Posts Tagged ‘Trail running’

GRTW Get Together Race, Maverick Original Sussex

February 24, 2018 at 7:30
Posted by Rachael Woolston

To help inspire and bring the women of GRTW from the UK together, we’ve created a series of get together events some with our race partners who have provided exclusive discounts to GRTW community.

This is one of them, a beautiful off-road run in West Sussex offering a variety of distances to suit everyone. if you want to read about the maverick races, you can read our blog about their Kent race, form one of our runners, Sarah Crosier.

We will meet at the race for a warm up and the post run celebration. Wear your GRTW t-shirts to help identify yourself.

For the 15% discount, you must be subscribed to our community which you can do via our website. There is a team Girls Run the World on the entry when you enter so search for us as a team.

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Girls Run the World Get Together, Mince Pie 10 miles

December 10, 2017 at 10:15
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Most of our runners are based in Brighton and Hove where we train and coach a lot of our members. But with more GRTW communities spreading with our online training, we’ve created a series of events where we hope we can bring the community together wherever you are in the UK. And no, not all of them will just be in Brighton and Hove.
Join us in running this popular, off-road, very often muddy, and most definitely hilly 10 mile run based on the south coast in Peacehaven.
Tremendous fun, and friendly, our aim is to dress up and have fun.
Meet at Peacehaven Leisure Centre at 10.20am for fun warm up games and to check out everyone’s outfits.
This is part of our Girls Run the world Meet Up Races. You must pay for your own entry online via the race event

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GRTW Autumn-Winter Season 2017-18

September 10, 2017 at 8:30
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Enjoy beautiful running locations, off-road and one, with our qualified running coaches during our Autumn-Winter series this year. Whatever your goal, to build your fitness, find new people to run with, get faster, run longer or train for an event, we’ll help you reach your goal.


There will be 17 runs in the series (click the link below to download locations and mileage per week) which will focus on building endurance and running fitness.

The Autumn Series will focus on building strength and stamina for the Mince Pie 10 mile trail race, December 10th as well as building your base fitness for half marathons.

The Winter Series, starting 26th November (from this date there will be two distances on offer per run) will get you ready for the Brighton Half Marathon. Of course, there are lots of fantastic off-road and road races along the way that our training will get you prepared for – the Eastbourne Half Marathon, Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon, Downland Devil, Moleyman and many more.

No one gets left behind, and the faster runners don’t stand still. This is our ninth season of helping women to build endurance so we know how to keep you motivated, moving and getting stronger on each run.

Our season pass works out at just £4 per run, so you can enjoy the best of both worlds – running with us for your training, as well as taking part in races and events with the women you meet on our runs.

There are various payment options:

  • Autumn-Winter Series runs September 10th – February 18th – £68 (£4 per run)
  • Autumn Series runs September 10th – December 10th – £45 (£5 per run)
  • Winter Series runs November 26th – February 18th – £50 (£5)
  • OR drop in single sessions, £10


We will not have sessions on some dates and hope that you will instead join us for a GRTW meet up at these events. These include:

October 8th Rise UK 8km

October 15th, Bright10

November 19th, Brighton 10km

December 10th, Mince Pie 10 miles

December 24/31st – Christmas



Here’s what they said about our Summer 2017 series

‘I have had the best ever summer of running with an amazing and supportive group of women.  Despite my slower pace I always knew the coach or other runners would wait  for me to catch up. My running has improved no end and I am more confident that I can run further than ever before , with 8.5 miles now my longest including the hills. I so much enjoyed the varied routes and have taken to the running some favourites on other days.’

Kelly Cahill



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Beginners to Half Marathon

November 6, 2016 at 8:30
Posted by Rachael Woolston


At the inaugural Worthing Half Marathon, 2016

Are you taking on your first Brighton/Worthing Half Marathon?

Join our off-road training runs to help build your miles and learn running techniques with our fab female running coaches and inspirational women’s running community – we’ll even be there at the start and finish lines cheering you on at the end.

16 week training plan free to download here


We specialise in getting women to the finish line of their first half marathon feeling strong, fit and happy. Our 16 week training group  (14 guided and coached runs) will help you build from 3 miles (5km) to 13.1 miles.

You will get technique advice, incredible off-road routes so you feel inspired on each run you do with us (rather than having to trudge along endless flat roads) and you will be part of a small training group where you can share your training reward and woes.

