Review: Aqua Sphere Cara Swimsuit

April 3, 2018 at 4:19
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Nowadays more and more women are trying their hand at triathlon, which means getting the right swim suit for all those laps up and down the swimming pool…We tried out the new Cara swimsuit from swim specialist, Aqua Sphere

An Italian brand, Aqua Sphere started out producing swim googles renowned for increased peripheral vision and comfort but have since branded into swim wear for the active and triathlete.

They have a range of female swimsuits divided according to water exerciser, lap swimmer contemporary and lap swimming classic. The Cara swimsuit suits in the lap swimmer contemporary section, which appears to be for women wanting to dip their toe into triathlon training but who prefer the comfort of a more well fitting swimsuit than some of the skimpier ‘race’ swimsuits out there, which can leave many women worrying about how they’re even going to walk to the poolside let alone swim.

So, what did we think?

It is very flattering and super comfortable, without being too revealing at all because it doesn’t cut up high over the hips and it has a inbuilt shelf bust control for those women who need a bit more support. The adjustable straps looked fairly think and as the swim suit has a high back, we were initially worried it would feel restrictive when swimming freestyle but it didn’t impede our stroke too much.

For experienced swimmers or triathletes, the straps at the back and flattering fit might prove a bit of a hinderance and you may benefit more form their lap swimmer classic but if you’re new to triathlon or swimming, want to feel comfortable in the pool and out of it, this is a great swimsuit which would not look out of place on holiday or when training.

Available in sizes 30 – 44 SRP £43.99    www.aquasphereswim.com/uk

Join our Free Fitbitch Facebook community if you live in Brighton and Hove and would like to join our Wednesday morning ‘Adventure’ sessions, which will include 6am open water swimming, trail runs or bike rides. They’re free and you attend at your own risk, no training provided, it’s just a meet up. You can join here
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Join us starting 18th April for the big transform – Spring Shape Up

April 13, 2017 at 11:58
Posted by Rachael Woolston

At the beginning of this month, we celebrated our 8th birthday, welcoming back 42 women, of which 90% have been with us since we started which means we must be doing something right!

 

It was amazing to see what these women have achieved, many who started with Fitbitch simply wanting to lose some weight after having a baby or to feel fitter. Now, many of them are running 5km or marathons, taking part in triathlons and obstacle races, all things that they never even thought that they wanted to do back on day one, feeling terribly unfit and apprehensive about signing up and what they’d got themselves involved in.

I launched Fitbitch as a way of offering busy women a one-stop course that provides everything you need to get fit, in shape and to have fun. No having to book a yoga session at one place, a running session at another; simply pay your course fee, turn up and every session is covered, meaning that you learn more about your body and what is possible in four weeks, than you ever could with a year of trying to make it to the gym.

Simplicity is key; if the only thing you have to worry about is getting out of bed and to the seafront or the park, then success is guaranteed. There are no ifs and buts and what if it doesn’t work. It works. Two or three times per week, for a month creates guaranteed results. In fact, last month we did a five session, one week course and women lost up to four pounds. For some, it’s about weight-loss, others, getting fit or getting outside. Whatever your goal, you get there. Our courses are a financial commitment but then we aren’t like other gyms or bootcamps. We offer a lot; support, camaraderie, expert coaches, eating plans, goal setting and help with creating a healthy habit that stays with you even if you only ever do one course with us. Plus, there are only 12 women per course so you know you will get personalised support and coaching.

So, why not join us this Tuesday April 18th for the start of our next four week course at Hove Seafront or Queen’s Park? (No sessions on bank holidays). Or Lewes (Monday, Weds, Friday) starting 8th May for three weeks.

Founder of Fitbitch, Rachael will be back to take Hove seafront while Tara will be taking Queen’s Park and Amy will be taking on Lewes early morning course.

Get fit, feel fabulous and get your mojo handed to you in bucketfuls!

 

BOOK HERE



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Event Review: Bright10

October 23, 2016 at 4:12
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Wind and torrential rain greeted runners taking on the Bright10 this year. But it didn’t deter Laura Marshall who ran her first 10 mile race…

I am not  sure what persuaded me to enter the Bright10 mile race as previously, I had always set 10km as my upper distance saying I’d never run longer. A lot came down to the fact that it was not a half marathon (too big a leap from 10km in my mind), it was local which meant that I could walk to the event and the encouragement from the fellow Fitbitch community.

As the event neared and I was juggling commuting to London for work, setting up my own business and raising a toddler, I wondered how I was going to manage it. Then, the Fitbitch Learn to Run 10 miles course came along, that included trails, road, hilly and flat runs to help build mileage which also helped me keep to a plan and stay focused.

On the night before the race, I was feeling quite calm but then I awoke to the windows being thrashed with rain, and the wind whistling around the house. Not the weather conditions I really had in mind, cue the nerves. However, I stuck to my morning run plan; breakfast, running outfit,   foam rolling, and it totally helped me to calm down. And thankfully, by the time I arrived at the race start, the rain had stopped.

 

The wind had not alas, and the first two miles were hard as we ran into the wind and it gusted sideways. But then the wind dropped and the sun came out! I ran with a fellow runner which worked well as we both had someone to chat to, which was needed when supporters petered out passed Kemp Town just when you needed them on the climb up to Roedean. Having said, that the coaching tips  of “stand tall”, “shoulders back”, “small steps” and “use your arms” had been drummed into us and it helped me get up the hill.

 

At this point, I should say that it is an entirely road race and at times pretty unattractive if you looked the wrong way – coaches park one way but beautiful sea the other. But the marshals were great and cheering loudly as were the volunteers at the water stations (three in total).

As we headed west from Black Rock, I was familiar with the route and was counting down to the end. The crowds picked up again from the Pier to the finish, with one final double backing by Hove Lawns. “Sprint finish?” said Ness, my running partner. “SPRINT? I’ll go a bit faster,” was my response, although then I went a bit faster still when I saw familiar faces at the end.

It was a great race and I felt amazing to have achieved my ten mile race goal, even with poor weather. And the strangest thing is, that half marathon now doesn’t seem such a big leap!

If you wish to join our community in training for the Brighton or Worthing Half Marathon, our beginners training starts November 6th. Details here.

Race Goody Bag: Haul it or Hoard it?

Well, neither, as there wasn’t one. The medal is a beaut though and we were handed water at the end – I didn’t go for the sports drink on offer or the Clif Bar.

The Good

  • Even with the road closures, it was easy to get to and with the Race Village on Hove Lawns, nothing felt cramped.
  • Three water stations were ample.
  • I thought the double-backing would frustrate me but I enjoyed seeing familiar faces a couple of times.

The Bad

I am glad I didn’t need the toilet as those queues were huge even with a few minutes until the start time.

The Ugly

There was nothing ugly. The day before, someone did mention to me that they no longer to pay to run in their home town/city. I can see their point as a lot of this was very familiar to me but it was the mileage that was my goal.

 

 



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Event Review: Tough Mudder South, 2016

October 11, 2016 at 6:19
Posted by Rachael Woolston

When Sarah Crosier joined us to learn to run back in the summer of 2015, little did she realise that within a year she would have found the confidence to enter an extreme obstacle event. Or a 24 hour relay race, or a marathon. Here she explains what motivated her and how to build  your own confidence to take on a challenge …

tough-mudder-group

When Tough Mudder was suggested as a possible Fitbitch team event, I was reluctant; the thought of running 5 miles through woods, jumping into deep water and crawling through mud was scary enough but most terrifying, was the idea of heights as I have an irrational fear of falling.

But, I teach my 9-year-old daughter to be challenge herself; to be brave, resilient, and to have the confidence and self-esteem to try new things and break out of her comfort zone. As a parent, sometimes you need to put into practice what you say.

 

Get prepared

To get prepared mentally and physically, I joined a a two-week Fitbitch obstacle training course which took place 4 times a week 6.15 to 7am. This was my first experience of Fitbitch bootcamps as I’ve only previously done their running courses and I can’t tell you how much fun it was.

Activities included running up skatepark ramps, climbing up rope nets and sliding down a fireman’s pole in the playground, plus, beach sprints and running into the sea whilst carrying tyres or my teammates! It was like being a kid again and every day I chipped away at my fears, with the support from the rest of the Fitbitch team.

It was such a fun way of getting fit and strong, playing wheelbarrows which I’ve not done for 35 years and building our team bonding all against the most amazing beautiful sunrises.

By the end of the training camp, our team all had different levels of fitness and skills – some were proficient runners, some were athletic and strong and others were just really fantastic team players who boosted all our egos and morale all the way round the race.tough-mud

Talk about your fears

Those that attended the obstacle bootcamp were already pretty open about their fears, and after practicing climbing ropes and getting fully submerged under water with the support from the rest of the team, I think we were as prepared as we were ever going to be.

We also had an events page within the Fitbitch Facebook group (free to join) to plan what to wear (Capri pants, trainers, FB tshirts and plaits), arrange travel plans and most importantly discuss what we were worried about. I personally felt quite comforted that I wasn’t the only one getting nervous 24 hours before the event!

 

Do your best

We didn’t all know each other when we got to the start line but we soon did on race day! There was a lot of bottom pushing to get each other over the obstacles and while we all ran at slightly different speeds, everyone waited at the obstacles to help each other out. No one in a purple t-shirt was left behind – and we even picked up a straggler who lost her friends, on our way.

The most challenging obstacle for me was the Berlin wall which was 3-metres-high. The moment I saw it, I said I couldn’t and wouldn’t climb over it. Another member of the group did the same and then at the last minute changed her mind. So of course, I had to try. With the help of 2 women pushing my feet up, I was able to get high enough to straddle the wall and slowly release myself down the other side.

team

Have fun

The funniest moment was the final obstacle, Everest, a 15 foot ramp coated in mud and grease which sloped back out at the top like a snowboard halfpipe. My legs were  tired and I was cold having been in and out of water but after four tries, I finally managed to sprint to the top and grab the hands of my teammates, only to realise I couldn’t get my leg up. With the help of four team mates who dragged me up while we laughed hysterically, I was finally pulled to safety.

And don’t look down

So did my daughter and I fail our challenges? Well, I missed one Berlin wall out (there were two) and my nine-year-old was short of a few votes so didn’t get into school council this year. But we’ve learned so much from our experiences, feel a great sense of achievement and am ready to take on more challenges.

I’m even tempted (and maybe this was a mistake to put this in writing) to do a full Tough Mudder…. but only if I have my great Fitbitch team mates by my side. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it half as much without them.

Review in Brief: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The good

Friendly event where everyone helps each other out. Time is irrelevant. Face your fears in a safe environment.

8am first wave was ideal. Clean toilets. No queues at obstacles. Not too slippery and muddy.

The bad

Warm cider at 10.20 in the morning? I think my head hurt more than my bruises.

The ugly

Not enough Tough mudder event crew en route. A guy had fallen by a ditch in the woods. It took 10 minutes to get the crew to him.

Season Tickets for Tough Mudder 2017 events are now available online.

If you are interested in training with us for any of our Dream Challenges this year or in 2017 email us or join our Facebook group here.

 



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Race Review: Beat the Tide 10km

August 12, 2016 at 5:18
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Fancy a race that uses nature to give the event a clever twist? Fitbitch runner, Andrea Childs reports on a 10km where you battle the incoming tide for the finish line…

Sandy sprints

Sandy sprints

 

A total of six Fitbitches travelled to Worthing for this year’s Beat the Tide, an annual 10k race organised by Sussex Trail Events (www.sussextrailevents.com). It’s a one-of-a-kind event for anyone who knows the pebbly beaches of the South Coast. At this time of the year, the tide goes out far enough to reveal some rarely seen sand, a wide enough strip to run along and indulge your wildest Baywatch Babe fantasies. Unfortunately, having arrived late for the 7pm start, the Fitbitch crew were less Pamela Anderson, looking California tanned in an orange swimsuit; more sweaty, stressed Brightonians in our trademark purple running tops.

