Why I Run London: My Top Running Spots

Living in London, I’m often overwhelmed with gratitude for how many lovely green spaces, tourist attractions and secret hideouts there are to run in. We’re really very lucky, aren’t we? It seems like every time I head out for some miles, I discover something new, or just find a new appreciation for the city I live in. So here are some of my favourite running spots in the capital.

Burgess Park

I recently took to Burgess Park for what was actually a very painful run; however the scenery more than compensated for my injury. It’s about 5k round the park, although I like to do laps of the lake, especially when it’s sunny.

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Regent’s Park

This park is about a mile from my office, so I spend many a lunchtime sweating my way around it, and I’m not the only one! There are so many different sections to the park that I’m always stumbling upon something new, but my favourite part is the zoo- it’s so odd to be running along mindlessly and suddenly spot a camel!

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Regent’s Canal

Okay, this is kind of similar to the park. I love to go through the park and onto the canal, seeing canal boats, ducks and the occasional hyena (again, from the zoo). It’s flat and relatively quiet, making it the perfect place for building up some speed. I’ve run two parts of the canal, and whilst I haven’t quite figured out how they join up (I can’t geography), they’re both gorgeous places to run.

Greenwich and the Thames Barrier

Ok ok, hear me out on this one. The Thames Barrier has to be one of the bleakest places known to mankind; however, I think there’s a certain beauty to that. Following the river eastwards from Greenwich, you go through the docklands and marshes, and eventually end up at The Thames Barrier, at which point you really have to turn back, or come away from the river. It’s a bit bleak, but I quite like the idea that this is what the East End of London used to look like, back in the day. And it’s interesting, if nothing else- where else would you see an abandoned fairground, a moored shipping container and the Emirates Cable Car all in one outing?

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Greenwich 

I adore running in Greenwich, and I’m even prepared to huff my way up the steep hill from my front door to get there. It’s absolutely gorgeous first thing in the morning before the tourists descend; seeing the Cutty Sark, a ship whose history I learned about at length when I was a child, is often enough to lift my spirits on even the worst of runs.

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Embankment

The Thames is the heart of our city, and therefore it’s no surprise that it takes a central role in my running, as well as that of many other runners. The Embankment is the North side of the Thames, and it’s generally slightly less congested than the other bank. You can run along from Tower Bridge, through The City, past St. Paul’s Cathedral and even up to the Houses of Parliament. Granted, you still have to dodge a few tourists, but it’s worth it for the views.

Primrose Hill
 

Primrose Hill gives you a stunning panoramic view of London if you’re prepared to make the climb. The hill itself is deceivingly tough, with a long incline that gets steeper at the top. It’s one of my goals for my speed season to chase down my PR on that Strava segment and make it my bitch!

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Hilly Fields

This small park has a place in my heart due to it being my local Parkrun; I’ve met a lovely community of runners through the weekly Saturday morning events. The Saturday morning Parkrun punctuates my week nicely, and it’s during those mornings that I notice the seasons changing so beautifully. Funny how that happens.

St. James’s Park

There are three Royal Parks that surround Buckingham Palace; St. James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park. It’s surprisingly easy to do all three in one route, and I always get goosebumps when running past the palace itself. If you’re lucky, you get to see the changing of the guards, and as a bonus, it’s lit up beautifully at night.

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Blackheath

By the time I get to Blackheath Common on my Sunday long runs, I’ve only done 1 mile, but all of that has been uphill. And so I always stop to stretch out my calves. It can be very bleak in terms of the scenery, but recently I was lucky enough to catch the sunrise!

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 Is there anywhere I’ve missed in London that you’d recommend running?

Lots of love,

Pippa
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Where to get discount running kit

“I know, I know” I tell my mother for the hundredth time, “I have a lot of running kit”. This conversation takes place every time I go to visit my parents, and inevitably have to sneak a pile of dirty lycra into their washing machine. And yes, I do have a lot of running kit. But I pride myself on finding a good deal, and so I thought I’d share that with you.

PS. My mother and I now have an agreement; she’s not allowed to ask how much I spend on running gear unless she’s looking to make a donation 😉

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I was introduced to Sports Shoes by my Aunt and Uncle- both runners, both bargain-hunters after my own heart. The website essentially has a lot of last season’s running shoes, meaning that they sell for around half the price, as long as you don’t mind having them in a different colour way. (A caveat- occasionally updates in a shoe will involve technical adjustments- so it’s worth doing your research). The online shoe finder is actually pretty decent and there’s a good range of clothing too- although the shipping is a bit steep at £4.99.

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A Glasgow-based running website, Run 4 It is often cheapest for specific shoes + postage. I ordered myself a pair of Brooks Ravenna from their website after becoming convinced they were the shoe I absolutely had to have or else the world would end. Long story short, I sent them back, but the shipping and returns process was really simple, and I’d highly recommend these guys.

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Originally a cycle website that expanded into other sports, Wiggle is a great store for a bargain. They offer free delivery over £25, and I really like their own brand, dhb. I own several high-vis long-sleeved tops from dhb, and I find they fit me really nicely, and are visible at night whilst not being overly garish. Wiggle is also great for sports nutrition- I get my SiS electrolytes from them, at half their RRP.

