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: December, 2022
Dec 27, 2022
Adventure & endurance enthusiast, with a fondness for Type 2 Fun. Ski instructor and mountain leader. 
Happiest when outside, particularly in the mountains! 
Challenges include cycling LEJOG, NC500 and Tour du Mont Blanc, both ski-touring and running the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt, and climbing Mont Blanc.
In 2018 Emily completed Project 282: a 4-month self-propelled round of Scotland's 282 Munros (mountains above 3000ft) which involved cycling 2,600km, walking 2,200km on foot and crossing 3 waterways in a kayak. The total elevation gain was over 150,000m – all of this was self-supported.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
Support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit .Thank you.
Show notes
  • Who is Emily 
  • Being an adventure endurance junkie
  • Her 2 buzz words for happiness are ‘Outdoors and Active”
  • Being on the support crew - Climate Relay from Scotland to Egypt 
  • What Emily was like as a little girl
  • Breaking her arm and getting into running
  • Doing her first marathon at 17 years old
  • Running the Athens Marathon 2004 
  • Transitioning from marathons to ultra running
  • Preferring to run the longer distances
  • Running the Dublin Marathon 2008 
  • Going through a phase of running marathons
  • Working in London and making some big changes
  • Not feeling fulfilled and wanting to take some time off
  • Becoming a ski instructor and doing a ski season in the Alps
  • Project 282 Munro Challenge - where the idea came from and what was involved
  • A 4-month self-propelled, continuous trip from North to South Scotland
  • Being unsupported and the challenges 
  • The logistics of the challenge and putting a plan in place
  • Being fully committed to the challenge
  • The final few Munros 
  • Fuelling and nutrition while climbing big mountains 
  • Training programs?
  • Feeling rested and getting a PB in the marathon distance
  • Post adventure blues after the challenge
  • Struggling with a lack of direction 
  • Spending approx £4k on Project 282
  • Plans for 2023
  • Connect with Emily 
  • Final words of advice
  • Making yourself commit and taking the first step
  • Cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats 
Social Media
Dec 20, 2022
Shilpa in her own words:
“I'm a British Indian gal who is about to hit 60 and feel that I am really only just starting to explore the wonderful joy of outdoor adventures. 
I am happiest when I'm on the water on my paddle board, or cycling along a canal, or walking in the beautiful English countryside, or body boarding in Cornwall. 
I leaned to swim in my late 40’s and this just opened up a whole new world of paddle sports. 
My biggest personal adventure was this summer (2022) when I paddle boarded on a SUP board from London to Nottinghamshire, some 165 miles (and 144 locks) along the vertical length of the amazing Grand Union Canal. 
This was such a joyful journey and revealed so much about myself that I had not been aware of - particularly how much I love to meet new people and how caring and kind strangers are. 
Since then I have been exploring SUP journeys where I carry my camping kit on my SUP board and I absolutely love doing this. 
I am extremely grateful to British Canoeing who accepted me as a #ShePaddles Ambassador and this really helped me to go out of my comfort zone and explore new adventures.”
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Shilpa
  • More about her friends and family
  • What Shilpa was like as a little girl
  • Growing up in Africa until 8 years old
  • Moving to the UK and the culture shock
  • Finding a different type of entertainment
  • Not having dreams or aspirations as a young girl
  • Leaving school to study economics and accounting at University 
  • Retraining as a town planner
  • Getting back into the outdoors and sports
  • Meeting up with friends to go for walks in the local area
  • Setting up a local walking group which has been going for over 20 years
  • Building up her walking gear and kit
  • Learning to swim in her late 40s
  • Not having the opportunities when she was younger
  • Learning how to cycle 
  • Going to adult only swimming classes to get coaching
  • Doing wild swimming for the first time 
  • Getting into kayaking and water sports
  • Her first experience on a paddle board
  • Why she prefers paddle boarding
  • Her adventure in Summer 2022
  • Becoming a British Canoeing #ShePaddles Ambassador 
  • Wanting to encourage more women to try water sports
  • Deciding to do a long distance trip on the Grand Union Canal 
  • Knowing it was the right time to do the challenge
  • Being honest with herself of what she could and couldn’t do 
  • Doing it at her pace 
  • The planning and preparation for the journey 
  • Researching the route and figuring out distances and accommodation
  • The Pirate Castle - boating and outdoor activities charity on the Regent's Canal in the heart of Camden Town, London 
  • Struggling with her back and recovering from injury
  • Being helped and supported along the way
  • The kindness of strangers and when strangers become friends 
  • Joining a gym and working out with a personal trainer
  • Focusing on getting strong
  • Dealing with injury
  • Cupping 
  • Reflecting back on the journey 
  • Feeling more confident
  • Plans for 2023
  • Learning new skills and becoming qualified as a coach
  • Becoming a She Paddles Club
  • How to connect with Shilpa
  • Final words of advice - “you'll never know if you love it or not until you try it”
Social Media
Instagram @sup.loving.shilpa 
Dec 15, 2022
Marta in her own words:
“My name is Marta and I come from a small town in Poland called Pila. Growing up I was raised by a single mum; I had a good but humble upbringing, I always loved the outdoors and hanging out with my friends.
