Posts Tagged ‘running tips’

Kathrine Switzer launches #Club261

November 11, 2014 at 6:44
Posted by Rachael Woolston

If there is one woman who has done more to blaze the trail for women’s running it’s Kathrine Switzer


Imagine a time when, as a a woman, you would be denied entry to running a marathon. Or you were told that you shouldn’t run it because you might grow a moustache or your ovaries would shrivel up.

That is exactly what Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, was told when she ran it back in 1967.

She and the number she wore, 261, has since became famous after photographs of a race official trying to push her off the course were broadcast around the world.

‘I was only in my twenties and it was terrifying,’ she admits as I joined her and just five other running coaches in Europe at the launch of her new #club261 initiative. ‘I thought it was the worst thing that had ever happened in my life.

‘But it ended up becoming one of the best things to happen to me in my life.’

The race official tried to remove Kathrine, who was just 20 at the time, just two miles into the race.

‘It was awful, I was terrified and I was mad. But I had 24 miles more to run and I couldn’t stay mad,’ she explains. ‘I told my coach that I was going to finish the race ben if I had to crawl on my hands and knees.

‘And as ran, I thought ‘what would change the system?’. The answer was to create more opportunities for women in sport.’

Fast forward to 2014, and the percentage of runners in the US who are women is a staggering 56%.

This is in part due to the initiatives that Kathrine took, helping to launch the Avon International Running Circuit of womens events reaching over a million women in 27 countries.

Now aged 67, Kathrine is not content to sit back and think that enough has been done for women’s sport and mass participation. Because it hasn’t.

Setting aside the basic freedom of women and girls who can not even participate in sports in countries like Iran and the Middle East, even in Europe, women’s running is not quite there yet.

In Spain for instance, where Kathrine has spearheaded the first women’s only marathon, 261 Women’s Marathon and 10k, only 18% of women participate in races.

With the Fitbitch Girls Run the World brand, we have seen evidence of this, most notably in Paris, Lake Garda, and Mumbai, where we were often the only women’s group racing.

But Kathrine has not stopped here. Her commitment is to get more girls and women running full stop.

‘I want to reach women all over the world through running,’ explains Kathrine. ‘The number I wore in Boston, 461,  has come to represent women feeling fearless in the face of adversity.

‘We aim to use movement to globally communicate empowerment and fearlessness to women and connect them to each other.’

To this aim, Kathrine is launching a global network of girls and women’s running communities, #club261, – Fearless. It’s aim? To help more girls and women learn to run, as well as communicate with female runners all over the world via online forums.

A mission after our own heart, we at Girls Run the World and Fitbitch Run Club will be getting involved in this new initiative, helping spread the word with courses and taking that message to women worldwide on our trips.

If you are interested in hearing more, sign up for our newsletter for more news as it develops.





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OMM Kamleika Race Jacket

November 10, 2014 at 8:36
Posted by Rachael Woolston

The race jacket

We’ve said it before and now, with the rain pounding the streets and the thought of long training runs coming up, it seems a great time to say it again…but hands down the very best running jacket you can get is the race jacket by Original Mountain Marathon.

Developed by the organisers of Snowdonia’s Original Mountain Marathon, these jackets are not cheap but they are worth every penny.

I have had the good fortune (well, perhaps running outside in the pouring rain for hours may not be seen as good fortune by some) to try out a lot of performance kit. And nothing compares to the OMM.

Any rain, from a drizzle to a downright deluge, runs off this jacket like water off a duck’s back. But more importantly, you can run and even sprint wearing this and the inside of the jacket remains bone dry rather than getting sweaty.

And that is a very, very rare property in a running jacket.

As you might expect of a company that puts on a race in the variable conditions of Snowdonia, where the elements can suddenly change in seconds, every little detail of this jacket has been brilliantly thought out.

With velcro fastenings at the cuffs to keep out the cold on the arms, a drawstring at the bottom, as well as a two way zip which means you can udo the jacket from the bottom for air circulation.

It is also made of a material that moves and stretches as you move, not like the usual polyester/nylon mix of most running jackets.

And then there is the hood.

