5 reasons why The ROC Trilogy is a must - for everyone

5 reasons why The ROC Trilogy is a must - for everyone

The beauty of THE ROC Trilogy? It’s a challenge like no other, but you don’t have to be an elite athlete to take part. We caught up with personal trainer and resilience coach Slav Josephson to find out what he thinks makes the ROC so special.

After a near-death experience with sepsis in 2021, the first endurance event that personal trainer Slav Josephson took on after leaving the ICU, was THE ROC Trilogy. He caught THE ROC bug and has since been encouraging his clients to take part, too. So, why do people of all backgrounds love THE ROC Trilogy so much? What makes it so unique? We caught up with Slav to find out. 

1. It’s inclusive and beginner-friendly

The beauty of THE ROC Trilogy? It’s a challenge like no other, but you don’t have to be an elite athlete to take part. Slav believes it’s the idea of cut-off times that puts people off taking part in endurance events. With THE ROC Trilogy, you needn’t worry about that. “THE ROC is super good with stuff like this”, says Slav. “Even if you don’t make the cut-off time, the team still lets you finish the race. With THE ROC Wales for example, you have a time to meet at a certain point up Snowdon. If you don’t make that time, you can just turn back and finish the race, without running the full distance, you will still get your medal just with a different ribbon. If you want to encourage people to do events like this, that’s a massive part of it, because then they’re not scared about not completing it”. 

2. The breathtaking views

THE ROC Trilogy offers views like no other. During THE ROC Wales, you’ll witness panoramic views from Snowdon. THE ROC England will see you biking past Coniston water. THE ROC Scotland promises tip-top views of Ben Nevis – to name just a few of the highlights. Slav’s favourite one to take part in is ROC Wales. “Wales in particular is just on a different level”, he says. “You start off at the sea on the beach, go through the forest, pass waterfalls and rivers. The 50k distance goes by just like ‘that’ because you’re just like ‘wow, wow, wow’. It’s like the whole world is condensed into one spot”. One thing that’s an absolute must on your packing list: a camera. 

3. It’s a huge confidence boost

Speaking of THE ROC Scotland, Slav says it’s the toughest challenge he’s ever taken on but that the feeling of completing it has boosted his confidence. When he took part, it was during the peak of a bad storm. “People who were supporting me were like ‘we’re getting weather warnings and they’re shutting train stations – but Slav is doing THE ROC!”, he says. “I literally had cramps everywhere but when I crossed that finish line, the feeling was unexplainable. A massive chunk of people never turned up and a big chunk didn’t finish. Being part of those who finished, it makes you realise your strength and you can transfer this into everyday life. When something happens in your life – like my illness – you think ‘if I can do that, I can cope with tasks in everyday life, as well’”, says Slav. If that’s not a good reason to take part, we don’t know what is.

4. The warm welcome

THE ROC Trilogy welcomes you into an inclusive community. “It’s nothing like the other big brands of triathlons where you’re literally just a number”, Slav says. “THE ROC is very family oriented. Everyone knows your name and there’s lots of chat before the race. There’s no egos. If anything needs sorting out, the team will do their best to help. With other brands, if you need help with anything, they will just send you a link to the rules”. As well as the support from THE ROC’s event organisers, Slav notes a great sense of camaraderie amidst his fellow participants. He says: “This guy, Iain, he wins everything. I don’t know how he does it. People who win other events I’ve taken part in, they wouldn’t just stop and chat to you – because they’re winners. Iain [winner of THE ROC] stops and talks, we message on Instagram. That’s the great thing about THE ROC”. 

5. It enhances your training regime

Training for THE ROC Trilogy involves strengthening all areas of your body through swimming, biking and running. This enhances your training regime and reduces your chance of injury in all disciplines. Taking part in an endurance event like THE ROC “will keep you in your training regime”, says Slav. “The fear factor makes you get out there and train, be nervous about it, and makes you feel alive. It’s the mental aspect, too”, he continues, “you finish the event and think ‘oh, maybe I’m better than I think”. 

If Slav’s story has left you feeling inspired, why not sign up? 

Feeling inspired? 

We thought so! Learn more about THE ROC events below:

THE ROC Wales (11th May 2024)

THE ROC England (7th September 2024)

THE ROC Scotland (5th October 2024)

To follow Slav and support him in his next endurance triathlon, click here.

Top reasons to sign up for a charity run today

Looking for fresh training motivation? Want to make a difference with your running? Signing up for a charity run may just do the trick.

Looking for fresh training motivation? Want to make a difference with your running? Signing up for a charity run may just do the trick. Other than raising money for a great cause, there are SO many reasons to get involved. Here, we take a look at why you might like to sign up for a charity run. 

Enjoy extra support

Once you’ve signed up for a charity run, you’ll find you get plenty of support from your chosen charity before, during and after the race. Each charity has its own way of supporting runners but fundraising tips, training plans and branded T-shirts are all pretty common. Some charities even offer post-race massages and parties, or waterproofs and extra kit on the day, to make sure unpredictable weather can’t rain on your parade. 

The fun of fundraising 

The joy of charity running can begin long before the start line. If you plan to go the extra mile with your fundraising, what better time to arrange a social event and help spread the word? Whilst pre-run fundraising events aren’t a requirement, they’re the perfect excuse to get creative, get your friends together and get your sponsorship form filled. 

The roar of the crowd

Most charities have designated cheering points where supporters can give you an extra-loud cheer and shout out your name on the way past. They’ll usually direct your friends and family here, too, so they can get a good view. A roar of cheers from family, friends and other supporters will have you feeling like a superhero for the day. 

Make a positive difference

Lacking motivation? Nothing gets you up and running like making a difference to a cause you care about. When you’re on those last few miles and your energy might be flagging, the thought of running for a charity close to your heart will help spur you on to the finish line. This is your moment to give something back. 

Raise awareness

With lots of spectators and even the chance of media coverage, marathons and other running events are the perfect place to spread the word about your chosen charity. Plus, any fundraising efforts in the lead-up to the event provide a precious opportunity to chat to your sponsors about how your charity makes a difference. 

Raise extra money through Gift Aid

If your sponsors are UK tax payers and fill out a few extra details on your sponsorship form,  the charity you’re running for can claim tax relief, which puts even more money into the charity pot. This is known as Gift Aid and makes a huge difference to your fundraising efforts. 

Reach your goals

Training for a charity run will boost your fitness, help you to set and achieve new personal bests and give you motivation to achieve your goals. On those days when you’d rather snuggle back down under the duvet, having your charity at the heart of your training will give you a good reason to get up and achieve great things. 

Socialise and have fun 

You can always count on a charity event to play host to all sorts of weird and wonderful costumes and of course, plenty of fun. They’re also a great opportunity to network with like-minded people and make friends. The positive atmosphere and sense of camaraderie at these events can be addictive.  

The charity runner’s high

There’s the runner’s high and then there’s the charity runner’s high. Can you imagine completing the race and thinking about how all your hard work will help to change lives? Not much can beat that finish-line feeling after a charity run. 

Ask Us Anything

Think of us as your active-lifestyle agony aunt. From gear recommendations to running hacks, we’ll answer all your event-related questions. Our favourites will feature across our social pages and in these newsletters.

Think of us as your active-lifestyle agony aunt. From gear recommendations to running hacks, we’ll answer all your event-related questions. Our favourites will feature across our social pages and in these newsletters.

To get your questions answered, either DM us at @letsdothis_ or email in at

The best ones we’ll share here on our blog, in our newsletters and across social media to help others in our community. 

To view the latest questions and answers from our community, click here.

