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: November, 2016
Nov 29, 2016

Lorna North is the founder of Queen of the Mile, a platform for those who share the joys of road cycling and running with a particular focus on making these sports less intimidating and more accessible to women. The idea came about when she bought her first road bike and couldn’t find any personal insight on how to get started. As a professional writer anyway, she decided to build a resource to fill this gap and share first-hand experiences of the cycling and running challenges she and the community were embarking on. Lorna’s approach is not about being the fastest but about pushing your own limits, having fun with it and seeing every mile as a victory.

Show notes

  • Getting to know Lorna, what it was like growing up in London and finding her first passion - Gymnastics
  • Why she decided to give it up
  • Why running came next and what she loved about it
  • Spending 4 years abroad, traveling around Africa and Asia and what she learned from it and why it empowered her
  • Returning to the corporate lifestyle and why she decided to train for her first Marathon
  • Hitting the wall at mile 20 and what was going through her head as she struggled around the marathon courses
  • Why she felt disappointed in herself.
  • The dreaded questions that everyone asks when you talk about marathon running…
  • Having to take a break after the marathon and why she decided to get into cycling!
  • Turning 30!
  • Getting on her bike and going through a baptism of fire!
  • Looking back at her previous challenges and which ones stand out for her - most notably cycling from London to Paris in 24hrs with Challenge Sophie!
  • Getting through the dark moments and what kept her going
  • Her first Ultra - 100k Race to the Stones - what happened and what she learned on the way
  • Dealing with DNF (Did Not Finish)
  • 2016 and what’s been happening!
  • Cycling 220 miles from Manchester to London - and how she coped physically and mentally
  • Coping with “bonking”, dealing with nutrition and how to mange her food needs while completing ultra distances
  • Plans for 2017

Learn more about Lorna by visiting her blog -

Lorna is on twitter @QueenOfTheMile I'm on twitter @_TOUGH_GIRL

Next week we will be speaking to Lorna’s Mum - Alison “Ace” North as she shares more about taking up running in her sixties and how she went from running 5K to a 100K ultra race!

Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out of future episodes!  Visit to be inspired by the other women who have been on the Tough Girl Podcast.

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Nov 22, 2016

Rachel is a 44 year old, Special Needs PE Teacher who loves sports and has represented Team GB at Triathlon. This is her story of how she knew something was wrong with her, but no one would listen. Eventually she stopped talking about it. She was then diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2014. During the podcast we talk about how she handled the news, and how she coped with her diagnoses. What kept her positive through the challenges she faced, from emergency operations, to only being able to sit up in bed for five minutes at a time. Rachel has fought her way back to health and fitness and inspired many along the way with her story. 

Show notes

  • Where her love of sport came from and why a teacher inspired her at 11 years old to become a PE teacher
  • Quitting hockey and changing over to football
  • The changes she has seen in girls sports and why it’s changed so much over the years
  • Why she decided to leave football and try a new sport at 40 years old
  • Wanting to make the GB Triathlon Team
  • Her first triathlon, on a borrowed bike!
  • Her first Ironman, where she trained herself and just did what she thought should be doing
  • What you need to do to qualify for Team GB 
  • Racing in Budapest & coming 9th in her first World Championships!
  • How her lifestyle changed going forward
  • Where her determination and focus comes from
  • Starting to have dream like episodes and having issues with her eyes
  • Being told she had a brain tumour and how she handled it
  • How quickly things moved forward
  • Why her surgeon encouraged her to exercise
  • How she remained positive during the diagnosis
  • How she came to start writing her book and why writing gave her relief
  • Having the first operation
  • Getting out in time for Christmas
  • Needing to go in for an emergency operation
  • Why she needed to ask the hard questions
  • How she got herself out of the darkness
  • Why she looked at her recovery like training
  • Having to start again 
  • What she’s learned most from the whole experience
  • Heading off to Geneva 7 months later and making the most of the event
  • Getting a Gluiness World Record! Running the London Marathon in a Hippo Costume!
  • Raising money for Brain Tumour Support
  • Why she named her book - The Butterfly Within

Learn more about what the Brain Tumour Support charity does by visiting their website.

Rachel is also on Twitter @TheRachelBown


Thank you for listening to the Tough Girl Podcast - Make sure to subscribe and check out the website for more info 


Nov 15, 2016

Yorkshire born Lauren did all the normal things that are expected, she did her GCSEs, her A’Levels and headed of to University. After graduating instead of following a safe career path she decided on a different route and in 2013 she and a friend set off to row the Atlantic Ocean.

It was a challenge like no other. During this podcast we learn the reasons behind her row, how she dealt with the catalogue of errors that happened on the row and why she went back in 2015 to row it again.

Lauren is a 2x World Record Holder for rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, she’s also survived “The Island” with Bear Grylls.


  • Who is Lauren & how she describes herself
  • Taking up rowing in her 2nd year at university
  • How the death of her close friend, Elle from cervical cancer at 23 years old changed the direction of her life and how she choose to live her life
  • Having 100 days to prepare for the ocean row
  • The journey across the Atlantic Ocean; the highs, the lows, the errors & the mistakes made along the way 
  • Being on the boat for 75 days and deciding not to give up and trying to find anyway to fix the boat to make it work
  • Getting rescued and ended up in Canada!
  • After four and half months, finally arriving back in the UK and trying to fit back into normality
  • Dealing with the depression blues after the challenge and feeling very lost
  • What she learnt most about herself from going through this experience
  • Deciding what do to next
  • Applying for “The Island” with Bear Grylls!
  • Getting to the island and being stranded with 14 other women for 6 weeks
  • Finding out she was the youngest women on the island
  • What she learnt most on the island from; friendships, to who she was as a person and being able to stay positive in negative situations. 
  • Going 11 days without any food and how she coped
  • The highlights and making friends for life
  • Having the confidence to go after her dream of rowing across the Atlantic
  • How she changed and how she struggled to relate to her friends and family
  • Dealing with her biggest fear that she could fail again, and not knowing how she would be able to come back from that
  • Not sleeping 3 months before the race and lying awake at night
  • What drives her to do what she does and the mission to inspire younger girls to get outside to get active and to play sports
  • Dealing with the sexism while rowing across the ocean, having people bet against them an how they used it to drive them forward
  • The mental preparation involved and why she made it sounds as unglamorous as possible!
  • Why they decided to head down South at the star of the race
  • Winning two World Records for being the youngest and fastest female rowers across the ocean
  • Getting her Antigua holiday finally!
  • Her future plans and why she wants to keep on testing the boundaries

Learn more about Lauren and her adventures by visiting her website

You can follow Lauren on twitter @MortonLauren  

Nov 10, 2016

Erin Bastian is a sea kayak explorer like no other. Adventure is her life. She’s embarked on many expeditions, trying to achieve the impossible and as a result is continually having to raise the bar.

From an early age Erin was drawn to exploring the dramatic coastlines around her hometown, Cornwall, where she was able to connect with nature and gain a unique perspective of the cliffs. At the age of 15, Erin started working in the outdoor industry and has since become a qualified Sea Kayak Coach, which has allowed her to work during the summer season and organise epic adventures in the off-season to the likes of Patagonia, Peru, Nepal, Norway, Tanzania, Mexico and Sardinia.

One of Erin’s latest expeditions was to Patagonia where she and two others embarked on a 33-day self supported kayaking adventure. Paddling through the wilds of this remote region they dealt with extreme weather, discovered glaciers, fought against strong tidal currents and navigated through a maze of canals. During this episode we learn more about Erin, and the extraordinary challenges’ she’s embarked on!

Show notes

  • Growing up in Cornwall by the sea
  • Taking advantage or the opportunities available to her
  • Finding her passion at a young age
  • Feeling powerful playing sports
  • How Erin progressed on her journey and how work experienced helped her to take the next steps
  • Leaving school and trying to decide what was going to be next
  • Her first big solo challenge!
  • Why she picked Sardinia - a massive 850
  • Dealing with the biggest storm in 30 years! 
  • Planner or not a planner?
  • Only doing 750km and why she felt like a failure and why it was the making of her
  • What Erin has learned from her first expedition that she’s been able to apply to her own life and future expeditions
  • Heading to Patagonia and taking it to the next level - why she went for bigger and better!
  • Learning more about the journey! The start and being dropped off in the middle of nowhere!
  • Being committed to the 800Km journey and having to step up
  • Day to day living and the highlights from the journey
  • The W Trek
  • Adjusting back to normality after the challenge
  • Her new mission and going on an expedition with girls!
  • Changing peoples perceptions & #RethinkImpossible
  • Her next challenge the GR20!
  • Being nominated for the World Paddle Awards!
  • Living in Chamonix for the Ski Season and being able to use it for training for GR20

VOTE for Erin by clicking HERE!

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Nov 8, 2016

Of French, Swiss and Filipino descent, Christine Amour-Levar is a true citizen of the world, she grew up between Manila, Paris and Tokyo and is currently based in Singapore, where she lives with her husband and four children.

She is one of the founding partners of Women On A Mission, a non-profit organisation that combines challenging expeditionary travel to remote locations around the world with the support of humanitarian causes. 

Christine recently received the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World Award that recognises Filipina women who are influencing the face of leadership in the global workplace, having reached status for outstanding work in their respective fields, and who are recognised for their leadership, achievement and contributions to society, female mentorship and legacy.

"Have the courage to define success on your own terms. Your uniqueness in your power."


-Christine is Introduces herself and shares more about growing up and living a very international lifestyle

-How sports have always played a part of her life; especially swimming, basketball, tennis & soccer

-Working for Nike and how sport continued to play a huge part of her life

-Trying to get the balance in her life between; work, family, fitness and having a social life

-Having a career break while having her first child and going back to school to follow a creative dream

-Moving to Singapore & setting up her own business and a non-profit - “Women on a Mission”

-Dealing with guilt and how she copes with those feelings

-Her love of trekking which started in Switzerland and how her passion grew when she was older and why she turned to the mountains for strength after her divorce 

-Why she keeps going back to the Himalayas and why Nepal holds a special place for her

-More about Valerie Boffin, Women for Women International and how that let to her becoming a founding partner of “Women on a Mission”

-Their first trek to Everest Base Camp & getting to stay the night at base camp

-Trekking to Siberia to experience what daily life is like for the nomadic Nenets reindeer herders

-Dealing with the difference in extreme temperatures - going from 30 degrees to - 40!

-What she learned most from this experience

-What’s next for Women on a Mission 

-Writing her book - The Smart Girl’s Handbook to Being Mummylicious,


Website - Links 

Don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode! x

Nov 3, 2016

This week we’re going back to catch up with Amy to see what’s she’s been up to since we last spoke in August 2015! Which is a lot! 

Amy is a massive runner and her passionate has always been to inspire other people. Her latest challenge has been the biggest and hardest challenge she’s ever take on, dealing with blisters, tiredness, and exhaustion. We talk to Amy about her determination, her stubbornness and achieving a NEW Gluiness World Record! 

Amy has also been travelling to Ecuador to film a new TV show called “On the Run” and we discuss the next challenge she’d like to take on, which would be another world first!


Show notes

-Catching up with Amy Hughes (53 Marathons in 53 Days Raising £53,000!)

-How Amy came up with her next challenge

-Why saying her challenge out loud and making her challenge public helped her to achieve it

-Coping with the pressure of the challenge

-Why Amy kept her planning simple and why I’m the opposite!

-Why different things work for different people

-Being in the middle of the Trafford Centre feeling like she was in a goldfish bowl

-Seeing Amy on the treadmill in the Trafford Centre

-Being a zombie!

-Going back to Day 1 - still feeling fresh and feeling relief at starting

-Getting 3 hrs behind on the first day and having to play catch up for the rest of the week

-Breaking down on Day 2 after 20 hours of running

-Dealing with the lows throughout the challenge

-Keeping track of the miles

-Mental games and tricks to keep going through the pain and tiredness - Plus her motivational mantra!


“I am Fearless, I am Strong, Don’t Stop”


-Why she had to keep on upping her running game

-Sleeping for 2/3 hours per day and spending the rest of the time running

-Moments from the challenge that stand out - for good and bad reasons!

-Blasting out really fast 5Ks towards the end

-The final 12K to do, and knowing it was possible to break the record


-How her feet coped….

-Heading to Ecuador to film “On the Run” 

-What’s going to be the next challenge?!

-Any ideas for Amy?! Get in contact on twitter @AmyHughes53 or visit her website 


Learn more - visit - 


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Nov 1, 2016

The Marathon des Sables (MDS) is known as the toughest footrace on earth, where competitors carry everything required to survive on their back for the week, except the water they collect en route and tent they share with seven strangers.  Temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Selina run over 2,000 miles in training and added a further two official marathons to her total of nine.  She'd never run an ultra-marathon before so the fourth day, which is typically over 90KM long, was both a mental and physical challenge!

Selina ran the race to raise money for Women for Women International, which provides life, business and vocational skills to women in countries affected by conflict. 

Women and girls suffer disproportionately from high rates of rape, violence and extreme poverty during times of conflict.  In modern war, it is shocking that it is more dangerous to be a woman than it is a soldier. 

Women for Women International is making a difference in these women's lives, by empowering them with skills which can turn their despair to hope, and engaging men as allies by teaching them about issues which negatively impact women.





  • Learning more about Selina her background and why she say’s she’s not a sporty person 

  • How she got into running at age 30

  • Running the London Marathon followed by the Paris Marathon two weeks later

  • Raising money for charity and why her charitable focus has started to lean more towards women’s charities

  • How reading “Half the Sky” made her think more about her own life

  • Women for Women International (WfWI)

  • The Marathon des Sables - why she decided to pick this as a challenge!

  • How much time she gave herself to prepare

  • Being scared of applying for the race and what changed her mind

  • Thinking she’d missed her opportunity

  • How she went about preparing for MDS

  • Picking Rory Coleman as her trainer & his top 3 pieces of advice

  • How she managed to fit her training in and why discipline was important

  • What her training week looked like

  • Why you should give yourself permission to do something for you every day

  • Getting the children involved! 

  • Her fears before the race

  • The power of belief

  • Her secret dream of getting in the top 10 women

  • Her race strategy and why she kept it simple 

  • Her mantra - “Run if you can, walk if you need to”

  • Dealing with the low points during the race and how the power of positive thinking pushed her through

  • Feet!!

  • Her highlight from MDS

  • Would she race it again?

  • What she learned most from doing the MDS 


Charities - Women for Women International (WfWI) & Aidha