T’was the night before race day

Well hello there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? For a wide variety of reasons, I haven’t had the time or mental energy to contribute to this blog for a very long time. One of those reasons is that I’ve been way off my running game, and struggling to find a groove with my fitness in general. Some weeks it goes well, some weeks I barely set foot in a gym, let alone go for a run.

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Well, apparently I’ve had enough. Because on Tuesday I randomly, unexpectedly, and ill-advisedly signed up for a half marathon. My roommate Josh had found out from his training group that there were some entries going free, entirely free of charge. And apparently I was feeling in a bit of a fuck it mood. Lo and behold, I’m running a half marathon tomorrow morning.

Let me be very clear: I do not want to do this. My ankle hurts. My back hurts. It is hilly. It will be snowing. And I have not run more than 5 miles in the last year. However, I figure the worst that could happen is that I walk the whole thing. It would take me about 3 and a half hours, it wouldn’t be fun, but I’ll get it done. I’ve been running most nights this week, and whilst it’s started out painfully, it always ends well enough. Plus -I just know that if I take it super easy, I’ll be absolutely fine.

 

I think at the moment I have a really intense fear of running races, and that’s perhaps the reason I haven’t properly rehabbed my ankle – I’ve just been using it as an excuse not to try and race. I’ve built up this mental barrier,and I just want to prove to myself I can do this. I’ll take it super easy, I’ll stop to stretch when I need to, and it will all be fine.

So yes, it may be ill advised. But you know what? That’s okay.

Love,

Pippa x

 

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52 for 52 – again!

One of my 2017 Goals was to read 52 books in a year, averaging 1 book a week. I’m pleased to say that I did it!  I’ll share the whole list shortly, but I plan on doing the same in 2018 and I’m really excited about it!

So my question is – what book would you recommend I read?

 

I’m looking for a variety of fiction and non-fiction; but ultimately I want books I can really lose myself in!

Lots of love,

Pippa

The Comeback Chronicles: January

Well hello there! How’s 2018 treating everyone so far? Is it just me, or has January seemed like the longest month ever? It’s been bleak here in London, and it’s been a tough one for everyone. All that complaining aside, it’s time for a little update:

What’s been going on

Back to work! It’s been much less hectic at my office recently, which has meant that I’ve only been working late one night a week or so. In general I’ve had a better work-life balance, but that has been recently scuppered by a nasty virus that’s been going round the office. I’ve had a weekend in bed, with no exercise and nothing to do with myself – and honestly I’m climbing the walls!

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Fitness

Recent illness aside, things have been going well, fitness-wise. I’ve been switching it up recently, and have been doing 2-4 HiiT workouts a week, combined with 1-2 gentle runs. I have to say they’ve been kicking my butt, and I can definitely feel a difference in my overall fitness and muscles – after only a few weeks. I can’t wait to see how I get on for the next few months!

 

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Running

Like I said, I’ve been running 1-2 times a week – normally once, commuting home from work, and a second time, on a Saturday morning with my friend Ashley and her dog, Otto. Although I never want to actually drag myself out of bed on a Saturday, it’s great to start the weekend off well.

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Food

My main focus at the moment is still to eat a vegan diet – but given the amount of exercise I’m currently doing, I’m being especially careful about my protein intake.  I’m using a variety of different protein shakes, in addition to my usual diet of legumes and veggies. My two favourites right now are My Protein Superfood in Strawberry, and Prana Protein in Chocolate.

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Oh, and protein oatmeal…

Everything else

I’ve been trying to focus – as always – on maintaining balance in my life. I’m still seeing my therapist, and I’m really trying to focus on putting all the pieces back together. I bought a yoga membership, with the hopes of actually making it to a class every once in a while! The ultimate goal is to get in good enough physical shape to be back into running; but for now, I have to find other forms of therapy.

So what about you – how do you strike balance in life? 

Lots of love,

Pippa

 

The Comeback Chronicles: Christmas Edition

Well hello there. Remember me?

It’s been a helluva long time since I posted last. To be honest, the past few months have been really tricky, with work, fitness and my family situation. I’ve been experiencing an ongoing procrastination about opening up again on the blog, and it’s only gotten worse with time. But something has changed. I don’t know what exactly, but I feel ready to write again. I thought I’d start things out gently with the latest edition of the Comeback Chronicles.

For anyone who’s missed it, the Comeback Chronicles was a series dedicated to my recovery and comeback to fitness, after breaking my ankle very badly in December 2016. Part of the reason I stopped blogging was that my comeback has stalled quite considerably. But all that aside, let’s jump in!

 

What’s been going on 

As I mentioned, things have been pretty hectic around these parts. I’ve been snowed under at work, and it’s been pretty all-consuming. I haven’t had as much time or headspace as I’d like for all the other things in my life.

As a side note, the holiday season has been pretty intense too, with work parties, drinks with friends, Christmas dinners and all the rest. Now that that’s all subsided, I can hopefully carve out a little more space in the day for myself.

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Fitness

My fitness routine lately has been pretty haphazard. Some weeks it seems impossible to fit a workout in, in between working late at the office, and actually having time to take care of myself (read: eat and sleep). Other weeks, I manage to kill it with my workouts, and feel full to the brim with motivation. It’s a tricky one. The key for me in 2018 will be to even out these peaks and troughs in my life, and find a routine that works for me.

I’m trying to be more consistent when it comes to strength training, which means (for me) 3 x strength-based workouts a week: lower body, abs, and upper body.  The thing is, when I’m tired and have no headspace, I find it so much easier to zone out and do an hour of cardio than actually concentrate on lifting heavy things. Ultimately though, I know that strength training is going to get me the results I want; and so I have to persist.

 

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Running

Running has unfortunately been my downfall the past few months. I’ve gone through phases of running home from work every other night, to being so injured and in pain that I can’t actually walk. (I wish that was an exaggeration – it’s been a year since my injury, and I still can’t walk down stairs. No lie). I’ve been provisionally diagnosed with burstitis or achilles tendonitis, but I’m awaiting an official diagnosis once I’m referred to a physio. At the moment, I’m running purely for mental health purposes; that means if I’ve had a really terrible day at the office, or things are too much in my personal life, I break the “injury” rule and allow myself to run, even when it’s painful. I know it sounds ridiculous, but sometimes it’s the only thing that will clear my head, and for me it’s worth the trade-off of some pain.

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Food

Wow, that got a little intense back there, didn’t it? Well, the good news is that I’m still predominantly plant-based, and my relationship with food is getting somewhat better. It’s hard to turn off the calorie-counting in my head, but I do try my best to ignore it and get on with my day. My focus for 2018 will be to try to focus on filling my body with nutrients, as opposed to tracking every calorie down to the letter.

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Everything else

If you’ve made it this far, you might have guessed that I’m not having the best time, when it comes to my emotional and mental health. The first Christmas without my Dad was always going to be a difficult time, and to be honest work stress hasn’t made it any easier. I’m not coping as well as I could be (and part of that, I have to admit, is the fact that I can’t just take off on a 10 mile run whenever I feel like it) – but I’m trying to take positive steps.

Recently I moved in with two of my best friends, and that’s really helped me emotionally, in that I can always talk to them if I’ve had a shit day. Additionally, I’ve started seeing my therapist again, and whilst it’s slow progress, it’s progress nonetheless. (Side note – quitting therapy two months into your parent’s divorce because “the storm’s over now” is not a good tactic).

All in all, although this year has been a total shit storm, one thing I’ve really improved on is listening to my body and taking care of myself. I take sick days when I’m sick, I don’t run when I’m feeling under the weather, and I don’t drag my butt to the gym after a 14 hour work day, just because I have to. It might not seem like balance – in fact, it seems like a total mess – but I’m gradually carving out space for myself.

 

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Me and my main man

 

All in all, this year’s been a bit of a hot mess. But that’s okay. Life never goes to plan, and sometimes all you have to do is weather the storm.

How are you? How are you celebrating the festive season?

 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

Mindfulness: Reading (a lot)

As I mentioned a week or so ago, I’ve been really struggling with increased depression and anxiety, thanks to my parent’s divorce and the breakdown of my relationship with my father. That, combined with an intense work life, has meant an increased need to recentre myself and practice mindfulness wherever possible.

This year I’ve found reading to be absolutely crucial to staying mindful despite in the chaos. Sometimes I find my mind racing at night and really struggle to get to sleep – and so I’ve turned to reading as a nightly ritual. I get all snug in my bed and allow myself at least half an hour to turn off my phone and get stuck into another world.