Over the last eight years, we’ve helped dozens of women build their distance, helping them to become half marathon runners when they believed they’d never even get out the starting blocks.

You can pay for the course, or if you’re not sure you can make all of them, pay for a drop in run pass or an outdoor season pass. Click here to read more about payment options.

You will be sent a list of all the meeting points for the runs a week before the training begins.

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Reboot Lewes

September 19, 2016 at 6:15
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Two courses: 6.15am-7am for the very early birds, or 7am-7.45am for the early birds

Join us at our BRAND new small group healthy eating and fitness course in Lewes. Three sessions per week of fun, effective exercise sessions taught in a small group environment so you get the chance to experience personalised training with expert female coaches. With a complimentary eating plan.

As featured in Viva magazine. Nab our introductory offer of £60.  Visit the Schedule and booking page for further details.

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The Diary of a Running Mum: What to Wear

August 5, 2016 at 11:48
Posted by Rachael Woolston

At the beginning of 2016, Fitbitch runner and mum of four, Tanya Taylor took on the challenge of running every day. Perhaps not surprisingly, she’s become an expert at what to wear.

Missed Tanya’s earlier despatches? catch up with her first and second despatches here


Running through poppy fields with my daughter, Romy in July. Miles run this year: 836 Number of feet climbed: 46,988


I want to take you back to the year 2007. This was the year I first started to run. I had given birth to my fourth child six months before, and had recently stopped breastfeeding. I was horrendously self-conscious of my body and felt at a total loss with my identity. I was worn out and could hardly string a sentence together without punctuating it with “I’m SO tired” every other second. I felt dull and unattractive. Having four children under the age 9 was all consuming. The frustrations of not being able to fit into the clothes I wanted to wear, in order to feel like the person I knew I was, had found me, in a roundabout way, standing at my local park about to attempt to run for the first time since school. I had signed up for a 10k race in Bournemouth with some of my friends, and training was about to begin.


Now at this point, I need to tell you that clothes and fashion have always played a huge part in my life. For every significant moment in my past, I can tell you EXACTLY what I was wearing and probably where I bought it. My grandmother used to style Princesses and movie stars back in the 1950’s, it’s in my blood. So when I think back to this day, I don’t remember how the run went, or how I felt afterwards. I do rememb
er the ridiculously inappropriate ‘Leroy from Kids from Fame’ running ensemble though – men’s cotton Carhartt tracksuit bottoms, vintage Nike Windjammer and an old pair of vintage Nike trainers that I had bought in NYC ten years before. NOT an outfit I can recommend!

Nine years on and I officially suffer from running kit OCD. I can now browse endless rails of lux-sportswear and know exactly what will work and what won’t. I can touch a fabric and know whether it will be gentle on my weather beaten skin or cause multiple unsightly chaffing sores. I can assess a neck line at the blink of an eye and know if I’ll look more Jeff Capes than Jessica Ennis. I need my kit to look good, feel comfortable and to ‘perform’.

More and more high street stores are now meeting the demand for women’s technical sportswear, and if you shop wisely, you can get some bargains. H&M have a great range (which my daughter also loves), and Topshop’s collaboration with Beyonce, Ivy Park, has some great pieces which I’m desperate to sample. Sweaty Betty and Lululemon always drop great prints in their collections, and their products perform well if your budget allows their above average price tag. TKMaxx is brilliant for a bargain, and is pretty well organised, so don’t be put off by the volume of stock.

Wearing good kit really does enhance your running, if you feel good from the off, then your run will start (and hopefully end) well – trust me!

Here’s my guide to the perfect capsule running kit for Autumn

  • Nike Epic Lux, £70

  • The best running leggings I’ve found so far. You can buy them cropped or in full length, and although I prefer the basic black, they are also available in seasonal colours and patterns. The waistband is high (and VERY comfortable) so there is no danger of the dreaded muffin top spoiling your instagram snaps. Try not to baulk at the price, they last for ages, I promise.
  • IMG_8478
  • Zoot Women’s West Coast Singlet, from £30

  • Light, breathable, well fitted and stylish, my favourite new find. Feels great on and has reflective details for night running. It also has UPF 50+ sun protection so great for hotter runs, holidays or the Girls Run the World trips. Available online from The Triathlon Shop.


