Life Update: The Mexico Edition

Well well well, quite a lot has happened since I last wrote an update! I’ve just come back from a gorgeous two week break in Mexico, so there’s quite a lot to fill you in on!

What’s been going on

About mid-Summer, I was in a rut with my life, and decided, on a whim, to book a two week holiday to Mexico. I booked a flight, one night in a hostel, and decided to take it from there. Hands down, this was one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. I had a grand total of 5kg luggage allowance (thanks to my airline) and I took off into the sunset, without a plan in the world.

I have to say it was simultaneously the hardest and most rewarding two weeks of my life. I crammed so much into two weeks; the highs and the lows, and ultimately came back with fresh perspective on life.

My itinereary looked like this:

  • Fly into Cancun, spend first night there
  • Ferry to Isla Mujeres
  • Three days beaching, snorkelling and dancing the night away
  • Bus to Tulum
  • Three days exploring ancient ruins, diving in cenotes and a few basic beach days
  • Bus to Playa del Carmen
  • One day entirely rained off by Tropical Storm Michael, followed by one day at a gorgeous beach
  • Half a day travelling, via bus and ferry, to Isla Holbox
  • Two days in Isla Holbox, seeing flamingos, chilling in hammocks, and doing sunset yoga by the beach
  • A ferry back to the mainland, followed by one final night in Cancun
  • A day’s shopping for presents in Cancun, followed by a night flight home!

Needless to say, I fit an awful lot into two weeks, and can thoroughly say I squeezed the pips out of this vacation!

 

Health, Fitness & Food

During my vacation, I completely let go of tracking food or keeping an eye on what I was eating. To be honest, being vegan means that I tend to stick on the healthier side of things – think smoothie bowls, sorbet, veggie tacos, and copious amounts of guacamole – but it was liberating to not even have to think about calories, protein or any of the rest of it. I definitely drank way too many mojitos, daquiris, tequila shots… you name it- but at the end of the day, isn’t that what a holiday’s for?

 

Exercise

When it came to exercise, I was pretty laissez-faire. I was on my feet a lot, exploring throughout the day (and dancing throughout the night), plus I rented bikes wherever possible to see the sights on my own terms. I snorkelled, which was actually a lot more work than I’d anticipated; plus I did yoga whenever I felt like my body needed it.

All things considered, I definitely came back ready to move my body and get back to working out – I’d allowed myself space to miss it.

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NBD just swimming with turtles

Everything Else

One thing I will say, is that travelling can really be quite tough on your mental health. Of course, it’s a wonderful experience, and you get to see incredible beauty; but on the flipside, it can be overwhelming to constantly be surrounded by new sights, sensations and even people, and that can take its toll.

At the outset of my holiday I had sworn to take in as much as I could, and never have a ‘day off’. But pretty soon I realised that this was a holiday, and that it was important to me not to feel burnt out by the whole experience. I’d say I probably had 2 days ‘on’ followed by a day ‘off’, just lounging on the beach or by a swimming pool somewhere – and that felt like the right balance.

I also found myself reading extensively, and journalling more – travel always seems to do that to me. Part of it is wanting to remember all the experiences you’ve had;  but more often than not that leads to self-reflection and deep digging. It was definitely a cathartic time for me, and made me think a lot more about what I want from life. (That doesn’t mean that I’ve figured it out, by any stretch of the imagination – just that I’m gradually inching closer)!

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On a boat, eating watermelon in the sun 🙂

All things said, this holiday was a great way to recharge, and really do something selfish, solely for me, after a demanding few years without much respite. I’ve come back feeling inspired to do something exciting for my next big step in life – and my next holiday!

 

When was the last time you felt truly inspired?

Lots of love,

Pippa

 

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My Hydration Favourites

In an odd turn of events, British Summer seems to have finally emerged from wherever it’s been hiding. And with that, comes heat, humidity, and heightened concern over hydration. I’ve always been pretty good at hydrating throughout the day, but with the heat and humidity being what it has been recently, I’ve been making a conscious effort to get enough fluids and salts. So here are my hydration faves, water aside:

 

Miso soup

 

I know this is a weird one, especially to start out with. But after a long run (or even a short one for that matter) I find slightly cooled-down miso soup to really hit the spot when it comes to salt and hydration. If I’m feeing adventurous, I’ll add spinach and an egg into the mix, but mostly, I just gulp that shit down plain.

 

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Powerbar or Science in Sport Electrolytes

 

I like both of these brands as they seem to do the job just fine; Powerbar electrolytes have a better taste, but SiS feels a bit more premium…like it might be doing more of a job! I know that’s largely influenced by branding and packaging though, so I’m not fussed either way. I used to use Nuun electrolytes but I still often found myself with a post-run headache even after having taken them.

 

Powerbar 5 Electrolytes Tablets

 

Carbonated Water

 

You can buy flavoured, carbonated water at pretty much any local supermarket- they’re usually sugar free (and virtually calorie-free), and come in a variety of flavours. They taste so damn good, and they aren’t quite as bad for you as a Diet Coke. That’s my excuse anyway.

 

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Coconut Water

 

I don’t drink this very often due to the cost, but every once in a while I’ll splash out and get a big carton to sip on throughout the week. I find it does the job, and the taste (which bothers some people) can be masked by mixing it in with a smoothie of some sort.

 

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Tea and Coffee

 

Whilst tea and coffee both have a bad rep for being diuretics, studies have shown that two large cups of coffee per day don’t really affect you too badly. And as for tea? Being the true Brit that I am, I drink several cups a day, but I try to switch it up and have at least a few cups of green or herbal tea, as a bit of a healthy switch.

