Tough Girls: Inspiring stories

Our guest expert for this episode is Sarah Williams: the host of the ‘Tough Girl’ podcast. Sarah interviews women demonstrating extreme levels of mental toughness and is sharing with Rundamentalists readers the key attributes needed to tackle life’s biggest challenges.

Sarah isn’t just about tough ‘talk’, she also puts her words into action and is currently training for the grueling Marathon des Sables (6 marathons in 6 days across the Sahara desert). Highlighting the stories of three amazing women, Sarah will inspire you to harness your mental strength to become literally: unstoppable.

As the host of the Tough Girl Podcast I get to interview the most inspirational women out there who are doing phenomenal challenges. Challenges, which are BIG and scary and when you first hear about them, seem impossible to do!

I interview these women to share their stories, to increase the amount of female role models in the media and so women can be inspired and motivated to go after their own goals, and to complete their own personal challenges whatever they may be!

As host, I get to ask them questions; specific questions, about the why, the how, and really dig into all of the details about turning their dreams and goals into reality.

They break it down for the listeners and make it clear about how they overcame the hardest physical and mental challenges they’ve ever faced. Whether that’s running around the Continental United States, running 53 marathons in 53 days, running across Africa, running around the perimeter of Wales, or breaking the World Record for running the full length of the UK.

This is speaking to women of all ages, all backgrounds, who have dealt with personal challenges at the same time; whether suffering from cancer, overcoming the loss of loved ones, getting out of a toxic relationship, being told ‘you don’t look like a runner’, struggling with exhaustion, physical obstacles, lack of resources….I could go on, but what links these women together is how they never gave up.

They kept on learning, they got stronger; mentally and physically. They proved the doubters wrong and at the same time proved to themselves they could do this.

By sharing their stories on the Tough Girl Podcast they prove time and time again, to the female listeners; women are tough, women are mentally strong, and women can be physical, they can push their bodies to extremes and come out the other side even stronger.

When I started running, it was tough; running a mile was a challenge and it was hard. It’s a long way to run! But the great thing about running is how you can progress, how you can improve and how your body can learn and adapt to the demands placed upon it.

Looking at a marathon distance, 26.2 miles it’s very difficult to comprehend how anyone can run that distance, but every year people do. People accomplish this goal and they prove something to themselves about what they can do and what they can achieve. Some people will hate every single step they take, others will love it, and running will become a part of their life.

I want to share with you some of the women runners, whose stories have inspired me and will inspire you as well.


The stories are about physical challenges, but its more than that – it’s the mental challenges these women have gone through, they’ve pushed their own mental limits, they’ve dug deeper than they’ve gone before, they’ve learnt more and done more because of the physical challenges they faced and overcame.

Mental toughness is the inner strength of mind, about what you’re going to do. It’s having the knowledge, that you’ll never give up, and never give in.

It’s about your attitude. It’s about perseverance.

It’s about knowing you’re going to make it happen.

You’re going to achieve it and nothing or no one will stop you. Especially not you and not the negatives voices in your head, which tell you to stop, to quit, or give up.

This is about mind over matter.

How can you get mental toughness? How can you develop it? 

You can’t say to yourself over and over again, “I’m mentally tough”, “I’m mentally tough”, because how will you know unless it’s been tested? There’s only one way, and to test your mental toughness, you need to put yourself in a situation you’ve never been in before.

You need to get outside your established comfort zone and really challenge yourself.

That’s the only way you’ll ever know.

Arry Beresford-Webb
First person to run 1027 miles around the perimeter of Wales.
Over 39 marathons in 40 days

Arry had never run more than thirteen miles when she decided to run around the perimeter of Wales. A total of 1,027 miles.

During the interview I got to understand more about how Arry prepared mentally for this challenge. She had thought through every single eventuality. She already knew what she would do, if she got injured and broke her leg for example. She had mentally prepared herself so much she included crutches in her support car. Just in case the worst did happen. Nothing was going to stop Arry from completing this challenge.

That belief, that preparation stood out to me. Once I heard that, I had no doubt, she would not stop. She was finishing that challenge. How mentally tough do you have to be to prepare for the worst eventually you could and for it not to stop you.

How many people, sit and think about the worst things that could happen, and because of what could happen – they stop. They give up, before they’ve even tried. They limit themselves and they stay comfortable and they stay safe inside their comfort zone, but by doing that every time, your comfort zone will get smaller, you won’t be able to cope with what the world throws at you, because you’ve never developed your own mental strength. By saying no, by not challenging yourself, your training your brain to give up, before you even start. you’re developing mental weakness which will become a habit and the habit will become your life and that will be down to you and the choices, that you’ve continued to make over and over again. Be mental tough or be mentally weak – it’s your choice and you have ownership of that decision.

