Running in Ibiza

Running in Ibiza, A Pretty Place To Play

Last year Mike and a load of his mates went to Ibiza for a stag do. They had an awful lot of fun, and decided to repeat the adventure this year and head back to San Antonio for a weekend of partying. Oh and this time they decided their girlfriends were invited too. So I packed up my best party dresses (and some running shoes!) and headed to the sun.

Running is my favourite way to explore new places, and I'd heard that Ibiza has amazing trail running, technical paths that would show me another side of the island away from the buzz of the bars and clubs, but not knowing the island I had no idea where to start. Luckily some googling led me to James Allchurch and RunIbiza. James is an experienced coach and guide who shares a similar outlook to me when it comes to running and leads personalised guided runs on the island, and was just the man to show me around. 

Running in Ibiza, A Pretty Place to Play

Meeting on the edges of San Antonio we were quickly out of town, scrambling along the coastline through scrub strewn with loose rocks and through shadier trails and over rocky patches. It was amazing how quickly the landscape changed, and how varied the terrain was! I've not had many opportunities to run trails, and it was so much fun to mix things up and bring together running and scrambling. I really loved how it tested my running form - when you trail run you really need that shorter stride and be light on your feet - and brought me in to the moment, if only because I had to avoid tripping over tree roots! It was a whole different workout, and I definitely felt it the next day when my legs and bum ached!

James was awesome, very friendly and knowledgable about the island and running more generally. It was so interesting chatting to him about form and discovering that Ibiza has an annual trail marathon, which may or may not be on my bucket list! Good guides adapt to their runners, it's like reading the room but with trainers, and James just made sure I was comfortable and the pace and route were working for me, it was great! Plus I loved how the run gave me an opportunity to explore the quieter, more natural side of the island. 

Running in Ibiza, A Pretty Place to Play

Hitting the trails was a great opportunity to put my new Altra Superior 3.5 trail shoes to the test! I was really lucky to win these babies at this year's Running Awards and I think I might be in love. Zero drop, plus a nice big toe box and a shape tailored to fit women better, plus some serious tread, these were perfect for exploring. I particularly loved the claw shaped treads which allowed be amazing control on some pretty scrappy loose stones. I can't wait to take these wonders out for another spin on the trails in Menorca next month! 

San Antonio Highlights

San Antonio is the party capital of the White Isle. The streets are crowed with people looking to have a good time in the bars, clubs and on the beach. There are gangs of boys and girls on their first trips without their parents, older ravers going big for the weekend and loads of stag and hen dos complete with questionable accessories. Whatever time of day it is there'll be people out, whether they're crawling home from the clubs as the sun rises, or headed out to the beach to catch some sun. The party never stops. Which is just as well, because the crew I was with love to party! 

It's easy to get overwhelmed in San Antonio, especially if you don't know it (we were so lucky to be with friends who really know the island), so I thought I'd share my highlights:

- brunch at The Skinny Kitchen - San Antonio is packed with places to get greasy beige food, so The Skinny Kitchen is a real breath of fresh air, and their brunch is awesome! Definately one to visit on the days you feel like you might not've had enough greens, but you still need something to soak up the night before.

- drinks at Pearl, Ibiza - the smaller, less intimidating sister of Ocean Beach, Pearl is an excellent place to spend an afternoon sipping cocktails and people watching (and Ibiza is amazing for people watching). Get there from noon and enjoy drinks deals while you chill on a big comfy chair and mentally prepare yourself for the night ahead! Their food is also pretty tasty.

- people watch at Ocean Beach - I wasn't sure whether to include this one, because I don't think I'd pay for it (a friend sorted us with guest list), but if you happen to end up in Ocean Beach it is quite something. A flashy pool party with multiple levels of VIP, this is the place to come and be seen. There are teeny tiny bikinis everywhere and muscles glowing with fake tan, and I felt amazing cool that I was confident enough to wander round in my scruffy trainers! It's a fun one for a special occasion, but go with a sense of humour and deep pockets.

Running in Ibiza, A Pretty Place to Play

- watch the sun go down at Cafe Mambo - well, just by Cafe Mambo! One of my favourite hacks is hitting the beach in front of Cafe Mambo with a couple of 90cent beers procured at a local shop to watch the sun go down to the sound of whichever DJ is playing that night (we were lucky enough to catch Pete Tong). The sunsets are beautiful, and once the sun goes down the party begins, so it's the perfect way to kick off your evening! 

- sleep at Hostel Florencio - accommodation in Ibiza seems to either be crazy expensive or super basic, there's little middle ground. This cheap and cheerful hotel was recommended by a friend, and I was really impressed. It's central (so maybe take ear plugs), really clean and the bathroom was lovely. Plus there's a cycle centre on site if you fancy some mountain biking.

Running in Ibiza, A Pretty Place to Play

- party party party - nearly all the guys in our group are DJs and they all had gigs in San Antonio, so a lot of the places we went were dictated by that. It's pretty awesome seeing your friends (and boyfriend!) play somewhere so iconic (at least in the world of dance music), and it meant we got to do a few things that were a bit special (VIP at Eden anyone?!). I reckon everyone should have a big night out at least once, and it can be a great opportunity to see some big name DJs, so do some research and find a night you know you'll love (and make sure you get your tickets from a reputable source!). 

Have you been to Ibiza? What are your top tips?

Tried & Tested: FLY LDN Base Flow

FLY LDN Base Flow A Pretty Place To Play

I really like FLY LDN. I like their attitude. I like that they aim to be inclusive, not many studios include an FAQ on participation with a disability. I like that they focus on form and movement. I also like that they invited me to try out their yoga classes. I shared how much I loved the Low Impact TRX class a couple of weeks ago, so I was really excited to get back in the studio and see where FLY LDN were at when it came to yoga!

The yoga on offer is no nonsense. If you're not into incense and chanting, then these are probably classes you'll enjoy, stripped back, lots of focus on form. I'm obsessed with form. All the work I've done on my running form has bled into the rest of my life, I can see the difference it makes, not only to my performance, but also to how I feel. You feel strong when you're holding yourself properly, and in this class hands on adjustments make sure your on point. I know not everyone is into adjustments, but I love them. I love knowing what it feels like to do things right, and knowing that my body is moving well and, crucially, I'm not at risk of injuring myself. Every marathon runner's big fear. 

FLY LDN Base Flow A Pretty Place To Play

The studio space itself is lovely. Calm and dark with the quirky addition of a large screen taking up nearly a whole wall. A wall that transforms into beautiful mountain and ocean scenes during the class, scenes that seem to flow with the music. It sounds like it could be a gimmick, but it's actually really soothing. You're transported out of the studio and your practice become immersive. It was pretty special.

The 45 minute class is perfect when you're short on time or extra tired (I was extra tired, hormonal stuff), an easy flow to bring movement to a body that probably isn't so into moving, opening up all those sticky parts. It's the ideal class for a beginner, or for anyone who's been away from the mat for awhile. If that's not you, well then there's a bunch of other classes that could be a great fit, I'm particularly excited to try the Slow Flow!

FLY LDN Base Flow A Pretty Place To Play

FLY LDN offers a variety of yoga, barre and TRX classes and for a limited time your first class is £10! Get in while you can and experience these fab workouts for yourself. 

*FLY LDN kindly offered me the opportunity to try out their yoga classes, but all opinions are my own.

Lady Garden Run 5km

Lady Garden Run A Pretty Place To Play

It's always good to kick things off with a bang, especially when that thing is a new marathon training cycle. Yes, I said marathon. For various reasons I'm postponing my ultra marathon and instead I'll be running Bournmouth Marathon in October. It's a decision that I feel really good about, and if this year has taught me anything, it's that my gut is usually right.

Back to kicking things off with a bang. To know where you're going, you need to know where you're at, and what better way to work that out than with a 5k time trial! Time trials are a regular feature of my training, and I have to admit they're sessions I dread. It is hard to push yourself. I run because I enjoy it, not because I want to push myself to the point where I feel sick. However, because I've decided to train in a particular way, a way that'll mean I'm stronger and will enjoy my marathon more, these bursts of discomfort are a necessary evil. But, after experiencing time trial dread last training cycle, this time I needed to find a way to make the necessary evil less, well, evil. As luck would have it, the first day of this cycle coincided with the Lady Garden Run, and it turned out to be the perfect antidote to time trial fear. 

A race around Hyde Park that raises funds for the Gynaecological Cancer Fund, a charity that is doing amazing work exploring precision therapies to treat a range of cancers. I try to take part every year, and it's one of the few charity races I do. It's nice because it's a small run, it has a community focus, and it's sponsors mean the goodie bag is on point (hello Nail's Inc polishes). Plus Lululemon do the t-shirts. Those fun perks aside, the work that Dr Dr Susana Banerjee, Consultant Medical Oncologist and Gynaecology Research Lead at The Royal Marsden, does is groundbreaking, and I hope will make a difference for a generation of women to come. If I can support that by running a 5km time trial I'd have to grit my teeth through anyway, well then I will. It's good motivation.

The route takes in the sights of Hyde Park, a 5k lap (twice, if you're doing the 10k) that skirts along The Serpentine and then snakes through the park, zigzagging through shady trees and across the open grass (where I may have caught the sun - wear sunscreen people). The Lady Garden Run isn't on a closed course, so there is the odd runner and walker out and about, but the course has been designed in a way that dodges most of the crowds. Or the swarm of runners could've put them off. Some of the paths are a little narrow, so there can be a bit of congestion, especially as this race is about as far from a club run as you can get (kids! dogs! buggies! walkers!), I love that, but real speed demons might not be into it. However, Hyde Park is so flat it's easy to overtake if you need to, without being an awful person about it. 

The plan going into this race was to go flat out. It was a time trial after all. Originally I wanted to use my watch to gauge how I switched up and down the gears (how much I pushed myself at any given point), but it didn't sync in time for the gun, so this one was on feel. Using my breathing to gauge where I was at, when I could push, when I needed to pull back, cranking it up as the miles passed under my feet. In and out through the nose at first, in the nose and out the mouth as I pushed, in the mouth and out the mouth as I crossed the line. For the whole race I knew I was doing things on my body's terms, and it paid off, a PB 27:30 on the gun. Progress compared to where I've been at. A surprise after legs feeling like lead for weeks. And a medal, who doesn't love a medal?! 

Turns out time trials are ok. In the right environment.