My childhood in Poland was a happy time in my life, but after my first trip to London as a teenager it all changed. I realised very quickly that living in Poland wasn’t for me anymore; I had big dreams and ambitions that I knew I couldn’t pursue in my hometown. I spent one more year living in Poland, learning English and saving ready to finally enter the ‘big world’… then I moved to London.
Taking this chance opened up so many opportunities for me. I got a good degree, good job, I travelled the world and had some awesome adventures whilst doing so, that I’ve decided to share them here. So, here I am, writing my blog, hoping to inspire and invite you on my journey.
My love for travelling has grown immensely over the years. The more countries I saw, the more countries I wanted to see. Along the way, my style of travelling changed; I had even bigger accomplishments on my agenda. So I set myself two goals: to climb to the highest peak on each continent, the challenge known as 7 Summits; and to reach the highest peak of each European country, which I call The Crown of Europe.
Out of the 7 Summits, I’ve already completed 5 (the highest peak in Europe, Africa, North and South America, Antarctica) and I am getting ready to attempt another one later this year… Everest. I am extremely excited about it as this is also the last continent I still haven’t seen.
The second goal is to reach the highest peak of each European country, which I call The Crown of Europe  There are 50 countries but 48 peaks and I have already completed 17 of them. However, this leaves plenty of adventure still ahead…”
*This episode was recorded in 20th January 2022 - Marta summited Everest 6.25am on May 15th, 2022.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
Support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit Thank you.
Show notes
  • Who is Marta
  • Moving to the UK from Poland 17 years ago
  • Her goal to climb the 7 summits 
  • Wanting to climb the highest peak in each European Country 
  • Growing up in Poland and what her early years were like
  • Not being close to the mountains as a child
  • Being inspired by her father who was very outdoorsy
  • Getting use to the cold weather 
  • Her passion for travel
  • Wanting more from travel and wanting to combine it with adventure 
  • Setting herself 2 BIG goals 
  • The Crown of Europe of Challenge
  • Climbing Kilimanjaro first 
  • Climbing Mt. Blanc and then Elbrus.
  • Climbing Aconcagua in South America
  • Climbing Denali in North America which was the toughest climb she’s done.
  • Go to Antarctica to climb Vincent and why it was her favourite climb so far
  • Taking on Everest in April 2022
  • Leaving Carstensz Pyramid until the end due to the political situation and the costs involved. 
  • Costs of climbing mountains and how she’s paying for the adventures 
  • Going to Everest in 2021 and having her trip cancelled
  • Funding her challenges
  • Her fear of dying while in the mountains
  • Dealing with the downtime and how she handled the waiting. 
  • Handling her period while in the mountains
  • Using wet wipes to shower
  • Stop taking the pill when you are at high altitude as it thickens your blood
  • Wearing a nappy on the summit push?
  • Trying things out in advance
  • Dealing with stress diarrhea while climbing 
  • The mental side of the challenge 
  • Dealing with stress and anxiety 
  • How you can change your thinking 
  • Focusing on what she can control 
  • Visiting the Altitude Centre in London 
  • Getting physically strong and what training looks like this year
  • Developing her own training plan and being flexible with what it looks like
  • Stretching for recovery and eating well
  • Being anaemic and feeling tired
  • Feeling more relaxed and knowing what to expect this time around
  • Being guided by Nirmal Purja team 
  • Elite Expeditions 
  • Being inspired by Martyna Wojciechowska 
  • How you can follow Marta
  • Final words of advice and wisdom 
  • Being a normal person and making the decision to go for it. 
Social Media
Instagram: @tolivetotravel 
Facebook: @tolivetotravel 
Twitter: @tolivetotravel 
Dec 13, 2022
Tara in her own words:
“I don’t really think of myself as tough. I’ve always loved adventures. I did my first expedition when I was 18 and it ignited a passion. I am now a firefighter. I’ve represented Australia in my slightly crazy sport of surf boat rowing at the age of 47 and I cycled 5000 km’s unsupported across Australia in 2021, yet I often think that the toughest challenges of my life have not been physical. 
Rather it has been the journey to heal the relationship with myself after a traumatic childhood that has been the toughest challenge I have undertaken.
Writing my book ‘Standing on my Brothers Shoulders – making peace with grief and suicide’ was a huge part of that journey. It challenged me in every way possible but was also one of my greatest teachers and proudest achievements. 
Although I am a physiotherapist and firefighter, my book led me to work in the field of mental health and wellbeing. I am now nearing the end of a PhD exploring the impact of suicide on firefighters.
In 2017, I was a finalist in the Rotary Inspirational woman of the year awards and in January 2022, as part of the Australia Day Honours, I was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM), which recognises distinguished service by an Australian Fire Service member for my work supporting suicide prevention and mental health of firefighters.
I think life is an adventure and it can take many forms!”
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
Support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit and pledge your support. Thank you.
Show notes
  • Who is Tara
  • Her different jobs and interests
  • Moving to Sydney in the mid 1990s
  • Having a thirst for adventures
  • Deciding to join Fire & Rescue in 2005
  • Going on her own healing journey 
  • Losing her mother to cancer at 13
  • Losing her brother to suicide at 17
  • Struggling to deal with the loss
  • Writing her life story down 
  • Moving into the mental health space
  • In 2018 starting her PHD looking at the impact of suicide on firefighters
  • Making the decision to move to Australia 
  • What it was like joining the fire service 17 years ago
  • Having mixed memories and feeling the need to prove herself to the men
  • Starting her healing journey in her early 30s and what it looked like
  • Starting to have compassion for herself
  • How the outdoors have helped with her recovery
  • Going on an expedition to Zimbabwe in 1989 and how everything changed
  • Realising that she could be happy again
  • Deciding to cycle across Australia 
  • Cycling with Sarah Davis
  • Cycling from the most Western point of Australia over to Byron Bay the most easterly point. 
  • Being head of communication for the expedition
  • The challenges of cycling on the roads with the road-trains
  • Fears and concerns before the challenge
  • How her perceptions of risk and adventure have changed
  • Is the risk too much?
  • Why it was such a rewarding experience 
  • Raising money for Lifeline in Australia 
  • Adjusting back to normal life
  • Raising awareness about mental health and suicide prevention
  • Finding the right people who can hear you
  • The power of writing and journaling and getting your feelings out of your body
  • Doing her PHD and how it came about
  • Applying for a Churchill Fellowship 
  • Making a contribution to the world and making it a better place
  • Wanting to write another book - with a focus on the underlying concepts of her PHD
  • How we can use our experiences in live to grow and become better versions of ourself.
  • Dealing with injury and not being able to any sports that she loves
  • Letting go of the identify of being an athlete and a firefighter
  • Needing to reflect inwards and spending time on meditation
  • How you can connect with Tara
  • Final words of advice - Stay curious, with compassion for yourself.
  • “Be driven by your passions and not your fears” 
Social Media
Instagram: @tarajlal
Facebook: Tara J Lal 
Twitter: @tarajlal 
YouTube: Tara J Lal 
Support Resources
Australia: LifeLine 
You are not alone. We're here to listen. Every 30 seconds, a person in Australia reaches out to Lifeline for help.
We are a national charity providing all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. We exist so that no person in Australia has to face their darkest moments alone.
Website - 
Call 13 11 14 
UK:  Samaritans
Whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. We're here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Call Free - 116 123 
America: 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. We're committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.
