Living the simpElle life: Alison

Welcome again 🙂 With the year drawing to a close shortly and Christmas on the horizon, there’s no better time to remind ourselves why we do what we do in an attempt to keep some balance in our lives! 

This fortnightly mini series which started almost one year ago in 2013 – Living the simpElle life – is where I talk to someone who has been empowered to change.

I heard a great phrase last year –

“The Universe is made up of stories, not of atoms”

 – so that is what I want to share with you, stories, to open up the Universe to us all!

Each individual we meet embodies what this blog is about. They have dug deep to find motivation, they have sought inspiration and in doing so become inspirational to others. They have been empowered with knowledge to change and I hope that is what their story will do for the rest of us…

Meet: Alison Hope 

I met Alison when I set up the Wednesday evening Run Club at the Covent Garden lululemon store. Running with her is always an absolute pleasure and hearing about her other adventures are inspirational! 

…here’s Alison’s story…

– {THEN} – 

Elle: What made you decide to start training / running? …What were your plans / goals?

Alison: I’ve always been active, although I was getting into a bit of a rut by doing the same old classes week in, week out: Monday was step class, Tuesday was BodyPump… you get the picture… I didn’t really have any structure or focus to my workouts. This all changed shortly after my 30th birthday back in 2005, when I entered a 5k and came fifth without having done any specific training. That race-day buzz prompted me to sign up for my first ever marathon.

– {HOW} – 

Elle: What’s your favourite way to work out?

Alison: I love a high-energy workout, getting the heart pumping and the feel-good endorphins flowing – whether it’s a fast-paced run around one of London’s parks on a summer’s evening, or the clubby feel of a studio workout like Barry’s Bootcamp or Boom Cycle. As I get older though, I am beginning to appreciate the need to slow things down with restorative yoga and Pilates.

Elle: What’s your typical weekly exercise schedule?

Alison: I love to mix things up. When I am training for a marathon, I will follow a structured plan which comprises of long, solitary runs as well as speed training at the track or on a treadmill. I also try to include more sociable runs, such as with the Lululemon running group as well as weight training with kettle bells. Whether I’m following a structured plan or not, I always take one rest day per week.

Elle: What / who has been your inspiration?

Alison: Regular people that I can relate to. When I read magazines or blogs, I am always drawn to stories of people who are trying to fit their training around a demanding career or family commitments, more so than profiles of elite athletes. Somehow, I can’t imagine elite athletes missing training because they’re stuck on a conference call! Stories about runners who bounce back from serious injury or overcome other types of adversity are always inspiring too.

Elle: What was the first big difference in you, that made you feel proud and excited?

Alison: When I started to train for my first marathon, my only goal was to finish the course, so the fact that I finished in under four hours surprised nobody more than me. This really helped me to realise that with determination, discipline and careful planning, I could achieve my goals. This is a mindset that I now apply to other areas of my life nearly ten years on.

Elle: Did you make any changes to your diet once you started training?

Alison: Not really, although I guess some changes have been gradual, like reducing the amount of sugar in my diet and upping the amount of fresh vegetables and whole grains. I‘ve been a vegetarian for most of my adult life and have always been conscious of eating healthily – but it’s all about balance, and sometimes you just can’t beat a burrito and a couple of beers with friends.

– {NOW} – 

Elle: How do you track your progress?

Alison: The tracking software that came with my GPS heart-rate monitor is a handy way of making sure that my training is on track, although I try not to get too hung up about the statistics. It is just as important to check in with how I’m feeling on a regular basis, to make sure that I’m still enjoying my training and still feeling motivated.

Elle: Have your goals changed since you started your journey?

Alison: I’ll be running my sixth marathon in Hamburg next year. A PB would be nice, as would getting back down to sub-four hours, and I will be taking my training seriously in order to achieve this, or at the very least, come close. Over the years, I’ve learned to take a big goal and break it down into smaller chunks and add in some flexibility along the way. This has been especially pertinent recently, as I have been working through an ankle injury which has meant that I’ve had to make some adjustments to my training plan.

Elle: How do you keep yourself motivated?

Alison: I always make sure that I have dates in the diary – whether it’s a local 5k or a full marathon, I like to keep looking forward. And nothing is more motivating than a nice piece of new kit. Oh, and music, definitely music. From clubby dance tracks to 70’s prog rock, I find that great tunes always enhance a run or a workout.

Elle: If you could go back and give advice to the “before” you…or any other person contemplating changing their lifestyle…what would you say?!

Alison: To quote a well-known sports brand, just do it! Seriously, don’t waste any time. You always feel better after a run or a workout, and the sooner you get started and make fitness a key part of your day-to-day, the more you’ll get out of it.

…so what d’ya think?! 

If you’d like to leave Alison a comment below please do! 

If you would like to share your own story please get in touch with me: {Contact Elle}

Until then, keep living that simpElle life 😉 

Elle 🙂 


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