Life Update: The Mexico Edition

Well well well, quite a lot has happened since I last wrote an update! I’ve just come back from a gorgeous two week break in Mexico, so there’s quite a lot to fill you in on!

What’s been going on

About mid-Summer, I was in a rut with my life, and decided, on a whim, to book a two week holiday to Mexico. I booked a flight, one night in a hostel, and decided to take it from there. Hands down, this was one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. I had a grand total of 5kg luggage allowance (thanks to my airline) and I took off into the sunset, without a plan in the world.

I have to say it was simultaneously the hardest and most rewarding two weeks of my life. I crammed so much into two weeks; the highs and the lows, and ultimately came back with fresh perspective on life.

My itinereary looked like this:

  • Fly into Cancun, spend first night there
  • Ferry to Isla Mujeres
  • Three days beaching, snorkelling and dancing the night away
  • Bus to Tulum
  • Three days exploring ancient ruins, diving in cenotes and a few basic beach days
  • Bus to Playa del Carmen
  • One day entirely rained off by Tropical Storm Michael, followed by one day at a gorgeous beach
  • Half a day travelling, via bus and ferry, to Isla Holbox
  • Two days in Isla Holbox, seeing flamingos, chilling in hammocks, and doing sunset yoga by the beach
  • A ferry back to the mainland, followed by one final night in Cancun
  • A day’s shopping for presents in Cancun, followed by a night flight home!

Needless to say, I fit an awful lot into two weeks, and can thoroughly say I squeezed the pips out of this vacation!

 

Health, Fitness & Food

During my vacation, I completely let go of tracking food or keeping an eye on what I was eating. To be honest, being vegan means that I tend to stick on the healthier side of things – think smoothie bowls, sorbet, veggie tacos, and copious amounts of guacamole – but it was liberating to not even have to think about calories, protein or any of the rest of it. I definitely drank way too many mojitos, daquiris, tequila shots… you name it- but at the end of the day, isn’t that what a holiday’s for?

 

Exercise

When it came to exercise, I was pretty laissez-faire. I was on my feet a lot, exploring throughout the day (and dancing throughout the night), plus I rented bikes wherever possible to see the sights on my own terms. I snorkelled, which was actually a lot more work than I’d anticipated; plus I did yoga whenever I felt like my body needed it.

All things considered, I definitely came back ready to move my body and get back to working out – I’d allowed myself space to miss it.

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NBD just swimming with turtles

Everything Else

One thing I will say, is that travelling can really be quite tough on your mental health. Of course, it’s a wonderful experience, and you get to see incredible beauty; but on the flipside, it can be overwhelming to constantly be surrounded by new sights, sensations and even people, and that can take its toll.

At the outset of my holiday I had sworn to take in as much as I could, and never have a ‘day off’. But pretty soon I realised that this was a holiday, and that it was important to me not to feel burnt out by the whole experience. I’d say I probably had 2 days ‘on’ followed by a day ‘off’, just lounging on the beach or by a swimming pool somewhere – and that felt like the right balance.

I also found myself reading extensively, and journalling more – travel always seems to do that to me. Part of it is wanting to remember all the experiences you’ve had;  but more often than not that leads to self-reflection and deep digging. It was definitely a cathartic time for me, and made me think a lot more about what I want from life. (That doesn’t mean that I’ve figured it out, by any stretch of the imagination – just that I’m gradually inching closer)!

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On a boat, eating watermelon in the sun 🙂

All things said, this holiday was a great way to recharge, and really do something selfish, solely for me, after a demanding few years without much respite. I’ve come back feeling inspired to do something exciting for my next big step in life – and my next holiday!

 

When was the last time you felt truly inspired?

Lots of love,

Pippa

 

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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

Mindfulness: On rest days

I’m coming to really appreciate the importance of rest days. During my last training cycle, I had so many days when I was overtrained, undernourished and most importantly, absolutely knackered. It caused me some real problems both professionally and personally- a unique combination of grouchiness and inefficiency that only prolonged endurance training can bring.

