Women Run Strong – Great Event!

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What better day to post this blog than International Women’s Day!  A post on an event called Women Run Strong!!  Think about that for a second, what do those words mean to you?  All the positives, the supportive environment, lacking judgement or pressure, first or last – all supported, no timing – ‘Just Run’

I hope you all had a lovely Mothers day on Sunday?  Including all of you lovely ladies who may not be mothers!!  I loved hearing about all the races that took place, I was over in Edinburgh for 2 reasons:

Support clients who were running Women Run Strong Edinburgh run. (As a personal trainer)

Support my sponsor Women Run Strong in their first Edinburgh run.

I arrived in Edinburgh in the safe hands of Shauna and Daniel, our key supporter!!  We headed into The Crowne Plaza in Edinburgh, well, this was like no other run registration I have ever been to.  Very civilised – brilliant – but also very relaxed!  Avril who runs Women Run Stong has done a fantastic job of creating a community with the facebook group for those signed up to run, you get to know faces, names and whats happening with the run.

This is ideal, I know many of you will agree, it can be pretty intimidating turning up at a race event on your own.  Not here, you knew faces, everyone incredibly welcoming.  Not only that water, tea and the best – biscuits available to munch.  You can tell I am sold already haha.  Sign-up was an easy affair, we then waited on the rest of the crew to appear.

12799071_1710395169172525_4538943199466152473_nNot only that but you’ll never guess who I managed to run into – Cathy from  The Art of Communication! Wonderful to be a part of her 6th event out of the 50 planned this year!  Here is the epitome of ‘Women Run Strong’, I always think its nice to run i12806103_1096537113745035_2572782224698782507_nnto people you know at events.  Not only that I got to meet people I have been communicating with on social media.  I love making new friends!

I was lucky enough to meet Lucja, who has run in the Marathon des Sables previously AND is going back this year.  Nice to know I’ll know someone out there.  I think I picked her brains, well and truly, it was a revelation to be honest (Ill keep that for another time).  We were then led down to the start line, a very short walk away at the base of Arthurs Seat.

 

Wow! We had an amazing day for our run, there was no pressure on this run and I already knew I wanted to push but at the same time I had been nursing a sore back all week and didnt want to cause myself any further issues.  But also, I already knew I’d be stopping to take pictures along the way and wanted to talk with folks.  I honestly felt sluggish in this run, quite possibly my lack of exercise all week.  The views were simply – Outstanding!  We could not have had a better day for todays run, the sun shone, you could see for miles, the company was fantastic – I spoke with so many women today.  All different levels and experience.  The marshalls were massively encouraging and really brought a smile to your face as you rocked up and either gave you a jelly baby or some water and encouraged you on your way.

Did I say the views were spectacular?  Just in case you wondered .  .  .  . so were the hilly sections hahaha!  Phew, I now know why there was a massage included in your cost.  We all supported each other and stomped on, after the most dramatic of hills it became more undulating but still hilly.  I am not sure even I am making sense here.  I spoke with a lovely lady who said that despite the fact she trained around Arthurs Seat, she had in fact not been on the trails we covered, so a real positive there.  I can see this would have been a harder route in wet conditions.

A run out back to the hotel entrance, where I managed a wee sprint race with a fellow runner to finish well – always good, maybe.  And the prosecco, oh the prosecco!  What better way to finish the run than to be welcomed back with a glass of the bubbly stuff.12794416_1096537653744981_3411775268710125603_n

Quick sip, passed to Avril (I think she is still saving this for me 😉 )off I went back for my crew.  Louise’s PT 4 U motto – ‘NO-one gets left behind’.  This has been a long held motto an done I am very proud of.  Everyone of the girls did well today, for some their first run, we had 2 in the 5km and 2 of us did the 10km.  We did well and supported each other – the important part.

Are you getting what Women Run Strong is about? If not, why not pop over to the website or Women Run Strong facebook  or even come along to one of their runs!  Don’t just take my word for it, I asked my clients for some feedback, here’s what they said –

‘I’ve just completed the Women’s Run Strong 10km run in Edinburgh today. My first trail run and something I thought this time last year was beyond my physical reach. The event was beautifully organised, Avril and her team were superb from the swift registration to the jelly babies stop,  the excellent marshalls and the prosecco and massage waiting at the end. It was a tough run with killer hills but the views from the top were just spectacular well worth the effort. Another stand out factor was the team spirit amongst the runners, everyone actively encouraging and supporting each other. A run I would certainly do again.’ (Pauline A)

‘Women Run Strong? Well, on Sunday I think I was only hopeful of achieving 1/3 of those!! And even then only just!!

Having initially signed up for the 10k I could have easily pulled out as training in January & February was a non event. But I didn’t! Knowing that a buff, a glass of bubbly and a massage were also signed up to, I swallowed my pride and decided I would at least venture out on the 5k – that had to be easier than the unprepared for 10k? Yes? Hmm … I’m not sure!!

For someone who likes jogging on a flat tarmac route with a strong tailwind … what greeted me was something quite different!! The words “trail” and “hill” were order of the day!!! I think “brutal” best describes what I was muttering as I WALKED slowly up the 150m steep ascent to a fabulous view across Edinburgh! Waiting for me at the top was Shauna … a huge smile on her face cheering me on! And the view was spectacular!!

We crossed the finish line together … even managing a wee sprint to the tray of bubbly!! At 6.3k it is safely the longest (and hardest) 5k I have ever run … or run a bit of anyway!!! I’m not even sure it was easier than the 10k … but I wasn’t going to test that theory out when it got to the “10k that way / 5k this way” point! With a leg massage now firmly in my sights the 5k route was the only way home for me! Once again, if it hadn’t been for Shauna, I don’t think the leg massage would have happened for me as the queue was long and the clock was ticking on me having to get back to Dundee! But it happened and I got home with minutes to spare!

Anyway, asides how brutal I felt the run was and how underprepared I was … it was a fabulous event … location, people, massage, friendly faces, give aways and doing it with a wee crew of people who really don’t leave you behind (even when you would be quite happy to be left behind to find a flat route home!).

It was genuinely a lovely morning … a very relaxed gathering of women joining together to have a good time … from walkers to hard core runners … some idiot even ran with a bright yellow 8kg back pack on and looked like she was wearing about 20 layers of clothes – I’m sure I overheard her asking where the nearest sand dune was!? You see them all at these events, you really do!’ (Nicola R – I was ggoing to cut this down but actually, it gives you context and the reality of the day).

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Introducing my Sponsors: Stuart Aitken Fitness

I have been blown away by the generosity of Dundee’s small businesses in supporting me to reach the Marathon des Sables in order to raise money for local mental health charity , DAMH (Dundee Assocition for Mental Health).

As these become available to me, I will pop up small blogs where the businesses can highlight who they are and what they do, for example.  Please do pop over to thheir website and/ or facebook page.

First up is Stuart Aitken Fitness,  I have actually known Stuart for some time, we both attended Abertay University. I work alongside Stuart but also asked Stuart to help keep me honest with my own training a little while ago, yep even trainers need trainers, for my OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) so I am thrilled that Stuart has gotten involved in my new venture.

Stuarts take on the matter . . .

”When Louise asked me to be involved with her attempts to run the Marathon Des Sables (from now on this will be referred to as MDS), I could not have been happier. Louise is one of the most inspirational people I’ve encountered in the fitness industry. Through her consistent fundraising events, and community get-togethers she organises, she’s always been someone who I’ve enjoyed working alongside. This however, is a whole other ball game (which I know she knows!) so my reason for writing this is to let you in on some of the things I’ll be advising Louise with throughout her time in training for the MDS.

 

Training

Firstly we have to take into account her training. Now I won’t be involved with the running side, as this isn’t where I specialise or have enough knowledge to be of practical help, but I do have experience in helping athletes become stronger and faster from the weight room.

Louise is going to need a consistent weight-training plan, which may come as a surprise to some of you as she isn’t doing an event that requires lifting weights or being visually strong. This is a common myth with weight training, that it is only used to improve strength and muscle tone, it has so many more benefits to any individual who takes it up, especially endurance athletes who commonly miss it out for fear of getting to muscular.

The weight training Louise will be focussed upon doing will be mainly to ensure we give her current muscles a good reason to stick around. We know from plenty of research that a big muscle is a strong, more robust muscle. This means that doing weight training will help her stay injury free and keep her current muscle at a reasonable level, so she is still strong enough to endure what her body will go through during the MBS.

Although her primary focus will be upon getting the miles in and ensuring her body is ready from an endurance perspective, training in the gym will play a big role in providing her with the best platform to have an amazing race.

 

Nutrition

Nutrition is another thing that is quite often disregarded for endurance events, at least right up until the day before the event (carb-loading for example!).

This is going to be absolutely essential for Louise, as she will need to ensure her body recovers optimally every time she trains. Nutrition plays a huge role in this and ensuring she gets enough calories in to keep up the volume of training she’ll be doing, while also providing enough nutrients to keep her immune system in tact so she can keep on top of illnesses.

We’ll need to ensure she gets a good amount of calories into her body, which will have a large focus on getting plenty of protein (for muscle recovery and building) as well as carbohydrate (for fuel during her training bouts) and fat (so her hormonal profile stays at a high level).

 

Mindset

Lastly, and I think most importantly, we’ll need to ensure her mindset is excellent throughout the whole event, and leading up to it. I don’t think this will be something Louise will struggle with too much as she is already strong-willed, but the MDS is completely new animal, and one that will need preparation from her mind. We’ll need to ensure we’ve ran over possible problems that will arise, as well as getting her head into a position of belief and confidence with everything she does. It will also be important for her to visualise and put herself into positions she didn’t think her body could cope with as this will help through the toughest parts of the race.

Overall I really can’t wait to start seeing how Louise progresses through her training, and ultimately when she actually completes the MDS. I know she’ll set herself up right and raise an incredible amount of money for the Dundee Mental Health Association, and I can’t wait to be part of something as special as this.”

Thank you Stuart!  Here are the links to Stuart’s site:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/StuartAitkenFitness

If you would like to become a corporate sponsor please do get in touch, I am still aiming to raise the final amount by early January.  My contact email is louisept4u@yahoo.co.uk.

Stuart Aitken Fitness

 

My biggest Challenge yet but I need YOUR help!

The last few days has been a whirlwind of activity as soon as I received an email that was giving me the possibility of a cancellation place in the MDS – Marathon des Sables . What a phenomenal opportunity to raise money for the local mental health charity I like to support – Dundee Association for Mental Health (DAMH).

The problem or shall we call it a challenge, is that, as it is a potential cancellation place, everything is all very last minute.  Including securing corporate sponsorship to pay the initial £2175, unbelieveably I am in the position to say all the fantastic businesses, the people driving these companies have gotten us to a place where I only need to raise just under £600 by approximately Tues/ Wed this week.  A big ask, not when you consider we have already raised the amount to get here since Thurs evening – when all hell broke loose hahaha.

I have been truly honoured to be supported and blown away by people wanting to get involved and support this.  I really think it shows the change in attitude toward mental health on a larger scale but also, something I always underestimate, peoples support and I guess faith in me to achieve what I set out to do!

Why is this important?

I am one of those who is not afraid to say I have had mental health issues, it doesn’t define me, it is not all that I am.  I think this is important to remember this, to remember that mental health is not selective, it doesn’t matter whether you are a fitness professional, a high-flying career woman/ man, a child or an elderly person.  The severity that anyone can be affected is variable and the diagnosis can be variable also.  We need to begin moving away from the idea that those who suffer from mental health difficulties are a certain type of person (yes there are risk-factors but this is not  a definitive) or have a specific job/ background.  1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health problem!  A family member, a work colleague, a friend, we all know someone.

I want to help DAMH to help meet the needs of there service users,they use physical activity based groups, greenbuds, relaxation periods.  A variety of support is available for their service users, I volunteer and run a ‘Lifestyle with Louise’ where service users can book in to see me and we discuss what can help improve their health and how to go about this.  This is no longer about me, this is about what i can do to help raise the profile of a fantastic local charity and raising funds to help them do this.

Taking on my biggest challenge to date to raise sponsorship funds for this fantastic charity is something I relish, being driven forward with each step, to keep going with the training and the actual race with the belief and support of others makes the decisions easy.

Sponsors:

Once again a huge thank you to those already invested:

Art of Communication – Catherine MacDonald – She has set up this fantastic new business which is transforming her clients interactions with others.

Stuart Aitken Fitness – Stuart has been fantastic at helping me to stay accountable and focused in my gym based training when I often become distracted!

Lift the Bar – These guys are simply amazing!!  A company/ group run by Chris Burgess, a personal training education and mentoring.  Leading the way in personal trainer development!  If you are in the fitness industry please head over and check them out, you will not regret it.

Sole Body Sole – Bharti runs this company, looking after all your foot problems – I have a feeling I will need alot, alot of care of my feet when I get back from this race next year!  Have you seen the pictures????

Gas Technology Partnership Ltd – This company is run independently by Sarah Bridge!

If you would like to become a corporate sponsor please get in touch as soon as possible – my email address is louisept4u@yahoo.co.uk