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.
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?
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.
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.”
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?
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:
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:
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Any Work Fuckups or Close Calls
Monumental Life Fuckups
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.
If you had to set a training principle for the next week, what would it be?
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!
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!
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.
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!
What’s your running schedule looking like? Anyone been to Iceland or Budapest? Send me your tips!
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.
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.
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!
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!