Podcast of the Month: Running Commentary

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.

 

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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.”

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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?

Lots of love,

Pippa

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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

 

Running and Racing

Whilst I love to run for fun, I also absolutely love racing, especially when it’s with my City Athletics crew. There’s something so fun about having a road trip to a random location, racing your heart out, and then going to the pub afterwards. So without further ado, here are my race plans for the tail-end of the year.

 

The Big, Scary, Audacious Goal…
 

 

…is the Budapest Marathon on 8th October. I’m not going to lie, I’m in it mainly for the holiday, but i also desperately need to avenge the horrific race day I had the first time I tried my hand at the marathon distance in April. After much umming and ahhing, I decided to just go ahead with it… I mean, I’d booked the flights months ago, so there’s that too!

 

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A Trip to Scandinavia
 

 

Courtesy of the Reykjavik Half Marathon, on 20th August. I had a lot of annual leave left over by the time it got to June, and so I panicked, and tagged along with what started off as a small runners’ jaunt, and has since gotten a lot bigger. I have no idea what to expect of Reykjavik, but I’m very excited for the hot springs which, I can imagine, are absolute heaven after a long race. As a side note, I’ve never actually raced a half marathon before, and I have a weird mental block about the distance. So this should be interesting!

 

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Where the ‘El 
 

 

is Elmore? I have absolutely no idea, but as per usual, I signed up to the race pretty much as soon as it got posted on the City Runners Facebook group. It’s a 7-miler and forms part of the Surrey Road League, so it must be in Surrey somewhere. And as usual, I’ll probably have the night-before-the-race panic when I realise quite how early I have to get up to make it to the start line on time. Oh well, there’s always coffee.

 

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‘Ello Elmbridge
 

 

Again, another leg of the Surrey Road League…so Surrey I guess? This is a 10k, which I think still remains my favourite distance to race. It’s also a great indicator of fitness and helps me to keep track on where I’m at, and if I’m making any progress. That being said, there’s a risk I’ll pile the pressure on- so that’s something to be wary of. But still, a day out with the runner crew!

 

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What’s your running schedule looking like? Anyone been to Iceland or Budapest? Send me your tips! 

 

Lots of love

 

Pippa

 

The May-June Roundup

I can’t believe it’s July already…though it doesn’t really feel like it because British Summer is doing what it always does, and the sun has barely made an appearance. But still, it’s time for my roundup of what’s been going on, and what I’ve been loving in the past month or so.

Iced Coffee

Super sweet iced coffee has been my favourite this month, especially after long, hot and humid runs. In the UK, we’re not well adapted to the unique kind of mugginess which rolls around every Summer, and so my miles have been so much harder when there’s been any kind of heat involved. Luckily though, Starbucks iced coffee with some sort of caramel flavouring has been a lifesaver. #basicbitch? I don’t really care.

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Alpro Yoghurt Pots

Alpro Go yoghurt pots have been an absolute favourite of mine recently- I can’t have a lot of dairy in my diet, and these have almost entirely replaced my obsession with Skyr. They’re thick, creamy and great-tasting, plus they keep you full for a decent amount of time, and aren’t ridiculously calorific.

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Racing and enjoying the off season

I’ve only raced once with my Athletics Club, but it was a lovely 10 miler, and a great day all-round. However, I’m signed up to so many more races in the months to come (hello fitness, bye bye money) -full post on those to come! But yeah, running has been great without the pressure of training, and with that in mind I’m gradually sneaking my way into mileage buildup. I’m hoping that if I do it gradually enough, I won’t notice I’m training. Sshhhhhh.

Strength training

I’ve really upped my game with strength training and it’s really starting to pay off! I can now plank for 3 minutes 10, which is insane, and definitely paying dividends already in terms of running performance. Still no abs though…

 

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My job and colleagues

Work’s been great, with my colleagues being on top form, and we’re all getting social together with things like spin classes and outdoor movie dates. Yay for Summertime! However we’re also busy with projects, which means it can be a bit stressful- but at least it’s never dull!

 

Quest Bars

I just discovered that (health food shop) Holland and Barrett have started stocking Quest Bars, and not just in multipacks. They’re more expensive than when you buy them online, but not too horrific for a treat- and let’s be honest, it’s not like I spend all my money on booze and cigarettes. I regularly bribe myself with a Cookies & Creme Quest Bar if a run is going particularly horribly. Like I said, bye bye money.

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My new Nikes

In May, there was a Nike sample sale at my office- we’d done some PR work for them. I dropped £110, but managed to come away with two pairs of Nike Frees, a windproof jacket, a zip-up top and a casual tee. My favourite of all these was a pair of Nike Free Flyknits in black. I’m in love with them. Whilst they don’t offer the level of support and cushioning I need for runs of 6 miles or above, I wear them regularly for speedwork, tempo runs, and the gym. Additional bonus: they’re pretty stylish, so I can get away with wearing them to the office. #winning.

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Picnic Food

If there’s one thing Brits do well, it’s a picnic, or a BBQ. And recently, between birthdays and work events, there have been plenty going on. Marks and Spencer’s is absolutely killing the picnic game, and at my office we regularly have big family-style picnics. With all that, summer food has been one of my favourite things- think Parma ham, brie, olives and yummy sourdough.

 

What’s been your favourite thing/product this month?

Lots of love

 

Pippa

Cross Training Focus: Another Space

I’m about to dive straight into the deep end of another training season, and my biggest priority is not to overtrain or get injured- that’s my biggest takeaway from training in Spring- I did way too much, and ended up paying the price on race day.

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I was recently lucky enough to try out Another Space; a new workout studio in Central London. Based in Covent Garden, the boutique studio offers a variety of workout classes including cycling, yoga, hot yoga, and HIIT classes. I got a free pass through my work- perks of the job! I’ve been trying to mix it up fitness-wise with more cross-training and less actual running, with a view to being a more rounded athlete. I decided to give a cycle class a go during a rest week from running, and even persuaded my fellow runner Ashley to come along for the ride- helpfully, I’d been given an extra credit for that exact purpose.

First impressions of the studio itself were great: the staff were friendly, and welcoming. As we checked in, we were given the option of ordering post-class smoothies ahead of time! Every little thing had been taken care of- the changing rooms were adorned with Cowshed toiletries, and handy essentials like cotton buds, spare hair ties, and even disposable razors. You literally didn’t have to think about any of this stuff.
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Now, to the class itself. I’d never been to a spin class before, and as I was shown to my bike, it was adjusted properly for me. Despite my experience with real bikes and stationary bikes in the gym, it turns out I’d been doing it all wrong in the past! It was a really great environment that felt more like a club, with blaring music and neon lights. The instructor was full of enthusiasm and, at times, aggression, and really pushed us to push ourselves. There was a mix of sprints, hill climbs and resistance work, all combined with ab and arm work. Then we broke for a weights session (still on the bike) that really got the arms working- and then back to sprints. We ended, 45 minutes later with a few stretches and shoulder releases, and I was thoroughly exhausted- it was the hardest I’ve worked at a class in a long time!

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Finishing up the class was a relief, and I headed straight to the lovely hot showers. Having fresh towels and lovely smellies made a huge difference, and I left the studio feeling clean and refreshed, as opposed to sweaty and still a bit gross, like when I leave my regular gym. So I’d highly recommend Another Space- if you’re based in London, it’s pricey but definitely worth a shot!
What’s your favourite way to cross-train? 

Have you tried spinning?

Lots of love,

Pippa