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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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

Running and Racing

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!

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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‘Ello Elmbridge
 

 

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!

 

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What’s your running schedule looking like? Anyone been to Iceland or Budapest? Send me your tips! 

 

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