WaterAid loves Glastonbury Festival

WaterAid, a charity whose work I strongly support, is integral to Glastonbury Festival, and the charity's presence there can be widely seen across the site. In fact, it was at Glastonbury Festival last year, where I decided that I wanted to run the London Marathon for them!

Me in the WaterAid photobooth last year, with friends
A year on, and a fair few many miles later, and the lovely WaterAid team invited me to join them at this year's Glastonbury. I was so happy to be part of the team, but in the end I wasn't abel to make it and made the very difficult decision to give them back my ticket ( a doubly hard decision when you consider that I'm a born and bred Glastonbury girl, and that festival almost runs through my blood).

Anyway, after getting done the necessary business that prevented me from going in the first place, and watching sufficient coverage on t.v.  to make me feel utterly jealous, I finally admitted defeat - and on Sunday morning my friend Katie and I drove down to Somerset to party with the best of 'em!
I had a super fun, super sunny day - and though I didn't make it over to see the WaterAid team, I did spot a few revellers sporting the limited edition WaterAid temporary tattoos, which were designed by celebrity WaterAid supporters.

Here is popstar Eliza Doolittle's monochrome design
Musician Emmy the Great's creation

and last but not least, the lovely Lauren Laverne's themed design

Wandering around the site I felt really proud of WaterAid's hard work, and I hope that the message of providing clean, safe water to everybody made its message on the audience. 

See you in two years Glastonbury! x

Running in Florence

From Venice, I travelled down to Florence last week. I used to go there quite a lot with my old job, and it holds a sentimental place in my heart - as it's the first place I ever went running!
I used to work on a small all-women design team for a UK based designer label and our factory was based in Florence, so a few times every season we would decamp to Florence and conduct our lives from a factory and (the rather more scenic) Ponte Vecchio bridge (pictured above).

Our boss loved running, as did the other girls on the team - or so they claimed! So every morning they would set out early, run down the bank of the river Arno, over the bridge, through the park and be back in time for breakfast. I realised that a lot of key coversations were had during these runs, so as not to miss out - and as a ditch attempt to bond with my boss, I one day decided to join them on their run.

I woke up early, donned my plimsole shoes (I kid you not), and attempted to keep pace with the lithe ladies. Alas, I was about three bridges behind them, my feet hurt - and needless to say, the whole expeirence was so traumatic that I didn't run for about a year thereafter.

But, despite the mocking (they still laugh about it!), the pain (plimsoles contain ZERO cushioning) and the shame (I'm blushing just thinking about it) I alway knew I would return to running.

So many years later, here I am - running the picturesque Florentine streets, and I couldn't be happier :-)

After a couple of days in the city, I headed out to the Tuscan hills and ran through the Chianti countryside. It was quintessentially Italian countryside, and absolutely stunning. The temperature was perfect, and I could have run for hours - but I forget how dark it gets in the country, so I was soon stumbling to find my footing and reluctantly returned home.

Here' s a little of what I saw on my run...

The weather was still around 30 degrees when I went running at 9pm, so I wore the smallest clothes I could find!
Grazie mille to the Castello del Nero Hotel for helping me plot my mad running routes! There are plenty of super scenic ones in the area. 

For more information visit:
Castello Del Nero
Strada Spicciano 7  
50028 Tavarnelle 
Val di Pesa FI
Tel: +39 055 806470


Run like 'elle meets Run Dem Crew

Once we'd split up in to ability level groups we went on a random tour of the sites of London, one of which was Tower Bridge. It was the first time I'd been there since running over it during the London Marathon and seeing it looming over me took me exactly back to that moment almost three months ago when I was almost at the 1/2 way point.

This evening I went to my first ever Run Dem Crew session, and I was overwhelmed by how much I enjoyed it. I have been meaning to go for months, if not years - and tonight I finally went...
Based at the newly relaunched Nike 1948 store in East London, which has space enough for 100 or so members, I arrived during 'housekeeping' a time for team members to give messages, and wise words to be said.
This evening seemed to be particularly poignant as touching messages about 'What Run Dem Crew means to you' were read out and set RDC leader Charlie Dark off in tears. I barely know the guy and I let a tear or two roll too!
After the emotion it was down to business, and we set out. The image of 100 runners of all ages, shapes and sizes tearing through London must have been quite a site, and we certainly attracted attention - particularly when we ran en masse through Liverpool Street Station at rush hour!

We were only 10 minutes into our run, but the energy was intense and the feeling of being part of a team was a special one which I hadn't really experienced since school. 

Also on the run were a few members from Team Bangs on the Run - which I'll explain all about at a later date, but needless to say - it was lovely to see my team within a team all out on force. 

Through winding back roads and over bridges, we even saw the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson riding his bike home from work. We gave him a holla, and he gave us a wave!

I didn't run with music, I didn't need to. Instead I gossiped the entire way (6 miles) and made a few new friends too. I didn't notice the distance, and I didn't care - I was happy.

It was the first time I've run in a group, and I enjoyed it so much - you feel like part of a team, an invincible one at that. As a wise Run Dem woman once said, "It's what running is all about".

A massive thank you to Charlie and everyone at Run Dem for making me feel so welcome. I can't wait to come back next week and run like 'elle.


