Fit Summer Bodies with Gem’s Wholesome Kitchen

June 21, 2018 at 12:18
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Do you struggle to stick to healthy, nutritious ways of eating because you’re busy, have no time to prepare or just don’t quite know what you should be eating for your goals? Worry no more, our next course is in conjunction with Gem’s Wholesome Kitchen, who deliver all your meals direct to your door for up to 10 days. Whether it’s getting in shape, hormonal support, or you simply want to infuse your body with the wholesome, nutritious food, support don’t miss our exclusive Fit Summer Bodies

Our current course is midway through and already, some of our clients have recorded up to five centrimetre losses off their waist circumference, 1% fat loss and an increase in muscle mass. This is all to do with our exercise prescription, which we gear, each and every course, to the individuals that we see and what their goals are. We create as personalised an experience as possible, while making it much more fun than personal training because you do it in a group.

Now, imagine all of those benefits and combining it with an exclusive retreat-like feel that you’d get with a meal delivery service. Plant based nutrition expert, Gem’s Wholesome Kitchen creates the most delicious, healthy meals and works around the world for exclusive health retreats, as well as creating incredible meal delivery products for personal clients.

We spend money on clothes, facials, magazines, chocolate and holidays to make ourselves feel good yet often baulk about spending money on looking after the most important thing we have – our health and bodies.

To really eat well, you need to engage with food and having a meal delivery service can be a great way of setting your foundations, weaning yourself off bad habits and learning new ways of creating healthy, wholesome meals. And by the end of it, you WILL feel fantastic.

Spaces on our Fit Summer Bodies, are restricted to just 14 in each time slot, 6.15am to 7am or 7am – 7.45am and runs from 23 July – August 16. Or you can do a Fit Body Blitz, July 23-August 2nd or August 6th-16th. The five or 10 day plan with Gem’s Wholesome Kitchen must start on 23 July.

We have a 10% early bird discount on the four week course ONLY, which expires 1st July. Input the code FSB at checkout.

For details of the Fit Summer Bodies with Gem’s Wholesome Kitchen, which costs £25 per day, click here.



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Fitbitch at the New Forest Triathlon

May 8, 2018 at 4:21
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Our courses help start many women on the path to fitness and the fantastic feeling of achievement that you get when you take on an event that challenges your mind and body, such as the Race New Forest Olympic Triathlon…

It’s going to be freezing.’ That’s what you heard most of us worrying about as the New Forest Triathlon date got ever nearer. With a freak snow storm and photos of ice covered water in the New Forest area just four weeks before the race date, it scared the five of us who had entered into getting into the sea in April to try and get used to the cold. Alas, it was so freezing none of us lasted longer than 12 minutes or 400 metres before scarpering out.

Thankfully, on the weekend of the triathlon the weather was fantastic and we arrived down on a Friday so that we had the chance of a quick Saturday morning swim in Ellingham Water Park where the swim was taking part in a bid to get used to the cold. It was absolutely gorgeous. Still, with a 7am water start the following morning with the temperature hovering at 8 degrees, we all looked a bit pale and green around the gills as we listened to the race briefing and then entered the water.

The 1.1km swim was over for all of us in under 30 minutes and then it was a quick strip out of the wet suits and time to pull on trainers to run the 1km to transition. This is not usual for a triathlon as the water is usually located near the bike transition but with the weather heating up, it was the chance to get blood to the feet before hopping on the bike.

In triathlon, the advice is ALWAYS keep things simple at transition, don’t have lots of kit to put on – or worry about putting on. I ignored all of that and faffed about with wondering whether to put a jacket on, putting it on, then taking it off and adding arm sleeves and even putting on winter overshoes over my cycle shoes (I was the ONLY one wearing overshoes). But then I have history with footwear and triathlon. I once ran 10km after the bike leg with a full gel packet in my shoe. I thought it was a blister.

From there, it was on to one of the most beautiful bike legs of a triathlon I’ve ever done, up and over into the beautiful smooth roads of the New Forest, yellow gorse as far as the eye could see. It must be the only triathlon in which you ever have to stop for cows and horses who calmly wander into the road, totally unconcerned that you’re trying hard to keep to a certain FTP.

It is on the bike stage where you can make some big gains and it’s here where one of our members, Cath Bevan (almost zero bike training – gah!) steamed past on the bike like a pro athlete, leaving me panting and pounding the pedals behind her, feeling like a slow moving tractor.

One of the great things about a triathlon though is that there are usually lots of people taking part who are doing different distances so you have no idea where you stand in the ‘listings’ of the event. You only have yourself to challenge rather than worrying about whether you’re last.

From the bike, it was back to transition at the beautiful race based at a beautiful Georgian boarding school, off with all the kit, and into running trainers for a beautiful off-road out and back route. Thankfully, with temperatures reaching the mid 20s, it was largely shady. The great thing about racing a triathlon as a big group is that it’s on the run where we you get to see EVERYONE, and we all managed to encourage each other as we passed at different parts of the run before cheering each other over the line.

If you’re considering doing a triathlon this year (and don’t forget the Brighton and Hove Triathlon), Race New Forest are a fantastic company, offering a well organised event in a beautiful part  of the UK with great race t-shirts.

If you’re interested in joining our Fitbitch performance training group, join our FREE Facebook group here.  Our list of Dream Challenge events will include a triathlon, adventure race, open water swim and obstacle race.



