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: July, 2019
Jul 30, 2019

Christine is half Spanish, born and raised in NYC, she was an only child and traveled from a young age. She has been surrounded by great mentors such as her grandmother, mother and family friends. She has been raised in a multicultural environment by strong women who have empowered her to go after her dreams.   

Christine is the co-founder and President of Mad Dog Expeditions an internationally recognised technical scuba diving and exploration company based in NYC. For more than 20 years Christine has been diving and exploring in remote regions of the world. Christine is the first woman to dive and explore beneath the Arctic Sea ice and ice caves of the Canadian High Arctic. Christine is also the first woman to dive the dangerous piranha saturated waters of the Amazon's Rio Negro and its tributaries. 

During this podcast, Christine shares more about her background, growing up in NYC and her struggle to get certified to scuba dive (for fun and business) while battling asthma, severe inner ear issues and sea sickness. Although her health issues have always been there, Christine learnt at an early age how to manage them, by working closely with doctors, remaining disciplined and conservative especially when she is in remote locations and working in extreme environments.

Christine is very active in oceanographic and wildlife conservation issues surrounding indigenous peoples. She is a role model for young women everywhere and passes on her expertise by mentoring, lecturing and presenting to student groups throughout the country. Christine is a Fellow of both the Explorers Club in New York and the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Show notes

  • Living and growing up in New York City
  • How a city girl got into travel and adventure
  • Growing up in a multi-cultural family
  • Training and leaning how to scuba dive
  • Dealing with Asthma as a child and how it impacted her ability to do sports
  • The opportunity to start a travel company
  • The first expedition - A trip to the Canadian High Arctic
  • What it’s like under the water
  • Dealing with the cold
  • 2010 working on a project to find a US Submarine in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Using Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs)
  • Discovering history under water
  • What is the right thing to do?
  • Diving in the Amazon
  • Length of expeditions and dealing with weather issues
  • Being the only women on teams
  • Why you have to be self reliant 
  • Why the company was called Maddog Expeditions
  • Loving huskies dogs
  • Skiing to the North Pole as part of an all women team (2015)
  • Not knowing anyone before heading out to the North Pole
  • Getting competent on skies
  • Why women are tough
  • Getting injured on the ice and having to keep on going
  • Planning to head out to the North Pole in 2020
  • How Exploring Women came about
  • Why you should go out and do something you never though you could do
  • A new book coming in 2020
  • Quick Fire Questions
  • Quest for knowledge - thirst for adventure 


Social Media

Website -

Empowering women, sharing firsthand knowledge, pursuing adventure and creating strong role models

"Quest For Knowledge | Thirst For Adventure”

Instagram: @Exploringwomen 


Jul 25, 2019

We first spoke with Laura in December 2017 when she shared more about solo kayaking in Russia, cycling the Wild Atlantic Way and circumnavigating 3 of the Channel Islands in an extreme triathlon! Laura has gone on to complete, The North Sea Cycle route (Eurovelo 12) which is the world's longest signposted cycle route. Over two and a half months, Laura cycled through 8 countries and covered a distance of over 6,000km. She named this challenge the #GreatNorthRide.

Laura is a full time adventurer and motivational speaker, she has now written and published her first book - Kairos - 

“ Kairos: The right or opportune moment (the supreme moment); a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens. The perfect, delicate, crucial moment; the fleeting rightness of time and place that creates the opportune atmosphere for action, words, or movement.”

During this podcast, I’m super excited to catch up with Laura as she share more about, Kairos, the #GreatNorthRide, the challenges of getting over injury, as well as more info about her day to day life, Laura also answers quick fire questions from what time she gets up in the morning to her favourite piece of kit. 

Laura will leave you inspired to take on your own personal challenge! Take a listen now! 

Show notes

  • Writing her first book!
  • The definition of Kairos
  • Writing the book and going back to 2012
  • The Great North Ride (which hugs the coasts of the North Sea)
  • From Scotland to Norway - 8,countries, 3000 miles
  • Where the idea came from and why she was wanting a bigger challenge
  • Getting really excited about the challenge!
  • How does she start planning
  • Being a big planner and why it is was so important to have a rough route schedule
  • The spreadsheet life!
  • Co-ordinating community rides and reaching out to schools
  • Logistics and why she set the dates and meeting places
  • Planning to be away for 2.5 months having one rest day a week
  • Dealing with tough terrain and a heat wave
  • Needing more rest on longer challenges
  • Dealing with loneliness in Europe in the final 6 weeks
  • Her mental habits that helped her 
  • Why the UK was the perfect way to start the challenge
  • Day to day life on the road
  • Why routines on the road were so important
  • Budgeting, money and how much it cost
  • Starting in the Shetland Islands
  • Getting to the start line
  • What the NC500 (warm up ride)
  • Dealing with injury and failure
  • Coming back from injury 
  • Frustration and being kind to yourself
  • What she does before and after cycling 
  • The power of a lacrosse ball
  • Eating pineapple
  • The sites on the way
  • Being tacked again…
  • Getting to the end of the trip
  • How she felt after the challenge
  • Having nothing to prove anymore 
  • Getting to be ok with failure 
  • Heading back home and coming back to reality
  • Starting to write her book and needing the story to be right
  • Having to say no to a lot of things
  • Perfectionism and why perfect is not the end goal
  • Day to day life as an adventurer
  • Enjoying her life and getting to inspire the younger generation
  • Quick Fire Questions
  • Final words of advice and top tips
Jul 23, 2019

Jen and her husband Sim have completed multiple marathons, ultra-marathons, Ironman triathlons and adventure races. In 2015 they decided they had had enough of the traditional way of living and spent a year living under canvas with their two young children (5 and 7 years old), they used this opportunity to explore more of  Britain’s National Parks. 

Jen enjoys writing about nature, families, sport and adventures, she co-authors books with Sim, and their books include two of the Day Walks series from Vertebrate; The Adventurer’s Guide to Britain (2018); Amazing Family Adventures (2017); and Wild Running (2014). 

Jen is an advocate of sustainable adventuring, and she works with organisations such as the Wildlife Trusts, the National Trust and the Forestry Commission to highlight the importance of looking after our precious wild places.

Show notes

  • Growing up and loving the outdoors and playing sports
  • Moving from London to the countryside
  • Not really enjoying sports at school  - but loving running
  • How she uses running to get “me time”
  • Focusing on running and getting into ultra marathons
  • Recovering from a car crash
  • Her first marathon…. the Snowdonia Marathon
  • Fitting her running in around her life
  • Why she loves running
  • Combining her passions for writing and running
  • Not getting maternity pay and not being able to work
  • Getting her first publishing deal
  • Deciding to live in a tent for a year (to have an adventure and to save money!)
  • How she met her husband - Sim
  • The reality of living in a field with a 3 year old and a 6 month old
  • Having a back up plan
  • Camping in the UK throughout winter
  • Having supportive friends
  • How life changed after having children
  • Home schooling the children
  • The race for the stones (while still breast feeding)!
  • Wanting to prove to herself that she could take on a big challenge
  • Struggling with motivation while running and how she got passed it
  • Amazing Family Adventures (a book with the National Trust)
  • Exposing children to risk 
  • Not putting her children on social media
  • Advice for new parents for getting children involved in adventure
  • Leaving tent life behind and moving back into a house
  • The Adventurers Guide to Britain 
  • New books coming out next year!


Social Media

Website - 

Facebook - @jenandsimbenson

Instagram - @jenandsim_adventures  

Twitter - @jenandsim 

Jul 18, 2019

Ali is a personal trainer and a passionate runner, she lives in Amersham with her partner and 2 children.

We first spoke with Ali in 2015 where she shared more about how she got into running, doing the Marathon des Sables and the Druids Ultra.

Since we last spoke Ali has joined the Great Britain 24hr racing team and has been pursuing her marathon goal of sub 3 hrs (Her current PB is 3hr 1 min!).

Ali keeps strong by lifting weights, and doesn’t stick to a strict training program, she listens to her body and plans training around her goals. Ali provides lots of great advice and tips whether you are new to running, or are looking to enter longer distance races. 

Show notes

  • Who is Ali
  • Her love for running
  • What she has been doing since we last spoke
  • Still trying to break the 3 hour barrier in the marathon
  • Running a PB of 3hr 1min
  • Running sub 7 minutes….
  • Being proud of her result
  • Her emotions while crossing the finish line
  • Knowing at the half way point she wasn’t going to break the 3hr mark
  • Not believing she can do it
  • “I’m not good enough”
  • Keeping happy throughout the year
  • Doing what she enjoys doing
  • Her love for Park Run 
  • Planning her running in 2019
  • Letting your body recover
  • Being selected for the World Championships in October.
  • Recovery
  • The importance of strength work 
  • Not doing massive mileage
  • Mobility work and making use of Youtube
  • Recovery runs???
  • Working out in her garage gym
  • The Grand Union Canal Race - 145 miles 
  • Why it was one of the hardest races she’s done
  • Having a buddy runner
  • Struggling through the last 20 miles
  • The mental aspects of the journey
  • Getting more competitive over the final 13 miles
  • The ups and downs of running ultra
  • Needing people to be tough with her
  • Going beyond 24 hours running
  • The highs and the lows on the journey
  • The European Championships and only having 3 women
  • Getting a Bronze Medal
  • Putting her legs up in the air
  • Why it is all about the eating on a 24 hr race
  • Eating from half an hour into the start of the race
  • Watch a short video from the race
  • The Spartathlon Ultra Race
  • Advice for ultra runners

Ali is on twitter @AliJYoung

Jul 16, 2019

Krystle is an adventure sports photographer from Queensland, Australia, although she now lives a semi-nomadic lifestyle in her quest to capture and present unique moments from extreme sports, expeditions and adventures across the globe. 

Driven by a passion to capture the most unique perspective not yet thought of, Krystle is willing to travel to get the shot. Whether that’s camping on a frozen fjord for a month in the extreme cold of the Arctic, or hanging out with 23 BASE jumpers paragliding in the Karakoram Range in Pakistan. Krystle consistently brings attention to the demanding adventures and landscapes that the public is rarely fortunate enough to be exposed to.

During this podcast Krystle share more about her passion for travel and photography and how she gained the skills necessary to do this job. She share the challenges of being on the road for 11 months out of every year and how she maintains her physically and mental well being. Krystle also shares top tips and advice for you to ensure you are living your most full life and going after your dreams. She also talks passionately about her Plan A and why that’s the only plan she has. 

Show notes

  • Growing up on the sunshine coast
  • Where her love of travel comes from
  • Being inspired by National Geographic
  • Not having the money to go travelling at 18
  • Her love of photography and where it came from 
  • Loving the outdoors 
  • Life after university and why university was so frustrating!!
  • Being interested in sports photography
  • How she started to add travel into her work
  • Starting to build a network over 4 years while being based in Sydney
  • How she made it happen 
  • Looking for true, gritty, raw adventure
  • Saving every dollar possible to afford to travel
  • Preparing for the Arctic for a month
  • Keeping camera’s working in extreme conditions
  • The challenges while out on expeditions 
  • Dealing with team dynamics and the importance of communication
  • Going paragliding in Pakistan 
  • Women in adventure photography
  • Travelling constantly 
  • Missing having a home and having a base
  • Trying to reset the balance
  • Getting into free diving
  • Trying to stay mentally and physically well when travelling so much
  • Leaving her stuff in a shipping container with her grand parents
  • What’s on the bucket list?!
  • Advice for other women who want to step outside their comfort zone
  • Only having a Plan A and making it work

Social Media

Website -

Instagram - @krystlejwright   


Jul 11, 2019

We first spoke with Sally back at the very start of the Tough Girl Podcast, Sally was one of the first 4 guests. During the first episode we focused on her row across the Atlantic Ocean with her mum who she hadn’t spoken to in 10 years! Since 2015, I’ve heard her give motivational talks, and met Sally on multiple occasions, she’s become a good friend. Sally is also part of the Tough Girl Tribe (closed FB group for guests and patrons of the tough girl podcast).

