Walking in Amsterdam

Last weekend Julia and I met up for an Up & Running work-o-rama in Amsterdam. Just over an hour’s flight from both Edinburgh and Bologna, it was the perfect place for an in-person summit. We were only there for three days but we found ourselves falling into a routine…

First, we’d wake up early and go for a run (her) or power walk (me). Despite all the photo stops I got an excellent huff and puff going.



Then we’d go to Our Favourite Café. It was quiet and cosy with a resident fluffy cat and beautifully presented breakfasts. When even a humble fruit salad looks like a bowl of jewels you can’t help but slow down and savour the heck out of it. I thought of my usual desk-bound oats-and-yogurt-scoffed-from-plastic-container and how easily I could make that meal more pleasant.

The next two mornings we’d pretend to ponder the menu as if we weren’t saddo café stalkers, then order the same thing as before.


How sexy would you feel behind that wheel!?

After brekkie we’d walk a bit further, get some coffee then get to work. Julia would take out her ridiculously gigantic Up & Running rubber stamp and stamp our Up & Running wings on a fresh blank page and write the date. That was the official signal to switch the brain on!

Julia likes her Starbucks fix

Then we’d motor along right through the day, pausing only for another cuppa. I’d narrowed down our mega to do and ideas lists to an achievable agenda beforehand, so we knew exactly what we had to focus on. Zing, we were on fire!

Just before sunset we’d down tools as our stomachs were starting to grumble, then walk all the way back to the little apartment we’d rented. So much walking! I really regret washing that bloody FitBit… the stats would’ve been off the charts.

Have some more Amsterdam cliches

Have some more Amsterdam cliches

Then we’d have a nice early dinner, then back to the apartment for a final cuppa and a couple more hours work. Eating just two bigger meals would be impractical in everyday life (my soul would perish without lunch to look forward to 😛 ) but it worked like a champ for that work-a-thon situation.

Random Dutch ginger cat

Random Dutch ginger cat

Obviously when you’re away from home you don’t have partners, day jobs, laundry, family, housework etc etc to contend with. And you have to cook your own dinner. But the weekend was a great reminder of how I operate best. I relish routine and ritual. I lust over lists. I find freedom in planning and structure. Sometimes I rebel against that that because it sounds boring, but if I like it… why fight it?

Next time I feel wonky I’ll come back to this list and remember what feels good:

  1. Keeping meals simple and quite repetitive (less thinking required)…
  2. … but making a real meal of out of them (because the more I enjoy the meal at the time, the less brain-space food takes up later. So focus on the food; put it on a nice plate!)
  3. Moving my butt each day at roughly the same time (so it feels more auto-piloty)
  4. On both a weekly and daily basis, narrowing down the priorities and what really needs to be done (instead of getting overwhelmed by the big picture and flapping around)
  5. Making time to write each day (clears out the brain)
  6. When feeling grumpy, step away from the desk and get some air (before my bum becomes perma-welded to the chair)
  7. If I decide to have a treaty food, making sure it’s worth it (like this amazing apple pie we saved right until the last day… hubba hubba!)
Amazing apple pie... we left this treat right to the end.

So worth the wait. Gotta love those little ice cream balls.

Winners of the Up & Running Fall 2012 course giveaway

The mighty Random Number Generator has declared the following winners in the Up & Running Fall giveaway…

  • #72 – Leigh
  • #5 – Natasha
  • #69 – Anne
  • #41 – Japple
  • #10 – Super Sarah
  • #111 – Annika
  • #49 – KateC

Congratulations folks… check your email soon for a message with all the lowdown.

If you missed out this time around why not join us next week? The 5K Course starts next Monday 3 September and the 10K Thursday 6 September – we'd be dead chuffed to meet you at the starting line! Just think eight weeks from now you could have the smug and wholesome glow of a triumphant 5k or 10k runner… ahhhhh 🙂

WIN! A place on the Fall Up & Running 5K, 10K or 21K Course

Crikey, we're rapidly rattling into the last third of the year! That means it's time for the final Up & Running Courses for 2012.

Our 5K Beginners Course starts on Monday 3 September and the 10K Course starts on Thursday 6 September, each running for eight weeks. Our 12-week Half Marathon course is self-paced, so you can start any time that suits you.

We're just wrapping up our Summer courses and I've got that "don't want to leave this party" feeling again. So many hilarious, courageous and feisty ladies, and not afraid to share their fears and doubts either. I always finish each Round feeling like I've learned a little more about life and the workings of my wacky brain. More pieces of the puzzle come together. There's such power in a shared experience. So if any of you Summer lassies are reading, thank you again for coming along!

Here's a sample of feedback from the Summer:

"I wonder if you will ever know the true impact you are having on women all over the world. The running is the tip of the iceberg. The support you both provide is always spot on, whether it's a virtual hug or a no-nonsense 'get on with it'; the Forum is the most incredibly supportive women helping each other; Julia's running plans are amazing and work! From all of that comes not only the ability to challenge your body, but to change your mind, improve self esteem and feel proud of a body that has always been hated. You are literally changing people's lives. Thank you!"
– Alice, UK

"Just finished my real race a little while ago. Shauna & Julia you guys are the best support and coach ever! Thank you for the empowerment to participate in these races."
– Brenda, USA

"Brilliant course, you two, really, really brilliant. Was never bored, never quite knew what was coming next which probably helped. The folk on the forum all doing the same thing, and talking about what worked for them and what didn't was really good. I have been on the Runners World forum before, but didn't really end up talking about running much, and everyone is doing something totally different to everyone else, so this really was fab.

When I did my 'teach myself to run for 30 mins' thing many moons ago, I never felt like a runner, I felt like someone just doing a bit of running, but this course actually has made me feel like a runner: I follow a plan! I actually see improvement! I skip in front of builders!"
– Donalda, Germany

Fancy adding a flourish to your Fall? To celebrate Round 6 of Up & Running I'm giving away six free places, on the course of the winners' chosing.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post, with a valid email address so I can contact you if your number comes up!

  • Entries close 9PM GMT Monday 27 August.
  • There will be five winners and they have their choice of 5K, 10K or Half Marathon course
  • As always the winner can gift the prize to a friend, so you can enter if you choose not to run but know someone who would like to!
  • Winners will be randomly selected.
  • Winners can be from anywhere in the world. Remember the Courses are for women only.
  • Winners will be announced Tuesday 28 August.
  • Please include a valid email address in your comment so we can contact you if you win!

Bonne chance!


Up & Running

Winners of the Up & Running Summer course giveaway

I'm busting to do a race report from Monday's Dublin Mini Marathon 10K (No, wait… I promise there'll be minimal grumbling!), but first, here are the lucky winners of the Up & Running Summer giveaway! 

Taking a breather at the Bologna bootcamp

Taking a breather at the Bologna bootcamp

Thanks everyone who entered. Here's how the winner was drawn: I put all your names into a spreadsheet, with one one row for each social media medium you entered with, e.g. if you followed on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest you got three rows. Then I put the total number of rows into the trusty random number generator to choose a winner. I was kinda hallucinating from Google Docs/cut'n'paste overload by that point and told it to pick 7 integers instead of 5 which is why there are 7 winners below!

For reference, I've put the original comment number beside the winner's name to avoid confusion.

  • #63 – Corrie
  • #77 – Armi
  • #19 – Fiona
  • #25 – Linda H
  • #9 – Alicia
  • #14 – Erin
  • #32 – Jo

Congratulations folks… I'll be in touch with you tomorrow once I've had a snooze!

If you missed out you can still join us - the 5K Course starts next Monday 11 June and the 10K Thursday 14 June. As a big thanks for your support of this blog, you can use code CHEERS at checkout to get 25% off but but only if you register before this Saturday 9 June.

Finally, to show it's not just me waxing lyrical, here are two groovy comments from the giveaway post…


"As an Up & Running Alumni, I would say that any of you reading this post and thinking that you'd maybe like to try one of the courses out, if you don't win the prize, please seriously consider signing up anyway. There's probably about a 97.9% chance (disclaimer; all stats totally made up) it will be the best money you'll spend on yourself all year.