 

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So is there anything I’ve missed? I’m always keen to try new things!

 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

Mindfulness: My Training Principles

Last night, feeling particularly inspired after a yoga class, nourishing dinner and catch-up with a friend, I found myself with some time to properly reflect on some principles I want to train by in the next few months. With quite a busy schedule of races and training ahead, I want to be careful to avoid burnout. During my training for Manchester Marathon at the start of the year, I was doing way too much, prioritizing all the wrong things, and it ended up costing me dearly both in terms of injury and professional accomplishment.

 

 

So without further ado, here we go:

Run Less, with More Focus

Whilst I haven’t read the book in its entirety (yet), I want to focus on the approach set out by Run Less, Run Faster for the next few months. As much as I love love love to run junk miles, and regularly run 4 or 5 times a week when not training for a specific goal; my body can only take 3 structured (i.e. intense) training sessions a week. I’ll be keeping it simple, and supplementing the following with cross-training:

  1. Long run
  2. Tempo run
  3. Intervals

Focus on Balance

In my brand new Believe, Achieve Training Journal, there’s a section on balance, and it talks about your “training wheel” being made up of the following spokes:

  • Physical training
  • Mental training
  • Nutrition
  • Recovery
  • Life Balance
  • Competition
  • Community

“Put too much emphasis on one spoke or ignore another, and your wheel becomes weak and collapses beneath you.” Wise words to live by.

Focus on Rest and Recovery

I am absolutely terrible at allowing my body to recover, and last training season I was burning the candle at both ends, which led to burnout, both physical, and more importantly, mental. I was really unable to focus on my work, and it wasn’t a good time at all.

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Focus on not getting fired

Okay, a slight exaggeration. But I want to focus on being able to deliver 110% in my current role, and take on more responsibility whenever possible. I cannot slump in my chair and let the brain fog take over.

Plenty of Race Prep ahead of the big event

The big event being, of course, the marathon. I want to get as much experience racing as I can, without overly interfering with my long runs. I currently have a good few in the diary, and seeing that I love racing so much, it’s hardly a sacrifice to add a few more when they come up (and believe me, they always come up)! Specifically I want to use 10k races as tempo runs, and do some half marathons as a way of getting over this weird mental block I have about 13.1.

 

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Good Food

This is entirely obvious, but something I really skimped on at the start of the year. I have a troubled history with food and dieting, and so it’s always a focus of mine to get better. My motto: Eat More Bananas- which is basically a shorthand way of saying “eat more real foods”. I also want to focus on eating fewer nothing foods- things like popcorn and rice cakes, which essentially keep you full but don’t really provide you with anything nutritionally. I’m certainly not swearing them off or restricting, but trying not to reach for a bag of popcorn whenever I get hungry.

 

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And yes, that includes treat food!

 

Have Clear Red Alerts

These are my signs that I absolutely have to cut back on training. I know people say listen to your body, but when you have a slightly obsessive personality like I do, it’s hard to do this without having an objective list of things.

  • Brain Fog
  • Any Work Fuckups or Close Calls
  • Monumental Life Fuckups
  • Heightened Emotions
  • Sickness or injury

 

These principles will hopefully stand me in good stead for lovely, successful and not too stressful training in the months to come.

 

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If you had to set a training principle for the next week, what would it be?

 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

 

Mindfulness: On rest days

I’m coming to really appreciate the importance of rest days. During my last training cycle, I had so many days when I was overtrained, undernourished and most importantly, absolutely knackered. It caused me some real problems both professionally and personally- a unique combination of grouchiness and inefficiency that only prolonged endurance training can bring.

In an attempt to not fuck up my life in general and, more specifically, in my Autumn training cycle, I’m taking a ton more rest days and paying closer attention to what my body needs. This image sums it up nicely- oh, we love you Mindy.

 

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Mondays are my rest day. I get home from work, I put on my PJs, and I watch hours of TV whilst playing Candy Crush or Whatsapping my friends. It’s the exact opposite of what most people would call ‘healthy’, but it nourishes my soul and gives me time to recuperate for the week ahead. Hopefully, it will stand me in good stead for the training season ahead!

What’s your rest day routine? And any new TV shows I should try out?

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

 

My 5 Essential Strength Moves

I’m a relative noob when it comes to strength training. I realised a little too late on in marathon training quite how weak I was, and so now I’ve decided to implement a strength-training routine into my everyday life. For me, the approach that’s always worked best for me is gently gently – little and often. And so this is the routine I do, every day before bed, 6 days a week:

1. Planking: A simple rule- every day I try to hold my plank for longer than the day before, whether that’s by a second or half a minute. I’m up to 2 minutes 35!

plank

 

2. Glute bridges: A vital part of avoiding more back, calf, hamstring and foot issues, according to my very lovely physiotherapist. I also do these before each run to get my glutes to ‘fire up’.

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3. Push ups: I have so little upper body strength it’s embarrassing. However I’m now at 10 ‘baby’ pushups, and I can even do a few ‘proper’ ones now.

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4. Tricep dips: Even smaller than my biceps are my triceps. We’re getting there.

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5. Lunges: I’m still not 100% sure why lunges are good for runners, but everyone tells me they are, so I’m doing them.

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Whilst this is only a small adjustment to my daily routine, I’m noticing a remarkable distance in both my running dynamism, which is reflected in faster pace times. A win all round!

 

What’s your favourite strength and conditioning move?

 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa