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Introducing RunFitMum – Me and Running: Sasha Cowley

Sasha Cowley

Running Coach and CoFounder of RunFitMum

Me and running

I came to running late in life.  I was the sort of child who avoided cross country at all costs, it was only in my late twenties and early thirties that I found running, here was a sport that we free, easy to do and involved being in the great outdoors.  But when I got married and started a family it was one of the first things to fall by the wayside.  

Fast forward five years to when my two daughters went to nursery and I started to have the odd hour to myself and that is when running really became a part of my life.  Now, a further five years on, running is a key element of my identity.  In fact, I love it so much that I have trained as a running coach and with my friend Caroline Eaton, I have co-founded a running club called RunFitMum.

Introducing RunFitMum

RunFitMum, crept up on us really.  Caroline and I met at the school gates.  We were both getting back into running after kids and things very quickly spiralled.  At first it was just a matter of encouraging a few school mums to take part in a Race for Life.  Then one night in the pub we started talking about what we were going to call ourselves, afterall we needed club vests for the next race!!  Before we knew it we had over 100 members and things needed to be a bit more official.  So we became England Athletics Run Leaders and the journey towards an official Run Club continued.  Today we have over 300 members and run weekly courses focused on speed, strength and perhaps most importantly introducing women to running.  We also have five free club runs every week for our members to come along and join.

Our focus as a club is very much on women who are coming back to fitness after having a family.  We are not all about PBs or how many races you have done (although the odd PB is very much celebrated),  We are more interested in overcoming the many hurdles that family life throws at us to try and help women carve out a bit of time for themselves.  Just an hour or two a week can make such a massive difference to both our physical and mental well being.

I know that I was always much too intimidated to join a running club when I first started running, particularly when I came back to it after kids.  I worried about pace and whether I would keep up and I was worried about my new body and whether it would let me down.  So we make a big effort to make sure that RunFitMum is as supportive, warm, inclusive and encouraging as possible with a focus on fun rather than speed.  Afterall the old me didn’t realise what I was missing out on.  Running with RunFitMum has shown me that companionship, support, laughter and encouragement are much more important than speed and are just some of the many benefits of club running. 

For more information on RunFitMum contact Sasha Cowley or Caroline Eaton on Sasha@runfitmum.com or Caroline@runfitmum.com 

Find them on Facebook or check out the website: runfitmum.com

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An adventure in the Lake District with inov-8!

It’s a sunny morning down south as I begin a five hour journey across London to the Lake District. Oxenholme Station to be exact with the final destination being Staveley. The home of inov-8! What do you think of when you think about inov-8? I think my first perceptions were lightweight, minimalist trail shoes that you can smash about the trails and mountains in. A brand with Northern heritage that are for elite hill runners, perhaps? How wrong can one man be!

After my epic journey and far too many coffees, I arrive at inov-8 HQ just in time for lunch. It’s not a massive building, they are buried in some offices in the corner of a very cool yard. The kind of yard that has a hip coffee shop, brewery and bakery. My kind of  yard! As they proclaim later, they are not a big team and they’re proud of where they are in the world. The offices are surrounded by fells and trails and the team use their lunch breaks to test out new kit and to go running. Why wouldn’t you?

We sit down for a few hours of product training, so we can immerse ourselves in the brand and learn all about who they are, what they stand for and all their awesome products. The first thing that hits me is that they make shoes for all terrains – whether it’s ice, mud, rock, trails and even road. Their shoes are all different widths (there’s 5 different sizes). they’re precision fit, there’s 3 different kind of grips and the number on the shoe is the weight. Another cool thing is that if you look on the heel on the shoe, the arrows indicate the amount of drop on the shoe. One arrow is 4mm and 2 is 8 and so on… (there’s a couple of exceptions where they are a 3 and a 6).

inov-8 have only been around for 15 years, they are relatively new in the shoe world. They don’t have sponsored athletes, they have ambassadors (like us really) and I loved how passionately the team spoke about the brand, and how knowledgable they were about the plethora of shoes, jackets and all accessories. They even brought out the people who design the products, so we could give them feedback. Cool huh?! We’d sat for a few hours and listened attentively, now it was time to get out and do some running and shoe testing.

inov-8 gave us some X-Talon 230 and Roclite 290 to test out… first stop was running up the Loughrigg Fell and then back down it with some of their ambassadors – awesome ultra runners, Paul Tierney and Sarah McCormack. I can honestly say I have never ran on terrain like that in my life… we just don’t have it down south. The run was 5.7 miles and there was nearly 2000 ft of climb, which was great! The X-Talon 230 were more than capable of handling whatever nature threw at our feet (inov-8 are big on exteroception in their shoes – which means “relating to stimuli that are external to an organism” – as in being able to feel the ground around you with your feet and responding naturally to it with the shoes). What do you do after running up a fell? Drink some IPAs and talk about running of course.

An early 6 a.m start and a different kind of run – a run to the picturesque Easedale Tarn with many a stop for a photo. We set off in the dark but when the light came it was all misty and close. We ran in the Roclite 290, a true all rounder, capable of running across most terrains and inov-8’s most flexible shoe. I’d ran in them before, and liked it, so was good to try them out on something totally different. I was trepidatious as we cascaded down slippy rocky paths, with the advice being “lean forward & go for it, or you’ll land on your heel and slip over.” Solid advice but easier said than done for a man who is used to tarmac / hard packed trails / the odd XC route. A solid 4.5 mile run and back to the Youth Hostel for more running chats and sausages.

What did I learn from my 36 hours with inov-8? I learnt that I like running on fells and that it’s a totally different kind of running. It was so cool to be able to immerse myself in the brand, their heritage and everything they stand for. I learnt all about their shoes and equipment and that their shoes are for all terrains. At Alton Sports we always advise to come in-store and try a pair on your feet, it’s the only way to see if those shoes are for you. On a personal level I am looking forward to trying more of the range on… I did get to try some Trail Talons on since and they’re totally different to anything I have ran in from the brand – a lot more cushioning and therefore proving they have something for everyone…!

Last but not least, it was cool to learn that they will be adding graphene (you might have seen their recent G-series launch) into a lot more of their shoes. Graphene will help provide the world’s toughest grip and is 200 times stronger than steel with the aim being that 80% of their shoes in 5 years will have graphene in. A whirlwind 36 hours and then one last 5 hour journey home south. A trip that educated me about the brand but also added a whole new world of running into my life. Amazing. Can’t wait to go back there and do some more running, and I’ll be popping into to inov-8 to say hello and see if I can try on some more shoes.

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