This week’s Monday Motivation isn’t specific to running, but it’s helped inspire me in the past few days when I’ve been feeling low. This song came up on my Spotify when I was feeling particularly low about my calf injury- a bit like I’d never recover. It was one of those perfect moments when a song really speaks to you. Just listen to the lyrics!
The choreography in this video is absolutely stunning, and crosses the boundary between music video and short film- there’s so much raw emotion and beauty in it.
Anyway, I digress. Let me know what’s inspiring you this week. When’s the last time a song made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? Perhaps a song you turn to in tough times?
My recent love affair with the podcast as a genre is showing no signs of stopping, and I have a new addition to the family- Running On Om.
Running On Om is produced and hosted by Julia Hanlon, a yogi, runner and all-round wonderful woman. She hosts long-form interviews with “wellness pioneers from running, yoga, spiritual and healthy backgrounds” on a mission to “explore the mind-body-spirit connection”. To be honest, this all sounded a bit zen to me, and it took me a while to get a grips on it; however as soon as I listened to Julia’s monthly Ask Lauren Fleshman interviews with my favourite pro-runner, I became hooked.
When these two women get together they inspire really great conversation and reflection on life, running and everything in between. I find the podcasts really soothing to listen to before I go to bed, when my mind is prone to being over-active and anxious. One of my all-time favourite episodes is titled: Lauren Fleshman and Dr Melody Moore on Changing Eating Disorder Culture in Running. This is a subject close to my heart, having suffered with disordered eating myself over the past two years- but to be honest, I don’t love a lot of the literature I read on it- it often falls foul of being too wishy washy. But not this one- the three ladies have a really objective, informed discussion on what can actually be done on a practical level to stop eating disorders from developing in team environments, as well as how to resolve them should they arise.
I recently discovered a brand new podcast to listen to on my run and, most importantly, my morning commute. Running Commentary is a really simple concept- stand-up comics Rob Deering and Paul Tonkinson record the conversations they have on their runs around London. These conversations include: life, comedy, and running. But mainly running.
What I love is the informal nature of their conversations; they’re completely unedited, and also you can hear their breathing as they run and chat simultaneously, which gives you a sense of camaraderie when you’re out trotting round London on your own. There are also random interjections, such as “ooh look at that bird, what the hell is that?” and “we’re just running past a large, unaccompanied dog…does that dog belong to anyone?” These perfectly reflect the conversations I have with friends whilst running: a mix of the deep and meaningful, combined with the completely frivolous- the only difference being that we’re not recording ourselves.
They also come up with occasional pearls of wisdom that aren’t shrouded in pseudo-spiritual nonsense- here are some of my favourites from a recent listen:
“Those lie-downs at the end of a marathon. That’s sacred time, isn’t it. Just like, ‘I think I’m gonna lie down here. I’m just gonna lie down here. Just here on this bit of pavement, it looks really cosy. I’ll just wait for my family to collect me.’”
“I’m not religious, but I do think that running is a spiritual thing for me. A spiritual get-out on a week-by-week basis.”
On race photos: “I always say if you wanna see what you’re gonna look like it 20 years time, just take a look at 40k”
“It can get very surreal, can’t it, when people start running past you in fancy dress (during a marathon).”
“It’s quite an episodic run on a Sunday, isn’t it, cos there’s so much going on.”
“The fundamental thing with running is-you get away from your brain.”
“In life, you wanna unlock. But you can’t make the decision to unlock can you, it’s just gotta happen. But running makes that happen. Cos it makes you switch off.”
I highly recommend giving them a listen- they’re very unstructured and personable, which is exactly what I love. They’ve even recently started to take other runners on their jaunts, including ultra runner and Guinness World Record holder Susie Chan, who shared her experiences running the Andes to the Amazon Jungle Ultra and setting a treadmill World Record this year. Girl crush alert! So yeah, give these chaps a listen!
Any podcasts you recommend, running or non-running related?
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:
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:
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Any Work Fuckups or Close Calls
Monumental Life Fuckups
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.
If you had to set a training principle for the next week, what would it be?
The past few weeks’ training have been quite intense, with hours at a time spent pounding the pavements of my beloved city. In a somewhat rogue move, I’ve chosen to do all my long runs (in fact, all my runs full stop) alone. A few reasons for this:
I’m lazy and flaky when it comes to making plans
I quite like running alone
Everyone from my running club is much faster than me
It’s weird mental preparation for the marathon
The last one is a bit weird I guess, but I’m hoping that if I can get out and run 20 miles completely alone and without talking to anyone for several hours, I’ll be prepared for moments of self-doubt and exhaustion when race day rolls around.
Anyway, my choice of podcast/music/audiobook has been incredibly varied, but my absolute favourite at the moment is My Dad Wrote a Porno. Let me just explain, so you can understand that it’s not as pervy as it sounds.
Some guy’s dad wrote and self-published an erotic novel on Amazon. The son, along with two comedian friends, read a chapter per week and critique it. It’s absolutely hilarious because:
The poor guy’s dad wrote it
It’s one of the least sexy things imaginable
It’s really badly written (the syntax and grammar is rarely correct)
It’s precisely the kind of thing I need to lighten the mood when I’m running. You can often find me giggling away to myself, even after mile 10 when the pain has started to kick in. Be warned though: this is a tough one to listen to on public transport first thing in the morning- bursting into laughter spontaneously is not appreciated by morning commuters…
Does that explanation make me seem less pervy? I promise it’s worth a listen!
Any comedy podcasts you recommend? Are you judging me right now?