Yoga with a smile

I really want to find a yoga class that suits me – one where I don’t come away feeling frustrated about my super tight hamstrings or about the fact that I have about as much grace as a baby elephant. I also want to find a class that doesn’t leave me bankrupt!

This quest, plus tired marathon training legs, led me to this morning’s Real Life Yoga class at the Canvas Café. An hour of free yoga in one of my new favourite feel good haunts in London – and it didn’t disappoint.

The Canvas Café is London’s first Happy Café and a social enterprise based on Brick Lane. Unlike the other super trendy cafes in Shoreditch, The Canvas Café has a welcoming and friendly atmosphere… and you can write on the walls… and the sofa! If you ask me a Happy Café is the perfect venue for some feel good yoga time.

The session was held downstairs in the Café’s basement event space and we all laid our mats down surrounded by a circle of fairy lights. Meg from Real Life Yoga instantly put us all at ease – she was chatty and introduced her ethos for Real Life Yoga as a rebellion against the Instagram depictions of yoga as something hot girls in expensive Lycra sets do, often times with a glorious beach or sunset behind them. Real Life Yoga’s focus is on creating a space where everyone can bring yoga to their lives regardless of time and financial barriers.

The session was suitably challenging to make me feel like I worked hard but Meg’s bubbly personality and reminders to smile, breathe and that this is just yoga meant that the class felt supportive rather than competitive.

I smiled my way through the class and left feeling positive and relaxed. I am already looking at other Real Life Yoga sessions to attend and highly recommend you try it especially if you are new to yoga or have struggled to find a class you genuinely enjoy!

There are plans for this session to become a regular free monthly feature at the Canvas Café… the only catch is that you need to pay it forward… but when buying a coffee and cake from the Café upstairs counts as a good deed (praise be to social enterprises) paying it forward doesn’t seem like too much of a burden!!!

Savasana & Fairy Lights! Photo credit @Real_Life_Yoga

 

 

My top tips for if you plan to make a visit to this class: bring a mat (or you will be doing cobra on a concrete floor), arrive early (to get the best spot and make the most of the delicious coffee) and try the coconut brownie (honestly, I have travelled to the café from South London just for a coffee and this brownie).

I am on a quest to find more feel good fitness classes – do let me know of any!

Yoga with a smile

Happiest Running Club in London?

This week I had the chance to join what was probably the happiest running club in London – the Bella Kinesis (the fab women’s Sportswear brand who use their profits to fund business educational projects for women in rural India) Run Like A Girl group led by Carly (aka Project Hot Bitch).

This free running group met in Borough before heading for a 5k run along the River to Westminster and back. From the outset this was unlike any other running group I have joined – Carly was stood out on the street spotting runners and welcoming them as they arrived with a big hug and a grin. As we all prepared to head off it became clear that there was a real mix of runners – from those who hadn’t run for weeks/months to those training for marathons. There wasn’t an air of competition or pretending – we all grumbled at the cold and expressed how much we were looking forward to the post run hot chocolate!

The route was simple – I have never run alongside the Thames at night and it was such a great feeling to do it as part of a group of fab women! The lights across London were beautiful and even dodging crowds on the Southbank was fun as Carly invited people to join us or warned people of the stampede of lycra clad ladies heading their way.

Run Like A Girl
Photo credit to Project Hot Bitch

 

The pace was relaxed – you could go as fast or as steady as you wanted – there was chatting and laughing and some had headphones in. Carly was great at keeping everyone motivated and smiling.

After a cool down together and the obligatory group shot there were goody bags from the Bella Kinesis ladies and, for those who could stick around, a group hot chocolate.

The Run Like A Girl group was one that I would highly recommend to anyone who is starting out running, looking to meet more fab ladies who run or even someone looking to make more friends in London. The run was a definite highlight of my week and I am already looking forward to next month’s. To find out when the next one is keep an eye on Bella Kinesis’ Events page here.

Do you know of any great free exercise/running groups in London? Comment below – I would love to try them out!

Happiest Running Club in London?

“Even a bad run is better than no run”… is it?

I love an inspirational quote – I love trawling through Instagram when I am trying to get the energy up to leave the house for a long run and seeing motivational post after motivational post. However… today I am totally calling out the quote “Even a bad run is better than no run”. I am not sure that it is true. In fact I go so far as to say it is a lie.