Actually, you do actually have to do a wee bit of actual 'running'… so that drops the stats to maybe 97.6% – but let me tell you, what makes this course different to any of the other 'learning to run 5km from doing very little exercise at all' type online running courses, is the forum support, pure and simple. Just knowing that if you have a great run, a group of girls around the planet are cheering for you, and if you have a bad run, a group of girls around the planet will say something supportive (and maybe post a stupid picture of a duck to cheer you up) – it's enough to keep you going. Good luck in the competition, folks, and maybe I'll see some of you around the Alumni forum in a few months… :D"


"Hi from Alex, toddler + dog! I'm with Sharmaya ladies – if you don't happen to win, think about signing up anyway. Doing the 5K course and then the 10K course have been amongst my personal highlights for the last 12 months!"

… and the all-time classic quote from legendary Spring 2011 graduate Sas:

"Up & Running sh*ts all over Couch 2 5K!"

WIN! A place on the Summer Up & Running 5K, 10K or 21K Course

Would you like to come over and hang out? I mean, would you like to win a place on an Up & Running e-course?


High fives at the JJ Running Festival. Photo by Olivia Innocenti.

Okay, serious face on first. I only pimp things on this blog that I truly, passionately believe in. Our e-courses are a fab way to run – you get access to the world class Coach Julia, kickarse training plans, a blog full of helpful content and inspiring interviews to get you running like the wind, and we will support and cheer you on like crazy ladies all the way to your finish line.

But I reckon the very best bit is being part of a team of ladies all going through the same thing at the same time. Exercise can be a lonely thing, and not everyone has real life exercise buds around. Knowing your Forum comrades are in the same boat is great motivation. There's always someone to talk to; someone who just gets it. And after four rounds of Courses, I've got an international rollidex of inspiration to flip through when I don't wanna go for my walk. Example: Paula P is out there in 40'C Dubai heat. Julia K got chased by stray dogs in Guinea. Alex is running in Melbourne with a toddler in a stroller and a dog attached to said stroller… so come ON, missy! It's so inspiring and motivating to feel part of something.

Our next 5K Beginners Course starts on Monday 11 June and the 10K Course starts on Thursday 14 June, each running for eight weeks. Our Half Marathon course runs for 12 weeks and is self-paced, so you can begin at any time that suits you.

Are you up for a summer of run? To celebrate Round 5 of Up & Running I'm giving away five free places, on the course of the winners' chosing.

There are three easy ways you can enter the draw:

…then leave a comment here to let me know you've entered, with a valid email address so we can contact you if you win!

If you already follow us just tell me in the comments. You can enter on all three sites if you are totally mad for the social media and each will count as a seperate entry.

  • Entries close 9PM GMT Tuesday 5 June.
  • There will be five winners and they have their choice of 5K, 10K or Half Marathon course
  • As always the winner can gift the prize to a friend, so you can enter if you choose not to run but know someone who would like to!
  • Winners will be randomly selected.
  • Winners can be from anywhere in the world. Remember the Courses are for women only.
  • Winners will be announced Wednesday 6 June..

Update: Please include a valid email address in your comment so we can contact you if you win!

Best of luck!


Coach Julia can also help you programme your Garmin, nae bother. Photo by Sara Lando.

Up & Running

Walking in Bologna

Walking is boring. "There, I said it", as the kids say these days. I fancied it up my training sessions with nice scenery, hilarious podcasts, Julia's fabulous schedule, and the post-it note reward scheme… but still I grumbled every time, a bike would be so much faster, dammit. As would a Ferrari.

I'm glad I kept plodding along though, because on Race Day in Bologna the rewards became clear…

1. Races RULE!
I felt like a donut signing up to walk the race when the Up & Runners were running it, but Julia insisted that races were best thing to keep my motivation blazin'. She was right. WHY is that woman always bloody right?

