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
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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

Podcast of the Month: Running Commentary

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.

 

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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.”

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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?

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

 

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