In an attempt to not fuck up my life in general and, more specifically, in my Autumn training cycle, I’m taking a ton more rest days and paying closer attention to what my body needs. This image sums it up nicely- oh, we love you Mindy.

 

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Mondays are my rest day. I get home from work, I put on my PJs, and I watch hours of TV whilst playing Candy Crush or Whatsapping my friends. It’s the exact opposite of what most people would call ‘healthy’, but it nourishes my soul and gives me time to recuperate for the week ahead. Hopefully, it will stand me in good stead for the training season ahead!

What’s your rest day routine? And any new TV shows I should try out?

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

 

Holiday & Travel Fitness Essentials

During the past few months living and working in Mexico City, I came to realise just how important exercise was to me, both physically and mentally. Without some combination of running, cross training, weights and yoga, I’d probably have murdered someone or at the very least gained 30 lbs in tacos and chocolate ice cream.

I found business travel to be lonely, and exercising was as good a way as any to while away the evenings. Plus, pushing through the tiredness of jetlag actually helped me normalise my sleeping patterns more quickly than in previous instances. So here you have the travel and fitness essentials I cram into my already too-heavy suitcase.

1. Yoga mat

I don’t know where I’d be (physically or mentally) without my beloved yoga mat. In my hotel I practiced yoga daily in a teeny tiny passageway in my room. Like, I couldn’t fully stretch both my arms out sideways for sun salutations. I managed to get creative and I made it work though! I followed Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga, because I knew I’d need the commitment of the challenge to keep me motivated. I have to say it really changed my exercise and work routine, and became a time for a bit of breathing space.

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2. Zip lock bags or tupperware

As I mentioned in a previous post, I would head to Walmart on weekends and stock up on snacks. If I couldn’t get individual portion sizes, I would divide big bags of dried fruit or nuts into little zip lock bags. It meant I very rarely got caught out with nothing to eat. And as someone who gets serious hanger, this was invaluable.

3. Your choice of snacks

I pretty much already covered this in the previous point, but I cannot stress the importance of snacks. I headed to my local Tescos the day before I flew out, and stocked up on snacks. I recommend this for long haul flights (I don’t usually eat the plane food) and for anyone who won’t have easy access to supermarkets for the duration of their trip. Also, I’m not titling this one ‘healthy snacks’ since I definitely took some of my favourite strawberry nougat chocolate bars. Health is emotional wellbeing too!

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4. Light Weights

It might seem entirely counter-intuitive to take weights in a suitcase when you have a weight limit, but I packed some wrist weights. Not as heavy as a kettle bell or dumbbells, but just enough to add some extra pump to my yoga routine if I just couldn’t face the monotony of the treadmill, but still wanted to get my sweat on. Given that the weights weren’t too heavy, I probably only had to sacrifice taking a pair of shoes I didn’t need in the first place!

5. Workout Shoes

Since I could only reasonably take one pair of workout shoes, I went for my trusty New Balances. They’re a running shoe but often get mistaken (even at the running store) for a cross training shoe. Sadly they got worn out from the amount of exercise I did in them over the course of six months, but I really couldn’t justify taking more than one pair. (Below are the replacement model- a very similar style from Asics). A slight cheat though- I took Converse as a good general purpose shoe since I could get away with wearing them at the office. They doubled as a great shoe for weight workouts.

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6. Plenty of workout kit

I’d say at least half of the clothing I took with me was workout kit: I decided to go for quantity since I didn’t know how much time I would have to do laundry, or even what the laundry situation at the hotel would be. I also hit up the Nike Factory Store and Forever 21 in Mexico City pretty much every weekend to stock up. Running and working out had become so crucial to me for stress relief that spending all my disposable income on running kit was definitely worthwhile. And now I look overdressed dope whenever I head out on the trail!

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How do you keep healthy when away from home? What’s your favourite home (or hotel) exercise video?

Love,

Pippa