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Ohhhhh Decathlon, you will be the death of me someday. For those who don’t know, Decathlon is an amazing sports store originally from France. It caters for pretty much every sport you could imagine, including the likes of rollerblading, alpine skiing and horseriding. They have huge warehouses, often in industrial estates, and they’re seriously dangerous to go in. Everything is really cheap, and they have a 365-day guarantee on all products. I have to use the online store because I know that if I actually went into a real store, I would come out 100% broke. Having said that, they don’t often do free shipping- Black Friday 2015 being an exception. If you’re based in the UK and just starting out in any sport, Decathlon is the way to go!

All this goes to show that you really don’t have to spend a fortune. But also, no-one will judge you if you do!

Where do you get most of your running kit?

Lots of love,

Pippa

Mindfulness: Falling for fall?

Summer has always been my favourite season, and so when Autumn arrives it can be easy to feel despondent. Whilst social media gets excited for crisp leaves, warm jumpers and Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but I often struggle slightly- I think that’s the thing with the British Summer- blink and you’ll miss it.  That’s why it can often be quite startling when Autumn comes around.

That being said, the colder months are generally much better for me than they used to be, and I think that has a lot to do with running all year-round. Spending more time in nature, getting that endorphin fix, and trying to run during the limited daylight hours- without any of this, I’d be lost. So whilst I’m not overly excited about the end of Summer, things are looking up. And here are the things I’m looking forward to:

 

  • Blanket scarves. These are basically a socially-acceptable blanket that you’ll always have to hand during the winter months. I can even get away with wrapping myself up in mine when I’m at the office.

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  • Chai tea. I feel about chai tea the way many people feel about the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I’m in love with it. Cannot get enough. I love super sweet chai tea when you’re stuck inside on a super grey and rainy day. Preferably wrapped in a big blanket scarf.

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  • Bonfire Night! This is my favourite “holiday” of the year. We Brits snuggle up, watch fireworks and build huge bonfires, in commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot- an attack on the Houses of Parliament that was foiled at the last minute. It’s such a community event, and I absolutely adore it.

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  • Crisp mornings. Whilst Autumn/Winter in the UK is generally grey and foggy, every once in a while we get a gorgeous crisp sunny morning. These are the best to be out running in.

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So there you have it. I’m not 100% on board for the colder months, but I’m a damn sight more positive than I would have been this time two years ago!

 

What’s your favourite thing about the colder months? Please, give me tips on how to survive!

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

5 tips for anxious people

I’m having a bit of a rough time with my mood right now. I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety for a while now, and whilst I’ve generally got everything under control, it comes in peaks and troughs sometimes. Sometimes you can find a cause, and sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason for it, and the latter is the most frustrating.

 

However I have a few things that help, and I thought I’d share them with you today- just for the next time you’re having a bit of an off day, or you’ve lost your mojo.

 

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1) A big, cosy jumper. For me, this is my University of Cambridge sweatshirt. It’s grey and probably has a few stains down it at any given time, but I love it nonetheless. There’s a story behind it: having finished my finals, a year of stress had culminated in a week of partying- and I was exhausted. So my friend Ben gave me his Cambridge sweatshirt, and let me sleep in his room for a week. We would burn relaxing candles, read our books, and get some well earned sleep. I have fond memories of those times, and wearing this sweatshirt helps me feel comforted.

 

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2) A candle. It’s no surprise that aromatherapy is really effective when it comes to stress relief, but I didn’t realise how much until I found myself without a candle. I just spent some gift vouchers on a gorgeous one by This Works – Lavender and Vertivert – and it soothes me so much. I think it’s a similar fragrance to the one my yoga instructor diffuses around the room during savasanah- it’s relaxing and slightly minty too.

 

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3) A quilt. My Granny made all her grandchildren quilts when they were born, and as a 21st birthday present, she made me an adult-sized one, and even embroidered my initials onto it. It has huge sentimental value, but also serves a really great purpose: it’s really heavy. I recently discovered that one way to treat anxiety is by the use of pressure, which suppresses the central nervous system, stopping it from going into overdrive. That’s one of the many reasons hugs help make us feel better. Anyway, the blanket is really heavy, and I can just crawl up under it when I’m feeling a bit shit.

 

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4) Tea. I love a cup of tea before bedtime, especially when it’s cold out and I’m feeling rough. There’s something so soothing about it, as well as the fact that making a cup of tea requires taking a moment out from your regular day.
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5) A notebook. Throughout my struggles with anxiety and depression I’ve been advised to journal, but it’s not until I started my training journal that I appreciated the value of getting things out on paper and out of my head. I don’t think I’ve ever written a longform entry in a journal about my emotions, but sometimes writing down a list of things that you’re worried about can be overwhelmingly helpful. I like to divide them up into Can change and Can’t change. Each has their upside.

 

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Do you struggle with any of these issues? How do you pick yourself up?

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

Monday Motivation: A Life Outside of Running

Morning! This week’s motivation is courtesy of Ashley Higginson and Saucony. Ashley is a steeplechase runner who almost gave up on her sport completely. In the end, it turned out to be finding a life outside of running, and a sense of balance, that rekindled her fire.

 

 

This speaks to me a lot. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about something Lauren Fleshman said in a recent Running On Om episode- that running was the kindling for a lot of the joy in her life- but that’s scary and, at times, limiting- especially when injury comes your way. I think recently I’ve become increasingly consumed by running, and I’ve started to realise I don’t want to define myself solely as a runner. Anyways, tangent over.

 

What’s motivating you this week?

 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa