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, 2019
Nov 28, 2019

Anna Blackwell is an adventurer, writer, photographer and speaker with a love of the outdoors and pushing her limits. This has led her to pursue numerous adventures, from kayaking across Europe, spending five weeks trekking across the wilderness of Arctic Sweden alone, to walking 1,000 miles solo across France and Spain, and even hitch-hiking to Morocco.

In Anna’s words

This July I set off on a 1,000km solo trek across Arctic and Northern Scandinavia. I started at the Treriksröset (the cairn signifying where Sweden, Norway and Finland meet) and made my way south, following the length of the mountains on the Swedish-Norwegian border. 

The expedition was self-supported, solo, and crossed some of Europe's greatest wilderness areas. I carried everything I needed (weighing in at around 25kg) and wild camped most nights. Travelling through such remote areas, I was often going up to four or five days without seeing any other people.

Throughout this expedition I aimed to minimise my environmental footprint to the greatest extent possible, by working with with sustainability-focused organisations, choosing locally sourced food where possible, reducing my plastic waste and leaving no trace in the wilderness. I also opted to travel to my start point using trains and buses rather than taking an internal short-haul flight.

Show notes

  • Who Anna is and what she does
  • What the Green Ribbon Expedition is and how it came about
  • Creating her own route
  • Committing to the challenge in May 2019
  • Learning more about the planning
  • Buying a big map of the area
  • Route planning and why it was so time consuming
  • Figuring out resupply while out on the trail 
  • Posting packages ahead of time
  • Taking a few luxury items…
  • Doing very little physical preparation
  • The challenges of the weather
  • Dealing with the midnight sun, mosquitos and very cold weather
  • Being green on the expedition
  • Spending 50 hrs on buses and trains
  • Only working with specific companies who are trying to reduce their environmental footprint
  • The biggest challenges she would have to face
  • Why the first 10 days were going to be the toughest
  • Being stung by a hornet….
  • Having to call an ambulance 
  • Dealing with a lot of rain over the final 3 weeks
  • Not knowing what to do
  • Daily routine while walking
  • Going with the flow 
  • Getting up at 6am
  • How busy was it on the route
  • Navigation and making a few detours!
  • Problems with the bugs
  • Day dreaming!
  • The process of absorption 
  • Getting through the final 3 weeks
  • Focusing on the small things
  • The biggest lesson learned from 
  • Heading back to university to do a Masters in Environment and Human Health 
  • Future plans 
  • Committing to be in Falmouth for the next year 
  • Final words of advice and wisdom

Social Media

Website - 

Instagram @annablackwell  

Facebook @annablackwelladventurer  

Twitter @_annablackwell  


Nov 26, 2019

Scottish ultra-endurance adventurer Jenny Graham has smashed her way into the Guinness world records by becoming the fastest woman to cycle around the planet. Last summer her ride took her 18,000 miles, over 4 continents, through 16 countries, completing the trip solo and unsupported in just 124days.

To prepare for that challenge Jenny raced some bike packing routes including the Arizona Trail 750, Highland Trail 550, the Cairngorm Loop and the Yorkshire dales 300 and completed a winter LEJOG in four days!

Show notes

  • Jenny introduces herself
  • Growing up in the Highlands of Scotland
  • Being adventurous from a young age 
  • Getting into cycling and mountain biking
  • Lack of female role models growing up
  • Loving the challenge of mountain biking
  • Cycling to Bothies in Scotland and staying overnight
  • Doing an outdoor course and getting to go skiing
  • Getting work experience 
  • Funding her life with a young child
  • How her cycling developed
  • The Highland Trail 550 and quitting the race 8 days in!!! 
  • Wanting to go back and finish the race
  • Getting a road bike and how it was a game changer in terms of the miles she could do
  • Going on an Adventure Syndicate training camp
  • Meeting her coach John Hammond and getting a year of free coaching
  • Racing in Arizona 
  • Round the world record….
  • Working through her internal fears
  • The big questions - turning the dream into reality
  • 1 Year of preparation and why it was the hardest year
  • Sponsorship….and getting money
  • Coming out on social media and telling the world what she wanted to achieve
  • The rules and requirements for cycling around the world
  • Deciding on the route
  • Life on the road - what a typical day was like
  • Aiming to ride 15 hrs per day
  • Staying focused day after day 
  • Having to be kind to yourself
  • The WHY
  • The saddle saga
  • Dealing with the extremes in temperature
  • Not having a day off and trying to rest on planes
  • The struggle of organisation before and during the challenge
  • Breaking the world record and going back to that day 
  • Getting the adventure blues after the ride and adjusting back to normal life
  • Why Jenny thinks someone will beat her record next year
  • The biggest learning from cycling around the world
  • Not seeing barrier anymore
  • What the Adventure Syndicate is
  • The Adventure Syndicate Podcast
  • Quick Fire Questions
  • Final words of advice 
  • The next challenge
  • Film!
  • Book!

Social Media 


Twitter: @jennygrahamis  

Instagram: @jennygrahamis_ 


Nov 21, 2019

In Lindsey’s words…


I’ve just finished cycling around Britain, connecting with wild swimmers.


Since mermaiding the Thames I have absolutely fallen in love with wild swimming. It makes me feel magically alive and I’ve never known such a welcoming, heart warming community quite like it. I received messages from all over the UK inviting me to swim with them. So, of course I made a plan.


In February, I cycled from Devon to the inaugural Scottish Winter Swimming Championship in Taymouth Marina and connected with wild swimmers en route. It was only meant to be for two weeks, but I was so high on adrenalin for that fortnight that I decided to carry on. And six months later, I finally hung up my dipping cossie and parked my bike


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”


Show notes

  • Catching up with Lindsey
  • Being based in Bristol for now
  • Who is Lindsey!
  • Being nomadic and loving the journey of life
  • Having issues with commitment 
  • Being an Urban Mermaid
  • Deciding to swim the length of the Thames 
  • Planning and preparation….
  • Plastic pollution….
  • Going to San Fransisco and deciding to swim from Alcatraz from to SF Bay
  • Earning money and the types of jobs she does
  • Being flown out to SF by Uber
  • Living in Spain
  • Deciding to swim the River Thames in November…..
  • Being sick and not being able to keep food down
  • How she acclimatised for the swim…
  • 22 days to swim the Thames
  • How the accommodation side of things worked
  • Working with a small budget!
  • The mental side of the challenge
  • Why movement is so important
  • Rescuing a cow in the River Thames
  • Swimming with the Mermaid Tail
  • Having no plans for after the swim
  • Trying to put down routes
  • How the idea for the next challenges came about 
  • UK Cold Water Swimming Championships
  • Deciding to cycle to Scotland
  • Swimming twice a day on the 2 week journey unto Scotland
  • How 2 weeks turned into 6 months
  • Swimming with over 1000 people!!
  • What it was like being out on the road
  • The kindness of strangers
  • The challenges of being on the rode and being so free
  • Having some chill time in the bath
  • Teaching English on-line
  • Unleashing who she really is in writing
  • Living with ADHD
  • How she manages her ADHD
  • Settling down??
  • Where in the world would you most like to go?
  • Why she picked Bristol….
  • Meeting a boy….
  • Quick Fire Questions
  • A book on swimming….

Social Media

Website - 

Instagram - @stompycole


Nov 19, 2019

Sian Lewis is an award-winning travel and outdoors journalist and blogger who writes for titles including The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile and Coast. She is also the editor of Active Traveller and Snow magazines. Her work as an adventurous writer has taken her around the world in the name of a good story and she also edits award-winning blog The Girl Outdoors,, which encourages women to get outside and get adventuring. Her first book, The Girl Outdoors, was published by Bloomsbury in 2018.    