Running in real life

During my marathon training all I did was run, when I wasn’t working, I was running – and training dominated my life for the duration. But after the marathon I regained my social life, and remembered all the fun I’d had before running had taken over.

I knew that I wanted to keep running, but I also realised that conducting a life aside from running was pretty important to me too, so I decided to train in a more realistic – and maintainable way.
From my marathon experience I discovered that I am very much a goal driven person, and when I don’t have a goal I tend to do very little! That said, it’s the summer and I’m quite happy to be a little freer and live without the restraints of running for a little while, but in order for me to keep up a vague level of fitness I need something fixed, that I can’t squirm my way out of – so I made two vows to myself.

The first is to join Run Dem Crew. I’ve discussed them already, but just in case you missed it... Run Dem Crew is a free running club which paces the streets of London at night, and members run from anywhere between two and seven miles per session. Runners are separated into groups according to ability, so you’ll never be chasing a cheetah, or treading on the heels of a tortoise. It’s my first session tonight, and I’m EXCITED!

As I often travel with work, my second vow is to run in every country I visit (excluding day trips) So far, so good: since the marathon I’ve run in Latvia, the USA and Italy. It truly is a great way to see a new place. You notice things that you wouldn’t normally, you meet new people, you definitely learn your geography (often through trial and error!) and you’re training feels like an adventure.

They’re two simple steps, but they’re working for me. I'll report back on my first Run Dem Crew adventure.

run like 'elle.


Venice Biennale says run like 'elle

Yesterday I did a whistle stop tour of the 54th Venice Biennale, an international art show held every two years, where several countries host pavillions showing a national art works from some of the art world elite.

The Biennale has a reputation for being very politically motivated, and this year was no exception. But I’m not here to talk about politics, instead I’m more interested by themes – and conveniently enough a strong theme this year was water. Which is pretty apt, considering that Venice is a city built upon water.
Both the Israeli and Turkish pavillions (Turkey has been one of the most talked about pavillions this year) were based around water, and the US pavillion had a runner posted on a running machine atop a tank!

Turkey - a water filtration machine
Israel - another water filtration machine
The Louis Vuitton pavilion which was entirely based round water. In two rooms were videos of water filling up a container against gravity, and in the main room were five upturned boat sterns, which contained videos of water pushing against the hull of a fast boat.

All this was set to a loud soundtrack of rushing water.
On a slightly different note, the last time I was in Venice was during the Venice Marathon, and due to the fact that it’s an archipelago, a series of platforms are set up throughout the city, for runners to continue their route without break. So it looks like a series of rickety little bridges which runners traverse. It never appealed to me before (in fact I distinctly remember thinking they were made for doing it), though now it is rather more appealing…


On my run tonight

And the skater boys!

I had things on my mind tonight, and tempted as I was to go out and party my worries away, I instead decided to go home and go for a run.

I donned my trainers, turned up the Drum and Bass and headed out. I was running with a purpose - to lose my bad mood, and it felt good to get my head down and go for it.

The evening was beautiful and sun soaked, so I ventured a little further than usual. The park provided just enough green space for my to lose my thoughts - and my bad mood too. It's true what they say about those endorphins, they really work!

On my run I wore a love-worn black t-shirt, Nike capri pants, Sweaty Betty luminous orange crop top, Triumph sports bra, Thorlo short running socks and my favourite personalised Nike iD running trainers.

I tested the freshly laid wood chip running track. The soft surface makes running harder work, but somehow more fun too
Contemplated quitting running in favour of watching a round or two of traditional oil wrestling at a local Anatolian Cultural Festival

Admired the pretty pond
Just as I turned the last corner and on to the home run (if you will), this song came on. It never fails to make me feel utterly euphoric, and this evening even more so. If I had an emotional power song, then this would be it.

Hometown Glory - Adele. High Contrast remix

On finishing, I realised I hadn't re-started my running app when I'd paused my run. I think I finished at about 5 miles - honest! x


New York City says...

Run like 'elle

Running in New York

My love affair with New York is long lived, but my knowledge of the big grid is a little shady - so what better way to drum a little geography in to my head than to run the streets and find my bearings.

For my first run I went with my cousin Katie - who lives here, and we started on the Lower East Side in Manhattan and headed over the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn. Lucky for me, the weather has turned - and though the views may not be the best I've seen, the rain was welcome as it washed away the 38°C heat that greeted me on my arrival.

With the Chrysler Building jutting out over the Manhattan in my view as I ran, and the rain soaking my skin, I felt truly happy. And though it wasn't a particularly testing run, I felt absolutely elated when I finished.
Happy (and a little hungover) Hankis

As you no doubt know by now, I love looking at the different street art that adorns the walls - and even the pavements of the places I run. There were a few of my favourites....
Getting in to stars and stripes mode
I'm so glad I've made this vow to run in every country I visit. I really think it helps you get to know a place better. You notice things that you probably wouldn't otherwise, you engage with other runners and you see new fashions too (more on that to come...)

I finished off my morning run with a giant coffee, accompanied by a delicious donut. Well it does say 'America runs on Dunkin' - so it seemed a little rude not to indulge!