Running to the Beat: Workout Tips and Tunes

Need some running inspiration? We asked keen runner Elle Hankinson for her top ten workout tunes and some tips for getting out on the road. She said: “If you’ve got parenting down, running’s going to be a doddle.” 

She launched a successful running blog in the lead-up to her first marathon, works for a leading fashion PR agency and hosts fitness clubs. Here, Elle Hankinson shares her running story, top tunes for working out and tips for aspiring runners

When did your running journey begin?
I got into running in 2010. I hadn’t done sports since school, and the honest answer is that I got drunk and agreed to run a marathon with a friend. We went for our first run together and after the first lap, she told me she was pregnant and couldn’t run the marathon.

I decided to do it anyway. I had no desire to run but decided to go on this journey. At the time, I didn’t know anyone doing sport, so I started writing a blog – Run Like Elle – to document my journey.

Soon I was getting 2000 hits a day. People were reading it because it was a really finite journey: running a marathon after never having run before. And I had 11 weeks to train. Since then, I’ve run 12 half marathons, five full marathons and one ultra. I run one a year.

Race day nerves have always been my downfall. I don’t run for world records but I still can’t ever sleep the night before a race, or eat that morning. I do all the things you’re not meant to do. But practice makes perfect, and the more I do it, the less abstract an experience it becomes.

Running Club

How much are you running now?
I started a running club at work, so once a week we go out for that. Then I do a quick run one evening after work, and one long run at weekends – 10 miles-ish. I also alternate a few Barry’s Bootcamp, spin classes and vinyasa flow yoga classes. I enjoy the mix of structured classes and the freedom of running.

There’s only so much time in the day, so I started combining running with seeing art. I invited friends to join me and #artsrun was born. Now it’s open to anyone. Just check my Instagram @runlikeelle for news.

It’s basically an opportunity for me to try and do it all. In this stead, I led a group of women on a Fashion Week run – from show to show. You have to do what you can, when you can; I muddle it all together.

I run because…

Why do you run?
Running does two things for me: firstly, it allows me pure escapism. It washes away my stress.

And then the complete opposite: it allows me to focus. You can sit at a desk for hours willing the ideas to come to you. Then you go for a run and something really random will spark something.

I love what I see on my runs. I travelled a lot of with my last job and found it helps me to discover a place, as I throw myself down little backstreets.

For me, it’s never been about a race time, it’s about the journey – the things en route are more important to me than the time you get at the end of a race.

How does running make you feel?
In the early days, after a 20-mile run I was genuinely in a catatonic state – zombied. But now I actually find it really reenergising.

What do you wear?
I keep it pretty simple. I change up my trainers all the time – depending on the terrain and how I’m feeling – always Nikes though, I’ve amassed a pretty good collection over time.

I love A Day work-out tights. They use the same zips as Balenciaga, so you don’t feel you’re even wearing sportswear. Or Nike men’s split shorts; they’re really comfy. Then a crop top, vest – the usual.

I’ve never really been into a running ‘look’ per se; running is quite a pure thing for me. I work in fashion all day so it’s quite nice to not think about it at all.

I always wear sunglasses though – I love Prism. Even if I have tears streaming down my face, in my head I’m still totally retaining composure.

When running, I listen to…

Workout tunes?
In no particular order…
Feel so real – Steve Arrington
Love Sign – Morris Day
Crazy Love – MJ Cole
Loud Places – Jamie xx
Here Comes Trouble – Chronixx
Good Thing Going – Sugar Minott
Movado – Destiny
No Letting Go – Wayne Wonder
Dreaming of Better Days – Larry Heard
Body Language – Booka Shade

For someone who’s lacking motivation – maybe a tired mum or dad – what advice or tips would you give to inspire them to exercise?
If you’ve got parenting down, running’s going to be a doddle. There’s no good or bad – it’s really just a personal thing. Run up to the point that feels right for you, for two weeks, then that point will get further.

Enjoy spending time in your own body and brain, just thinking about you. It’s a good opportunity for parents to focus on themselves. There’s no right or wrong; it’s not about having a great backhand, or strong serve, so just find what works for you.

Some people are goals orientated and perform well with guidelines, which give them impetus to improve. Personally, that’s never been my motivation so doesn’t necessarily turn me on – but people I’ve met have used the Couch to 5K app and they say it’s amazing.

One great thing about running is that it’s free. And you get to be outside. You forget that London is one of those rare cities where we do have loads of green space – take advantage of it – and run like ‘elle.