Earlier on this year, her book  “Sally's Odd at Sea” was selected for the monthly book club (run by Allison McArthur). So much came out from the discussion, such as the challenges of writing the book, feedback on the cover, working as a humanitarian aid worker, becoming a Personal Trainer and working with the athletes in the gym at the 2012 London Olympics, sailing the last leg of the Clipper Round the World, plus so much more! I decided it would be fab to get Sally back on the podcast to share more about her other adventures and challenges she’s been involved with. 

Some of the adventures and challenges include: Qualifying as a humanitarian aid worker with Shelterbox and being deployed to two disasters. Joining the incredible ‘1st’ women from the Armed Forces to climb the Chemin De la Liberte. Recording a documentary about the most remote islands in the world. Writing articles for the BBC Magazine and presented them on BBC Radio 4, which included going to the Galapagos to write about El Niño. Sally also tried to row round Great Britain - but was picked up by the RNLI in Margate!!

Show notes

  • How we know each other
  • The Tough Girl Tribe book club
  • Feedback on the book cover…
  • Finding out more about Sally and her life as an adventurer
  • How times have changed
  • Going against the norms of society 
  • Being at peace with her decision about her career
  • Becoming a humanitarian disaster relief worker
  • Losing a friend in a Tsunami 
  • Suffering from anxiety
  • Being deployed to disaster zones
  • Coping emotionally 
  • Adjusting back to normal life
  • Not having to prove herself anymore
  • Having her daughter (after 10 years)
  • Going on adventures
  • Health and fitness after a bad pregnancy
  • The challenges with social media 
  • Surviving for 3 years
  • Resilience training 
  • Walking the ‘Chemin De la Liberte’ the freedom trail
  • The challenges of team dynamics
  • Being stuck in very challenging situations
  • Why journalling doesn’t work for you
  • The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race
  • Not being great at sailing!
  • Needing to get off the boat
  • Breaking her thumb in half and being treated in Amsterdam
  • The Row around Great Britain and everything that went wrong…
  • Wanting to spend more time outdoors
  • Quick Fire Questions
  • The Well-beginners Podcast
  • A new children’s book! 
  • Starting a new campaign - Active Pregnancy 
Jul 9, 2019

Shona left inverness when she was 17 years old looking for something, over the years she tried a variety of different careers; a nurse, a counsellor, an aid worker, a charity project manager, a support worker at a women’s refuge and as a personal trainer all while trying to discover what she loved and what she was passionate about. 

Shona has gone on to explore more of her passions and interests which includes the mountains and spending time in nature. Four years ago, as she was approaching her 40th birthday, she realised she wasn’t living the life she dreamed of or going on the adventures that she wanted to. Shona had been waiting for her circumstances to change but they weren’t so she decided it was time to stop putting her life on hold and time to start living. Every year since she has gotten, a little bit bolder and a little bit braver! In 2016 it was the Outer Hebrides cycle followed by the North Coast 500 cycle in 2017 and the Cape Wrath Trail in 2018. 

This year, Shona is heading off to America to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT - 2,650 miles stretching from Canada to Mexico). We will be catching up with Shona at the half way point to see how she is getting on and also at the end of the hike. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out! New episodes go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time. 

