Tough Girl Podcast

The Tough Girl Podcast is all about inspiring and motivating YOU! I will be interviewing inspirational women from around the world, who’ve faced and overcome difficult challenges and situations, they will share their story, their knowledge and provide advice and essential tips for you to overcome your own personal challenges. Please check out the Tough Girl Challenges website - and follow on twitter @_TOUGH_GIRL
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Now displaying: May, 2018
May 29, 2018

Helen joined a running club four years ago mainly because she needed a new social scene that didn’t involve drinking! She threw herself in to the club scene, going to cross countries at weekends and it was a revelation. For a city girl like Helen, hanging out in a cold, muddy field on a Saturday and buying thermals and waterproofs was a complete change of life! At her first race she didn’t even own a backpack so carried kit in a designer tote bag! But each time she survived a day in the cold, it made her want to test more boundaries. 

Helen, started road cycling, open water swimming and then triathlons. For two years she filled almost every weekend with a new endurance challenge - She did a 112 mile cycle through the Peak District, a 5km ocean swim between two islands in Greece, and spend two days of fell running in Isle of Wight.

Two years later, she qualified for the age-group World Champs triathlon and got to go to Chicago and compete in GB kit. In her book she talks about how outdoor sport changed her life and outlook. Not only has it made her physically stronger but it also made her mentally tough, calmer and more patient. She stopped being a slave to glamour and feminine ideals, and made her appreciate what a beautiful country we live in and introduced her to a whole new wholesome social scene. 

Her goals is to inspires more women to get into sport and she’s passionate about getting women to discover their adventurous side.

Show notes

  • Author, Journalist and producer working freelance
  • This Girl Ran: Tales of a Party Girl Turned Triathlete is a memoir about ditching a glamorous city girl lifestyle,  toughening through outdoor sport, and two years later qualifying to be a GB age-group triathlete.
  • Never seeing herself as sport but loving the outdoors
  • Losing her love for the outdoors and becoming an indoors person
  • Wanting to be fit and using the gym and being very image conscious.
  • Fitness is not a chore and the realisation of what the body and mind can do
  • Joining a local running club and discovering how much she loved it
  • Why she wanted to make this change at 36
  • Making new friends and ditching drinking
  • Deciding to run 10 miles on her first run with the running club
  • Feeling a sense of achievement and getting hooked
  • Buying a bike and cycling to running club   
  • How it changed her life   
  • Her first race and how it led to future challenges
  • Signing up for a half marathon and going on a triathlon training holiday!
  • The imposter syndrome and dealing with fears
  • Being torn between the old person and the new person
  • Her first triathlon race and why it stands out in her memory
  • When Helen has learnt most from doing triathlons that she has applied to other parts of her life
  • Qualifying for the age group world championships after 2 years of starting triathlon! (June 2015)
  • Deciding on whether or not to get a coach
  • What training looked like and being near breaking point
  • Racing in Chicago! Being in GB Kit and getting to meet other athletes
  • Feeling lonely at the race and feeling low at the end 
  • Why she changed her attitude after the race and relaxed her regime 
  • Cycling to Paris and planning to cycle the South Down’s Way
  • Tips and advice for other women and why you have to know your reason why
  • Why you just have to go - no thinking - just get up and go!


Social Media

Website  -  

Twitter - @helen_croydon


May 22, 2018

In the spring of 2010, Susan decided to take on the Inside Passage which is an extraordinary coastal route, with some of the most spectacular fjords and convoluted coastlines in the world. It’s a narrow artery that connects with and is part of the sixty-four million square miles that comprise the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the most scenic and most challenging paddling trip in North America, it’s been touted as a holy grail for paddlers.

Her journey, was a 1200 mile, mostly solo paddle adventure down the western coast of North America from Anacortes, Washington to Juneau, Alaska. During the 66 day she was out there, she experienced the astounding power and beauty of nature. She paddled in drenching rains, fierce winds, and violent seas.

Susan had scaled her world down to an 18-foot sea kayak and started to run toward her dreams. Her dream wasn’t only to paddle the Inside Passage. It was also to challenge herself and see how she would handle adversity and discover how that adversity would make her a better version of herself. It was about experiencing that heady sense of freedom that comes from being alone in the wilderness and making her own decisions, relying on her abilities, her strength and courage … Listen to the tough girl podcast, it’s pretty powerful stuff!