Show notes

  • Who is Sian
  • What life was like growing up
  • Being encouraged to follow her passions from a young age
  • Studying Italian at University 
  • Doing a Masters in Journalism
  • Starting up her blog - The Girl Outdoors
  • Being a Pioneer in the women’s adventure space
  • How her blog was also her CV
  • Getting her 2nd job in journalism
  • Editing for Active Traveller Magazine
  • Turning the blog into a full time blog or not?
  • Balance 
  • The type of content Sian likes to write
  • Adventures that fit into her life
  • Living in Bristol
  • Her struggle with big mountains and altitude
  • Doing volunteering with British Exploring Society 
  • Qualifications….
  • Wilderness First Aid
  • The Book - The Girl Outdoors: The Wild Girl's Guide to Adventure, Travel and Wellbeing
  • Advice for women who are lacking confidence in the outdoors
  • Wild swimming and being inspired by her grandmother 
  • Swimming in Arctic, Scandinavian waters!
  • Cycling 
  • Gym life?
  • Needing to work out most days
  • How to keep fit while travelling
  • Coming back from a month of travelling
  • Spending time at home
  • 2 weeks in Alaska
  • Quick Fire Questions

Social Media


Instagram @sianannalewis   

Facebook @thegirloutdoors  

Twitter @sianannalewis  



Nov 14, 2019

Jo in her own words…

My job title is now an Outdoor Instructor and Expedition Leader and since going self-employed I have led 30 expeditions on Kilimanjaro along with numerous other expeditions on foot, 2 wheels and horseback, most at high altitude, all around the world with both charity and private clients.  

In the UK I teach and assess the expedition element of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award from Bronze through to Gold as well as leading many a challenge on bike and foot in the UK and Europe. I also help to deliver corporate team building events and expedition training weekends as well as public speaking about my experiences before I discovered the outdoors, Everest, the earthquake and beyond to corporates, schools and groups.

To be honest I never thought I would summit Snowdon even once so becoming the 3rd British woman to reach the true summit of Manaslu, the world’s 8th highest mountain standing at 8163m in September 2013 and then being the 36th British woman to reach the summit of Everest in May 2016 have been huge and unexpected achievements.

I have gone from having severe vertigo and a great ability to say no way too often to facing my fears, saying yes more and turning my life around. I am now on route to complete the 7 summits and continue to raise funds and awareness for children’s mental health charity Place2Be.

*Please note during this episode we do talk about grief and mental health. Please ensure you are in a good place before you listen to this episode. 


Show notes

  • Catching up with Jo
  • How has it been 3 years!
  • Who is Jo
  • What does she do
  • Coming to terms with climbing Mount Everest
  • Getting back from Everest and going back to normal life
  • Dealing with the expedition come down
  • Sleeping for 10 days
  • Dealing with the void after expeditions
  • Being sponsored 
  • What’s next?!
  • Coming up with a plan to complete the 7 Summits (4 done - 3 to do!)
  • Heading off to Alaska to climb Mount Denali - June 2017 
  • Dealing with the death of her father at the end of 2017
  • Taking a break from the 7 summits in 2018 and focusing on mental health and work
  • Going on a cruise with her mum 
  • 25th Anniversary of Place2Be
  • Carstensz Pyramid closed and the trip being cancelled
  • Hoping the unrest in Chile doesn’t cancel the next summit attempt 
  • How she has changed since the earthquake in Nepal
  • Why there is no Plan B or second chance
  • The amazing sponsor!!! 
  • Taking students to Everest Base Camp
  • Finding a way to make it work
  • Getting into debt
  • How Jo approached climbing Denali 
  • Why she wanted to climb Denali 
  • Getting at fit as possible and wanting to be on top form
  • Training with Dave the tyre!
  • What the weather was like on Denali
  • The 24hr walk out
  • Coping mechanisms and practical pieces of advice
  • “it’s just another day on the hill”
  • Positive Polly & Negative Nelly
  • Carry shit….
  • Reading - Rebecca Stephens Book - On Top Of The World 
  • Reflecting back on 2018 
  • Blog post - Mission Self-Destruct: successfully aborted
  • Starting to drink too often
  • Being proud of her mum
  • Why there is no time frame on grief
  • Quick Fire Questions

Social Media

Website  -

Facebook -   @jobradshawadventurer 

Instagram - @_jobradshaw  

Twitter - @_jobradsha 

Support PLACE2BE - HERE 


Nov 12, 2019

In October 2018 Laura Marshall became the FIRST solo Australian woman to complete one of the world’s toughest ultra endurance triathlons - the Enduroman Arch to Arc! 