It had all started so well. Facebook race page posted in the Fitbitch runners group (we have these for all events, to help keep track of which Fitbitches are taking part which helps motivate you to get involved too – you can join HERE). Lifts organised (that’s the beauty of running as part of a community; there’s always someone to share a ride with). Sun shining (okay, we didn’t organise that bit, but it’s always a good omen for a race). And then we set out for the roughly 14-mile drive along the coast from Brighton to Worthing.

The journey usually takes around 35 minutes. On that evening, a combination of rush-hour congestion and a traffic accident meant that despite setting off before 6pm, one car arrived at 7.05pm and the other at 7.25pm. Fortunately for the first car, the organisers had realised the traffic was a problem and had delayed the start by a few minutes, meaning that at least two of us began the race on time. When they finally arrived, the remaining four Fitbitches were warmly welcomed and allowed to start the race half an hour late, following the footprints in the sand left by the other Beat the Tide runners. The organisers even called the marshalls along the course to let them know they were coming. Fortunately, they managed to catch up with the tail-enders before too long.

The race itself couldn’t have been better – a straight dash along the beach and then coastal path from Worthing to Widewater Lagoon in Shoreham, and back again, with only a short sandy beach sprint to join the two sections. Along the way, children cheered from the groynes, kite surfers skitted along the surf and marshalls handed out drinks (there were two stations) and jelly sweets. The atmosphere was fun and friendly, with lots of local club runners taking part, plus a couple dressed (I think) as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. And because, as the race marketing says, we were ‘racing against nature’ – the incoming tide – there was a cutoff of two and a half hours for participants, although none of us found ourselves paddling to the finish. One of the Fitbitches placed third woman. And as our last runner approached the line, the sun setting behind her, the rest of the crew ran down to support her over the last few metres as she finished her first 10k race and was handed her medal (there was one for every finisher). We’ll definitely be back next year. We’ll just leave longer to get there next time.

Being part of a running community helps keep you motivated and inspired - plus there's always someone to share a post race celebratory cocktail

Being part of a running community helps keep you motivated and inspired – plus there’s always someone to share a post race celebratory cocktail

IMG_5162

Review in Brief: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The good

A chance to shun the pebbles and run along a sandy beach. Fantastic welcome from the race organisers, despite our late arrival.

The bad

The headwind was great for kitesurfers but not so much for runners. And be aware that there are no toilets provided.

The ugly

The traffic. Maybe we can cycle to the start next year?

If you would like to join our running community, sign up for our newsletter for details of all our Autumn Winter courses, as well as community races and Girls Run the World trips to races around the world.

 

 



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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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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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New Shoes & kit from Brooks Running

June 25, 2016 at 12:30
Posted by Rachael Woolston

A few weeks ago, I was invited to view the upcoming new shoe launches from Brooks Running – and there are some interesting new running shoes in the range. Pick of my favourites was the Hyperion, £90, their lightest and fastest road shoe. It has a stretch woven upper for a seamless sock-like fit and so I’m intrigued about trying it for triathlon as it should mean I can move straight from bike to running keeping transition to a minimum. It also looks fantastic. It is not a shoe for a beginner though as it relies on you being biomechanically strong. Or at least over a short distance. I’d use these for 5km and 10kms but no  more. Not that they can’t be used for longer distances but you’d need to be a stronger runner than I.

 

Hyperion

Hyperion

 

Their big new launch is the Neuro, £115, which looks like very chunky and yet when you pick it up, it feels as light as anything. Aimed at those who want to run fast, the ‘pods’ on the sole are aimed at promoting neurological feedback so that the body adapts and creates improved biomechanics while also creating rapid energy return. It also has a hammock system that helps to wrap the underfoot to help better foot alignment. It looks kind of funky and sounds good in theory but the jury is out until I review them.

