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

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Serena Williams

I love to share inspiration and motivation wherever I can, and I especially love championing fierce and fantastic ladies. This week I was inspired by Serena Williams’ open letter to women everywhere, and so I just had to share it. So this week’s post is a slightly different format; I’m going to let Serena’s words speak for themselves.

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To all incredible women who strive for excellence,

When I was growing up, I had a dream. I’m sure you did, too. My dream wasn’t like that of an average kid, my dream was to be the best tennis player in the world. Not the best “female” tennis player in the world.

I was fortunate to have a family that supported my dream and encouraged me to follow it. I learned not to be afraid. I learned how important it is to fight for a dream and, most importantly, to dream big. My fight began when I was three and I haven’t taken a break since.

So when the subject of equal pay comes up, it frustrates me because I know firsthand that I, like you, have done the same work and made the same sacrifices as our male counterparts. I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work. Nor would you.

As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success. One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw. People call me one of the “world’s greatest female athletes”. Do they say LeBron is one of the world’s best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender.

For everything I’ve achieved in my life, I am profoundly grateful to have experienced the highs and lows that come with success. It is my hope that my story, and yours, will inspire all young women out there to push for greatness and follow their dreams with steadfast resilience. We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits.

Serena Williams


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I’m constantly in awe of how Serena handles herself in the face of ignorance or naivety from the media or the sports industry itself. She shines like a beacon of self-confidence, self-assurance and empowerment, and I think we could all do with being a little more like her.

So tell me, how do you strive for excellence in your life?

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

Monday Motivation: Leo Manzano

This week I thought I’d share some motivation that really hit home for me when I saw it earlier this week. It’s about Leo Manzano, who is a Mexican-American middle distance runner. What struck me about this video was Leo’s focus on learning from injury- as someone who is currently a little bit in denial but also a little bit injured, it gave me solace and inspiration to see that you can come back from chronic or recurrent injury, and be an even stronger athlete than before.

 

 

How do you deal with injury?

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

Monday Motivation: The Greatest

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.

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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?

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