A few things to bear in mind:

  • While we will endeavour to get back to as many questions as possible, we sadly can’t commit to answering every question submitted.
  • By submitting the question you give us permission to publish your question alongside your first name + city.. If you would prefer for us to anonymise your question please let us know.
  • As none of us are trained physios or medics, we can’t offer any advice relating to injury (preventing or rehab) and/or health
  • The responses and recommendations shared are on behalf of our team members who are passionate participants in the various sports we offer on the platform - they don’t necessarily reflect the views of Let’s Do This.
  • We are not paid for any of the recommendations we provide
  • Let’s Do This are not responsible for any action(s) taken in light of the answers received.
  • We reserve the right to block / remove comment and posts that are not in keeping with the tone of our channel and that we or others may find offensive
  • Please limit your questions to only running / cycling / triathlon events, equipment or training- related questions. As much as we want to be there for you, we’re not qualified to answer questions beyond this scope
Pacing London Marathon|||Pacing band

Pacing London: what it's like to pace London Marathon

You don’t need to be a fast runner to work at Let’s Do This, but that doesn’t stop Let’s Do This data scientist, Simon Wright, from running sub 3 hour marathons in his spare time.

You don’t need to be a fast runner to work at Let’s Do This, but that doesn’t stop Let’s Do This data scientist, Simon Wright, from running sub 3 hour marathons in his spare time.

A 2:53:20 marathoner, triathlete and enthusiastic orienteer-er, Simon added yet another string to his bow this month when he paced the 2022 London Marathon.

Read on to hear from Simon himself about his experience as a London Marathon pacer – and how you could get involved too!

Becoming a London Marathon pacer

I like running. But I love maths*. So maybe it’s unsurprising that I found myself drawn to the prospect of pacing for races. 

I first got involved in pacing very informally last year, pacing a couple of my colleagues to 10k PBs. After that, I decided to give it a go officially this year at the London Landmarks Half Marathon, managing to soak up the atmosphere while leading around a hardy band of 20 runners to a 1:45 finish. And what better place to look to replicate that feeling than at the London Marathon?

In June, I found out that I’d been selected to pace the race at 3:15, the top end of my three suggested times, which would be a challenge!

So, what is pacing?

The premise is very simple: it’s very common for runners to get very excited on the day of a big race and fly off the line.

Wouldn’t it be great not to have to worry about a burst of adrenaline threatening your race from the off? That’s where pacers come in, to run a consistent pace for the whole race to give you one less thing to worry about.

Preparing to pace

In the run-up to the race, I tuned up with some practice pacing at Wimbledon Common parkrun (mostly successfully!) and then again at The Big Half, getting some experience pacing in a crowded atmosphere.

The most important thing is to make sure you hit the splits. Not going faster than the splits, not “banking time” in case things go wrong, but running at almost exactly the target split the whole time. I did a lot of 6-8 mile runs at this target pace to try and lock in that feeling, so it would be natural on race day.

Race day

Race morning was a 5:30am start. Despite the fact that I had to be at the start earlier than most, there were still plenty of other nervous-looking runners eating breakfast on the train to Blackheath. I went for two bagels with peanut butter and a banana, which is nothing new for me on race day, just slightly more than normal!

By 8am all 76 pacers were congregated in a function room in a hotel to talk through the final bits of logistics. We’d been told to be quiet on the way there as people in the hotel might be asleep, but I think the steel drummer at the front door had already taken care of that! All that was left to do was pick up our flags and our lifelines: the pacing bands (a piece of paper with the split time at every mile) and a 5k board to wear round our wrist to check our progress. Even my maths gets a bit suspect when tired at mile 24!

Pacing band

It wasn’t until I walked to the start that I appreciated the vastness of the event. Over 40,000 people from all over the world at the start line, all nervously waiting to take on the same 26.2 mile challenge, hoping that the forecast wind and rain wouldn’t materialise. After a paradoxically short wait that felt like forever in the pen finding a small crew who were in for 3:15, we were off. 

Ready, set, pace!

Strangely, the first couple of miles are a couple of the hardest when pacing – it’s very easy to get swept along with the adrenaline of the masses!

This is particularly true in London as there’s a decent downhill section in the first three miles, so you can get well ahead of schedule. There were no issues this time, getting into the habit of checking the watch at the mile board – 11 seconds ahead at 4 miles, perfect.

The first half of the race was spent chatting to the runners who were following us, most of them raising money for various charities, ticking off the miles and soaking in the atmosphere around Greenwich, Rotherhithe, and the crowd on Tower Bridge. 

After we came through half-way 35 seconds up–just as planned–we saw the elite men come the other direction. You can’t help but feel a surge of energy from how quickly they’re still going, 22 miles in! 

Sadly over the next 8 miles, most of our original pace group dropped off one by one, still running fantastic times but not quite able to hold the pace. It’s one of the hardest things about pacing, you have to keep going exactly on schedule, and can’t adjust to help people who you’ve been running with for the past 2 hours.

The last 5 miles of the London Marathon are spectacular. I was lucky enough to run the Boston Marathon earlier this year, and the crowds at London may have been even bigger and louder than there. It seemed there was constant noise from Tower Hill, down the Embankment and carrying everyone the whole way to the finish line. 

Personally it was quite nice to have worked hard but not feel on the absolute limit in the last few miles, soaking it all in as I picked up a few runners who had faded a bit in the middle but were finishing strong.

I crossed the line in 3 hours, 14 minutes and 37 seconds. 

It’s always a relief to stop the watch on the line and realise you’ve managed to pace the race well. Afterwards I managed to catch up with a couple of the runners who had been in the group for the first couple of hours who had still managed to run big Personal Bests – this is why we pace!

How to get into pacing

I’d highly recommend pacing as a totally unique way to experience events. 

It’s not quite as tiring (at least not physically) as racing and often you get even more of the atmosphere – mainly because you’re so identifiable and the crowd love cheering for the pacer! It’s also a great way to meet and speak to lots of interesting runners.

Pacing is for everyone – at London there were pacers for finish times from 3 hours through to 7 hours 30 minutes. Provided you can keep going at the pace and you’re friendly and encouraging to everyone around you, you can be involved! 

If you are interested,  there are sites you can volunteer with that provide pacers for races across the country. Alternatively, Google events you're interested in racing and see if they have pacer opportunities.

As for me, I’m hoping to race the 2023 London Marathon, but I’m already considering my 2024 pace application!

*Maths skills are not required to pace!

If all that pacing chat got you excited about taking on a big city race for yourself, check out our full list of marathons, and start training for your own incredible race day experience.

Browse marathons


5 Obstacle Events Every Runner Must Try

Plateau and boredom are things all runners deal with at some point in training.

Plateau and boredom are things all runners deal with at some point in training.

When you find yourself starting to dread that weekly long run or getting frustrated by the familiar numbers on your watch, shaking up your training is the best way to turn things around.

That might be running with a friend, straying from your usual route, experimenting with different terrain…or doing all of those things at once with an obstacle event! 

The last few years have seen obstacle races grow massively in popularity. Why? They’re fun, a full-body challenge and the perfect way to fall back in love with running. 

Check out a few of our favourite UK obstacle events coming up soon!

1. Spartan London South East Trifecta Weekend and European Championships 

Spartan is where trail running meets obstacle course racing. With whole lot of mud and a fire jump to finish Spartan is a race like no other. 

The ultimate test in strength and endurance, they pull out all the stops to put even the most seasoned athletes through their paces. With race options that range from kids courses and 5ks all the way up to a 50k ultra, the Spartan London South East Trifecta has something for every age and ability. 

  • Why we love it: Beautiful cross country course and a range of challenging obstacles.
  • When: Sat, 8 Oct 2022 - Sun, 9 Oct 2022
  • Where: Nutley, United Kingdom

Book Spartan

2. Inflatable 5k - St Albans (Hertfordshire)

Embrace your inner child on the world’s largest inflatable course - it’s not built for PBs, but it is built for fun. Get your mates together, select your distance (2.5k, 5k, 10k, 15k), and bounce your way through 30+ gigantic obstacles.

  • Why we love it: Good fun and great tunes!
  • When: Sat, 3 Sept 2022
  • Where: St Albans, United Kingdom

Book Inflatable 5k

3. Grim Challenge

Go offroad with the Grim Challenge. This muddy event will have you slipping and sliding under and over a variety of fun, fairly easy natural obstacles. A crowd favourite, this event always pulls a good number of participants and promises a lively atmosphere. 

  • Why we love it: Energetic, inclusive atmosphere. 
  • When: Sun, 4 Dec 2022
  • Where: Aldershot, United Kingdom

Book Grim Challenge

4. Endeavour Swanbourne 

There’s nothing like a bit of teamwork to reinspire your love of sport and that’s what Endeavour Swanbourne is all about. Set in the wilds of Buckinghamshire, you’ll tackle streams, haystacks, barbed wire, fire and lots of mud. 

  • Why we love it: Gorgeous rural location and options for competitive racing. 
  • When: Sun, 23 Oct 2022
  • Where: Swanbourne, United Kingdom

Book Endeavour Swanbourne

5. Tough Mudder - North West

Add a little adventure to your weekly 5k with this obstacle course classic. Tough Mudder events are teamwork inspired, fast-paced and challenging –- perfect for getting yourself out of a rut. And the best part? You can celebrate your efforts with a hard-earned refreshment at the finish line.  

  • Why we love it: Great for team building.  
  • When: Sat, 10 Sept 2022 - Sun, 11 Sept 2022
  • Where: Cheshire, United Kingdom

Learn More


5 Best London Marathon Alternatives in 2022

Feeling the pain of not winning out in the London Marathon ballot this year? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

Feeling the pain of not winning out in the London Marathon ballot this year? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

The London Marathon is the pinnacle of athletics performance in the UK. It sees the likes of Eluid Kipchoge, Shura Kitata and Brigid Kosgei grace the same course as tens of thousands of runners, fundraising heroes, and of course the wacky Guinness Book of Record Breakers (like the man who spent 6 days crawling the course dressed as a gorilla).

What can I do instead of the London Marathon?

Though it’s certainly a special race, the atmosphere, community spirit and camaraderie of the London Marathon can be more than matched by lots of marathons happening across the country this year. 

From the “other” run and the One Day I’ll Do London races on the date of the London marathon itself to beloved marathons in historic Clarendon and Loch Ness, you can still secure a marathon spot for 2022 today–no ballot required!

We’ve rounded up our top five UK marathons happening this year that we’d hate you to miss out on. It’s time to cast your net wide and find the one for you.

Explore 2022 Marathons

1.     XTERRA Snowdonia Trail Marathon

This trail marathon is a challenging mixed-terrain course, great for those looking to push yourself this summer. Forget pounding the pavements and big crowds, this  trail marathon will have you traversing the most picturesque views the UK has to offer. 

There will be plenty of hills throughout as well as some challenging terrain, but for marathon runners looking to get away from the big city and escape out to the country: this one’s a dream.

Bonus:  This event also offers a 10k and Half Marathon, so bring friends and family along for the ride or try out a shorter distance before going for gold next year.

Find out more

2.     PodPlus Kent Spring Marathon

Looking for a Spring marathon instead of a chillier October challenge? Break away from road racing and explore the scenic tracks and lanes of Kent on the PodPlus Kent Spring Marathon.

You’ll make your way through the quaint villages of Charing and Westwell, taking in spectacular views and the encouragement you need from crowds cheering you on in each village. 

Bonus: You can catch a high speed train from London St Pancras and arrive at Ashford International train station within 45 minutes–perfect for city folk and commuters alike.

Find out more

3.     Bacchus Marathon

The Denbies Vineyard estate hosts a marathon that is one for the fun runners out there. This event is a trail race that is more like a party than a serious marathon. Though the course is quite hilly, you’ll be buoyed along by the aid stations en route which are fully stocked with–you guessed it–wine!

No cheap plonk here–you’ll get to sample wine made onsite at the vineyard. What’s more, if you’re not feeling up to the Marathon there is also a Half Marathon and 10k to enjoy too, perfect for anyone looking to get a bit jolly on a summer’s day.

Bonus: Fancy dress is encouraged: this is not drill! Join the party dressed as whatever you fancy, great vibes all round.

Find out more

4.     ABP Southampton Marathon

The ABP Southampton Marathon lands on the ultimate weekend festival of running.

The course is pretty undulating throughout with a couple of hills and you’ll explore the historic landmarks of Southampton. This will be a truly memorable experience for everyone as there is always  plenty of sideline support, music and general cheer as you race through this beautiful city.

Bonus: Any Saints fans out there? This marathon goes straight through St. Mary’s Football stadium!

Find out more

5.     Milton Keynes Marathon

We couldn’t write about marathons without including this firm fan favourite. 

The Milton Keynes Marathon is voted one of the UK’s best marathons. It’s also a London and Boston Marathon qualifying race, making it the perfect race for anyone looking for a ‘Good For Age’ qualifying entry.

Though this race is smaller than the Manchester and Brighton marathons, this only adds to the friendly, unintimidating feel of the event. There’s also a stadium finish which will spur you on with some last-minute energy to dash across that finish line.

Bonus: Want to bring the rest of your family along? There are plenty of family friendly and shorter races happening throughout the weekend to keep everyone busy!

Find out more

Every cloud…

We know you might be feeling discouraged, but just imagine yourself standing on the start line, feeling the cool morning breeze against your skin, the pre-race nerves dissipating as you start to take your first courageous steps across the start line. Fast forward to crossing the finish line to cheers from your loved ones. 

You can still have that marathon experience this year.

Whether you’re a fun runner, a club runner, or you’ve never run before, don’t let missing out on the London Marathon ballot end your marathon journey: it’s just the beginning. 

Sign up to one of these incredible alternatives to the London Marathon today– even if it’s just a practice run for next year!

Find a 2022 marathon

7 Amazing Benefits of Running Regularly

Extended fat-burn, improved sleep, and even a longer life: 7 research-proven ways that just 30 minutes of running means massive health benefits.

Think you don’t have time to train today? Think again. Research shows that just 30 minutes of running can have huge benefits on your short-term and long-term health.

Here are the top 7 reasons to lace up your shoes and squeeze in that run today.

1. Burn Fat

Studies across the board show that running for just 15-30 minutes will kick-start your metabolism and burn some serious fat, both during and after the exercise itself. That’s because during a shorter run, your body will use fat as its primary power source, rather than relying on the carbohydrates that play a bigger role as exercise intensity increases.

You’ll also keep burning fat long after your run. After intense physical activity, your body goes into EPOC mode (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), where it uses the energy from fat and carbohydrates to restore itself to its pre-exercise state. EPOC can last from 15 minutes to a whopping 48 hours; so that 30 minute run could keep you burning fat for 2 whole days.

2. Catch a Runner's High

Simply put, running makes you feel good - even if you can’t do it for that long. Just 10 minutes of aerobic exercise releases a large amount of the mood-boosting endorphins responsible for “runner’s high,” so a quick lunchtime run can make you feel just as good as a longer one. The benefits aren’t just in the moment, either; regular running has countless long-term effects on your mental health, from decreased stress and anxiety to improved energy levels. If you don’t trust the research, just try out short, regular runs for a month and see the effects yourself.

Autumn Goodman, Unsplash

3. Recover Quickly

If you keep your run to 30 minutes, you’re very unlikely to overstretch or overuse your muscles. That means a much lower risk of injury. As long as you take the usual stretching and cool-down measures to recover properly, your body will feel readier and more refreshed when it comes to your next long run. Even if you usually go for longer distances, factoring in the occasional 30 minute run as part of your regular exercise routine can be much better for your  body in the long term.

4. Burn Those Calories

One 30 minute run is guaranteed to burn between 200-500 calories. That’s a fantastic step forwards to your weight loss goal. Or a guilt-free guilty pleasure that day. Or splitting the bottle instead of having a glass. Whatever your goals and priorities are, calorie wiggle-room is always good news.

5. Sleep Like a Runner

When you start running regularly for 30 minutes, you’ll see your sleep improve significantly. And even if you’re used to more strenuous exercise, a shorter run will still give you better sleep than no running at all.