I loved the whole shebang. Laying out my gear the night before. The jangle of nerves at breakfast time. Walking to the race with all the Up & Runners, down a cobbled cliche of an Italian street. I gracelessly jumped in the air and yelled, "WOOHOO!".

At the start line, bouncing up and down in a sea of hot pink, I finally got it. THIS IS WHY YOU DO THE TRAINING. To get the other side. The race! The fun part! The people! The new places, new sights, new smells.

Race gear, ready to rock!

2. It's okay to fake it
It didn't matter that I'd not loved the training – the important thing was that I did the training. My legs didn't know that my mind wasn't entirely into it, they got fitter and stronger regardless. So often when things are boring/uncomfortable/scary/unfamiliar that voice pipes up, "maybe this isn't meant to be" and/or "let's run away!". I'm glad I went through the motions anyway, week after week. This can be applied to so many things in life, right?

3. There's an BEAST lurking within!
As soon as the starting siren went off my brain flipped from "let's go for a nice Sunday stroll" to "let's walk this f*cker as fast as possible GO GO GO!". The halfhearted stroll became an all-out charge! Out of my way, Italians with umbrellas!

(Did I mention it was raining on race day? It wouldn't pass for rain in the UK – twas "like being misted with Evian" as Paula called it – but many locals were ducking for cover!)

I think I've been trying to convince myself ever since I first hurt my knee that I didn't really care about running or races. Oh I'm just happy doing my workout DVDs! I'm happy to hold the bags while everyone else races. Don't mind me! But as much as I love my solitary DVDs and my classes, I also love getting competitive with myself. So I'll keep indulging that side with more events. In time, hopefully my body will be able to keep up with my brain's ambitions.

4. Lipstick adds a sense of occasion
At the start line I met the lovely Erica, an American living in Italy whose blog I've read for years. She'd come to run the 6k and is doing the 10K Course in June, so she got a sneak peak at the lady who'll be bossing her around for 8 weeks! Anyway, Erica was wearing RED LIPSTICK. With her hot pink race t-shirt she looked so foxy and ready to rock. My new years resolution was to wear lipstick more often, you may recall, so I've added a sub-clause: wear red lipstick in a race. My foxy pal LBTEPA does that all time too. I have lips, I have sticks, so why the hell not?

5. My granny knee is thankful
The more I walk the better it feels. I pine for Zumba and kickboxing but taking the sensible route is paying off. It doesn't lock up so much and the "burning" sensation happens less frequently. Same goes for the sciatic pain. The race topped up my resolve to keep moving and eating well. 


6. Everything's more fun with friends
I walked the race with Honor, Clare and Julia who are recovering from injuries. Their company really made me savour every Holy Crap We're Walking In Italy moment. Races are a great excuse to hang out with awesome people. We need to do this stuff more often!

Cop a load of this race medal! Sure it says Run when I Walked but that's faster than snoring in bed on a Sunday morning. I'll take it.


Up & Running LIVE in Italy – Good times and Nutella pizza

Thank you so much for your comments on the Elephant post! You all rawk and I feel about 237% less loony now! 🙂

Last summer Julia and I became possessed with the idea of an Up & Running retreat. We'd just enjoyed a brekkie in Brussels with Cels, a lovely Up & Runner, and discovered that meeting the woman behind the 90 x 90 pixel forum avatar was bloody amazing. We had do it again. En masse! With running! And yoga! And goody bags! And wine!

We settled on a cosy gathering in Bologna, Italy in order to align with Julia's very own Running Festival race. We held our breath when we announced it on the Forum (you know that throw your own birthday party will-they won't-they feeling!?), but we ended up with Up & Runners travelling from England, France, Germany, Guinea, Italy, Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates with Australian Jo scoring the prize for furthest travelled!

We took over a bed & breakfast in central Bologna. Julia had done a brilliant job scouting it, and when I saw the sun-dappled foyer with Fiat lurking in the background I sighed happily, "Ahhh… Italian as f*ck!"

The most gleeful part of organising was the goody bags. What's the point of going to meet a bunch of internet people if you don't get a goody bag, I ask you!? The goods included snacks, a hand-made Up & Running headband, STICKERS! and nail polish in the perfect shade of Up & Running pink.

Goody bags, full of goodness

Goody bags, full of goodness

My spewy nerves dissolved the minute the first runner came through the door. Cate, an expat Aussie in Switzerland, had a smile even more dazzling than her avatar and it hit me, "Holy crap these people are REAL! This is going to rock!".

After that initial weirdness of connecting real bodies to internet voices, soon the room buzzed with exotic accents and laughter. There was wine and delicious pizzas, those amazing wood fired ones that I will be dreaming about for months to come. Especially this baby for afters…

Nutella pizza. If this is wrong I don't want to be right.

Nutella pizza. If this is wrong I don't want to be right.

Friday morning began with Coach Julia's Boot Camp. She didn't bring her whistle or megaphone but I insisted on calling it a Boot Camp just to mess with everyone's heads.

Coach Julia pretty in pink

Coach Julia pretty in pink

I shed a few tears at the sight of our runners taking off for their warm-up run with Coach J out in front. Okay, it was a lot of tears. Not even a year after our very first 5K Course ended, here was a group of women from all over the world, zooming along together. Behind the international keyboards had lurked real life runners, after all!

I'd hoped I wasn't alone in feeling a sense of community and deep connection on the Forum right from the start, but oh man, it was so real. They were such a genuine, funny, warm and beautiful bunch of women. I was totally overcome with emotion all weekend long. Apologies to everyone I blubbed on!

Anyway… after the running came a runner-friendly yoga cool down.

Post-BootCamp yoga



Love that smile!

 On Friday night we had a pasta demonstration at the B&B from a handsome young Pasta Man.

Pasta Man

He rolled it paper thin… amazing


Pasta lessons

Tessa gives it a go, sporting her official headband with the wee Italian flag on it! Swoon.


Julia shows the dough who's boss

Julia shows the dough who's boss

As well as the most light and tasty pasta ever, there was a mega load of antipasti. I particularly loved the artichokes, the hunks of Parmesan, the local soft cheese whose name I forget and the garlicky bruschetta. And another hunk of Parmesan for good measure, yes please…

Just part of our Friday night feast


And homemade tiramisu for pudding. Oh my stars.

Saturday was a free day to explore Bologna (or in my case, fall deeper in love with coffee, eat gelato and chit chat endlessly). That evening our resident runner/photographer Sara set up a photobooth for us to play with.

There was a minor incident when some espresso-fuelled loon wondered aloud if one could be photographed mid-air by diving onto the bed, and then kinda almost broke the bed attempting it *whistles*. Thank goodness the camera did not catch that moment.

Julia and I attempted yet again to get a serious photo for our About page.

Trying and failing to get a professional team photo

This is where I suggested we do cheesy poses like the opening credits of The Young & the Restless

My buddy :)

My buddy 🙂

Now all we had left to do was Sunday's race…

Thanks Sara for pasta pics and photo booth and Cate for tiramisu and Pasta Man.

Winners of the Up & Running e-course giveaway

Thanks to all who entered the Up & Running giveaway. I dare anyone to read your answers to the What's the best thing that happened to you last year question and not feel at least a little bit full of the joys of life. I've bookmarked the post to re-read on grumpy days!

The random number generator declared the following winners…

#31 – Kathleen
#18 – Suzy
#47 – Frances
#34 – Tor
#17 – Lauren
#70 – Rose

Why are there six winners? Those comments put me in a cheerful mood, what can I say! 😀

Congratulations ladies! I've emailed you all so please get in touch to claim your prize.

If you missed out this time round there's still time to join the team. Team Sweat… Team Good Times… Team Occasional Bitch & Moan!

The 5K Course starts next Monday 5 March and the 10K Thursday 8 March. The Half Marathon course can started at any time.

By the way, both the 5K & 10K Courses conclude with a race on Sunday 6 May (your choice of "real" race or virtual), which is the same day as the Julia Jones Running Festival (how to cool a race named after you, crikey). If any Eurogals out there fancy a visit to Bologna, a bunch of Up & Runners will be taking part so come join us! There's a 6km and a 10km race.

I'll be huffing along for the 6km… I was having a whinge to Julia that me and my dodgy knee would be on the sidelines babysitting everyone's bags, but she assures me it's okay to walk the race. So I'm in training baby, and pootling around the village with great enthusiasm! My aim is to get as speedy as possible and not be dead last.

Thanks everyone who entered the giveaway. Have a good week!

Up & Running

WIN! A place on the Up & Running 5K, 10K or 21K Course

Shauna Reid & Julia Jones

Me and Coach Julia

It's been a whole year since I first asked if you guys wouldn't mind having a look at This Running Thing We Made, and I'm so chuffed that Up & Running is now alive and thriving. A year ago Julia and I had just met in person and had only a skimpy website, an empty forum, one lonely 5K e-course and a bellyful of excitement (okay, mild terror too). But today there is so much more to look at:

Keanu Reeves whoa!

I just noticed a comment on the ye olde Introducing Up & Running post from a girl named Jo: "Arghhh… I'm so tempted to sign up, but… is this actually possible???". Jo did sign up, aced the 5K, is about to start the 10K course, and this May is coming all the way from Australia for our first ever Alumni Retreat in Italy. Jo, you crazy cat!

I could tell 100 similar stories of women doing things they didn't know they could do but I know you're busy people and would not want to miss anyone out. But to all the Up & Runners out there, thank you for showing me day after day what happens when you figure out what you want, make a plan, then get off your bum and go for it :) 

Up & Running

What's next? Our next 5K Course starts on Monday 5 March and the 10K Course starts on Thursday 8 March, and each run for eight weeks. Our brand new Half Marathon course runs for 12 weeks and is self-paced, so you can dive in to that one at any time, whenever it suits you and your race date.

So… fancy joining us? This is an brilliant time of year for a new challenge – Spring is on the way in the Northern Hemisphere, and it's cooling off down south. Just think how smug you would feel crossing the finish line at your first 5K or 10K come May?

I'm giving away three free places, with the winner choosing the course they'd like to do. All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post and tell me, What's the best thing that happened to you over the past year?

  • Entries close 11PM GMT this Friday 24 February
  • There will be three winners and they have their choice of 5K, 10K or Half Marathon course
  • The winner can gift the prize to a friend, so you can enter if you choose not to run but know someone who would like to!
  • Winners will be randomly selected.
  • Winners can be from anywhere in the world. Remember the Courses are for women only.

Winner will be announced this Saturday 25 Feburary. Woohoo!

Walking in Barcelona

Last weekend I went to Barcelona to hang out with my pal Coach Julia Jones. We had a great time eating tapas and working on our new Up & Running half marathon e-course, which we're launching next week (squeak!). 

After our Brussels work-a-thon last summer, I was awed by how she packed her running shoes and exercised and ate mindfully… rather than seeing a few days away as time for sloth and scoff-o-rama. Six months on I reckon I'm getting there too! I enjoyed my tapas and some incredibly decadent chocolate pastry thingos but whoa baby, I savoured the whole shebang. Half the fun is hunting down the perfect thing to eat – following your nose through the narrow streets, oggling fancy treats in the windows, taking a photo or ten before finally tucking in. That's how I did it til I lost my way… be selective, then savour. It feels good to get back to what works.

Sagrada Familia

Pigeons near the Sagrada Familia

The exercise went well too. On Sunday Julia suggested we each head out for 40 minutes – a run for her and a brisk walk for Granny Knees me. It's been years since she coached me but OBEY JULIA remains a mantra… I cranked up the GPS and Walkmeter on my phone so I'd be able to show her proof that I'd walked and not just sat under a tree eating cake. Again, it is very useful to know what really motivates you – in this case, a need to please and a love of gadgets! 😉


In my eagerness to "make good time" some how I got a bit lost on the way back!