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. 

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?

Edinburgh 5k (and some places to hangout)

A Pretty Place To Play Edinburgh 5k

What do you do when you've withdrawn from a marathon but still have flights and hotels booked? Have a weekend away, obviously! Even though I wasn't running Edinburgh Marathon anymore, there was no way I was going to miss a weekend in the city, or the chance to get back to running somewhere really quite special. 

Edinburgh 5k might be the prettiest 5k I've ever run. Essentially a circuit of Hollyrood Park which loops around Arthur's Seat, the race is an amazing way to experience a different side of the city. If it wasn't for the insane views of the city sprawling below you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd stumbled into the highlands, complete with lochs! IT was the loveliest way to get my feet moving again after three weeks resting/coughing up my lungs.

A Pretty Place To Play Edinburgh 5k

Edinburgh Marathon is billed as fast, and the elevation is a steep decline as you run towards to sea. Edinburgh 5k (and 10k) is a bit different. A steep incline from around 0.5k that just keeps going for around 1.5k, if it wasn't such a lovely route it would be a slog, but somehow being amongst those hills and views makes things easy. As does remembering that what goes up must come down! The second half of the 5k is a downhill dream, where you can really get your speed on (if you fancy it...I didn't, so used the hills as an opportunity to practice control down hills!).

Because this was my first run in a few weeks (thank you chest infection) so my plan was to take things super easy, nasal breathing only and managing my pace on feel. No watch. No Strava. These runs by feel are always my favourites. There's something really satisfying about going with what your body wants, and I was really conscious of being kind to my self, after all I didn't want to overdo things and get ill again. This approach worked really well for me, I felt strong for the whole run, and strong after the finish line, which is my ultimate goal. I never want to come off a race feeling totally broken, consistency and a long running career are my goal, not records.

A Pretty Place To Play Edinburgh 5k

The work I've been putting into my breathing, down regulating and up regulating, really helped make this race enjoyable. I ran nearly the whole 5k nasal only, slipping into nose/mouth breathing as I plodded up 1.5k of hills. I find that bringing things back to my breath helps me to focus more on what my body is doing and it works really well for pace control - I knew I didn't want to go mad, so I didn't let my breathing slip.

Although I don't have any regrets about pulling out of the Marathon, I would love to go back and take on more races in Edinburgh. At the moment I'm seriously eying up the marathon relay (shout if you're up for it!), and I'll definitely be back for the 5km again! 

Edinburgh will always be important to me, I spent about 10 years living just outside the city, and it's a place that's really had an influence on who I am. It's one of the reasons that I chose to run the marathon there, but given that wasn't meant to be, it was awesome to spend some time getting to know the city as an adult. It did not disappoint, there are so many amazing places to eat and drink, and I'm pretty sure we only skimmed the surface. Ditching the tourist destinations (like the castle) freed us up to explore areas like Leith and Stockbridge, which are the type of areas I reckon we'd hangout if we lived in the city, and we were lucky to get some amazing recommendations from friends! 

Baba Budan: I'd read about this in Lauren's Edinburgh guide and earmarked it as a place I had to visit - great coffee AND great donuts, basically my dream. Luckily we ended up stumbling upon their arch walking back to our hotel after the 5k, and no race is really a race without a donut! Especially if it's the best donut you've ever had - light, fluffy, crispy and with homemade raspberry jam.

The Pitt: this street food market in Leith was recommended to me by a few different people, and it didn't disappoint. A small lot in a residential street, there were a handful of traders selling all sorts, including steak and chips and Rolly's ice-cream! The bar was stocked with local beer, there was music and the atmosphere was buzzing. With blue skies it was an awesome way to spend an afternoon.

The Milkman: sometimes it's hard to find really good coffee somewhere really touristy, but The Milkman has it nailed. 

Panda and Sons: a speakeasy hidden behind a barbershop facade, this recommendation came courtesy of our flatmate and it didn't disappoint. This bar delivers creative cocktails (although you can ask for a classic if you fancy one) in a cool basement den run by pandas with a fear of prohibition (naturally). 

Blue Parrot Cantina: a short walk from the centre of town, this basement restaurant is a bit like eating in someone's living room, in a good way. Delicious margaritas and heaped plates of food are served up from their tiny kitchen, it's some of the best Mexican I've had in awhile. 

Ransacked Black Oven: when the place we'd earmarked for brunch wasn't open we stumbled upon this place and didn't regret it for a moment. I had an amazing maca smoothie bowl in a vague attempt to balance out everything else I'd eaten in Edinburgh, and Mike had a breakfast flatbread, which he seemed very happy with!

Stockbridge Market: another recommendation, this little market reminded us of Herne Hill Market, which we visit every Sunday. We didn't end up eating here, but we did pick up some tablet, and it was nice to recreate a familiar tradition in a new place. 

Teuchters Bar: a whisky and beer pub, this cosy venue is the place to have a stodgy mug meal (go small, the food is filling) and taste whisky. We went for the tourist flyte and I can't remember a great deal about it. Which suggests I enjoyed it! 

 

 

 

Snorkelling with Decathlon

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And we're back! It's been a really full on couple of weeks what with a change in job and training ramping up it's taken me awhile to adjust to a new schedule in, well, everything. But we're back, and I'm finally able to share one of our favourite adventures in the Andaman Islands - snorkelling! 

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The Andaman Islands have some of the best dive sites in the world. The water is clear and warm. There are beautiful reefs to explore and amazing tropical fish that swim right up to you, if you stay still enough. It's something else! Nothing is more special than getting in the water and exploring the other world under the sea!

Mike and I knew when we were planning to head to Andaman that we'd want to snorkel, but neither of us particularly liked the idea of hiring gear, I mean who knows whose mouth that snorkel has been in! Thankfully we were lucky enough to be hooked up with amazing Easybreath Masks by the guys at Decathlon, cool full face masks that let you breath normally.

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I won't lie, we'd been eyeing up these masks for awhile, and were really excited to finally put them to the test. It's a good thing they didn't disappoint. In the past I've used normal masks and snorkels, but they've not always been comfortable. There's the issue of having something in your mouth, and having to regulate your breathing to deal with that, and fogging when you accidentally breath out through your nose (an issue for someone like me who practices nasal only breathing!), something which you totally avoid with the Easybreath. The big thing I was worried about was leaking, I didn't want to miss anything during my underwater adventure, and thankfully the seal held up perfectly! It was absolutely amazing being able to see everything clearly, especially when the fish swam right up to me, I can't begin to explain how beautiful they were! 

I really love the Easybreath, it really made our experience in the Andaman Islands, and I can't wait to get it out again in Menorca this summer! 

*Decathlon kindly gifted me the Easybreath Mask, my rash guard and board shorts, but all opinions are very much my own!