  • Nike Dri-Fit Knit long-sleeve, from £41

  • A brilliant layering piece for cooler days, I’ve had mine for two years now and it’s still going strong. The Dri-FIT fabric keeps you dry and comfortable, whilst the knit-in mesh fabric allows breathability. Thumbholes help to keep your hands warm, and the seamless construction gives enhanced comfort. These tops nearly always get reduced in Net-a-Porter’s end of season sales by half price.
  • OMM Kameleika Race Jacket, from £128

  • A favourite amongst Fitbitch runners, although it doesn’t come cheap. The jacket is waterproof, breathable and has a 4-way stretch making it perfect for running without restriction. It is superlight and has taped seams and lovely big pockets. The price tag reflects the technical detail of this running jacket, and it is an investment piece. Worth it if you run a lot or are thinking of taking up adventure races.

    Muji Hairband

  • If you have long hair that needs tying back, you will understand the frustrations of running with your hair falling out of your topknot and into your eyes. I have used these hairbands for many years. They are THE BEST. You will thank me for this nugget.

    Balega Enduro Low Cut Sock, from £10.56

    Great colours, well cushioned without over heating your feet, and the top of the sock doesn’t dig into your ankles to give you ‘cankles’. I love these socks! Available from Wiggle.

  • IMG_8482
  • Sweaty Betty Stamina Bra, £35

  • Hmm…this is my biggest struggle as I have quite a broad back (swimming), but smallish boobs (breastfeeding four children.) I find the ease of an overhead bra with no fastenings preferable. Try Sweaty Betty for this style. Lots of my more well endowed running buddies swear by Shock Absorber. Be aware that when you run your ribs expand with your breathing, so you don’t want the band to feel too tight.
  • Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.17.16
  • Flip belt, £25

  • This tubular running belt fits snuggly on your hips without budging and you can choose between small, medium and large. The slits are perfect for your iphone, keys (there is a key attatchment for extra security) and gels. Although they now do one with zips, the one without is perfect – it’s comfortable and there are no buckles to rub. Available in a choice of colours and machine washable.

My top tracks to get you running this month


Arctic Monkeys – Do me a Favour


LCD Soundsystem – Get Innocuous


Britney Spears –Womanizer


Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way


Fujiya & Miyagi – Ankle Injuries

Don’t miss Tanya’s next report coming in September.








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Fitbitch Summer Pop Up Supper (plus trail run & yoga)

July 16, 2016 at 7:30
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Celebrate summer, running or just new found fitness friends with our summer pop up party. There are two options:
1. Meet at Falmer Train Station at 4PM to RUN OR MOUNTAIN BIKE a beautiful 6 mile route to Lewes. It will be at conversational, stop/start/breathe pace. Finish at Pells Pool for a yoga session and/or optional swim if time permits. Then a pop up Fitbitch supper at Plesant Stores in Lewes for a 3 course vegetarian or vegan meal including bread/nibbles.

2. just come for the pop up supper at Plesant Stores at 7.30pm.

Price: trail run/yoga, £12 – book online via our booking page
Price: Pop Up Fitbitch supper, £20 – book via the eventbrite link (you will need to copy and paste into your browser)

Please note, there are only 16 spaces for supper. Alcohol is additional.

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Fitbitch Challenges, Adventure Race

July 9, 2016 at 9:00
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Fancy a challenge? Join us in entering a team to navigate, run, bike and kayak to collect the most points. This is part of our our Fitbitch Challenge events.


 Chilterns Adventure Team Race

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

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

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

Three minute post shower lie down as running reward

Three minute post shower lie down as running reward

Tanya’s Statistics

Miles run since January 1st: 788

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

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

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

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


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

Zombie Running

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

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

Star jumps in Paris

Star jumps in Paris


Menstrual Cycle

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

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

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

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

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

Running on empty

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

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

She-wolf tendencies?

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


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

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

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

Tanya’s Top Tracks for Running Uplift

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

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Race Review: Arundel Triathlon

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

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



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

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Summer Trail Running Series

June 19, 2016 at 8:30
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Running off road in the summer is one of the most amazing experiences you can enjoy as a runner. So, if you’re used to sticking to the roads, take a leap of faith and join us in exploring new routes and stunning vistas.

This course is open to anyone who can currently run 3-5 miles at any speed. The summer series is not about hitting it hard and aiming for PBs, but about enjoying the countryside in bloom and enjoying running for the sake of moving your body. We will also be adding the element of our ‘pop up fitness’ atmosphere with our runs exploring totally new areas and incorporating yoga for runners, sea swims and hidden garden cafes complete with strutting peacocks.

Each run will be between 5-8 miles so check the details below for each date. You can use these runs as a way of being guided on the Downs or as a way of starting to build endurance for an autumn half  marathon (Chose from the Denbies vineyard trail half marathon (there is even wine on offer at the refreshment tables!), the Barnes Green Half Marathon (although this is a road half) or the gorgeous option of the Sussex Trail Half Marathon) or even getting some strength in your legs to lay the foundations for a marathon attempt in 2017.


The runs will take places as a mixture of Saturday and Sunday runs from 8.30am – click the recurring event link for all dates. Locations will vary week by week and will require some driving to get to the start location. For lift shares, join our online Facebook running group.


Please click here for locations/distances of each run

Course price (5 runs) members: £40

Course price: Non Members: £50

Single Drop In: £12 including special July 16th with post run yoga session


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The Diary of a Running Mum

June 9, 2016 at 12:11
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Juggling four kids and a workaholic husband, Tanya Taylor, 43, also decided to take on the challenge of running every day of 2016. Here’s the first of her despatches about life on the run…


Tanya at the London Marathon

Tanya at the London Marathon

I’ve just completed my 156th run in 156 days. Sometimes they are long and ploddingly slow and other times they are fast and challenging, leaving me bright red and dripping with sweat. I’ve run in the sun, rain, wind and even in snow when forecasters were warning people not to go outdoors. From New York to Paris, Berlin to London and all over East Sussex, my feet have taken me a long way this year. And I have got another 210 days to go in my bid to run every day of 2016.

Runnual, is part of the Fitbitch challenge community, a list of challenges throughout the year which anyone can follow to help you have goals and keep you motivated.  Some are easy, a park run, others are about adventure, such as a the 24 hour Endure Relay Race and then there are those about consistency, such as swimming every day in July. But other than the Fitbitch founder, Rachael, I am the only one who committed to  RUNNUAL, running every day throughout 2016.

So, why am I doing it, everyone asks? I liked the idea of having a focus and commitment to my training that was simple to follow. Not that I didn’t have my doubts about doing it; what if I got injured, could I fit it in every day? But most of all, I was worried about failing. What if I started and couldn’t actually do it?

I knew the only way I was going to be able to commit and make this work was to make some rules.

Tanya’s Five Run Commandments

  1. No matter what the weather, I have to run outside. I wanted to get the benefit of fresh air and observe the changing seasons not a gym changing room.
  2. I have to wear proper running kit and trainers. No dash to the car with my handbag allowed to be classed as a run.
  3. I have to be kind to myself. If I had a crappy run, I was determined not to beat myself up about it but to just let it go.
  4. I had to run at least one mile, no less, for it count.
  5. I had to record it on Strava. For me, this was a way to keep track of my runs like a virtual diary.

Run number 1 of 366 on New Year’s Day didn’t feel so unusual. For the last 4 years I have run on New Years with my friend E. We run along Brighton & Hove seafront, past the all-night revellers, and discuss our hopes for the forthcoming year. There is something cleansing and empowering about our ritual and it’s always one of my favourite runs of the year.

Fast forward to now and I’m almost six months through my runnual year. It has been both amazing and at times very hard. There have been runs where I’ve seen the sun rise above the sea or set over the Sussex hills. Some have been in pouring rain, into 70mph winds or under baking hot sun. I’ve enjoyed runs where I’ve laughed listening to stories from some of my fellow runners, and others where I have run alone, tears pouring down my face as I’ve worked things through in my head. Running is cathartic, eventually everything comes to the surface as surely as putting one foot in front of the other.

But have there been times when I’ve felt like giving up? Yes, on those runs were my legs felt like lead and my mind is telling me I’m useless. But just as frequently, I’ve been rewarded with runs where I have felt invincible.

Stand out runs have to be running at sunrise alone through Paris, or in Central Park, New York in a -22 degree windchill, clapping my hands above my head in an attempt to keep warm, then returning to the hotel with cheers (and relief that I survived, I suspect) from the hotel doormen. I have run on the track in Berlin’s Olympic stadium having a panic attack following a particularly gruelling 15 mile race, and had my lovely running buddy J grab my hand and tell me I was going to be okay.

Recent runs have included running at night in the woods with some of the Fitbitch running club, with just head torches and giggling for guidance through the dark while training for a 24 hour team endurance race. But the best run of the year (and maybe my life so far) was the London Marathon in April 2016.  It was my first marathon and I’d trained hard, but had spent months feeling anxious, self doubt gnawing away at me. But it was amazing, a total high from beginning to end; the crowds, the atmosphere, the views, it was brilliant. I made new friends en-route (shout out to N and L from Sheffield) who I chatted to for almost 20 miles. Both my mind and body felt strong that day, and I managed to keep a consistent pace throughout. At mile 21, there was a moment when a young woman locked eyes with me and shouted in a thick East End cockney accent; “Go on Tanya, you’ve got this, you’ve got this girl”, and that was when I knew, I had.

If you had told me eight months ago that I’d run every day, I would have said no way. I would have said, ‘I don’t have the time, I’m not fit or strong enough.’ It’s not like running comes naturally to me; my body is not a classic ‘runners body’…I’m more Fatima Whitbread than Paula Radcliffe. But if there is one thing this challenge has taught me, it is that you an achieve anything with the right focus.

Tanya’s top tips on how to incorporate regular running into you life

  • Use your run as part of your social life. It is more fun to run with company, and you can always have a cup of tea at the end.
  • Fit it into your daily tasks/routine: I run from the supermarket carpark after I’ve done my shopping or I leave half an hour earlier to pick the kids up from their friends house/clubs and do a quick run before they finish.
  • Utilise your local running group. At Fitbitch, we have a community run on Tuesday’s, a pace session on a weekday evening and usually a long run on a Sunday. That means I only have 4 runs left to plan myself.
  • Think outside of the box. I recently had a boxing lesson, then washed in the sea, applied my moisturiser and make-up on the beach and headed straight to Charleston literary festival (You can roll your eyes here…) When the talk had finished, I changed in the carpark (there was a boob flash, but hey!) and did a quick run through the countryside stumbling across an amazing teahouse in the middle of the country as I did.
  • Download the free App Strava onto your phone. It’s ridiculously addictive. Strava allows you to monitor your speed and distance, and keeps you posted on any improvements. You can also follow your friends’ training and allow them to follow yours. I recently got approached by a (friendly) guy in a carpark who follows me on Strava and congratulated me on my achievements to date. I’d never met him before.
  • S-T-R-E-T-C-H and have massages. It may seem indulgent, but it literally is the oil to your wheels.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. There is nothing worse than someone having a meltdown because they’ve missed getting a PB at a local Parkrun when there are people fighting much bigger personal battles.
  • If I’m having a bad run, I shift my focus. I think about my form, keeping my torso upright, my feet light, making sure my arms are not crossing in front of my body…and if things are really bad, I imagine I’m Rocky running through Philadelphia.

With any luck, I hope this post and my monthly updates will encourage a few of you to try running regularly. The beauty of running everyday is that it removes the pressure about running to mileage and shorter, consistent runs have been as equally beneficial to my fitness levels and endurance. But the main thing I’ve learnt is no matter how tired/ill/sad I feel, I always feel better after running. Always.

I look forward to keeping you posted over the year with my progress, and will also introduce music for your running playlist, let you know of any new kit I’ve sampled and new races I’ve loved. In the meantime, happy running!

Training for Endure 24 Relay

Training for Endure 24 Relay

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Sunset Trail Run Course

May 5, 2016 at 7:00
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Want to explore the South Downs and beautiful countryside on your runs? Then join us for our guided sunset trail running course throughout the summer. Or, if you prefer, drop in when you can.

Each run will start from a different location and will gradually build week on week from about four miles to no more than seven. Check each week’s timetable entry for details or click the link below.

Open to men and women.

Members Price: £36

Non Members: £60

Drop In: £8 (members) £12 (non members)

Enjoy the best that summer running has to offer with our fantastic life-affirming, sunset trail runs on alternate Thursday’s through to the school summer holidays.

The emphasis on these runs is on exploration, adventure and reconnecting with the beauty beyond the beast of race running. Pace will be conversational so it is suitable for all speeds as long as you can run the distance.

For distances and locations of ALL the runs below please click here.

Run One, Thursday 5th May

Run Two, Thursday 19th May

Run Three, Thursday 2nd June

Run Four, Thursday, 16th June

Run Five, Thursday, 30th June

Run Six, Thursday, 14th July

Coaches: Rachael & Tara


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