In doing so she also broke the world record for fastest woman, non wetsuit, in a time of 81 hours and 28 minutes. This made her the 35th solo person to ever do the event and the 9th woman. She was also the 4th ever person to do the swim leg of the event without a wetsuit.

​This gruelling event involves a 140km run from Marble Arch in London to the coast of Dover, a 33km+ swim across the English Channel and a 292km cycle from Calais, France to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. 

If completing all 3 legs of the event under your own steam wasn’t enough, Laura has also elected to take the traditional approach to swimming across the English Channel in just a swimsuit and swim cap, something that within the realms of this particular event is relatively rare, as most competitors choose to swim in a full length wetsuit for added warmth and buoyancy. 

As part of this event Laura is raising awareness and funds for beyondblue, an Australian organisation that helps people affected by anxiety, depression and suicide.

Laura is a former Outward Bound Australia staff member (2004 to 2012). Laura lives in Canberra, ACT, where she works as a secondary school teacher.

Show notes

  • Who is Laura
  • Growing up and getting into the outdoors
  • Where it all started
  • Working for Outward Bound in Scotland and then moving to Australia in 2004
  • The Enduroman Arch to Arc
  • Applying for it in 2013
  • Loving the challenge of ultra races
  • The application process for the race
  • What’s involved in the race!
  • Having to postpone for a few years due to uni work 
  • Taking a year to train for the event
  • Working with a coach and a nutritionist
  • Joining a local swimming club
  • Going part time to get the training in and the rest 
  • The benefits of it being a supported race
  • Why swimming was her weak point
  • Wanting to be a professional athlete
  • What a typical day was like
  • Getting the nutrition right and doing fluids test and how that helped figure out her specific needs
  • The mental side of the challenge, the high points and the low points
  • Is it selfish to do challenges?
  • Deciding to raise money for charity
  • Sharing more about mental health
  • Suffering from bi-polar
  • The build up to the race
  • Having a 10 day slot for the race
  • Power naps and coffee!
  • The sleeping arrangements
  • Waiting for 12 hrs in Dover
  • Why the swim was the big worry
  • Dealing with the tides and currents of the English Channel
  • Deciding to just swim in a costume and not a wetsuit
  • Starting the bike ride in France
  • Being good at day dreaming
  • Being able to zone out while running or swimming
  • Seeing the Arc de Triumph 
  • Achieving her dream and celebrating!!
  • What she learned from the whole experience
  • Being persistent and consistent
  • Adventure blues and getting past the challenge
  • Why it’s ok to do adventures 
  • Quitting her job!
  • Plans for 2020 - a triathlon of New Zealand
  • Self funding her challenges
  • Living a simple life
  • Quick Fire Questions.
  • Final words of advice for women and girls who want to live a more adventurous life

Social Media

Instagram: @laura.marshall.a2a 

Facebook: @LauraMarshallA2A 

Nov 9, 2019

More about Kat in her own words…

While studying at university, I took an internship in Tokyo and climbed Mt. Fuji for the first time. ‘A wise man climbs Mt. Fuji, a fool climbs it twice’ is a popular Japanese saying… so I climbed it 7 times. From Tokyo to Toronto to London where I’m now based, I’m searching for many of life’s answers, and hoping to find them somewhere along a trail.

Since quitting an office job in 2013, I’ve walked over 12,000km, this has included the Pacific Crest Trail in America (2,700 miles), multiple Camino’s throughout France, Spain and Portugal, as well as walking the Kumano Kodo trail, and completing the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage in Japan. Earlier this year in May I cycled 4,529km, the total  length of Japan!

