake Garda and the Dolomites enough. I was there last week, firstly in the Dolomites to take part in an arduous but absolutely amazing cycle sportive, Maratona Dles Dolomites. I then stayed on and just ran the trails that I could find. Hilly, hard but absolutely stunning with nothing but the babble of mountain springs and the gentle ring of cowbells through the clear air.

The amazing thing about this area, Alta Badia is that during the summer, they even put on regular weekly runs for five euros, that you can just join and they’ll guide you through amazing mountain trails. I didn’t have time but I definitely plan to return. Details here

Running is big in every country now but, until I went to Italy I had no idea just how huge the trail running scene is, not to mention fantastic ultra trails. Just a weeks before,  was the Laveredo Ultra Trail Race  which The Guardian’s Adharanand Finn wrote about last week (read it here).

A few days later, I travelled from the Dolomites to Lake Garda, where I kept coming across placards on the mountains and billboards advertising incredible races. On one hike, I saw signs for the Lake Garda Mountain Race. Sounds amazing, I thought. The clue was in the name though, this is a race that starts on the lake level at the beautiful Malsecine and climbs from 68 metres to 2128 metres. Bearing in mind I had DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) for 48 hours from walking down, you can imagine how crazy fit you’d have to be.

Still some way to go

But this area holds a special place in my running heart, as it is Lake Garda that was my very first marathon – it was hot, it poured with rain, the race refreshment included biscuits (which I tried – doh!) and there was Prosecco on the  finishing line. (You can read the article I wrote about the race here). It was also the location of one of our busiest race trips with over 32 Girls Run the World runners joining us for the 10km and 15 mile race.

But back here in the UK,  it was a super hot weekend with lots of our runners reporting suffocatingly hot park runs from Scotland to Southampton. Did you run?

And if you are off on holiday soon, what do you do about running? Do you still run, how do you explore?

We’d love to hear from any of you who race, where you ran, what you thought, would you recommend it? Comment below or in our Facebook group.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Power Bombs

So, you hate gels or want to avoid them while training? Try our all natural energy balls

 

  • Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 15 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (plus 1/4 cup for rolling)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cacao powder
  • pinch of rock salt
  • 1 tablespoon water if needed

Method

Put almonds into a food processor and pulse until it forms a flour (or you can use packet almond flour). Now add the remaining mixture and pulse until combined. If it seems dry, add a bit more coconut. Then spoon out the mixture and roll into balls. Coat each ball by rolling in coconut.

These are great for afternoon snacks, pre and post run and every time in between. You can also play around with the ingredients, changing the nut (pecan and walnut?) and add cinnamon, ginger, even a bit of cracked black pepper.

If you’re lucky enough to run with us in Brighton, some of our runners even get these at the end of a run.

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Ricotta Pancakes

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…

Ingredients 

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.

Method

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.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Brighton Bank Holiday Trail Run

Finally, the weather is going to be gorgeous enough for a truly beautiful, vest top kind of run on the South Downs…

 

This Sunday, we’re going to be heading up to a beautiful part of the Downs that takes you through the beautiful village of Ovingdean, past the 11th century St Wulfran’s church before heading with Rottingdean to the east before dropping back down to the seafront. Here, those who prefer a shorter route can return along the Undercliff path for a five mile run. Others can choose to go with our coach and complete the full 7 miles, enjoying the views of the sea.

Open to all levels of runners as long as you can run the distance of five or seven miles. Book online for £10 or join the full season for £45. This is a beaut of a run in this weather.

Details of locations and meeting here.  Join our Brighton and Hove only Facebook group if you’re local.

Your coach is Helena. Meeting at Brigthon Asda Marina car park, far side by the ramp to go up to the road level.

South Downs Trail Run, Sunday 29th April

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.