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Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats

April 4, 2018 at 5:02
Posted by Rachael Woolston

It’s a famous rite of passage for any cyclist and adventure queen, riding from Lands End to John O’Groats. Here, Ingrid Kane details her incredible experience of riding  969 miles over nine days as part of Deloitte Ride Across Britain 2017 and proves that no matter how busy you are, it is possible to train if you train smart…

How it works

A couple of years ago I thought I would like a new challenge and cycling the length of the UK had always been on my bucket list. However, I struggled to work out how I would fit the event and training in with a busy job. Deloitte Ride Across Britain (RAB)  seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

The challenge: cycling 969 miles over 9 days

Logistics: luggage limited to 15kg, transferred from camp to camp by organisers

Accommodation: tents (no you don’t have to put them up and down, a kind team do that for you!). In 2017 there was a hotel option – none of that for me!

What you need to know: it’s a tough challenge, but you can do it with some preparation. Be prepared for all weathers – 2017 was the wettest (and muddiest) RAB to date.

What you need: a road bike – doesn’t need to be anything too fancy although you may well get bike envy once you start the ride!

The training

I entered RAB about a year before the start, catching the early bird entry fee and persuaded one of my crazy friends to join me. The organisers provide a detailed training programme, but I knew that with my work and busy life, I was not going to be able to fit in lots of cycling before the event or in the winter months, and so I decided to adapt my training and fit in multiple activities.

Coaches, Rachael, Amy at the Fitbitch camps in Lewes gave me the perfect kick start, and I also did weekly Pilates classes and started running, first within the bootcamp sessions and then with Girls Run the World. I even started back to hockey sessions to build my fitness! Cycling wise, I used  several sportives to help me build up the distances and once Spring arrived, I began cycling 10 hilly miles two and from work twice a week, which was invaluable. .

I work one in three weekends and so fitting long training rides in at the weekend was tricky but I did what I could, completing the fantastic Elfstedentocht cycle tour event in the Netherlands, the Dunwich Dynamo (cycling from London to Suffolk overnight) and the Ride 100 in London. By the time the start approached I had lost weight, felt much fitter and was looking forward to the event …but I was still VERY worried about my ability to cycle nine consecutive days of over 100 miles. Mental attitude is key, but I felt I had an advantage in being used to working longs hours on limited sleep!

The Start

Crossing the start line on a windy day in Lands End was amazing; suddenly all my anxieties disappeared as I started cycling with  approximately 700 people from all walks of life but it was a tough day – who knew Cornwall and Devon were so hilly?! We climbed over 6000 feet on that first day and boy did I sleep well. By the time I’d completed day two, I felt strong and confident that I’d complete the event, barring any accidents.  Mentally, I knew I would have to dig deep at times – most notably leaving Bath in  in torrential rain with water coming up out of drains and flowing uphill!

 

The Finish

Crossing the finish line was incredibly emotional, and I felt an unbelievable sense of achievement, but it was also rather sad. After nine days spent experiencing such highs and lows with people I met along the way,  so many people had to rush off to catch trains and planes. I’d definitely recommend arranging a hotel near the finish like I did so you get the opportunity to explore Orkney and let it all sink in. I ended up catching up with a friend I’d cycled with in Israel over 25 years previously. It was an amazing experience and I’d do it again like a shot!

The Highs

Experiencing the incredible country we live in on two wheels.

Making it 969 miles without walking any of the route.

The summit of Shap.

Completing the 126 miles from Hamilton to Fort William through spectacular Glen Coe

Meeting some inspiring people

Lulu’s food in camp

Camping, even in the mud!

Surviving with no mechanical issues and no punctures – still can’t quite believe that!

The Lows

Damp clothes, even after a night in the ‘drying’ room.

A couple of 4.30am starts.

The queue for the coffee van at pit stops!

What everyone always wants to know.

The Nitty Gritty

Food: the event is fully catered and the food was better than I could have imagined, with al dietary requirements are catered for. Lulu and her staff manage to provide food for around 900 (including all the logistics team) everyday from breakfast (porridge and fruit to a full English) to a choice of four main courses for supper. The bonus of an event like this is that you can eat as much as you like! During the day there are at least two pit stops – again plenty of food. Pork pies and Muller rice seemed particular favourites!

Facilities: a hot shower is available everyday courtesy of posh wash showers, along with toilets

Medical support: available at camp and en route each day, and every third night, you are allocate a physio session

Broom wagon: there is a cut off of about 12 hours each day. A bus picks up anyone who is struggling, with medical issues or drastic mechanical issues that the mechanics are unable to fix on the road.

 

If you would like to read more about Ingrid’s experience, you can read her blog here. She raised £3000 for the Stroke Association and Karuna

In July 2018, another Fitbitch is undertaking LEJOG, this time unaided and unsupported. If you’d like to join her on some of it, or simply come and do some of the training rides, join our free Fitbitch ride community here.

 

 

 



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HiiT works!

February 5, 2018 at 12:56
Posted by Rachael Woolston

We launched HiiT Squad sessions, for men and women over four years ago. We know it works. But if you recently watched the BBC’s The Truth About Getting Fit…How HiiT works, you’ll probably now believe it too…

 

 

Why is two minutes of exercise so effective? If you watched the BBC programme, you’ll know but even taking away all the science and research and using common sense, two minutes is effective because ANYONE, of any fitness level can put their all-out effort into short, sharp bursts of effort. And it is the intensity at which you exercise that is crucial here. Go off to the gym and steadily ride a stationary bike, or even walk or jog on a treadmill, you might sweat, you might get red in the face but it’s not an all-out effort.