Show notes

  • Where Susan is based
  • Who Susan is?
  • Growing up on a farm in Upstate New York
  • Getting into paddling and the outdoors
  • Her passion for white water kayaking
  • Starting her own paddle sports company
  • What it was like becoming a guide and why she was terrified at the start
  • Being taken by the solo experience
  • The Inside Passage
  • Her inspiration and the power of having someone believe in you
  • Losing her father and going through a painful time
  • Starting to make poor choices in her life
  • Looking for a new goal and wanting to press that reset button
  • Being prepared both physically, mentally, logistically and also on an emotional level
  • Being a firm believer in positive visualisation
  • 66 Days on the water
  • Talking about fear and her fears before the journey started
  • The first day of the challenge, what it was like
  • When reality set in and the ‘challenge’ started
  • Learning patience from the sea
  • The magical moments verses the miserable moments
  • Hitting the reset button and being able to centre herself
  • The ultimate magical moment which sticks in her memory
  • Having 15 miles left to go
  • The inner and outer journey
  • Reflecting back on the journey and what she’s learned on the way
  • Why the sea can be such a good teacher
  • Writing her book and reliving the memories
  • Itching to do a new challenge - and setting a new goal!
  • Get the book!
  • Final word of advice and why you need to get clear on what you want to accomplish!


Social Media

Website -  

Twitter - @SusanMConrad 

Instagram - @susanmarieconrad 

Facebook - 


May 15, 2018

Hannah Engelkamp is a travel writer and ex-outdoor-magazine editor who bought a donkey, ‘the eccentric and handsome Chico’,  29 maps, and set off to walk the 1000-mile circumference of Wales. The journey took nearly six months, twice as long as her original estimate!

During this podcast we talk more about her life, being involved in adventure,  why she loves small adventures in the UK. Where she got the idea from and why she decided to take on this challenge. For those who have recently had children Hannah also shared more about how her life has changed since and what the impact has been with regards to adventure and fitness.

Show notes

  • Growing up in Wales
  • Being a magazine editor  and working in the adventure industry
  • How adventure has played a role in her life and what has inspired her
  • Where the idea first came from 
  • Why she decided to tell people about her idea!
  • The problems with stiles and kissing gates!
  • Deciding to take a Donkey with her!
  • Chico the donkey and why he was a special kind of donkey!
  • Planning the trip
  • Working as a freelancer in London
  • Why it was easier to take off 3 months than 3 weeks
  • Dealing with the extra logistics of travelling with a donkey!
  • Her fears and worries before the trip started - and why they were mostly donkey related!
  • The complex relationship with Chico 
  • The life lessons she learned
  • The challenges of route planning
  • Knowing that she would next want to quit
  • Making friends with Chico…
  • Dealing with the hills and the magical moments 
  • Being ready to finish the walk in November
  • Adding another donkey into the mix for the final 40 miles!
  • Why going on this adventure helped her with her first child
  • What happened to Chico after the walk!
  • The next challenge - walking to the town of Cardigan in Wales
  • How has life changed after having a child
  • The toughness of being a parent…
  • Learn more about the book and the film!
  • Final words of advice for new mothers who want to incorporate adventure into your life


Social Media

Personal website - 

Twitter - @hannahengelkamp  

Facebook - @SeasideDonkey 


BONUS TRACK! With Lauren from Discover Outdoors!

Get your tickets for Women in the Outdoors Week HERE!

NYC - 11th June - 17th June


May 8, 2018

Sacha is an Australian-born conservationist, adventurer and motivational speaker. She works for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in the UK. Over the past 20 years, Berwick swan numbers have nearly halved with just 20,000 remaining in the wild but experts are unsure what is causing the population crash. Sacha had an idea to investigate the problem, which she though was crazy at first.

However, after 18 months of planning in the winter of 2016, Sacha decided to followed their entire 7,000 km migration route from Arctic Russia to the UK. She did this by flying with the birds on a paramotor. Essentially hanging from a paraglider with a propellor on her back! 

During this podcast, we learn more about her early life, growing up in Australia, before moving over to the UK. Sacha also shares more about her life as a champion free-diver! She provides advices and top tips that you’ll be able to apply to your next challenge or adventure! 