Helene Neville
Nurse, Grandmother, 4X Cancer Survivor, Health Activist who ran around the Perimeter of the Continental United States

Put yourself in this situation, how would you react if you were told you were going to die and there was nothing the doctor could do, he said in so many words… “You may as well go home and prepare to die”.

What would you do?
Would you give up already?
Would you conclude, this is what the doctor’s told me, so it must be true?
I’m going to die – I may as well give up.
This is your choice – this is a test of your mind.

This is about your mental toughness, this is your decision about how you react. Do you fight? Or do you give up?

Helene was told this by her doctor – “Go home and die. There’s nothing else we can do for you.”

Do you think that’s what Helene did? – No!

Helene went off home and decided she wanted to create memories for her sons. She booked herself onto the Chicago Marathon – she’d maybe ran 6 times before the event!

Six weeks later, she was at the start of the race and she ran it, all 26.2 miles!. She finished and she not only proved to herself that she was tough, but also she was going to fight this cancer, fight this disease and that’s what she’s been doing ever since.

She’s had multiple brain surgeries, chemotherapy, she’s had relapses, she been diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoma. But this hasn’t stopped her, it’s made her stronger, more passionate about giving back, more passionate about inspiring other women who may be in a similar situation to her.

She wrote a book and to promote it took it on the road, she ran around the Continental United States.

I’ll say that again – she ran around the Continental United States!

Sometime she had support, other times she was running solo and relying on the kindness of strangers to put her up for the night. The run took her over five years to do, as she needed to pause for treatments on the way.

Could she have stopped? Yes.
Could she have given up? Yes.
Could she have said no more? Yes….she could of at anytime.
But she didn’t, as she knew there were always people who were worse off.
Her motivation to keep going was all mental.
It was her inner strength that carried her onwards.

It was her mental toughness that got her through. She got stronger and tougher the more she ran, it was people coming up to her and saying, “Because of you, I didn’t give up”.

It’s phenomenal what’s she done and how many lives she’s impacted. It all came down to her mental strength.

Mimi Anderson
Endurance Runner & Multiple Guinness
World Record Holder

Mimi who’s also known as “Marvellous Mimi” is a wife, mother, grandmother and a runner who loves the colour pink! If you looked at Mimi you’d have no idea what she’s achieved and the challenges she’s overcome.

You can never tell by looking at a person how mentally tough they are.

You can never tell from appearance how strong their mind are.

You’d not be able to tell she’s a multiple world record holder for ultra endurance running and that she holds the World Record for running from the full length of the UK, from John O’Groats to Lands End (JOGLE).

What many people don’t know about this, is the first time she attempted it, she failed. She had to stop, she could not continue.

You could look at that as failure, getting a quarter of the way through and having to stop.

Or did this “failure” make her stronger, tougher and even more prepared and determined the following year when she went back?

Mimi grew mentally tougher because of that failure. It made her examine what she was doing and why she was doing it?

It made her re-evaluate and it took her to a dark place, an uncomfortable place, somewhere deep in her mind where she didn’t want to go. Because she went there, and experienced what it was like. It made her tougher, that’s why the cliche – whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – is true. Mimi got stronger from going through that learning experience.

On her second attempt; she was tougher, stronger, fitter and more mentally prepared. Nothing was going to stop her, even after she was clipped by a car…… I’ll let that sink it, she was clipped by a car and got knocked to the ground.

Surely that could be an acceptable reason to stop? “I was hit by a car, I can’t possibly carry on…”

How many people would have said; “enough’s, enough – I can’t possible go on now”

Mimi did! She continued, she carried on, she defied the odds, she made it happen. She achieved the World Record.

I wanted to share these stories, to encourage you to think about the times you’ve been mentally strong and you have been.

I want you to be inspired by these women and I want you spend time developing your own mental strength for your own challenges. No one’s going to stop you, apart from you. Don’t let that happen!

To listen to these podcast episodes and be inspired my more Tough Girls. Listen to the Tough Girl Podcast which is available on iTunesSoundcloudStitcher.

"They kept on learning, they got stronger; mentally
and physically.
They proved the doubters wrong and at the same time proved to themselves they could do this."

Sarah Williams

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