Show notes

  • Where is all began
  • How walking the camino in 2013 helped change her life
  • Developing a love for walking and long distance hiking
  • The beginning of 2017 - after coming back from the PCT
  • Starting writing a guide book on the Camino Portuguese 
  • Having an ankle reconstruction surgery in 2016 and being out of action for 6 months  
  • Spending time out in Japan in 2017 for a new guidebook
  • Highlights from the Camino Portuguese  - the people, the food!
  • Where do you start with writing a guidebook
  • Thoughts about the Camino 
  • The community spirit 
  • Camino del Norte
  • Planning and getting to the start line!
  • Why is wasn’t just another walk
  • The first week on the trail
  • Daily routine on the camino and why she tries not to have a plan and to go with the flow!
  • Not setting an alarm in the morning
  • Taking it easy on the trail
  • Thinking about what’s the worst case scenario 
  • The Camino Provides
  • The Kumano Kodo in Japan 
  • How the Camino and Kumano Kodo trail are linked
  • Becoming a Dual Pilgrim 
  • A traditional day on the Kumano Kodo
  • Speaking Japanese 
  • Why Spring and Autumn is the best time of year to be walking
  • Needing to pre book your accommodation 
  • Deciding to cycle the length of Japan!
  • Who inspired her to ride……(me!!!)
  • The different bike trips she though about doing (NZ, Euro Velo 6)
  • Not having a bike…
  • Having 1 month to plan and prepare
  • Building her own bike…
  • What cycling in Japan was like
  • Keeping track of what she spend and blogging the trip 
  • Wanting to camp to keep costs down
  • Joining warm shower and staying with hosts
  • The highlight from the trip 
  • Believe you can and you will 
  • Making friends on the road
  • Hiking or biking???
  • Next challenge!!
  • Why the Lycian Way….
  • The challenges…
  • The vision for the end of the walk!!!

Social Media


Instagram  @followingthearrows @katdavisphotography


The Camino Portuguese

Japan’s Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage

Nov 5, 2019

Rosie Swale Pope - (MBE) is a legendary global adventurer, author and motivational speaker.

Throughout her life, Rosie has completed numerous marathons in some of the world’s most challenging terrains and has embarked upon many adventures including riding across Chile on horseback and sailing across the globe in a small boat.

In 2003, aged 57, she began a five-year run-around-the-world, travelling 20,000 miles to raise awareness for the early diagnosis of cancer. Rosie is the only person in the world to have completed this solo challenge unsupported, carrying all her belongings in her cart behind her. 

Now, at the age of 73, Rosie has taken on an exciting, new challenge: a run of 6,000 miles from Brighton, UK all the way to Kathmandu in Nepal in support of the charity PHASE Worldwide and their work in remote areas of the Himalayas.

Show notes

  • Where Rosie is in the world
  • Rosie is running from Brighton to Kathmandu for Phase Worldwide
  • Growing up and being looked after by her grandmother
  • Why she decided to work with Phase Worldwide
  • Running around the world the first time!
  • Falling and breaking her hip in Brighton, 2017
  • Ice Chick!
  • Having a book launch in Germany
  • Running to Berlin and getting stronger and stronger!
  • Wanting to re-visit some of the places she’d been before
  • March, 2019 giving a talk for Phase Worldwide
  • Saying yes to the future and saying yes to running to Katmandu! 
  • Her running route
  • Why real life is the biggest adventure 
  • Where her passion for running came from
  • Fighting darkness with light
  • Deciding to run a marathon!
  • Losing the love of her life
  • Why you should start everyday being grateful
  • What days on the road are like
  • Not being able to get her stove to work
  • Favourite food on the road
  • Saving water while on the road and washing socks!
  • The power of taking 3 or 4 minutes to do nothing
  • Working while on the road
  • Three teaspoons on the road!
  • Going through tough times on the road and where her determination comes from
  • 73 on the 2nd October
  • Loving her life and what she does
  • Losing her dad at a young age
  • Why you don’t have to be defined by your past
  • What her friends and family think about her next adventure
  • Not being afraid
  • Still running around the world at 100!
  • What has changed in the world of adventure over the years
  • The value of freedom for women
  • How can we support Rosie
  • Raising money for charity 
  • When she plans to arrive in Katmandu
  • Do you need Rosie as a speaker? 
  • Quick Fire Questions
  • Final words of advice to motivate and inspire you

To follow Rosie’s epic journey and support her campaign visit