Show notes

  • Who is Shona - living in Inverness, Scotland
  • Reinventing herself many times
  • Retraining as a life coach 
  • Being passionate about nature and being in the outdoors
  • Leaving home at 17 and not having any clue about what she wanted to do
  • Discovering herself and what makes her feel alive
  • How the outdoors played a part of her life when she was growing up
  • Working as an Aid Worker in South Sudan
  • The nature connection
  • Moving back to the highlands and wanting to explore the hills more
  • Deciding to go on a big solo adventure to celebrate turning 40 and how this was the starting point
  • The joy and happiness of being outdoors
  • Not caring what people think
  • Heading to the Outer Hebrides to go on a cycle adventure!
  • How it helped to change her life
  • Taking the first step and why it can be the hardest
  • Scared of going back to her old indoor way of living
  • Book - The Living Mountain - By Nan Shepherd 
  • Joining the Inverness Mountaineering club
  • Cycling the North Coast 500 on a road bike
  • Not having a car and not being able to get out to the hills 
  • Getting help and support to learn new skills
  • The Adventure Syndicate 
  • Remembering the nature connection and why we all have it within us
  • The Cape Wrath Trail in preparation for the Pacific Crest Trail
  • Practical advice and tips
  • “I can do hard things” 
  • The fear of the cold
  • The dream to thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail
  • Flying to London on the 1st July and starting the trail on the 4th July
  • Planning and preparation for the Trail
  • Figuring out how to take off 6 moths to go and hike the trail
  • How’s she's feeling before the start!
  • The reaction of friends and family
  • What’s going to be happening to the blog?
  • Walking Each Other Home by Ram Dass
  • Final words of advice for other women who want to take on a big challenge

Social Media

Website -

Facebook -  @shonamacphersoncoaching  

Instagram - @walkwildcoach 



Jul 2, 2019

Pippa moved to Manly, just outside Sydney in Australia from the UK in 2012 with her husband Joe. She has always loved sport but only got involved in endurance events since moving. After completing 3 Peaks in Victoria (a 235km ride with 4000m of climbing) she realised that you can do anything that you put your mind to and decided to sign up for North Face 50km run! Since then she has continued to get involved with more endurance based challenges. 

In 2017, Pippa joined the Veloroos (a non professional endurance cycle team who won Race Around America in 2015) to take on the non stop 3000k Race Around Ireland (RAI) which ended up smashed the female record and coming 4th overall.

Pippa gave birth to her son Mawson in August 2018. She continued to ride throughout her pregnancy and was keen to find a come back event but nothing was inspiring her, until hearing about the opportunity to ride the Tour De France. 

Currently there is no Tour De France for women so a women’s team ‘InternationElles’ cycle the whole course but start a day before the men’s race in order to raise awareness about this inequality.

We will be speaking with Pippa after the tour for Tough Girl EXTRA to find out how she got on.

Show notes

  • Pippa introduces herself
  • Goring up in the UK and loving sports
  • Running and swimming for locals clubs
  • Moving out to Australia in 2012
  • Getting involved in sports in a big way
  • Training for the 3 peaks challenge in Australia (a 235km ride with 4000m of climbing and a 13hr cut off point) 
  • The moment when she started to believe in herself
  • Preparing and controlling what she could
  • Why self-belief is so important
  • Doing the North Face 50K Ultra Marathon
  • Fitting training in around work
  • Thinking while running
  • What she eats while trail running (3 dates = 1 gel)
  • The Big Red Run (no longer happens)
  • What happens when things no longer go to plan
  • Readjusting her expectations
  • The Veloroos 
  • The Race Around Ireland - (Watch the documentary)
  • What it was like finishing the race
  • Having a baby in August 2018
  • Staying active during pregnancy
  • Working with a coach or personal trainer?
  • The Tour de France
  • The pressure before the start - 5th July
  • Having a bit of a wobble and feeling a bit overwhelmed
  • Dealing with the logistics and challenges before the race even starts
  • Le Course  - 1 day stage for women  (112km)
  • Final words of advice and top tips for women 


Social media

Facebook: @theveloroos , @InternationElles  

Insta: @theveloroos , @InternationElles  , @piplyon  

Twitter: @internationEll2 

There will also be live tracking each day so you can 'dot watch'  and see where they are each day during the Tour.