Anyone  who exercises or runs regularly will get what I’m saying here. There is nothing more irritating than putting your jacket hood up, only to turn your head and find yourself looking at the inside of your hood.

This hood moves with you, and it doesn’t even flop over your face as you run staying perfectly in place.

The price? The jackets range from approximately £130 to £234 depending on style and colour.

Available at and

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The Wonder Ball

October 31, 2014 at 5:35
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Runner, cyclist or just workout a lot? If there is ONE piece of recovery kit you buy this is it…

While I love my Grid Foam Roller, if I had to choose one piece of recovery kit that I could not do without, it would be the massage ball.

It’s small so you can take it with you wherever you go in the world (and I have, from Mumbai to Majorca, Darjeeling to Devon). Yet despite it’s size, it works to relieve niggles and aches and pains from the obvious  – plantar fasciitis, to piriformis, tibalis anterior niggles (what would feel like shin splints to some), calf tightness, hip pain, shoulder pain and even tight hamstrings and quads.

(The trick with calf muscles is to place the ball on a book, then your calf on the ball. For your back or even piriformis, use it against a wall. And for the hamstring, sit on the ball on the chair where you have a tight spot, then straighten and lower the leg).

You might ask, why not just use a golf ball, tennis ball or even the relatively inexpensive spiky massage balls? I’ve used them all and I swear by this. It’s just different. Trust me.

The TPTherapy massage ball costs from approx £20 via

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Food for Fitness

October 1, 2014 at 8:56
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Serious about your sport whether it’s running, triathlon, biking or even skiing? Then knowing what to eat and when is vital

Did you know that sometimes eating too many carbohydrates on a race can make your crash, rather than give you energy?

This and more will be revealed in a nutritional masterclass with best selling author, Anita Bean whose best-seller, Food for Fitness explains what top sports people eat and how you can use the same strategies to take your training to the next level.

Whether you are a competitive athlete or you just enjoy working out for fitness, join Anita at a nutritional masterclass on Thursday October 16th where you will find out what is the best way to feed your body, and get the opportunity to ask her your own questions.

Anita Bean BSc R Nutr is the author of Food For Fitness and The Complete Guide to SportsNutrition. and is a registered Sports & Exercise nutritionist

Ticket details

Date: Thursday 16th October
Time: Drinks at 6pm and talk from 6.30pm until 7.45pm
Place: Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP
Cost: £10 / £6 for students, including wine (or smoothies)

Tickets are available to buy online at or on the door.


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Zen and the art of running

September 9, 2014 at 9:11
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Do you always run with music? Maybe it’s time to rethink your strategy if you want to get faster and avoid injury


Run free

Do you or don’t you?

Listening to music as you run divides runners between those who swear that they can’t run without it, and those who couldn’t imagine running with music.

Personally, I don’t listen to anything, except perhaps the ragged sound of my own breath if I’m running hard, but that’s a whole different story. Having coached hundreds of women to run in the last five years, I understand that many runners find that music helps to keep them motivated to increase their distance. But here’s why I think every runner should work towards going au natural on the trail or road.

* Injury prevention

It is only through paying attention to the sound of your footfall that you can begin to be able to become your own inner physio. One foot landing more heavily than the other? Adjust your running pattern and ensure you lift your weaker side and plant the foot with the same emphasis.

You may not be able to correct things as easily as this but being aware of your body’s movement patterns will pinpoint the signals that your body is trying to give you. Ignore it by listening to music and your body will create a louder signal. An injury.

* Hitting the sweet spot

You must have heard it said by runners all the time, and thought that you would never reach that stage. When you are no longer aware of your body huffing and puffing and that you are just in the flow.

It does happen. Really. But your mind needs to be able to drift and disconnect. And that can never happen if you are listening to music.

* Improve your speed

One of the biggest reasons most runners give about why they listen to music, is because the tempo of the music can help improve speed.  And this is true, but only up to a point.

The best ‘go faster’ trigger is your own mental strength and just like a muscle gets stronger through use, the same is true of a runner’s psyche.

Running fast or running long hurts.  There is no question of that whether you are super fit or starting out. Music does not change that. But relying on music diverts you from developing your own mental fortitude, that focus that kicks in and helps you to empty your mind of everything but the end goal.