That’s true for both quality and quantity: you’ll both fall asleep faster and spend more time in those deep sleep stages which are crucial for physical recovery. There’s a caveat to this though: try not to schedule your run before bedtime. All those feel-good endorphins will also make you feel alert and awake, so you may struggle to get to sleep in the first place.

6. Look Better, Feel Stronger

If you can run 3-5 days a week for 30 minutes, the internal health benefits will very quickly start to show on the surface, too. You’ll soon see effects like more defined muscles, pounds off the scale, and clearer, healthier skin. Your muscles will be stronger so you can get more out of those gym sessions, and your improved cardio fitness will allow you to try things you perhaps couldn’t before. And that means more confidence, too.

7. ...And Live Longer

It’s a big claim, but the studies show it's true. The fitness level you achieve from regular, shorter runs can add years to your life expectancy. There are a ton of reasons for this: improved circulation, lower blood pressure, a better balance of good and bad cholesterol, lower stress hormones. Your quality of life will also be higher; a basic level of fitness has been linked consistently to better brain and memory function in later years.

The bottom line is that even when you think you don’t have that much time, there’s no excuse not to get out for a quick 30 minute run. If you need some extra inspiration, check out some of the 5k running events coming up soon near you!

Black Girls Do Run UK|Black Girls Do Run UK|Tasha Thompson, Founder of Black Girls Do Run UK|

Tasha Thompson on how Black Girls Do Run UK is supporting more black women to take up running

Black Girls Do Run UK was founded in March 2019 by Tasha Thompson after 20 years of noticing the lack of representation at events and within the running community, particularly in her hometown of London. Tasha is now a pillar of the running community and continues to inspire us all to get moving. The collective has bustling WhatsApp and Facebook groups as well as keeping everyone up to date on their Instagram.

Black Girls Do Run UK was founded in March 2019 by Tasha Thompson after 20 years of noticing the lack of representation at events and within the running community, particularly in her hometown of London. Tasha is now a pillar of the running community and continues to inspire us all to get moving. The collective has bustling WhatsApp and Facebook groups as well as keeping everyone up to date on their Instagram.

Previously, when thinking about traditional running clubs, you might imagine a group of lean, middle aged white men dressed in singlets running through the rain. Well, thanks to the work of people like Tasha and crews like Black Girls Do Run UK, that picture’s beginning to change. Tasha and her running collective are doing all they can to dispel traditional images of the running community and to energise the industry by encouraging black women to become runners, because in the end, “you can’t be what you can’t see.”

Black Girls Do Run UK are working hard to break down the various hidden barriers to entry within running. Whether it’s the feeling of not belonging at your local 5k parkrun, or the expectation to look a certain way, or simply finding the term ‘runner’ too intimidating - Tasha is on hand to provide a realistic role model for those who are nervous about entering the space and, ultimately, to spread the joy of running. She advocates the benefits of running not only for physical fitness but for its positive impact on mental health. Ultimately, the benefits of running should be experienced by all, and without the incredible work of Tasha and collectives such as Black Girls Do Run UK, this wouldn’t be the case.

I recently spoke to Tasha about what it means to be a black woman in the industry, a situation which I happen to share with her. Personally, I've always staunchly proclaimed that I’ll never be a ‘runner’. I don’t actually know whether that’s because I didn’t feel like that world was made for someone like me, or I just couldn’t imagine myself taking part or, in fact, because I just don’t enjoy exercise that much! But, while some of what Tasha has to say validated my initial concerns, it did more to counteract them and her joy of running supersedes many anxieties I had and is clearly infectious. You know what, I might actually go for a spin around my local park… at some point.

Gina: In your opinion, what does it mean to be a 'runner', is it something you attach to your identity?

Tasha: I am a runner and running is definitely part of my identity and how I am often identified by others. For me, being a runner is to simply be someone who runs, enjoys running and becomes miserable if they cannot run - because it is such a big and important part of your life and who you are. It is not about racing, speed, distance, fitness levels or running daily, it is a feeling where life isn't quite right without running.

Gina: Which black runners have had the biggest impact on your relationship with running, and in what ways?