 

Neuro, second down

Neuro, second down

On the clothes side of things, I am a HUGE fan of their LSD Running Jackets, £49. These are absolute genius pieces of kit and I think EVERY female runner should have one. They are super light-weight, windproof and water resistant. Best of all, they pack away into the pocket and you can wear it round your arm. They are invaluable for taking on runs where you don’t know what the weather is going to do and even better for race start lines. I’ve worn it to loads of races and then tied round my arm and been completely unbothered by it, it’s so lightweight. It is one of the best pieces of kit that I own and they’ve no launched it in more funky colours.

And my other firm (excuse the pun) favourite is the Moving Comfort Rebound Racer, from £34, a fantastic running bra that keeps you feeling secure and goes up to a DD cup. it has front adjustable straps as well a a hook and eye back and looks good too.

Moving Comfort, Rebound Racer

Moving Comfort, Rebound Racer



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Event Review: The Weakest Link

May 24, 2016 at 6:02
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Although some people might be put off by the name of this event, it is one of the most inclusive and fun running events in Brighton. Great for building team morale and suitable for all levels of runners from total beginners to the super speedy.  Here one of our runners, Sarah Crosier gives us her lowdown on the event

What is it: A relay race comprising of four team members. Each member takes it in turn to run 2.5km and then the entire team must run a final 2.5km together, ensuring that the whole team finishes together.

The Route: it is only 2.5km but this does involve some hills – don’t let it put you off though. It’s great fun and everyone is running different speeds so you never get left feeling like your the slowest runner.

The Weakest Link in June 2015, was the first event that I ever took part in with Fitbitch. More a “team event” than a “race”, there were a few super speedy runners from athletic clubs ‘in it to win it,’  but my aim ‘in it to finish it”. On entering, I’d done a few sessions of the Fitbitch hill training, Run for the Hills course but didn’t know anyone and was really new to running but Fitbitch organised all the teams and I found myself as part of a team a few other runners.

Before the day, we agreed that Karen would run the fourth lap as she was our strongest runner. It meant that she would have to run her 2.5km and then carry on running with the team without a break to finish. I’m always nervous on race days, and so I asked to go 2nd to get it out of the way. It also meant that I’d have someone to follow so I wouldn’t go the wrong way like one of our runners ended up doing!

There was a fantastic atmosphere with about 20 Fitbitches and runners from all the local running clubs – while there was racing it was also great for meeting people as there was lots of standing around cheering others while waiting for your chance to run. Plus, the distance is so achievable and it is so informal, it is very relaxed. Some people were even walking up the hills – not me, of course!

Our team was  close to being last (or maybe we were?) but it really didn’t matter. We ran the final lap together and received a massive cheer from everyone as we crossed the finish line. I can’t wait to take part again this year. It’s great fun.

Want to join one of our teams this year? join our online running Facebook group and comment there. The Weakest Link takes place on Weds evening June 22nd. If you don’t fancy this event but would like to join us in training for others please join our Facebook group.

We will be offering a hill training course which would help you run this race, Run for the Hills, (please note this course does not run on the night of the Weakest Link or the Phoenix 10km) as well as helping anyone who is doing any trail events this year.



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The FlipBelt, £25

May 7, 2015 at 2:01
Posted by Rachael Woolston

There are few things more annoying than a jingling bunch of keys bouncing  in your pocket when you run. And who EVER manages one of those arm bands which are meant to hold your phone? Here we put the FlipBelt to the test…

 

HotPink_StartRun

Forget the need for zips, this wide piece of elastic sweat-wicking fabric has slits in one side. Slide any objects that you want to carry though the holes and then flip the belt over to keep them safe.

It also includes a key chain so that you can attach them to give you total piece of mind that they won’t somehow jiggle free. So, how did it perform?

I’d been wary of this not sitting properly and moving up and down lots but this was completely secure, even though I managed to squeeze in my IPhone 6 encased in a Survivor case, making it even more bulky. Best of all, it’s so comfortable because it sits around the hips not on the waist for a ‘barely there’ feel.

But how does it fare in races?

I wore this for the London Marathon, but it was a last minute decision as The FlipBelt does not have specific loops or a place for sports gels and so I’d bought a typical waist belt variety.

But one of my friends on the start line showed me how she’d threaded her gels into the openings and just hadn’t flipped it so she could gain access easily as she ran.

‘Don’t they fall out?’ I was dubious but I decided to give it a try, committing the cardinal sin of running 26.2 miles with untested gear (then again, I’d not used gels either but that is for another blog post).

I am so glad I did, because it was brilliant. It was so comfortable, there was no chafing and accessing the gels was easy. The only troublesome part is having to move the belt from back to front to get into the other access points but this was a small price to pay.

I’m now a total convert to this belt. Not only is it functional and performs well in race situations, it comes in a range of colours and looks more like a funky waistband of your clothing than a geeky running belt.

Available from www.theflipbelt.co.uk

All-Belts-Layed-Out



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Should runners eat fat or carbohydrates?

February 25, 2015 at 4:18
Posted by Rachael Woolston

For years, nutrition for sports has always emphasised carbohydrates. But could a high fat diet also be good for performance?

In the last few years, the diet world has undergone a seismic shift which is only now just beginning to filter down from the dietetic world to everyone else. This is mainly that the emphasis on eating low fat foods as the best way to lose weight has been essentially wrong.

Why? Because it has meant that people rely on low fat foods, which are often packed with sugar, and have a diet heavy on carbohydrates, which when not used up, are stored as fat. Ergo, a worldwide obesity crisis.

Now this same shift is being felt in the sports world, where for decades, the belief has been that you should fuel performance with carbohydrates.

A  huge sports nutrition industry is built upon it with the global sports drinks market estimated to be worth 52 billion dollars by 2016. With this much at stake, doubtless we may be about to experience an onslaught of studies attempting to ridicule the fat as fuel debate, with companies such as Gatorade, owned by Pepsi, or Lucozade, owned by GlaxoSmithKline, perhaps weighing in on the debate.

But the debate is hotting up as more and more athletes and exercise scientists begin to investigate using fat as fuel. A few weeks ago, a documentary funded by a Kickstarter campaign, Run on Fat, was released in the UK.  And just last week, the American Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee released advice which appeared to suggest that cutting back on starchy carbohydrates and consuming more fats and fat-rich foods improves metabolic health.

But what of the actual benefits for runners and cyclists, outside of better health?

An article by The European Journal of Sport Science published last year noted that even the leanest marathon runner has ‘in excess of 30,000 kilocalories’ in fat reserves. To put this is context, this is GREATER than the maximum amount of carbohydrates the body can store.

In other words, we carry enough fuel in the form of body fat to get us through not just one marathon, but MULTIPLE marathons.

The difference however is that carbohydrates, stored in the body in the form of glycogen, are easy to access. It provides a fast sugar buzz that both physically, and psychologically, make you feel as if you are getting the fuel you need.

Fat however, must be broken down into fatty acids before it can be used by the muscles.

Exercise scientists have already established that endurance training, favoured by marathon runners, enduro MTB riders and triathletes, enables athletes to better use fat as fuel. But can you train an athlete to rely almost exclusively on fat by removing carbohydrates?

This is the question that exercise scientist, Jeff Volek, has been studying at the Department of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University in Columbus, the results of which will be released this summer.

‘Early humans, hunter gatherers were quite physically active and primarily ate fat,’ he explains.  ‘It’s been the main fuel for active humans far longer than carbohydrates.’

According to Volek, the ideal high fat diet for sports performance would consist of 85% fat and almost no carbohydrates.

This would lead to a condition known as ketosis, whereby the body creates molecules called ketones, that result in the breakdown of fat into fatty acids. The body is then able to burn these as fuel. An added benefit is that ketones are also believed to help in the reduction of inflammation.

As of yet, no study has actually proven that a high fat diet will enhance sports performance, only that it enables endurance athletes to better use fat as fuel.

It also results in weight loss, applicable for both athletes and the general populace who seek to drop the weight for performance or life reasons.

For many recreational marathon runners, let alone general exercisers, the lesson to take home from this is DON’T consume so many (or any, if you are a general exerciser) sports drinks or gels. The more you do so, the LESS efficient your body will become at burning fat as fuel.

As for the serious athlete? It is up to you to investigate for yourself and what works for you.

With two marathons and a coast to coast event to train for this year, I have been experimenting and will continue to do so all year. I have NEVER used gels or sports drinks but have used jelly sweets to fuel long endurance runs. I’ve already begun to experiment with fuelling by nuts alone but there is a long way to go yet.

You can follow this experiment at my alternative blog www.rachaelrunstheworld.com 

How do YOU fuel your long marathon runs? Carbs or fat?



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Win a JoggBox

February 12, 2015 at 6:30
Posted by Rachael Woolston

If you’re ever short on gift ideas for the running buddy in your life, this new running goodies delivery service is a great idea..

Win a JoggBox

I don’t know about you but I LOVE getting treats through the post almost more than something gift-wrapped. It’s the surprise element that is the best of all.

And so we think this is a neat idea if you have a running buddy or partner in your life.

Each box contains a selection of goodies perfect for the runner in your life, and these change month by month, often showcasing new products from nutrition and sports companies.

Think Raw Carrot and Cinnamon Muesli from Primrose Kitchen, Foot Rubz, a massage ball for runner’s feet, Almond Butter, Energy Gels and more.

The box we received is definitely more suitable for endurance runners (you’d end up the size of a house if you used all the energy gels running 5kms!) and we’d hope that as this service gains popularity there are a few less sports gels.  But if they iron out these problems this is a great idea.

Subscriptions start from £15 plus P&P per month or you can pay a one-off £20 for a gift-wrapped box. For more details visit www.joggbox.com

Want to get your hands (and feet!) on one? Subscribe to our running newsletter by inputting your name at our run club website for EXCLUSIVE offers and prize draws.



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#ThisGirlCan

January 22, 2015 at 7:32
Posted by Rachael Woolston

If you haven’t seen Sport England’s campaign, This Girl Can, where have you been?! Now almost a week old, it is the comments on YouTube and national newspaper editorial that has been more revealing than anything else… 

Since we launched Fitbitch over five years ago, we have been championing women in sport, encouraging those who have come to us to get fit and to lose weight to focus on a goal, whether a 5km Parkrun, a triathlon, obstacle race or even a marathon.

Niney-five percent of those who start with us say; ‘Oh, I’m not one of those sporty women,’ or ‘I’ve always been rubbish at sport,’ I can’t run/bike,’ and variations on that theme. An equal number admit that one of the major draws of Fitbitch is the fact that it means they can exercise in the morning when no one can see them because they feel so self conscious.

Of course, this is not every woman’s experience. Me? I’ve never had a problem with playing sport, even going up against the opposite sex. Sweat, jiggle, grimace? I don’t care because I’m so used to playing sport it is as natural a part of my make-up as playing football is for many men.

But I am in a minority. And hopefully not for long.

Over two thirds of the women who start with us have gone on to ‘compete’ (sharp intake of breath, can we say that women like to compete?!) in a huge range of events and loved it.

So, we salute Sport England’s campaign for hopefully encouraging lots of more women to do the same. With their campaign, they have tapped into how most women in the UK feel when it comes to sport and exercise in general. To show them that women of all shapes and sizes can play sport and enjoy it, is inspiring. And sport truly does have the incredible ability to empower.

Yet, the extent to which there is a disconnect between this reality for women and men has been highlighted in the comments on the Youtube video right through to national newspaper editorial.

Two days ago, The Times columnist Kevin Maher had this to say.

‘The genuine ideological crisis at the heart of this campaign is the suggestion that sport will offer you a gateway out of yourself and transform you wholly as a person. This is simply not true. Sport is good, I play sport. But I am still me when I play it.’

This is because playing sport is a given for men. From the school playground, right the way through to adulthood, playing sport is just another form of socialising, like going to the pub. For the majority of men, they are so used to the transformative effect of sport and exercise they no longer even register it.

But for so many women, who may have stopped exercising, let alone playing any form of sport when they were girls, the power of sport to transform how they feel about their body, confidence, and self worth is huge.

Sport and exercise is truly liberating. And the fact that so many men can’t even understand the need for this campaign speaks volumes.

 



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