* Avoid accidents

How many times have you seen a runner almost knocked over as they’ve got their headphones plugged in and can’t hear a car? And as the dark nights and mornings begin to roll round once more, running without being able to hear what, or who, is near you is not a good idea.

* Feel well

Ever felt sick or like you are running in a bubble,  disconnected to everyone else? This can often happen when you listening to music when you run. It disconnects you from the race, run or world around you often leading to a feeling of being travel sick. Connect with your surroundings and you may stop feeling sick and begin to enjoy running more.

* Be friendly

You can’t chat to your fellow runners if you’ve got your headphones in. You may be struggling and so you stick your headphones in to give you some focus and take your mind off your chattering mind telling you: ‘Oh, I’m the slowest. God, I shouldn’t be on this run.’ But just remember, the person you are running next to may feel exactly the same way.

Best tip to help you get over your running anxieties? Pretend you’re a running coach. Encourage the person just behind you on a group run. It works to take your mind off your own doubts.


If you want to learn to run, don’t miss our Learn to Run 5km, Learn to Run 10km and our Smash Your PB courses all starting this this week and next. Our Sunday trail runs return on Sunday 21st September. Visit for more details.

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Brooks: Equlibrium Base Layer, £60

August 9, 2013 at 4:26
Posted by Rachael Woolston


Brooks Equilbrium Base Layer, perfect for summer & autumn running


You know those jeans that you have that you only wear on good days? The skinny type that make you feel knock out on a good day, but like a trussed up sausage if you’re having a bad day?

Well, this baselayer is a little bit like those.

This top caught our eye, with it’s day-glow colours (although it is also available in black or blue) and fish-net style reminescent of 80s club wear, emblazoned with the Brooks slogan Run Happy (which we just LOVE here at Fitbitch). Refreshingly different from the usual base layers in the running world.

But both the good thing about it, is also the bad thing. It needs to be worn close to the skin, which means with nothing underneath it. Fine if you’re having a good ‘body’ day. Not so good if you’re feeling a bit bloated. I don’t think we need to draw you a picture.

All that aside though, this top IS worth it’s price tag. And we would definitely recommend it.

It is simply brilliant at being both breathable (with that many holes how could it not be?) and warm. And unlike so many other base layers, we finished a run, warm and completely dry.

There is nothing worse in the winter when you’ve finished a trail run and you’ve got to drive home only to find that your ‘breathable’ top is sodden wet and leaching out any warmth from your body, leaving you a shiivering mess.

Wear it with a breathable t-shirt or rain jacket over the top and it doesn’t matter if you’re having a bloated day (besides, it works on the principle of making you realise you need to work out harder. Or stop eating so many carbs) . And if you’re having a good day? Well, then wearing this could just give you the boost to run that PB.

Equlibrium Base Layer, £60 from Brooks




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Sweatshop concept

December 19, 2012 at 3:37
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Launch night at Trump Street


If like us, you are more likely to be found lusting after running tights than 6 denier Wolford tights, and a Garmin Forerunner than a Cartier wrist watch, then you will love  Sweatshop’s new concept store at Trump Street in London.

It launched two weeks ago and it is the ultimate destination for all things running.

In addition to the shop floor, where you can lust after the latest in runner’s chic, you canalso have a go at training with The Altitude Centre,  improve your running technique with The Running School, or undergo some treatment with the Perfect Balance Clinic.

This is definitely worth a visit, although be wary. A visit could seriously damage your bank balance.


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Race photos

November 22, 2012 at 4:57
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Performance crew at Spartan Beast

Pictures speak a thousand words. Do you heel strike, are your hands hanging limp, is your foot collapsing as you take off?

All this and more could be divulged from a race photo. So, if you ran the Brighton Brooks 10k this weekend, or any other race nationwide and want the chance to get chance  find out what your race pic says about your running email us your pic in JPeg format and you could get a personalised report from top physio, Tom Goom of Brighton’s The Physio Rooms.

Email with subject Race Photo. If chosen, you must agree to having your race pic posted on our site.