Tasha: It’s nobody famous nor an elite athlete, but a woman named Jenny Burrell who I knew from the gym - she was the first black woman I had ever heard of saying she ran the London Marathon and it made me stop and think, maybe I can do it too! I am not sure if Jenny still runs but she has gone on to do brilliant things and is the founder and head of Burrell Education one of the UK's leading-edge educators in the field of modern Pregnancy, Post Baby, 3rd Age (Peri-to Post-Menopause) and Female Fitness, Wellness, Massage + Bodywork Therapies. 

Gina: What's the biggest hurdle that keeps black women from running?

Tasha: It is difficult to hone in on one hurdle, but the main ones are:

Hair: Afro hair whether in its natural state or chemically altered doesn’t react well to sweat and this is often a major off putting factor for black women.

Habit: Once those obligatory school P.E. lessons no longer need to be done, that is the end of any form of physical activity for many women unless they loved it. 

Lack of realistic role models:  There are so many black women who are elite athletes but the majority of us cannot do a quarter of what they can, so they are not always realistic role models for getting black women running and moving.

Body image and self-consciousness: Age-old myths surrounding the ideal runner's body is a massive hurdle for all and is responsible for a lot of anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. Running is a good way to improve personal perception of body image and, as a result, feel less self consciousness because it is about function not looks - but this doesn't happen overnight.

Gina: How much of an impact does not focusing on times, splits or performance have on you and the other women in Black Girls Do Run UK?

Not focussing on the performance aspect of running makes running a possibility for more women. It means that you don’t feel like a failure if you are unable to run a 10 minute mile or if you don’t run a sub 30 minute 5k race. It enforces that your only competition is yourself and from what I have seen runners whose focus isn't on performance are much happier runners, because every day is a PB as long as you are doing your best.

Black Girls Do Run UK, photo by Serena Brown.

Gina: How important are running collectives like Black Girls Do Run UK in supporting more black women to take up the sport?

Tasha: Collectives such as us and Fly Girl Collective are important because we are focussing on a niche area of women who are underrepresented in recreational running. You can’t be what you can’t see, so being part of a running group that focuses purely on black women and is led by a black woman who runs the run and talks the talk has a domino effect on other women and plants the running seed in the minds of others and the desire to run grows from there.

Gina: 10 years from now, what differences would you like to see within the black running community and the wider industry?

Tasha: I would like to see more black women and women in general running and more groups focussing on niche areas as it’s a win, win for the industry as a whole. Creating these small running collectives grows the sports by encouraging more people to run and includes more people on the start-lines of running events.

Gina: What’s special about having the support of the Black Girls Do Run UK squad at running events?

Tasha: The support we receive from each other is magical and it is so uplifting - we really feel the love. We support each other virtually and in person. Virtually by sending messages of encouragement and congratulating each other and in person by going along to races to cheer each other on.  

Gina: Where does your motivation to keep running come from?

Tasha: Just like many runners I have those moments where I don’t feel like running, or when life outside of running gets hectic and it's impossible to fit it in, but thankfully my motivation doesn’t dip too often and I am very good at fitting runs in around my life. My motivation to run is from not wanting to start from scratch again, because I often crave green space and to experience the free feeling running gives me. Lastly, it's impossible to not to run because I am surrounded by so many inspirational runners.  

The world’s best cycling documentaries

Grab the remote, take a seat (be it on the sofa or on your at-home training bike) and prepare to be thoroughly amazed by this line up of epic, tragic, gripping, thrilling, life-affirming, jaw dropping cycling documentaries.

Grab the remote, take a seat (be it on the sofa or on your at-home training bike) and prepare to be thoroughly amazed by this line up of epic, tragic, gripping, thrilling, life-affirming, jaw dropping cycling documentaries.

MAMIL, 2018

Sunday in Hell, 1976

Clean Spirit, 2014

The Stars and Water carriers, 1973

Icarus, 2017

Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story, 2014

Slaying the Badger, 2014

Geraint Thomas: The Road will Decide, 2019

The 1991 Motorola Cycling Team documentary, 1991

23 Days in July, 1983

Paris-Roubaix 2016 Backstage Pass, 2016

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