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

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July Favourites

It’s been a lovely month, and marathon training is pretty much in full swing! I’ve been trying new things and pushing my limits, which is always a good thing when it comes to training. So without further ado, here are my monthly favourites:

 

The Weather

 

Summer emerged in Britain for about two weeks in July, and we all congregated for BBQs, picnics and many an iced coffee. Whilst I struggled with the heat at times, it’s been nice not to have to be wrapped up warm all the time. And I get an excuse to wear my Nike Pros, also affectionately known as my go-faster shorts.

 

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Running at Sunset = Dreamy
Red lipstick

 

On days when I don’t feel great, whether that be from tiredness or a distinct lack of mojo, I’ve been going for gorgeous bright red lipstick.  It’s a nice pick-me-up in the morning, plus it gives you a “I swear I’m awake” vibe, and makes you feel a tad more glamorous- helpful when you spend half your life in sweaty running kit.

 

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Another Space

 

I’ve been to quite a few classes at Another Space this month, including Cycle and Yoga. I really rate both classes, plus absolutely love the boutique feel of the studio- fluffy white towels included!

 

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Maple Sunrise Cereal

 

I have a habit of reaching for cereal whenever the marathon hunger hits, and I was recently introduced to Nature’s Path Organic Maple Sunrise Cereal by a colleague. It’s absolutely delicious, contains a variety of grains such as quinoa and amaranth, and is not too calorific for a sweet cereal. On greek yoghurt, or even on its own, it’s my go-to snack for those days when the hunger just won’t go away.

 

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Interval Training

 

I’ve recently introduced more serious speedwork into my training regime- this involves interval training with LCAC, or treadmill intervals at the gym if it’s too humid outside. I really enjoy the feeling of pushing myself, and hopefully I’ll start to see improvements in speed and form.

 

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Plus I get to train with these badasses

 

Chocolate covered pretzels

 

I discovered these bad boys a week ago just as I was headed out to the trail, and they’re pretty brilliant- a perfect combination of sweet and salty, which definitely hits the spot during (and after) a long run.

 

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Training above my limit

 

Running with tougher and better runners has been a huge challenge for me this month, but ultimately I think it’s helping my performance. Firstly, you’re forced to go along at someone else’s pace (taking the control out of your hands), but more importantly you get out of your comfort zone and discover you’re capable of far more than you think!

 

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Me this month, a visual representation

 

 What have your favourites been this month?

 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

Milestone Run: 17 Miles of Struggle

This weekend I had a tough run. But instead of calling it a tough run, i’m calling it a milestone run. Let me set the scene: I was invited along on a group trail run through the North Downs, by some friends at running club, one of whom was training for an ultra on that trail.

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Despite assurances that the pace would be slow and conversational, I may have misjudged the whole event. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • The group I went with consisted of two guys who were a week out from their ultras; a buddy who’d placed first female in her first ever (69 mile) ultra, and another who’d placed first female at Hackney Half in the sweltering heat. Essentially- four of the toughest and strongest runners my club has to offer.
  • A “conversational” 10-minute mile pace isn’t really an easy pace- it’s merely reflective of the fact that you have to hike the uphills, and then try to regain speed on the downhills and flats.
  • The elevation on this run was insane. See the course profile below…
  • I had either a strained hamstring, or high hamstring tendonitis. I self-diagnosed on the train on the way there after waking up in pain that morning- let’s just say, a 17 mile run probably wasn’t the best idea. Honestly, I think if I tell my physiotherapist what I did (which I’ll eventually have to), he might hang his head in disbelief. Oops.

 

So yeah. In hindsight this was always going to be a tough one. And frankly, i realised this before we’d even finished the first mile. And so I resolved to cling on for dear life, and hope it was over as quickly and as pain-freely as possible. And in a way, that worked. So here are some highlights:

  • The scenery was amazing- the woods would open up suddenly into gorgeous panoramas over the Kent countryside.
  • We stopped halfway through at a visitor centre, absolutely soaked through, to have a cup of tea and (in some cases) a sarnie. Sweet sweet carbs.
  • There were plenty of photo ops, all of which we took full advantage of.
  • The second half was much better than the first- mainly psychologically, but also because I simply changed my running style to a slightly more efficient (and less painful) mid-foot strike. I’m paying the price for that now, with my quads burning- but that’s simply because 17 miles in any variation on your usual gait is going to cause you some problems!
  • Doing a long run on a Saturday morning really suits me- although I don’t do it often- because you get so much more from the rest of the weekend!

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Three days later, and my embarrassment and disappointment with the run has mostly dissipated- I’m happy to have survived and, frankly, I didn’t do all that badly. I decided to turn this negative into a positive, and learn all I can from it. Learnings to come!

What’s the toughest run you’ve done recently? Do you run trail often?

Lots of love,

Pippa

In case you needed some inspiration today

Here it is!

I watched the NBC Rio 2016 video last night, on Snapchat, as I was just about to head to sleep. There’s nothing I can say that the video doesn’t do justice on its own; not only is it inspirational, but the production values are absolutely top-notch.

 

Is there a video/film/song you turn to for inspiration?

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