The sun shone on us this weekend as we took to the trails of Imlil in Toubkal national park for our second Moroccan running and Yoga retreat. There was still a little snow up high but nothing a nice hot mint tea wouldn’t sort out! We were even treated to one of the most beautiful rainbows I’ve ever seen! Xxx Pictures below
The morning our first guest was to arrive we woke up to snow. Lots and lots of snow. The day before we’d been sunning ourselves on the roof terrace but here we were with conditions – the coldest January in 8 years! Never fear as our intrepid travellers rolled in they were ready for a weekend of fireside yoga (a little more cramped than imagined but plenty cosy), snowy trail adventures in the Toubkal national park complete with a high altitude picnic lunch! It certainly wasn’t too cold for a bit of Scottish shorts shorts posing… don’t believe me? Photos below….
An unlikely vegan. Growing up, i started each school day with a bacon sandwich in bed. Mondays we had fish and chips after training and Wednesdays were for McDonalds (Quarter pounder with cheese meal thank you very much & an apple pie that i burnt my tongue on EVERY time). In fact, I ate at that local fish and chip shop so regularly that by the time i was 17, my friends thought i was sponsored by them (turned out to be expensive when i ended up buying everyone’s fish and chips because they thought i got them for free – and i wasn’t going to say any different!!)
🍅Over time i became more conscious of social welfare. To begin with i started by choosing meat that was organic or farm reared. Then last year i watched a documentary called Cowspiracy. It really hit home about the environmental aspect of agriculture. In Sumatra i had seen the amount of rainforest that was being cut down for production of palm oil but now I was learning about the extent to which the agricultural industry was impacting the planet. I just knew i couldn’t be part of eating any of that and actually really care about the world. So that is the day i made a commitment to eating vegan.
🍓I feel like before even though i loved food, it could be the enemy and i always worried about what i was eating. I was scared i might put on weight. Even though i was running 100 mile + weeks, at times i was really strict in my diet and i would severely restrict my calories and that made me feel weak and i had indigestion problems. At this time i didn’t enjoy running and i think that has alot to do with how i was eating.
🍒Then all of a sudden i had this diet where for the first time I didn’t have to worry about the food i was eating. It was delicious and had all the flavours, textures, tastes from before but now – I just had to eat loads of it! I felt good eating it and I had energy to run. Before i would eat to get the energy. But now because of how i am eating, I feel like my energy levels are more constant.
🍊There seems to be an idea that to be an elite endurance athlete i needed to eat a steak every day in order to fulfill my iron and protein needs! To me the real test is performance. Also when you have target races you start training pretty intensely for them. You have to get your food right. I had two big target races last year. The first was London Marathon. In training i felt strong and was never lacking energy. I knew i was in good shape when in march i paced Valary Jemeli to a course record of 2.25 at the Barcelona Marathon. I felt strong and comfortable running that pace. A month later, in London, I ran 2.21, which was not a personal best but a massive confidence boost. It was a kind of personal comeback and showed me that there was a lot more to come.
🍌Next up was the World Ultra Trail Championships. Being selected was a dream come true. After 20 years of wanting to get my hands on that GB vest, i spent the next 3 – 4 months after selection being petrified of being deselected for some reason! I digress! What better test for your diet – than to get you to the start line of a world championship race where you have to run 85km and 5000m of up and down?! There were lots of lessons to be learned from that race but there were no massive disasters (i finished 43rd and 2nd Brit) and one of the things to come out of it was that we got my nutrition right!
🍎So i’ve been vegan for over a year now and I’ve seen only positives from it. In that time i’ve run longer, further and more challenging terrain. I’ve enjoyed not worrying about the food i’m eating and i’ve run my fastest marathon since my pb 7 years ago. I’ve earned my first GB vest. That has been amazing.
The transition to vegan for me was probably easier at the beginning as i had rach to cook for me! Having said that we both worked crazy london hours and we didn’t have any fancy equipment. We had limited time and a little mini chopper that rach bought in Sainsbury’s for three quid. Its the same one we still use (even for our retreats). We’d love to hear your comments or thoughts. Or anything else you would like us to share about nutrition on or off the trail. 🍋
Somehow the world looked different 8 months ago when we abandoned city jobs and london lives to follow our dreams. Back then we truly believed that we were part of a forward looking society ready to embrace equality for its people and sustainability for its planet. As the votes were counted in the early hours of this morning we cried and we lost hope. We felt disconnected from a humanity that seemed consistently to choose division. We were deflated. Don’t get us wrong. We wanted Change too. That’s why we had hoped to build a future. Be part of movement to build a better world.. not put walls around it. We can not understand how fracturing something can make it stronger. So we decided it was time to fight back.
You might call this a mission statement. Or even a call to arms.
We will continue our plans to grow our small business, which fingers crossed will still have its shopfront in chamonix next spring. That business we are building from the very ground up as a socially conscious enterprise with sustainability at its heart. In it we want to create a space that represents us and what we feel is the way we want the world to be….That gives more than it can take. Some might say this is a poor business strategy but then again maybe there is more at stake than that.
You won’t find perfectly curated instagram profiles and it won’t always be pretty or comfortable but we promise to be real. To talk about the things that matter. To become part of the conversation. To buck the trend of a society that is more connected than ever but painfully alone. And we start it like this.
We hope you will join us.
Xx Rach & Tom
Coach Kips Tips
If you ask me there are two speeds: Easy and Fast. Is it just me? Or have others of you completed races where pacing resembles more of a tug of war between the euphoric, adrenalin fuelled all out sprinting (I Love running!) and The Jog of Shame (I’m going to die)?
Kip, on the other hand has a whole catalogue of paces to choose from. He can line up at a race and select the one to get him to the finish line and fast. So i managed to get him to slow down for just long enough to ask what’s up with pacing. Apparently when he was 17, his driving instructor explained gears in terms of running which could not have been more perfect for mini kiprop so he’s flipped it for us & here goes.
Pacing, the basics explained.
Imagine that you have 5 gears like a car.
1st gear you’re Usain Bolt, you go at full speed, full revs to go as fast as you can.
2nd gear you’re an 800m runner like David Rudisha, still reving high but not quite flat out, you can only sustain this pace for a very short time.
Next up its 3rd gear, the Mo Farah speed. (5k – 10k pace), still very quick but a pace you can sustain for 15 to 30 minutes.
4th gear and now you are cruising but still with a bit of speed and not sustainable for more than 10 to 13 miles. (This is tempo speed but we’ll get back to that in another post)
Finally we reach 5th gear, marathon pace, now you get to be Paula Radcliffe & you can cruise along at a level of discomfort that you can sustain until you run out of petrol (which is hopefully the finish line)!
So how do we use this in training?
Kip says if you are training for a marathon (1/2 or full) – try to do one session each week that uses 3 of these gears to build aerobic fitness (VO2 max) and practice pacing for race day.
Warm up (15 minutes light jog followed by some faster strides)
Run for 10 minutes in 4th gear. Recover for 3 minutes
Run 1km in 3rd gear (60s rest) Run 300m in 2nd gear (90s rest) Repeat x 4
Run 15 minutes in 4th gear. Warm down & recover by enjoying cake or beer as you wish.
This session can be done on the track (kip’s preference) but can also be done on the road or as part of a run commute if you are really strapped for time (he used to do it up archway hill in london)
We hope you enjoy! Let us know how you get on!
Rach & Tom xxx 🙂
Wake up in a luxury chalet to mountain views like these. Be guided through meditation and yoga followed by a delicious plant based breakfast.
Spend your days exploring the mountain trails.
With Tom’s 20 + years of elite level training and international running experience and Rachel’s background in exercise physiology, you will receive specialized coaching both on the run and on the beautiful track in Chamonix.
Chamonix Yoga and Running Retreat
16-18 September 2016
Ideal for those in training for New York marathon too!
*Includes everything above plus all breakfasts, Friday lunch & both evening meals. You will only need to book your transport to/from Chamonix (flight and transfer) and lunch on Saturday and Sunday.
firstname.lastname@example.org for booking and enquires 😊