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Look good in races

November 15, 2012 at 6:08
Posted by Rachael Woolston

We have lift off – both feet off the floor

No one ever likes their race photographs. There you are, feeling pleased with  yourself for entering and completing a race, only for the race photos to hit your inbox. One quick glance is all it takes to make even the most experienced of runners feel like giving up.

In place of the lithe, springy, sleek Jaguar? A flat footed, runner with terrible posture and an unfortunate gurn. And that’s not to mention the fact that race photographs always manage to make you look like your walking.

In fact, there is a whole industry dedicated to showcasing just how bad race pictures can be (Seriously Ugly Race Pictures) but perhaps it is not surprising considering how many photographers have to snap during a typical race.

‘It can be a bit scatter gun,’ admits event photographer Kathy Archery, ( who has papped runners at events including the Brighton Marathon and Reading Half Marathon. ‘But it is possible to get a good race photograph with the right tips.’

Here’s Kathy’s top tips for ensuring you get a good race picture.

1. Smile at the photographer

‘If you engage with a photographer, you are more likely to attract their focus so that they will get a more decent photograph. Besides, smiling means you are less likely to be caught with runner’s jowls.’

2. Dress well

‘Wear tight fitting tights and a top, ideally with a splash of colour,’ advises Kathy. ‘So many women runner wear baggy, cotton t-shirts in a bid to hide their body but it makes you look bigger, and draws attention to lumps and bumps.

‘Tight-fitting is much more flattering.’

3. Wear your hair back

‘ If you have long hair, tie it back in a pony tail rather than letting it blow all over your face.’

4. Work those arms

‘Don’t let the hands hang lose,’ says Kathy. ‘Pump them to propel your running, or even wave.’

5. Channel your inner Kenyan

‘Concentrate, look focused and pick your knees up and speed up to ensure good form.’

And even if your race photos are hideous, they are not wasted.

A photograph speaks a thousand words, and when it comes to your race snaps, you can read a lot about your biomechanics, posture, and technique.

Want to find out what your photograph says about your biomechanics? Email them to us at (if you are prepared to have them featured on our site) . We will choose three photographs and physio, Tom Goom of The Physio Rooms and author of excellent blog, The Running Physio will  provide his top tips on what your picture says about your running form.



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The Running Show, 24-25th November 2012

November 8, 2012 at 12:03
Posted by Rachael Woolston


Interested in all things running? Whether you want to find out the latest fashion styles (what’s wrong with admitting that you want to look good in what you’re wearing, not just how you run?) or understand more about the nitty gritty of running, you will find it all here at The Running Show.

From new launches from major shoe brands including Mizuno and Newton Running, to in depth running geekery.

Try Physio4Life’s Sweat Test, which will provide an accurate reading of the level of sodium lost during exercise and provide you with the best hydration strategy. Or book in with the world renowned Surrey Human Performance Institute who are offering sessions on maximal oxygen uptake and anaerobic threshold testing.

And best of all? The Running Show is free if you pre-register on their website


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Simple Running Tips, WildFitness

December 9, 2011 at 3:43
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Run like you skip

Ever felt tired in a run, and began to shuffle your feet? Or are you the type of runner who always feels unfit, and slothlike as others bound past like a gazelle?

The answer to improving your running technique and performance could be as simple as increasing your foot strike, according to Colin Holding, a coach with the innovative fitness company, Wild Fitness

Try this simple technique.

First, jump slowly up and down, heels coming to the floor much the same way as you may run normally. Do this for five minutes and note how it affects your posture and energy output.

Do you lean forward? Do your shoulders round? Nine times out of ten, they will.

Now, try jumping on the spot a bit faster for five minutes.

It is amazing how it affects your foot fall and how little energy is used up by actually increasing your pace. And, you are more likely to be landing on your mid foot, which means more efficient running.

FitBitch Running Coach, Rachael Woolston, is a former 400metre school champion and competes in road and adventure races. She has done workshops with Barefoot Ted, and interviewed some of the world’s formost running technique coaches including Lee Saxby.

She runs regular week long running schools for men and women. The next school starts January 30th, 6am for women only, 7am for men and women, 7pm women only. She and the rest of the FitBitch coaches are also available for one-to-one training for both men and women.

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