Call 988 - Please note, the previous 1-800-273-TALK (8255) number will continue to function indefinitely.
Website -
Dec 8, 2022
Lucy is attempting to become the first woman to walk the length of the world. She began at the bottom of Argentina in February 2017 and will cross 15 countries to reach the highest point of Northern America. She will travel only by foot, or when the terrain is impassable by kayak or swimming.
In 2019, Lucy became the first woman to have hiked the length of South America (from Argentina to Colombia). 
Due to the pandemic, Lucy needed to pause her expedition and returned home to Australia in 2020 where she has been waiting for the travel bans and restrictions to lift. 
In December 2022 Lucy will be flying back out to Columbia to meet up with her beloved dog Wombat - she will then continue on her way. 
During this episode we catch up with Lucy to see what life has been like since we last spoke to her. Lucy shares more about the heartbreak of leaving Wombat behind when she needed to return to Australia. She fills us in on what she's been up to while her journey has been on hold.  She shares more about the planning and preparation required to get back to Columbia to start walking again.
We first spoke with Lucy on Jun 25, 2019 - Her Goal to be the first women to walk the length of the Earth! 


Lucy's career started with a science degree and specialisation in communications. She has been the chair of National Science Week NT, and worked extensively in aboriginal health research until moving to Geoscience Australia in 1016. She is passionate about culture and storytelling and aspires to become an ethnographic writer.
Lucy has been awarded competitive grants for her work from the Australian Geographic society and The North Face, and has been nominated for an OAM from the Australian Government in recognition of her contribution to the outdoor industry.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Lucy
  • Her goal to be the first woman to walk the length of the world
  • Returning back to Australia in 2020
  • Speaking to Lucy in Year 2 of her journey when she had just crossed into Peru
  • Being water poisoned 
  • Was she still enjoying the journey 
  • Meeting her family in Peru
  • Having a shift in her attitude
  • Leaving behind the desert and the heat and transitioning into the mountains
  • The challenges of the desert and her strategy for getting through it
  • Finding joy again
  • Being followed by the police while walking on the highway
  • How 2020 unfolded while walking through Ecuador
  • Living the life she was meant to be living
  • Crossing the border into Columbia 
  • Leaving Wombat with a friend 
  • Feeling adrift for the past 2 years 
  • Not wanting to talk about Wombat
  • Transitioning back to life in Australia 
  • Being away for 3 years and connecting with old friends and family
  • Losing a friend to suicide
  • The emotional journey
  • Running out of money and needing to get a job 
  • Going back to work
  • Getting ready to head back out to Columbia 
  • The planning and preparation before heading back
  • Her dream of wanting to become an ethnographic writer in the future
  • Wanting to produce more content in YouTube
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family 
  • The plans for the first few weeks
  • Being able to get a 2 year visa for Columbia
  • Making a decision about the route through Columbia 
  • How can you support Lucy while out on the road
  • Buy audio books for Lucy 
  • Having a library membership with Borrow Box Library App 
  • Book recommendations: A Gentleman in Moscow 
  • What Lucy is reading
  • How you can connect with Lucy
  • Final words of advice
Social Media
Instagram: @tanglesandtail 
Twitter: @tanglesandtail 
Dec 6, 2022
Annijke (she/her) is a new adaptive mountain biker and athlete. 
In 2021, Annijke sustained a spinal cord injury in a horrible downhill mountain biking accident. 
In 2022, Annijke is back to sport and is learning how to live as a full time wheelchair user. 
Outside of loving mountain biking and being outdoors, Annijke also is passionate about making the outdoors and mountain biking a safe space for all.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Annijke
  • Starting mountain biking in 2019
  • Learning how to live as a full time wheelchair user
  • Returning to sport and mountain biking
  • What Annijke was like as little girl 
  • Starting ballet at 3 years old
  • Having a keen interest for the arts
  • Starting to interact with the natural world
  • Being exposed to the outdoors through her Girl Scouts Troop 
  • Being adopted at 2 months old 
  • Going to college and taking a step back from dance 
  • Wanting to try new things in the outdoors
  • Studying environmental studies with a concentration on political science 
  • Getting into mountain biking 
  • Moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Buying her first bike - DiamondBack HardTail 
  • Being intimidated by other mountain bikers
  • Falling in love with the sport and why she loves it
  • Enjoying the community and being supported
  • Riding a BowHead Reach Bike - full suspension, all-electric off-road adaptive trike that has two wheels in front, and one in back
  • 2022 - Getting back to sport and why it’s been so fulfilling 
  • The incredible amount of support through her community
  • Being a sponsored Athlete - with PEARL iZUMi 
  • High Fives Foundation
  • Kootenay Adaptive Sport Association  Adaptive Mountain Biking advocacy, trails, programming and rentals in British Columbia and beyond. 
  • Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP) 
  • What does advocacy look like in this space
  • Being intentional about what she does 
  • “I want to be on an adaptive mountain bike and this is what I want my life to look like”
  • Going after a Para FKT on the White Rim Trail in Oct 2022 
  • Josie Fouts - Mad scientist on a mission to single-handedly save the world with cycling! IG: @ms.stubbornness 
  • National Abilities Centre
  • Outride Foundation 
  • 100 mile desert ride in Canyonlands, National Park, Moab, Utah.
  • Trying not to get too attached to the outcome
  • Dealing with mechanical issues 
  • Broadening the conversation about access and opportunity in the outdoors
  • Tread Setters is a film project that highlights 5 para-cyclists riding the White Rim Trail while balancing the mental, emotional and social aspects of advocacy.
  • Is the White Rim Trail Accessible? Why it’s yes and no.
  • Needing people to support her due to the nature of the trail and the remoteness 
  • Why being outdoors might look a little bit different
  • Wanting to become an Adaptive Mountain Biking Coach - (BICP)
  • Adaptive Level 1 Fundamental Skills Instructor
  • Wanting to share mountain biking with others and create a welcoming environment
  • Plans for 2023
  • Sea Otter Classic Mountain Biking Race, Monterey, California, USA
  • Connect with Annijke 
  • Where does her Instagram handle come from
  • What is a Geospatial Professional?
  • Final words of advice and wisdom
Social Media
Instagram @geodesicdome 
Dec 1, 2022
In late summer 2021 Abbie Barnes cycled from Dunnet Head and John O Groats to The Lizard Point and Lands End, via each of the UK's 15 National Parks and their highest peaks.
This epic 55 day expedition saw Abbie and her partner Anna (who drove the support van) travel over 2,000 miles and battle mental ill health, chronic pain, and a number of unanticipated life-challenges along the way. Yet the duo completed this life-changing venture and now have a 3-part film series on YouTube following the highs and lows of their journey. 
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Abbie and what she does
  • We first spoke with Abbie Aug 26, 2021 - Founder and director of Spend More Time In The WILD, an organisation that seeks to inspire and empower individuals to get outside.
  • What is Abbie Bikes Britain?
  • Expectations verses reality 
  • Having 3 months to plan 
  • The logistical nightmare 
  • Figuring out things as they went
  • Developing a mindset of curiosity 
  • Learning the lessons when things don’t go to plan
  • Dealing with chronic pain during the cycle ride
  • What being an advocate for mental health and chronic pain
  • Not being willing to sit still and suffer 
  • Being crushed by the pain 
  • Why pushing your body can be a fun experiment
  • Day to day life on the road
  • Mental health while on the road
  • Being in love with life and feeling so happy
  • Finishing the journey
  • Not having the time to digest what she’d achieved
  • Finishing on the 22nd October 2021 
  • What the remainder of the year looked like
  • Having an on season (March - Oct) and an off season (Nov - Feb)
  • Having the time to think and reflect
  • Implementing changes in 2022
  • Being a public figure and feeling burnt out 
  • Spending time in the panic zone and wanting to get back to the comfort zone
  • Getting her Mountain Leader Qualification 
  • Doing her Hill and Moorland Qualification
  • Doing her ML assessment in Snowdonia in April 2022
  • Plans for 2023
  • How to connect with Abbie
  • Watch me & Abbie while climbing Snowdon 
  • Abbie meeting me in Rhosneigr while I was on the Wales Coast Path - vlog 11/50 
  • Final words of advice to encourage you to get outdoors
Social Media
Instagram: @abbiebarneswild 
Facebook:  @spendmoretimeinthewild