Work for all out efforts and you’ll burn more calories after you’ve finished and you’ll utilise more muscles in that effort, so that will create a greater work out activity in lean muscle tissue. And for us ladies, the more we work to boost our muscle tissue (and you don’t need to worry about bulking up, that’s incredibly difficult to do!) the better our hormone balance.

To celebrate the fact that the rest of the UK are finally catching up with what we have long known, we’re offering our HiiT Ten Class passes at 40% off, less than £5 per session. And if two of you book, on our special Valentine’s Spread the Love offer, you both get 60% off.

All you have to do is go to our Booking page, scroll down to the Hiit Class Pass 10 and input the code hiitworks for the 40% offer. You’ll get 10 classes (Friday, 6.30am at The Level) although the class expires 12 weeks from purchase and classes must used by then. This offer is only open to those new to HiiT SQUAD . For the Spread the Love deal, you BOTH need to email us before 6pm 14th February for our special offer code. 

 



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The National Running Show, 20-21 January 2018

January 12, 2018 at 1:01
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Want to hear from some of the most inspirational female runners in the UK today? Do you want to find out all the latest kit info? Then you need to get yourself to the first National Running Show at the Birmingham’s NEC

If you want to hear first hand from some of the UK’s most inspirational runners, then the first national running show expo is the place to be. It will be featuring a whole host of runners, including  Jo Pavey, Dame Kelly Holmes and the amazing ultra running mum, Susie Chan, who has completed the Marathon des Sables three times, and tackled running through a jungle for 5 days self-sufficient.

Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to have your gait analysed, which really helps you to see where you have biomechanical issues that strength and conditioning, flexibility and a different training shoe could improve. Plus, chat nutrition with the brilliant Anita Bean and visit the Nutrition Advice Zone, who will be offering valuable advice on what you should be eating and drinking as a runner.

And if that’s not enough, there will be plenty of running products and clothing to browse and purchase, with the likes of everyone from Vibram to Hoka One One and Saucony at the expo.

Tickets cost just £10. For more information and booking visit the event website.



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How much exercise should you do to see a positive change?

September 12, 2017 at 2:32
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Many of us were raised on the idea that just a bit of walking a few times a week is good for us. Of course, it’s better than nothing but to see changes in your health, body shape and fitness it’s not just how often you should be exercising but the intensity that may surprise you…

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Strength Training

What does strength training even mean? It could be body weight, you could use a kettle bell, dumbbells, anything that is heavy enough to create a challenge to your muscles so that they are forced to adapt and change. If you’re NOT lifting weight and only running or doing yoga, then you’re missing out a major part of your fitness training that helps to balance your hormones (did you know that lifting weights increases your levels of testosterone which can be beneficial if you are going through a particular hormonal stage of life), and lowers your risk of type two diabetes, stroke and heart failure.

And for all those women who worry that it will make them look bulky, it is very, very hard as a woman to bulk up. What strength training does do is generate muscle mass, which is more active than fat tissues, meaning that you will boost your metabolism and help you to burn calories even when sitting down. Health guidelines recommend lifting at least two times per week, ensuring that each muscle group is rested for two days afterwards. That doesn’t mean you can’t do back to back strength sessions, but it means working different parts of the body.

So, if you’re not lifting, rethink your fitness routine.

 

Cardio

Want to lose weight and you are out there running and checking the scales every other day? Cardiovascular exercise (when combined with healthy eating) CAN help you lose weight BUT the crucial factor is that it needs to be of moderate intensity – about 85% of maximum heart rate.

For a very few people, walking briskly will represent 85% of max heart rate but for the majority of us, this or running at a conversational pace will not. So, if you want your running to help you lower your health risks – and your weight, think about increasing the intensity.  Guidelines now suggest that the bare minimum of exercising should be 30 minutes per day, five times a week. On the flip-side, any exercise at this intensity over 7 hours per week will only lead to fatigue and potentially injury.

 

Social fitness

Studies also show that loneliness, or social isolation can increase your health risks by up to 32 percent. So, not only is exercising with others easier because you’re motivated and inspired by other, just being with others could help boost your health risk prevention.

 

 

Our next four week course, Autumn Burn (3 x per week plus homework) starts October 2nd 2017 while our Preston Park Total Body, two times per week starts Wednesday 13th September and then again October 4th (but is also open to drop-ins). Early bird deals on a FULL 12 session early morning boot camp ends for Autumn Burn on Friday 22nd September. Enter the code AB10 at the checkout.

 

 



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Fitbitch Exclusive Members Area

June 21, 2017 at 3:38
Posted by Rachael Woolston

 

Over the last eight years, we’ve coached hundreds of amazing women who have gone on to become firm friends who have continued exercising and racing together.

And to them, we owe the fact that the name of Fitbitch has become synonmous with motivated and inspiring women, who are inclusive of others no matter what their size, shape or fitness level.

To celebrate all the marvellous women of Fitbitch, past, present and future, we are launching a members only area, where you can connect or re-connect with those you have done camps with. It’s a place to share news, feel inspired by the challenges that others are taking on, get inspired to join in challenges as well as a space where we will offer exclusive discounts and member only events.

To join, you need to have attended at least one boot camp since we started in 2008. It’s free to join.

Join now to access our first Fitbitch Sports Day 22nd July by clicking here.

 



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Wake up and get fit in beautiful Lewes

May 5, 2017 at 12:15
Posted by Rachael Woolston

After a winter break, we’re back in Lewes this Monday May 8th for a three week course that will leave you feeling fantastic

As a coach, I’ve now trained women in lots of different locations and few beat the beautiful Lewes. Situated in the playground adjacent to Pells Pool, our summer courses are the perfect way to get in shape and feeling great.

With the sun bathing the area in warm light, it’s a peaceful, beautiful place to exercise in. And, as with all our courses, we keep you guessing as to what is to come on each session.

You may be using the playground equipment one day, another, exploring the riverside on a beautiful trail run. Whatever the case, and whatever your fitness level, this will help you get fit, strong and supple.

Our final booking day ends tomorrow, Saturday at noon. Come and join the Lewes ladies for some life-affirming – and butt firming – fitness and healthy living.

Psst…and if you don’t have to rush off to work, Pells Pools opens on May 13th and they have early morning swims 7-9am. It’s fab!

The course costs £120 for three weeks, running Monday, Weds and Friday at 6.15am-7am or 7am-7.45am).

BOOK HERE



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The Diary of a Running Mum: Get Your Brave On

September 5, 2016 at 6:29
Posted by Rachael Woolston

If you struggle with the fear of taking on fitness challenges or gambles in life in general, our running mum diarist, Tanya Taylor, 43, has some words of advice..

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Eighteen years ago, back when I was a carefree 25 year old, living in a cool rented flat in the centre of town, with a handsome boyfriend and a part time job, my sister died. She died quite suddenly, and in tragic circumstances, leaving behind two young children. My sister, Sacha, had only just turned 30, and her death changed me as a person overnight.

Shortly after she died, I can remember looking in the bathroom mirror and not recognising the face that looked back at me. The weeks of crying and not eating had obviously affected my physical features, but it was more than that, I was different, something deep within me had altered.

The year that followed was full of change. I somehow managed to finish my degree, we moved to a flat by the sea, I married my handsome boyfriend (he proof-reads these…) and we had a baby. I no longer wanted to put things off, I was so deeply affected by the sense that life was so fleeting.

Our wedding had been planned and executed in 5 weeks – me in a £60 sundress and my husband in the first suit he had ever had to buy. I cried on the morning and evening of our wedding, my sister, Sacha’s absence was so overwhelming. Our baby was born several months later at home, the rain heavy outside -“You’re so brave to have a home birth with a first baby”, the midwife had exclaimed- but I knew, nothing would hurt or be as terrifying as losing a sister.

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Many years have passed, but that sense of mortality is still very much part of me. I believe in saying ‘Yes’, more than saying ‘No’ – I want to live a full life, to have adventures and experiences that my sister was  robbed of at such a young age. I owe it to her.

So it comes as no surprise, that when there are races or trips planned, I am usually one of the first to put my name down. Am I brave? No, I am naturally cautious and quite fearful, so it takes a lot for me to ‘get my brave on’, and so I still have to use little techniques to help me get my brave on.

My tips to help you feel more warrior than wimp

  1. Get a squad. At Fitbitch, we are so lucky to have so many inspiring women in our running community. Every woman empowers the next. Having someone to enter a race with or try a new running distance or route alongside can really makes a difference to your bravery levels. I wouldn’t have entered or completed Coast to Coast (106 miles across Scotland by MTB, Kayak and foot) if my race buddy J hadn’t been by my side the whole way.IMG_8923
  2. Create your own Talismans. I started using jewellery as a Talisman when I ran my first half marathon, like having a lucky charm. I use a handmade gold bracelet that was given to me on my 40th Birthday by a close group of friends, a gold necklace and my wedding ring. I also carry things my children have made me when I travel. It sounds corny, but it really helps to make me feel protected and strong.
  3. Train. It sounds obvious, but with a big race, if you are physically prepared, you feel more confident. Use a running club so you can train for races together or use a training plan downloaded from the many on offer on the Internet. (Fitbitch running courses start this week and our London club launches at the end of September. Join our London Facebook page for more details).
  4. Positive affirmations. Nike and Lululemon have positive mantras hidden into the seams of some of their sports items. I also love this banner by Secret Holiday – http://shop.secretholidayco.com/product/be-brave-affirmation-banner – which will definitely keep you feeling inspired. When I ran London Marathon this year, I copied out a text message from my friend J and had it in my back pocket the whole way. Her text told me I was strong, I was ready and to believe in myself. Just knowing those words were with me helped me so much mentally.
  5. Don’t overthink. Whenever I feel hesitant, whether it’s holding the cursor over a race entry confirmation or hovering at the top of a steep single track path on my mountain bike, I just take a deep breath and say to myself ‘Just fu*king do it’. It is amazing how effective this is – try it!
  6. Look for positives. Two years ago, I took on the challenge of swimming from Brighton Marina to Brighton Pier. I got separated from my group quite early, swimming out much deeper than the others. The currents were not in our favour that day, and the swim took twice as long as we had anticipated. My legs were cramping, and I was starting to imagine there were sharks swimming underneath (I know!!!!). I then looked up, and saw the sun setting just behind the Pier, it was shining right at me. I saw this as a sign that I was going to be okay, and not be eaten by a Great White off Brighton Beach.
  7. Cherish the Challenge. Some of the best experiences are when you are pushed outside your comfort zone. Swimming into a mountain lake with ice around the edges, is still one of the biggest natural highs I have ever experienced. I only thought about the possibilities of hyperthermia afterwards
  8. Less is more, sometimes. I try not to read too many details about the more challenging races I take on before the event. If I had known the last 14 miles of the Coast to Coast race involved running up and down two midge infested mountains (YES ,TWO MIDGE INFESTED MOUNTAINS,) there is a good chance I would have talked myself out of entering. Without wanting to appear sexist, a lot of the amateur race reviews (and worse still, the Go-Pro YouTube videos) are put on the Internet by men. They are pumped up with over-zealous, macho hype and I’m sure that helps a certain type of person (those that wear Ironman Finisher T’s to run local 5k races maybe?) but the reality is, with the correct training, most things are possible. Trust me, when you’re in the race and you’re in the zone, what might have looked terrifying and impossible online, is totally achievable.IMG_8921-2
  9. Products sometimes help. I use Aromatherapy Associates Miniature Bath & Shower oils (available from Liberty’s ) to rub on my pulses. The blends have names like ‘inner strength’ and ‘support breath’, and are completely addictive. They are tiny bottles and great for travel. I also have 5 Elements Acupuncture before any big races where I am treated for my anxiety levels.
  10. Fake it. If you are still feeling very nervous, fake it. Add a bit of swagger to your walk, smile at your fellow competitors and give them a friendly wink. Focus on calming breaths and your posture – shoulders back, stand tall. I can guarantee, there will be someone else there feeling more scared than you who won’t have read my blog!

I know if my brilliant sister was still here, she’d be the one screaming my name as I run over the finish lines. Her courage in her final weeks was mammoth compared to any courage I’ve ever had to muster up, and I will always be very proud of her, and so thankful to have had her in my life.

Tanya is one of our amazing Running Angel ambassadors who help to keep you company and motivated on our weekly Tuesday members runs. Membership costs just £25 including a race vest Tues evening runs except school holidays. Plus 10% off our season passes.

Year to Date Running Stats

Miles – 933

Elevation Gain 50,581 ft

Tanya’s Top Tracks for getting your brave on

‘Stronger’ – Kanye West

‘Tusk’ – Fleetwood Mac

‘Shake it Off’ – Taylor Swift

‘Fire’ – Kasabian

‘Born to Run’ – Bruce Springsteen



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Race Review: Endure 24

July 12, 2016 at 3:32
Posted by Rachael Woolston

As part of our Fitbitch Challenge Community, eight of our runners (some who only started learning to run with us last summer) took on a 24 hour relay race in June, complete with Faraway Fairies in the woods and a DJ bar, as Louise Budd reports…

 

 

The VDub bar and the Faraway Fairies

The VDub bar and the Faraway Fairies

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Light up the night – our team stood out with glowing laces

The Event

Last year, if someone had told me I’d enter a race that lasted 24 hours with no idea of I’d get the chance to sleep or eat I’d have said they were mad. And that, along with worrying about whether I”d be able to complete all the laps I needed to without letting my team mates down meant that I felt very nervous the day before the Mizuno Endure 24.

We arrived to set up camp on the Friday, the day before the event started which had attracted 3000 entries, of which there was a mixture of teams and solo runners. There was an exciting buzz in the race village, which consisted of the campsite, where all runners had pitched their tents and mobile homes, and the start and finish line for each lap.

On Saturday, the morning of the race our all women team enjoyed breakfast together and organised what we were going to do. We had pulled names out of a hat for running order – I was third – and we confirmed all this and wrote the order down on a wipe board, along with a rough estimate of how long each leg would take and when each runner should be starting their lap. It was so exciting to see Lisa run off at noon with all the other runners at the start, but it wasn’t until 13.33pm that I finally got my chance to run.

I raced off around the bend and almost immediately hit a hill which slowed me down. The route was mainly off road, on bridle paths some laid with wood chips and it also went through a wood that was gnarled with tree roots in places.  Before the wood though, I had to run up Heartbreak Hill, with a gradient of 115m although it was made easier by the bar at the bottom, the VDub Bar (which had sports gels rather than alcohol on offer) playing tunes to help power you up the hill. I made it almost half way up before walking the rest. The top had stunning views over the forest and the next 3 km were undulating which allows you time to recover.

On the first lap, all the runners had been bunched together whereas by the time I ran my first lap, everyone was more spread out but there was always someone to chat with, and there were little sign posts at every kilometre with inspirational quotes. My favourite, was Mohammed Ali’s “Don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”, at km 4.

 

Motivating race distance markers

Motivating race distance markers

While our team runners waited for our next lap, we all ate constantly, BBQ sausages, cake, crisps, bean stew, you name it, we’d bought it and ate it. There were also showers and toilets although you were lucky if you got a warm shower and the toilets got progressively worse as the event wore on.

I ran my second lap at 19.52pm when it was still light but my third one, at 2.41am was the most magical. We’d all brought shoelaces which lit up and flashed, which attracted lots of attention and cheers from other runners. It was exactly the boost that I needed as I approached 15 miles, as I felt really tired particularly as I’d found it so difficult to sleep because I was so excited. The woods were lit up with fairy lights and populated with the  Faraway Fairies, people dressed up with wings and wands to help encourage you round. It was magical although, I was exhausted at the end, I got in the tent and fell asleep almost immediately, not expecting to have to run again. As it was I had to be woken up to run one final leg at 9.12am fuelled by a sports gel! Heartbreak Hill felt endless but our team were determined to hit the magic 30 laps and so I pushed on, past the VDub Bar, ironically playing Coldplay’s Paradise, and finally over the finish line.

Louise, right and Tanya, finishing their final lap

Louise, right and Tanya, finishing their final lap

Our team finally finished having run 30 laps or 150 miles, exceeding our target and placing us 7th out of 25 in the women’s large team category. Each lap varied from 46mins, 02 seconds, to my longest lap, my last at 50mins, 45 seconds. By the end I was tired, sweaty but absolutely elated. We all can’t wait to do it again next year.

 

Fitbitch Endure Team

Fitbitch Endure Team

Fitbitch Tips for Successful Team Relay Racing

Run order

Decide which order you are going to run in BEFORE the race and stick to it. We pulled names out of a hat although putting fastest or fittest first is also an option.

Use a whiteboard

When you’re tired and exhausted from running, it’s really easy to forget who is running next. Write it all on a whiteboard, including an approximate time of when you should be running next. It makes it much easier.

Night training

We completed three night runs before the race to get used to how it felt to run with head torches and how it affects your senses – you can hear so much more acutely!

Style it out

Forget taking one outfit, take your entire running wardrobe. If you get wet or  sweaty, you feel cold and damp and so you need to get out of your clothes, layer up to keep warm and then put something dry on for your next run. I had an outfit for every lap.

Changing tent

Perhaps you don’t need this if you have a small team, but it made a big difference to us to have somewhere to change and put on kit.   It meant that others could sleep without being disturbed.

In brief: the good, the bad and the plain ugly

The Good

  • Fantastic team mates – doing  a team relay together over 24 hours really creates an incredible bond and sense of camaraderie
  • Brilliant course with great surprises in the woods such as the DJ bar and the fairies
  • Sense of achievement – I’ve run a marathon before but but this HOW COMPARE?

The Bad

  • It is so hard to know what to eat. Next time, we plan to take little portion pots so that we can each eat individually at designated times rather than trying to do it socially.

The Plain Ugly

  • Disgusting toilets that were not properly cleaned so quite a few our team were ill after the race. That said, the event organisers were amazing and quickly investigated and have assured us they will take action next year to ensure it does not happen again.

Race Statistics

Male to female runners ratio: 1360 female: 1631 male

Lap counts
Most laps by a solo female runner: 26 = 130miles
Most laps by a team: 42 + 210 miles
Want to enter next year? It is provisionally scheduled for June 10th-11th 2017. For more details visit their website


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The Diary of a Running Mum: A Case of the Bad Runs

July 8, 2016 at 4:05
Posted by Rachael Woolston

At the beginning of 2016, Tanya Taylor, 43 and mum of four took up the challenge to run every day of 2016 as part of the Fitbitch Challenge Community. This month, she finally reached the half way point…

Three minute post shower lie down as running reward

Three minute post shower lie down as running reward

Tanya’s Statistics

Miles run since January 1st: 788

Feet Climbed: 42,963ft which would mean she could have almost summited Mount Everest. Twice.

You only have to glance once at Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to witness it. Friends posting self congratulatory updates on their current running achievements. It could be a smug sunrise picture of their morning run (#blessed), or a new PB announcement, it might well be a jubilant race picture with a medal included to boot. Meet any runner and you will find we are nearly all guilty of it. But how many of us post updates of our bad runs or confess to those times when we feel rubbish compared to someone else?

I am now 6 months in to my Fitbitch Runnual Challenge, where I am taking the challenge to run run every day for the year, and it’s starting to feel tough. Runs that felt new and fun 6 months ago, are now feeling too familiar. I’m like a (marginally) less hairy Forrest Gump without the entourage, running through the streets of Brighton, friends beeping their cars when they see me or waving manically across the street at my red, sweaty face.

On Strava (join the Fitbitch Run Club on Strava here), my trophies are getting less frequent where my efforts have plateaued, and I’m finding distance a struggle now I don’t have a marathon to train for. But…running daily is giving me some insight into understanding my body and the reasons why I can have a bad run.

 

So next time you give up and go home thinking, ‘Oh I’m just rubbish,’ think about the factors that could be contributing to a bad run and just keep on running through it.

Zombie Running

This month I took part in the Mizuno Endure 24 race, a 24 hour relay race where the Fitbitch team of 8 took turns to run a 5 mile loop run continually over 24 hours. During the  event, my endorphins kicked in, and the excitement of running through the night and talking to new people on route meant I felt amazing. But, oh, the following week I felt like an old lady running through treacle. (I had another tough tired run this month in Paris, following a 3am start and miles of walking through beautiful streets and schmoozing with celebrities, but something tells me I won’t getting sympathy for this one!)

Temporary sleep deprivation gives runners the perceived notion that their efforts are higher because the brain and nervous system are sluggish, even though your heart, legs and lungs should be working okay. In this situation, coffee is your friend, as are little mind games – Sending “breath to my legs” while running in an attempt to ‘lighten’ them, the promise of a 3 minute post shower lie down at the end of my run, or a cold drink helps me to keep my focus positive. Understanding that my feelings of exhaustion will soon pass once my sleep patterns have regulated helped me to keep going, and not give up.

Star jumps in Paris

Star jumps in Paris

 

Menstrual Cycle

OMG, If I had attempted to take up running the week before my period was due, there is a good chance I wouldn’t be writing this blog and I’d be an entirely different person – maybe a slightly chubbier one with less smug Facebook updates. When I’m hormonal, it appears to make me breathless and it occurs in the second half of my cycle. For around 4 days, you could be mistaken for thinking I smoke 40 Marlboro a day.

Running hills feels totally unachievable & I scare the living daylights out of anyone that I happen to be running past with my heavy breathing. Throw in sore boobs, achy abdomen, back ache, hot flushes, tears and dehydration and you would be forgiven for thinking I’m a sneeze away from a full week’s bedrest. If I wasn’t so in tune with my cycle and how it affects my runs, I would assume my body was unable to sustain a run and give up altogether!

Mental strength is my friend on these days, and if I have to walk a hill, so be it. Positive visualisations, mantras, listening to music, distracting myself thinking of my ‘To Do’ list, or what the hell I’m going to do with those three dirty beetroot and the two cabbages I got in my veg box – ANYTHING. I know its just my hormones playing unkind games, and that the act of running actually helps with most PMT symptoms. It’s worth downloading an app – such as Clue – to monitor your cycle so you are aware of your symptoms as and when they happen.

Focusing on cooking - or eating - to get me through my run

Focusing on cooking – or eating – to get me through my run

Running on empty

There are a lot of things that I have to juggle with four (very social and active) children and a cycling mad husband who also works 60 hours a week. My children eat  well planned, nutritious and beautifully presented meals, my husband eats a protein based diet, and I eat a Vegan based diet. Yeah, I know right, rod for my own back.Often, my needs come last and my vegan dinner can sometimes be some hummus on rye crackers and some (unpeeled) raw carrots. When I try running the day after after a dismal dinner, the effects are noticeable, no energy and running feels impossible.

The key, I’ve learned, is to plan meals with your runs in mind, I cannot afford to conk out halfway through a long run simply because I haven’t fuelled my body properly the day before. I have started making dinners in batches and freezing them for last minute panic meals. I use a Vegan protein shake by Sunwarrior, which I blend with almond milk and a banana for post run fuelling and I try to drink two litres of water a day.

She-wolf tendencies?

Before you roll your eyes,and assume I’ve gone bonkers, I really think the days leading up to a full moon make my legs heavy, as if they have a magnetic force pulling them down to the ground…I’d be interested to hear if anyone else ever gets this?

 

EVERYONE has bad runs. I have run with enough people over the last six years to be able to assure you of this. It doesn’t mean you are necessarily unfit, or useless, or ‘can’t run’, It might just mean you need to analyse WHY you are having a tough day running, accept it, carry on and think of ways to counteract it for next time. Let go of your ego, and try not to compare your run to anyone else’s. Everyone is different, everyone is going through different things. Everyone’s body copes in different ways. One thing I can promise you though, is any run is better than no run. Cross my heart. Anyway, I’m off to plan some new running route and maybe enter a few races and book onto Fitbitch Trackstars, to basically shake things up a bit. “A change is as good as a rest” after all, and I’ve still got another 6 months of running to go!

Taking part in a 24 hour relay - easier than running on my own!

Taking part in a 24 hour relay – easier than running on my own!

Tanya’s Top Tracks for Running Uplift

  1. ‘Pump it Up’ – Elvis Costello
  2. ‘I Feel Love’ (12”) – Donna Summer
  3. ‘Can I Get A…’ – Jay Z (feat Amil)
  4. ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ – Depeche Mode
  5. ‘Working on the Highway’ – Bruce Sprinsteen


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Race Review: Arundel Triathlon

June 26, 2016 at 12:04
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Taking on a fitness challenge, whatever this is for YOU personally is guaranteed to make you feel nervous, anxious and just a little bit sick. BUT it is the willingness to take on challenges, in all aspects of life, that helps change you. We’ve created an entire list of events that you can train with us and take part in this year at Fitbitch – find them HERE. But I don’t think it’s fair to challenge the Fitbitch community and not follow this maxim myself…

IMG_7172

 

If someone had told me, even two months ago, that I’d be swimming up a river at 5.30am in the morning, I would have said they were mad. I was useless at swimming as a kid, spending weeks trying to get that stupid Bronze swimming badge at school, unable to pick up the rubber brick off the swimming pool floor. Remember that? Maybe you don’t if you’re not a child of the 1970s but you get the picture.

But at the beginning of the year, I started taking a Pool to Pier swimming course in Brighton, first doing lessons once a week in the pool and then going into the sea. My very first session, I swam 1.8km. Before that, I’d only ever thought myself capable of swimming 400m in any one go. Amazing what you can do if someone just tells you to do it.

Then in June I took on my first open water sprint triathlon in a reservoir, which meant swimming 750m. It was a revelation. Up until that point I’d only done 3 triathlons before (one per year!) in a swimming pool. Having to wait for hours to get into the water, then worrying about getting in the way of people wanting to swim faster always made it an anxious experience. Swimming in a reservoir however on a gorgeous sunny morning in June? What a difference.

Which is how I found myself signing up to an Olympic distance triathlon (1500m swim, 40km bike ride, 10km run) just three weeks later, put on by Raw Energy Pursuits. Did I think I was capable of it? Frankly, no. I just signed up and figured that it would all work out. Worse comes to worse, I’d breast stroke my way to the finish of the swim. But then it’s quite easy to feel laid-back when pressing Pay on a computer screen. It was NOT how I felt as I stood on the riverbank at 5.15am in the morning, looking at a chocolate coloured river, strewn with seaweed and the bobbing yellow hats of the faster swimmers all ready for the off.

Far left of the picture, looking terrified with Fitbitch Cath front

Far left of the picture, looking terrified with Fitbitch Cath front

But then the beauty of a triathlon compared to a running race, is that it all starts very quickly so you don’t have time to get too terrified. In this situation it was faster than most race starts for the Arun river is fast flowing and we had to do an out and back, which meant doing it before the river picked up speed.  Into the water, which wasn’t too cold and then we were off, no big race guns or countdown. Big thumbs up for the race organisers who managed to pull this off seamlessly.

There was flailing arms, seaweed and a sky just tinged pink with the rising sun as I set off down the river. Growing up watching Jaws as a child, I’d always been terrified of things touching me in the water. I’m not sure what has changed but I felt really relaxed even as I swam through pockets of seaweed, had my feet touched by swimmers behind me and the bubbles of kicking feet in front of me. It was amazing. And I’m sure my relaxed state of mind was partly due to the number of kayakers who were on the river, looking out for all the swimmers.

Out of the water under 35 minutes, I was running to transition not quite able to believe I’d just swam in a river and more to the point, why had I not bloody done it before! The thing about challenges is sometimes, we can let them grow so big in our minds that we drop out and don’t step up to it. And yet nine times out of ten, it ends up being something that can be just that little bit life changing. That sounds like a big claim, I know, but achieve something that you think is totally beyond you and it leaves you thinking, ‘Well, what else can I achieve?’

As usual, I seemed to spend three times as long in transition as everyone else, trying to have a chat with the others shrugging off their wetsuits who were trying to be serious then it was off for a beautiful ride through lovely roads around West Sussex just outside of Arundel Castle. I’m pretty inept at taking on gels when I run, getting it all over my hands. It appears the same is true of doing it on a bike except that when you’re sitting down, it means you also get it all over your legs, and your hands. And of course, my handlebars.

 

Off the bike, I grabbed my running shoes and took off for a two lap, absolutely beautiful trail run through the countryside around Arundel Castle. My feet were frozen from being on the bike so it was a bit like running on wooden blocks. But by the second lap my feet started warming up and my right foot in particular felt strange. I pushed on, the sun shining as I ran up the trail and out onto the open green, running past a little chapel of the castle before running straight through town past the castle to the finish.

It was only on finishing the race that I was finally able to take my shoe off and discover that the carefully placed gel, put in my shoe so that I could grab it off the bike had actually slipped right into my shoe (I had wondered where it had gone!) and I’d run the entire 10km with a great big gel sachet by my big toe. Ouch!

ouch! Gel induced blood blister

ouch! Gel induced blood blister

The Arundel Triathlon is put on by Raw Energy Pursuits. Well organised, on time and a great race pack which included a t-shirt (a tech t-shirt may have been preferable but small gripe) and snack bar. No medal but they do organise a free breakfast bap from the riverside cafe. I’ve done events with this company before and they get the big thumbs up from me, particularly for the huge number of marshalls they have on the river, out on the bike course and on the run.

Fancy joining us for training for the Brighton & Hove triathlon in September? They offer distances as small as 25o metres as well as the opportunity to join a relay team if you only want to do one of the disciplines. We currently have around 20 women interested in taking part including lots looking for teams. If you’re interested, email rachael@fitbitchbootcamp.com



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Worthing Women’s Fitness – launches July 4th

June 24, 2016 at 12:22
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Fitbitch launched over seven years ago in Brighton & Hove and has helped hundreds of women to lose weight, get fit and transform their confidence. So many of our clients have gone on to take fitness challenges that they would never have once thought they’d be even interested in doing let alone achieving. Now, we’re expanding to Worthing. Are you in?

On Monday 4th July we launch our first Worthing women’s only fitness camp, a two week course for all levels. Since we began in 2009 as one of the first fitness camps and certainly the first women’s only one, hundreds of other fitness camps, PTs and gyms have followed. We all offer something of value, helping people to move and get active. But we remain one of the few women only boot camps. And we offer far more than just helping you to move and break a sweat.

Our courses only accept small numbers of women and are deliberately designed as a two or four week courses, no dropping in and out. It helps to create focus, effective results and also ensures YOU get personalised attention. You get to be inspired and motivated by those you train with while getting the benefit of working with a female coach who gets to understand your body – and importantly – how to motivate you to help you achieve your best.

If just want to break a sweat and be able to hide at the back of a class because no one knows you, choose any gym or fitness class. If you truly want to change your fitness, your approach to exercise, eating and your confidence, chose Fitbitch.

We launch 4th July with a two week fitness course on Worthing seafront, either at 6.3a0-7.15am or 7.15am – 8am. Until Thursday June 30th, you can get a half price course for a friend if you book the same time slot and dates. (T&Cs apply). See more details about the course HERE

Interested in our running courses? We launch our Learn to Run and Smash Your PB courses in September, so you can run your first Worthing Parkrun – or get a PB at Worthing. Email us for details.

BOOK HERE

T&Cs

  • Can only be used where when person who books is completely new to all Fitbitch brands. Closing date Thursday 30th June.


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