Show notes

  • Who is Sacha Dench?
  • Growing upon Sydney and spending a lot of time outdoors
  • Moving to the bush with her mum, having a very basic upbringing 
  • Getting comfortable being out in remote places
  • How she got to school!
  • Moving to the UK
  • Never really being into sports
  • Working out that she was very good at holding her breath!
  • Free diving and how it came about..
  • Free diving in the UK? 
  • Understanding more about Free Diving - what it is and what it’s like being under the water
  • Learning to understand how your body behaves while doing ‘breath holds’
  • Learning how to stay calm and to keep adrenaline under control
  • The transferable skills of free diving - such as mind control and keeping calm
  • The Flight of the Swans... 
  • The reason - Declining swan numbers making the migration from arctic Russia to northern Europe. From 29,000 in 1995 to just 18,000 in 2010.
  • How the idea started to form….and why she sat of the idea for a couple of months.
  • Having 18 months to plan and prepare and why she really needed another year to plan and prepare
  • The challenges she had to face and overcome
  • Dealing with the negativity and criticism for her idea
  • The power of connections and why one person can make a difference
  • Doing her research in Russia and developing local partners!
  • The start, heading up to the Arctic!
  • The call of the swans and being accepted as a lead bird
  • What is it like flying in a Paramotor? 
  • What was learned about the decline of the swans and the exciting discoveries made along the way
  • The kindness of strangers and the impact Sacha was having by meeting individuals on the journey
  • Being the first women to fly over the English Channel!
  • The next challenge (Spring 2019)- planning to fly around the UK and maybe Ireland!
  • A book and film is on the way!


Social Media

Website - 

Instagram - @sacha_dench 

Twitter - @sachadench 



The Tough Girl Podcast has also been nominated for the Women’s Sport Trust #BeAGameChanger Award - which is fantastic news and really shows what an impact the podcast is having. However, I’m up against some massive organisations - Manchester City, Channel 4 and Sky Sports!!!

I would be very grateful if you could take a moment, to vote (every vote really does make a difference!)

*** Stacey Copeland is also up for individual role model of the year.***

Voting ends on the 13th May and the awards night is the 24th May.



May 1, 2018

Kiko a former teacher, now turned SUPer and adventurer, at 36, rowed 3,000 nautical miles from Gran Canaria to Barbados in 49 days! Gaining a new Guinness World Record in the process!

Solo and unsupported, she was rowing for up to 16 hours a day, sleeping in two-hour shifts. What makes this story even more incredible is that in 2009, Kiko, was diagnosed with Cushing's disease, a rare condition that made even walking up the stairs impossible.

The tumour on her pituitary gland also caused severe memory loss, psychosis, diabetes, osteoporosis, insomnia and muscle wastage.

In order to give back Kiko stated fundraising for Kings College Hospital Charity, who helped save her life. Whilst in the middle of her training to row the Atlantic, she was diagnosed with a second tumour which was successfully removed in August 2017.

In March 2018, she smashed the previous record or 56 days and in the process motivated and inspired others to challenge themselves to do the unthinkable. 

During this podcast we learn more about Kiko; her life, the decisions she’s made and the challenges she’s overcome, what she has learnt on the way and why she wants to continue to inspire and motivate others. She also give a few hints about her next challenge!

Show notes

  • Thinking about her recent achievement!
  • Wanting to move on and focus on the next thing
  • When the dream for rowing the Atlantic came about
  • Growing up as one of 4 children
  • Adventures growing up, travelling and taking gap years
  • Driving to Cape Town from the UK in a team of 4 over 6 months
  • What she learnt on this adventure…
  • Learning to speak honestly to people and to be honest to herself
  • Being diagnosed with Cushing Disease in 2009
  • Why you have to let go of the things you can’t control and focus on what you can control
  • The recovery process…over 18 months
  • Going off her medication and the negative impact…
  • Trying to find her passion
  • Learning to stand up paddle board on the Nile
  • Wanting to do paddle board life coaching in the future
  • Telling her friends and family about her Atlantic Rowing Challenge!
  • Not having the support from her family 
  • Doing the planning at the start
  • Deciding to do women only funding
  • Having to deal with her tumour coming back
  • Why it was a relief to start rowing the Atlantic
  • Being closest to a person in space rather than on earth!
  • Never feeling lonely or alone
  • What a typical day was like on the water - her routine and day to day habits
  • How she entertained herself while on the boat & getting obsessed with the data
  • The last day and the finish
  • Knowing her life was going to change after getting the world record
  • What she’s learnt from this experience
  • The next big challenge!
  • Final words of wisdom…
  • Where her name - Kiko came from

Social Media

Personal Website - 

Twitter - @Kikomatthews 

Instagram @kikomatthews 

Donate here  to help raise funds for Kings College Hospital Charity -



I'm excited to be up for an award at this year’s @womensporttrust #BeAGameChanger Awards! Please vote for me here -