This is a fairly honest post about the pain and misery that is the flip side of running – warning now… this isn’t a nice happy post. So if you don’t want to see the other side of the endorphin fuelled posts then stop reading now.

I am currently training for the London Marathon and am reaching that point where you start to doubt whether you can do it – the long runs are getting realllllly long, the weeks are ticking by, the little nagging injuries have become shouting injuries.

I am sat here writing this  in my compression socks, sore knee rested up on a footstall aching from head to toe. Today I had an awful run. One of those runs which from the first foot step felt like it was going to be an uphill struggle. A run where the route was ill planned, the miles passed slowly, kit I have worn for millions of runs rubbed… a run where it felt like every runner was sprinting past me and I was running through treacle with a concrete block tied to my ankles.

Today was only supposed to be 13 miles, a low mileage week before next week’s 20miler. I persisted with the run – even though at mile 6 my knee started to hurt and the doubts started to creep in about my abilities to run the Marathon in 6 weeks. Maybe I should have bailed on the run at that point – told myself it was to avoid further injury. Perhaps I shouldn’t have run at all – I wasn’t in the mood for it.

So back to that quote: “Even a bad run is better than no run”…

This bad run has left me in a spiral of doubt and dreading the 20miler planned for next weekend. Sometimes no run is better than a bad run, especially if you let that bad run impact your confidence and motivation for future runs.

I need to shake off this bad run… but for this evening I am going to wallow in it whilst drinking my turmeric smoothie and doing all things you are supposed to do after a long run.

Have you hit this point in your training? How do you “shake off” the bad run?

 

“Even a bad run is better than no run”… is it?

Running with H(e)art

“We all came out this morning to do the same thing and that’s be great together” – Kevin Hart

This morning I had the chance to run alongside 1000 runners led by Kevin Hart as part of Nike Run Club’s #MoveWithHart. Kevin Hart is leading 5k runs in partnership with Nike internationally following his tour encouraging runners, first timers and old hats, to come together and, well… move!

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The event was great – Nike always know how to do a runners’ festival area… to be honest once I heard there was free Pip and Nut on toast I was happy! What struck me more than anything though was the sentiment behind Kevin Hart’s opening words – he spoke about the unifying nature of a group run such as this one and the importance of looking after your body as part of your quest to live life to the fullest.

It wasn’t anything too profound, it was a rallying cry to the 1000 odd runners to get them hyped for the run but it also felt 100% genuine. It echoed so clearly the reasons I have become so passionate about running and talk about its benefits beyond the physical. For me running has introduced me to lots of great people, people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It has helped me see parts of London or be a part of so many events I would never have experienced otherwise… such as today.

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I so nearly didn’t go to the run today – I had a headache, I ran 12miles yesterday and the 6am start on a Sunday was unpleasant – however, I am so pleased that I pulled up my big girl pants and showed up. Kevin’s words were extremely timely and will keep me going during the tougher parts of Marathon Training.

 

Running with H(e)art

New Year Intentions

We are half way through January, the temperature has dropped and the Christmas cheer has been packed away for another year. Many of us have already broken our New Year resolutions (in fact according to the science geniuses the average length of time a person tends to keep a resolution is approx 3.5wks and only 3% of us are likely to keep to our resolution for a full 12months).

That’s why I never make a New Year resolution. I don’t want to vow that this year will mean a new me, I kind of like who I am… after all I have spent the past 27yrs trying to figure it out.

Instead I set New Year Intentions – to me, these are ways of being or of outlook rather than hard and fast resolutions. That way there is no guilt when I don’t manage to stick to it and rather a way of refocusing myself when I find myself falling into old or negative habits. All of my intentions are positive (remember to listen to my body and eat what will be beneficial to my health and wellbeing) rather than the negative tendancy of resolutions (Stop eating biscuits and cake everyday).

So below are some of my intentions:

– remember that you are only one person and that it is OK to ask for help

– make time for yourself and for the things that make you happy (running, reading, writing, lay ins and family)

– maintain a balance between work and life – both are important and you won’t be successful at either without valuing the other.

How are you doing with your New Year Resolutions? Have you opted for intentions this year? I would love to hear your thoughts, comment below.

New Year Intentions

The importance of self care

After a year and a bit of putting work first, long days and a stressful house move I have learnt the importance of taking time for you.

It is so easy to lose yourself and neglect yourself whilst trying to keep everyone else happy and juggle the different elements of your life. I spent the last year feeling guilty when I was working late because I wasn’t at home with the boyfriend, when I was spending time with the boyfriend I felt guilty that I wasn’t in the gym… and so on.

A new job and some time for reflection has given me the opportunity to make some changes for me, no one else. So I thought I would pull together some of the ways I am taking better care of me;

1. Balance
Earlier this year I was working 12 hour days regularly including a lot of weekends. The days off I did take, I was so exhausted I could barely drag myself out of the house. So when I started my new job I vowed to ensure I had a better balance between work and life. Things that have helped me to do this are;

– Power Hours – As soon as I get to the office I spend the first hour tackling the difficult task for that day before checking my emails. Once the horrible task is out of the way I can spend the rest of the day feeling more relaxed and safe in the knowledge the important stuff is done.

– Set boundaries – I have told myself that I will aim to leave work no more than 1hr after my contracted time. Not because I hate my job but because I want to ensure that I am fresh for starting work the next day. I want to ensure I have a productive day that still allows time for other pursuits. There will be times that I have to work later but these should be the exception not the rule.

2. Surround yourself with positive messages
It is so easy to allow yourself to only see the negative and as a natural pessimist I can really suffer with this. So to counteract all of the bad news and negativity I surround myself with the positive messages by;

– Positive Affirmations – this may sound a bit hippy dippy for a lot of people but it works for me. Whilst making my breakfast and getting dressed I listen to a recording of positive statements on YouTube. I don’t need to focus on them I just allow them to filter into my subconscious. Try it for 30days and see how you feel.

– Kickass playlist – I have created a playlist to listen to whilst I am in the shower which is full of songs which make me happy… and yes Taylor Swift may feature… but it’s fine to embrace your guilty pleasures!

3. Reflect
It is so easy to keep racing through life focusing on what you haven’t achieved or the next task you need to do. It is so important to take some time out to reflect, even if it is just a few minutes. I have started to carry a notebook with me and on the tube home I jot down something that I was proud of or pleased about that day, something I wasn’t pleased about and what I will do to change that. It really helps me to put things into perspective.

4. Do what feels right for you
Ultimately, you need to do what makes you happy. There is no point forcing yourself to do something and then feeling rubbish because it doesn’t work for you or you can’t stick to it. I would love to say that I will exercise every morning before work to get those endorphins going but I know that won’t happen and it will be another thing I feel guilty about. Most of what I try to do can be included in my normal routine taking up none of my valuable and precious time.

I would love to hear what you do to look after yourself… what makes you happy?

The importance of self care

Taking on a challenge…and doing it BIGGER!

After a hiatus from running, having to pull out of the London Marathon and a crazy busy time at work I am back to training!

Having to take time out for a variety of reasons made me realise just how important running is to me, what a big part of my life it has become and the impact it has, not only on my physical health but also my mental health.

So to celebrate I have decided to do a year of running challenges/races to raise money for a cause really close to my heart, the Bromley by Bow Centre. It seems fitting to do such a challenge for this cause as at the core of their thinking is their belief in people and their capacity to achieve amazing things. Their tag line is a mantra for me at all low points and during all periods of self doubt and I am proud to wear it on my running vest: “assume it’s possible”.

"assume it's possible"
“assume it’s possible”

So far the next few months look like this:

June Colour Run 5K – 7th June (confirmed) (cleverly I have booked to do this the day after a friend’s wedding… so running with a hangover deserves some sort of sponsorship!)

July Self Transcendence Race 10K – 4th July (TBC)

Aug Hyde Park 10K – 23rd Aug (TBC)

Sept Bacchus Half Marathon – 13th Sept (confirmed) Ealing Half Marathon – 27th Sept (confirmed)

Oct Royal Parks Half Marathon – 11th Oct (confirmed)

Nov None confirmed yet – taking suggestions!

Dec None confirmed yet – taking suggestions!

Jan Denbies 10miler – 17th Jan (TBC)

Feb None confirmed yet – taking suggestions!

Mar Surrey Half Marathon – Date TBC

April LONDON MARATHON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would love for you to sponsor me, if you feel inspired to, and you can do this here.

If you know of London/UK based races to fill some of my blanks please comment below! 

Thank you!

Taking on a challenge…and doing it BIGGER!