Always fancied the idea of a triathlon but too scared of the bike bit? These great events at Pells Pool are the answer. A friendly outdoor swim and run and a short distance so you get to experience the thrill of a triathlon in a supportive environment without…well, the really hard bit! Part of our Fitbitch Challenges.
September 13, 2015 at 9:00
Posted by Rachael Woolston
Join the Fitbitch running crew at Firle for this beautiful 10km off road event round the village of Firle, up on to the Downs and back to the finish line…just moments away from The Ram Inn, should you fancy a celebratory roast and bubbly!
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.
As we slide slowly towards September, we tested the revamped PUREGRIT trail shoes to see if they would help us keep our grip on the off road trails…
Last season’s PUREGRIT trail shoes were a bit of a disappointment. With little tread, they proved to be handy only as a cross shoe between road and minimal dusty trails. Throw a bit of mud and water in, of which there was A LOT last winter season, and they were a slippy choice. Thankfully, Brooks have addressed the issue and the PUREGRIT for AW14-15 are fantastic.
I tested these on a range of trails from the dusty, rock-strewn to the muddy, river side path and I felt sure footed on all.
The only downside was running on a muddy clay surface one Sunday where the mud became packed between the treads, making my feet as heavy as clogs. But checking with the rest of our run clubbers that day, all who were wearing different trail shoes, this was the same with everyone’s shoes.
A few other characteristics of the PUREGRIT worth mentioning includes a rounded heel, designed to help a heel striker roll more quickly forward through the foot. A bit unnecessary on the trail when your biomechanics tend to change as you run up and down hill, but it could be useful for those who use one shoe between trail and road.
And this points to another benefit, which is this shoe can be comfortably worn on trails and on road surfaces without you feeling as if you’re running in studs. It is also a light shoe, weighing in at 145g compared to the women’s Adrenaline ASR GTX at 281g. And THAT makes a difference on a trail marathon, I can assure you.
It also looks good in a fantastic cherry tomato red and buttercup for this season.
While I personally would still choose a more grippy shoe for extreme trails that I tend to run on in the depths of winter, (and we’re talking Lake District and North Wales here) the Brooks PUREGRIT would do the job for most trail runners.
February 17, 2014 at 2:43
Posted by Rachael Woolston
You may have read a million and one articles about how to prepare for a race but the best way of knowing what to do, and what NOT to, is from those who have just finished a race. Congratulations to our first and many-time runners of the Brighton Half Marathon, and here’s THEIR tips from the frontline…
‘This is the first race where I haven’t been sick, had to rush to the toilet or be helped to my room after the race feeling ill. The reason? I finally got my race nutrition right.
I had a small amount of porridge two hours before, avoided all sports drinks and stuck to a few sips of water at each refreshment table, plus jelly babies after one hour.
Plus, I paced myself instead of going off like a bullet and getting carried away by the excitement of it all. I slowed every time my pace went over what I am used to and stuck to my own race. ‘ Lisa Burstow
What we say:Nutrition wise, you really DON’T need to carbload for a half marathon contrary to popular expectation. Your body holds 90mins of fuel in the muscles, which for most people is most of their race time. It therefore stands to reason that lots of sugary sports drinks may hinder rather than help a recreational runner’s race experience. But it is alo a case of experimenting with what works for YOU.
‘My eight half marathon and my most comfortable to date. I ran at all times without ‘puffing’, smiled the entire time & high fived everyone with their hands out, and mentally broke each section down in my head. I’ve only got a park run to go, I’ve swum pier to pier so I can easily run this.
Another change to my usual route was NOT listening to music. It meant I stayed focused, and although I finished a minute off my personal best, this was my best race to date. I ENJOYED it.’ Tanya Taylor
What we say: Over 50% of successful racing is mental strategy. You may have done all the training in the world but if your mental strength crumbles, you can feel like you’ve never run before.
Breaking down a race into managable chunks, rather than thinking, ‘Oh no, I’ve still got ten miles to run,’ makes each step seem achievable. And while we know many of our runners enjoy listening to music, when it comes to race time, it’s good to be in touch with your body and surroundings. It will help keep you focused.
Focus on technique
‘It was my first ever half marathon and didn’t know what to expect and was very nervous. But I focused on positive thoughts: the weather is perfect, just enjoy it and I kept reminding myself of just how far I’d come since I started training.
I also concentrated on everything I have learned in training, good posture, and keeping to the correct pace for my race which I checked at each kilometre interval. Most of all, I felt confident after all my training and I kept repeating a mantra, ‘You can do it, keep moving that ass, girl.’ I loved it.’ Irene Maluda
What we say:Having a clear idea of your race strategy can make for a stress-free experience. You know what you’ve got to do, you stay focused, and this puts you in control. Result? Less stress, more enjoyment.
Gallop out of the starting blocks
‘I learned that if you run too fast at the start it can ruin your race. My legs literally ran out of energy after 5 miles!
Considering, I’ve been running more than 5 miles on a regular basis it was a shock. I know this is what everyone says NOT to do but I felt it 1st hand today, and I just got swept away with the fun and excitment of the race. Plus, I entered the wrong starting pen so everyone was running faster pace than I’d planned.’ Jan Dupree
What we say: Going off too fast is one of the most common mistakes that those new to racing tend to do. It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement, and at the beginning your legs can feel good. But trust your training and the experience you have built up over your training as to what pace you should run. If you’ve not run 7min miles in training, you WILL hit the wall if you try it. This is why having a training watch, is really useful. Training watches are not just for the pros. And yes, we’ve done it too.
Allow boredom to take hold
‘My first half too and I loved it. I felt confident because I knew our Sunday runs were over and above what we needed in order to achieve the half marathon.
But I have speed issues with hills and boredom and my pace dropped whenever I got to a long boring stretch or a hill.
As soon as there were only 3miles left (a Parkrun distance), I put my head down, started breathing properly and had a mantra ‘one foot in front of the other‘) and I was over the finish line, even with a little sprint.‘ Caroline Kotze
What we say: Boredom and difficulty with hills are something that we all face but it is the mental approach that makes the difference between it affecting your race and not. (Or booking up to a Girls Run the World trip so the route is new and fresh!).
Break down each montonous section into a technique workshop. For the first one kilometre, I’m going to focus on swinging my arms correctly. On the second section, I’m going to think about how my foot lands underneath me and so on. It can help prevent the boredom and speed up time.
Forget to drink water
‘I realise I need to work on my hydration as I didn’t drink enough the day before, and then drank too much on the day and had to stop twice to go to the toilet during the race. But on the plus side, keep smiling at the crowd as they smile back and it helps push you through.’
What we say:Water, not sports drinks and gels is one of the most important, pre-race strategies, not just race day strategy. The body is made up of 70% water, so it stands to reason how vital it is for the working of the muscles, not to mention the brain. You should be aiming to hydrate well throughout the week before a race, not chugging back a bottle on the start line. Particularly on the start line…you all know how bad race line toilet queues are!
Congratulations to all our amazing runners yesterday!
If you would like to join us in training for your next race or simply learning how to run for the first time, check out our sister site www.fitbitchrunningclub.com with all the details of our courses which start this week.
February 10, 2014 at 4:18
Posted by Rachael Woolston
Whichever race you’re running, make sure you follow our essential four point checklist to ensure you feel relaxed on the start line and beyond…
Get wardrobe ready – sort our your race kit the day before, including attaching your race number and trying your top on once you’ve got the race number attached. There is nothing more annoying than not trying your shirt, only to discover that your race number rubs uncomfortably or sits comfortably across your chest (particularly if you’re a woman!)
Simple Eats– don’t go off tangent and eat anything you’ve never tried before. And unless you’re running a marathon, you really don’t need to carbload. Protein such as chicken or fish with green vegetables and some slow release carbohydrates is sufficient.
Hydrate – drink 2 litres of water throughout the day. You don’t want to have to swig litres on the morning of the race.
Sleep well – get your eight hours of shut-eye. If you’re feeling nervous, just remember all the training that you’ve done running up the race. 9 times out of 10, the training will have been harder than anything you’ll do on race day so trust that you have done enough.
Morning of the race
Rise and shine breakfast – stick to what food works for you and when to eat it. Just because a magazine may advise eating two hours beforehand, if you know you can eat an hour before, do that.
Arrive early – with an hour to spare. This way you won’t add to the stress of a race by arriving late and not having time to go to the toilet or warm up.
Warm up – so often we’ll hear people say, ‘I don’t want to warm up in case I run out of energy. ‘ You won’t. Warming up is essential to help get oxygenated blood round your body and to help your body feel ready
Recycle – take an old jumper or even a bin liner and wear this to the start line. It will keep you warm and then you can throw it away when you start.
Stick to your pace – when you cross that line, most runners get carried away and race off. Don’t get caught up in the excitement.
Weave and dodge – the start of any race is hectic and you will have to dodge around people which uses up more energy but it is inevitable. Practise beforehand so you know what to expect.
Drink up – even if it’s cold you will need to keep hydrated. Stop at refreshment tables and drink because running and drinking is a skill that is hard to accomplish. And always head to the end of the refreshment table, not the front where it’s really busy.
Pit stop toilet – your mind will play tricks on you and tell you you need to go to the toilet even if you don’t. Run on for five minutes and then if you really need to go, stop.
Hurrah! Celebrate your achievement but make sure you get something warm on first, and take off any sweaty undergarments which will suck your body heat away in five minutes and leave you shivering.
Stretch and foam roll when you can. You’ll be grateful that you did the following morning.
Recovery window – try something like a chocolate milkshake in the first 30minutes of finishing. The glucose will replace lost glycogen while the protein of the milk will help your muscles recover.
Drink a beer – it’s the fitbitch way!
Arrangements for Fitibitch warm up at the Brighton Half Marathon
Meet Rachael at the entrance to Yellowave at 8.30am for a warm up.
Make sure you have already dropped your bag BEFORE meeting. The warm up will be 15mins which will give you plenty of time to head to your start pen. Finish the race and come and celebrate with a coffee and a stretch at Yellowave.
February 7, 2014 at 4:41
Posted by Rachael Woolston
Stay relaxed on the start line – run happy
Worried about not getting your race target or worse, not even finishing? The key to success and running happy on race day is all in the mind…
Don’t worry, we’re not about to get all Uri Geller on you. BUT paying attention to how you prepare mentally for a race, is just as important as your physical training and what you eat the morning of the race.
‘Negative thinking is natural, and the only difference between those with winning behaviour, is how you nullify it so it doesn’t preoccupy you,’ explains Yehuda Shinar, Think Like a Winner, £12.99 (Vermillion), who worked with the England Rugby team to help them to a World Cup victory in 2003.
Shinar recommends: ‘In the case of running, each distance has its own set of rules about how you should train, and another set that each person will learn through their own individual training.
‘Focus on these rules and write a goal plan, detailing what you are going to do at each stage of the race.’
By writing a plan, you can be prepared in advance for every eventuality to help prevent anxiety.
And when it comes to the pressure of trying to achieve your race goal, overcome this by preparing three race goals.
One is a time that you should be able to get without too much trouble, another a time that you know you can get, like a recent PB and the third, your ideal, dream goal.
Every mile or so, readjust according to these targets and how well you feel like you are runinng.
With this tactic, you are more likely to stay relaxed because you have prepared and have control over the outcome
So, whether you’re running the Brighton Half Marathon in a week’s time, the marathon in April, or even your first ever Parkrun, take time out to prepare mentally and you’ll run happy.
October 23, 2013 at 1:46
Posted by Rachael Woolston
Congratulations to all our run club members who ran the Amsterdam Half Marathon last weekend.
It just goes to show the difference that training with a group of like minded women can have on your running. Over 7 of our runners got personal bests.
And of course, the difference that going abroad for a race in a group can have on the post run celebrations!
Our 3-4 day weekend wasn’t just about the running though. We packed in everything from visiting the Van Gogh mueseum to cycling the canals of Amsterdam, and from sipping cocktails at the SkyLounge at the Doubletree Hilton to sampling the spectacular Spa Zuiver the perfect race recovery (complete with a Mojito mid spa treatment!).
Not to mention our incredible post run celebration meal at the very special AS Restaurant. No menus, just food sourced locally on the day.
Think smoked cod on pickled red cabbage, perch with wild mushrooms and creamy potato and lamb stew, not to mention a delicious vanilla bean pannacotta.
Now THAT’S what we call a Girls Run the World trip.
October 9, 2013 at 2:55
Posted by Rachael Woolston
Great medal for the race bling collection
London in the autumn, sunshine, blue skies, incredible support and a fast course…what more could you ask for in a half marathon?
This is the second year in a row that the Fitbitch Run Club have ran this well organised London half marathon, a fantastic subsitute for runners who want the unique experience of running past London’s iconic landmarks, from Big Ben to Buckingham Palace, without having to do the marathon.
By far the best thing about this race is the fantastic, beautiful scenery, and the support. The worst? The queues for toilets, goodie bags and foods.
Read on for our insider tips on how to avoid the crush so you get to the enjoy all the very best bits of the event without the downsides.
The Run Insider
Avoid pre-race toilet queues by using the Lido Bar & Kitchen. Post race, the toilets are not too bad.
Goodie bags: you have to queue for them. Don’t bother. It is just an odd assortment of dried fruit, nuts, & cereal.
Post run food: the RP have some of the best food stalls post race of any event we’ve ever been to. But the queues on a sunny day are ridiculous. Take your own picnic or book somewhere nice for a slap up lunch
Boiling hot day? Take your swimmers and enjoy a refreshing post race recovery dip in the Serpentine Lido
Don’t even bother trying to get into a starting pen that is not stated on your race bib. It is strictly controlled up front.
Royal Parks Half Marathon will be held on 12th October 2014. Register for the race ballot here
Fitbitch stretching after run club – a novel approach
If, like us, you hate exercising indoors or you get bored easily with traditional workouts, try a playground workout. It’s free, fun and really does work the body.
All you have to do is use the playground like a circuit conditioning class, with one minute of skipping between each piece of equipment.
Climb the climbing frame from top to bottom for ten repetitions, tuck your feet under the slide for assisted sit ups, hold a swing and walk back from it until your body is at a 45 degree angle (face the swing) and keeping your core engaged, do pull ups.
There are hundreds of exercises that you can make up in a playground and even if you lack inspiration, just watch the kids and copy them!
We are giving away one FREE four week camp starting September 9th in our Brighton and Hove Locations (London, we’re coming for you SOON! Pre-register your interest for our London launch here to the woman that posts to our Facebook page or emails firstname.lastname@example.org the best picture of the use of a playground as exercise.*
Terms and conditions apply. Closing date September 6th
For playground inspiration, we will soon be showcasing videos on our YouTube channel Fitbitch Boot Camp.
Got a long, Sunday run planned? Then keep yourself going with the thought of this delicious brunch as your reward. It doesn’t just taste fantastic but it also provides the perfect recovery with protein and carbohydrates. Great for after a weights session too.
In commas, we have added some alternatives to some of the ingredients to decrease the fat content.
Ingredients for six people
25 g/2 tablespoons butter (or use vegetable stock to saute vegetables)
1 garlic clove, crushed
125 g/4 oz. smoked ham,chopped
225 g/8 oz. mushrooms, diced
2 hot green chillies, finely chopped
225 ml/1 cup sour cream (or no fat Greek yoghurt)
2 teaspoons dried parsley (or fresh)
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano (or fresh)
200 g/2 cups grated mature / sharp cheddar (use a sprinkling of parmesan instead)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wholegrain toast, rubbed with a garlic clove, to serve
hot sauce, to serve
6 individual ovenproof ramekins
1. Preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F) Gas 5.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and fry the garlic and ham for about 2 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the mushrooms and chillies and continue to cook for about 5–10 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown and the chillies begin to soften. (Or saute all this in vegetable stock).
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream or yoghurt, parsley and oregano. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture equally between the ramekins and let stand for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to blend.
4. Make a shallow hollow in each mixture and carefully break an egg into each. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20–25 minutes or until the egg whites have set. Remove the ramekins from the oven and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
5. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes. Serve with garlicky toast and a bottle of hot sauce to splash on the eggs.
The Red Hot Chilli Cookbook, by Dan May, available on Amazon.co.uk, £16.99