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It’s really hard to switch off entirely, and that’s precisely what reading requires you to do. You have to stop thinking about your own life, your own problems or even your own social media feed, and just concentrate on something entirely other. For me, it really helps, and sends me off to a nice, peaceful sleep.

Since I mentioned my 2017 Goal to average a book a week, I had plenty of requests to share my reading list. So here you have it – all my books for 2017 so far!

From the guys who wrote Freakonomics, this takes you through how to challenge the status quo and look for hidden connections in the seemingly meaningless.

The absolute pick-me-up I needed in January when I found myself jobless and on crutches – one of the standouts so far.

The autobiography of ultra runner Charlie Engle, from his adventure racing exploits to his wrongful imprisonment for tax fraud.

Hilarious, poignant and thought-provoking autobiography of Trevor Noah, on growing up in post-apartheid South Africa.

An inspiring work of fiction about the importance of finding your destiny in life. A bit sentimental, but beautifully written.

A fictional tale of love, betrayal and identity, set against Nigeria’s 1967-60 Civil War.

The story of love and identity, following Ifemelu; of a Nigerian student who emigrates to the US.

A good insight into the start-up way of doing business and getting quick results by learning to fail and fail again.

A great mix of self-help and memoir, this is a great guide to becoming more present in life, and letting go of perfectionism.

Comical memoir of a 30-something comedian who doesn’t have her shit together any more than the rest of us.

An account of 12 months of goal-driven happiness, including concrete, actionable ideas on how to cultivate happiness in your life.

A short Penguin guide to the Suffragette movement in Western countries, including the female-led anti-suffrage movement.

A lazy beach read- a story of love in adverse circumstances.

A hilarious and charming retelling of Norse myth and legend, brought to life in a wickedly clever way.

A genuinely terrifying profile of Donald Trump by one journalist who has keenly followed the demon’s rise to fame.

Fascinating insight into the Occupy movement, including the recent historical context of the 2008 Financial Crash.

An abridged version of the feminist classic, covering the way beauty standards are used to keep women “in their place”.

A modern sci-fi classic – an ancient civilisation is discovered on earth. The rest is a mystery…

The second Sleeping Giants book – it continues!

Another life-affirming classic from Paulo Coehlo; the premise is about a girl who wakes up from her suicide attempt, but discovers she only has a few days to live.

A collective memoir or the experience of Japanese women brought to the US as brides in the 1930s and 40s.

A collection of the authors favourite and most thought-provoking philosophic quotes, along with a brief essay on why they captured his imagination.

A collection of essays and short stories written by a talented young Harvard student, and published after her tragic death only a few years ago.

An autobiographical account of everything running can teach you about life.

A productivity guide that preaches doing the most difficult and most dreaded task first.

A poignant and gorgeously-written tale of an out of place teenage girl who yearns for a place to belong.

An imagined but entirely possible future in which genetic engineering has gotten out of control, and which there remain only a handful of “real” humans left.

A fascinating historical and anthropological look at humankind’s evolution through the ages, from the Stone Age to the modern day.

A memoir / non-fiction work on the issue of race, in the context (mainly) of 21st Century Britan. This work certainly highlights the lack of cultural education received in the UK – specifically to do with the injustices and atrocities committed by the British Empire, and the legacy this has left.

A no-bullshit guide to everything that’s wrong with clean eating, fasts, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the logical tricks that leave us buying into them.

The premise: one Ghanian sister sold into slavery, the other married off to a British slaver; we follow the atrocities and legacies of slavery as they trickle down through the generations.

A soothing, cosy book on the magic of getting your shit together, your house in order, and your life how you want it.

A tale of a married couple’s struggle to have children – beautifully told, and set against the background of political unrest in 1980’s Nigeria.

A heartbreaking work about a girl caught in a state of limbo after a life-threatening car accident – great if you need a good cry.

The true story of Olympic Legend, eccentric and all round gentleman Emil Zátopek, struggling with his role in post-war Czechoslovakia. A truly inspiring read.

A concise but thorough account of how Western foreign policy (specifically British and American) has screwed over the Middle East and created a breeding ground for extremism.

The continuation of Homo Sapiens, this work takes a look at humankind as we embark on our voyage into the world of amortality, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.

In case you weren’t counting, I’m on 36 to date, which makes me approximately two weeks behind. But fear not, I’m catching up!

In the meantime, please send me your recommendations! I’m always looking for new reads to get my nose into! 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa