Top 5 | Winter Hangouts in London

1. The Monkey 47 Lodge

What is it? Wrap your hands around hot and cold cocktails inspired by German desserts, like Monty’s Strudel cocktail – paired with homemade apple pie. Tucked away just off the pavement hurly-burly of High Holborn, this feels as special as a private members’ club, excellent for after-work escapism or an après-shop refuel.
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Where: Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, London WC1
Nearest Tube: Holborn

2. Lodge D’Argent

What is it? What screams winter wonderland more than the Northern Lights? This Arctic inspired rooftop, sitting on top of the hustle and bustle of The City, brings two igloo tents to central London complete with an Aurora Borealis Cube in the restaurant’s entrance.
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Where: Coq d’Argent, No. 1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8EJ
Nearest Tube: Bank

3. South Pole Saloon

What is it? The South Pole Saloon comes to Brixton, South London Where Christmas goes to get naughty! Legend has it that deep in the snow drifts of the South Pole there is a Saloon. This decadent and debaucherous dive bar plays host to a Christmas spectacle like no other, for it is here the elves come out to play…
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Where: Brixton Rooftop, Pope’s End, Brixton, SW9 8JH
Nearest Tube: Brixton

4. The Moroccan Medina 
What is it? The Jemaa el-Fnaa square is making its way over to trendy Shoreditch this season for a burst of winter warmth. Think colourful tiles, exotic drapes, and an oversized wigwam filled with cushions and lanterns. On the menu is a range of spice-infused cocktails such as a Casablancan Mint Tea, spiced hot buttered rum and gold pomegranate Bellinis all to be ordered at the Majorelle Garden-inspired bar.
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Where: Queen of Hoxton, 1 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3JX
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street

5. Woody Bear

What is it? Croque monsieurs, wheels of raclette and box-baked Mont d’Or oh my. If that wasn’t enough to lure you in, spiked eggnog and draft Negronis are offered to wash everything down. Take a spin in the teacups and a ride on the animal see-saws for a dash of thrill. 
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Where: Woody Bear, 535 Oxford Street, London W1C 1LY
Nearest Tube: Bond Street

The Habit Hunter x 

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Insight Into | Runners World Mission Marathon Selection Day

So last Friday was a little more exciting than mostly – partly due to the fact I wasn’t to be sat in an office all day – but mainly because I had been invited along to the #missionmarathon selection day by Runner’s World.

How did this all come about?

Having see nike run coach, Becs Gentry, put a post out on instagram, I saw Runner’s World were holding a competition in partnership with Vifit Sport, a high-protein recovery products company. With the opportunity to win a coveted spot in the London Marathon 2018, alongside training support and nutrition products from the coaches, including olympic athlete, Jane Vongvorachoti. So, naturally, I thought why not? and threw my name into the mix. Only to receive an email just over a week later telling me I was successful and had made it down to the final 18.

What did the selection day entail?

The day took place at Lee Valley Athletics Centre, on a surprisingly sunny November day. Upon arrival we were met by the Runner’s World team and the other runners involved from the 3 categories (Finish Liners, Breaking 4 & Speed Demons). We then had our photo taken (think awkward year book photo day at school), ate some breakfast and got on with the first session. For my group, the Speed Demons, this was REPEAT.

REPEAT SESSION

This was a Q&A session held with Ben Green and Andy Dixon, both sub-3 marathon runners. Who gave us an insight into their running backgrounds and the training entailed to break that 3 hour barrier on marathon day, or in Bens case completely smash it at 2hrs30. With a great insight from the guys we headed into the next session RECOVERY.

RECOVERY SESSION

Ironically having done nothing but eat and talk all morning we went to a ‘well-deserved’ recovery session held by Andy Vincent, a Third Space PT and self-appointed ‘Foot Geek’. Andy talked us through stretching, foam rolling (the right way) – who knew breathing was so vital?, and actual mind-blowing foot stretches. Never did I realise that such minor alterations could make such a huge difference. From a classic runner with the lazy stretching trait this session was particularly valuable. Key takeaway – I need to stretch more! Following this, we headed off for the most anticipated session of the day – RUN.

RUN SESSION

With the sun shining, and the chance to run on an incredible track, this was definitely a highlight of the day. Jane Vongvorachoti and Joe Mackie took the session. Starting off with some classic drills (think high-knees etc) we were then summoned to the challenge of the day. Having all opted for the Speed Demons group (i.e. hoping to break sub-3 in a marathon) there was no surprise they wanted to see if we were up to the task in hand. So we were told to run 2 miles (8 laps), though we were reassured ‘this was not a race’ – there was no surprise that putting 6 competitive runners on a track we weren’t going to try and make our mark. So off we went, film crew in tow. Over the moon to have made it back as the first female in the group and third overall! Needless to say having struggled through IT band syndrome the past few months I’m over the moon to finally be back running properly.

All in all, it was a great day, with everyone in attendance totally deserving of the prize. Was amazing to spend the day with like-minded runners, nand to be able to chat running without feeling as though I was driving them into complete boredom! Massive shout out to Runner’s World for putting the day together and running the competition, as well as all the other support and coaches that came along too. Fingers crossed for a positive outcome, but irrespective – it was an epic day, and over the moon to have made it this far.

The Habit Hunter x

Habit Hunter Hotspots | November Edition

1. Take a trip to Winterland

WHAT IS IT? Winterland will take the place of this summer’s Neverland, featuring everything from enchanted forests to cosy winter lodges, along with festive cocktails and a Thames-side Christmas beach. For foodies, Jimmy Garcia will be serving up the cheesiest of fonduesand raclette burgers from his pop-up lodge. And if you didn’t get a chance at nabbing one of Coppa Club’s Thameside igloos, there are three of them here overlooking the river. 
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WHERE: Wandsworth Bridge Road, SW6 2TY
NEAREST TUBE: Wandsworth Town

2. Grab your tickets to Chambers of Flavour V3 

WHAT IS IT? Chambers of Flavour is a multi-dimensional dining concept brought to you by the crack team behind Gingerline. V3 marks the third flavourological chapter in the Chambers of Flavour story and promises to be a longer, more fantastical, multi-dimensional dining adventure.
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WHERE: Secret Location
NEAREST TUBE: Secret Location

3. Indulge your tastebuds at Tobacco Docks 

WHAT IS IT? Taste of London: The Festive Edition, the little sister to the summer festival, is the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season in style. Between 16 – 19 November 2017 East London’s stunning Tobacco Dock is transformed into a foodie wonderland brimming with London’s tastiest food, festive tipples, a fantastic chef line-up. 
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WHERE: Tobacco Docks, Wapping Ln, St Katharine’s & Wapping. E1W 2SF
NEAREST TUBE: Shadwell

4. Watch Sparks fly in Battersea Park 

WHAT IS IT? Award-winning pyrotechnicians are behind the illuminations set to fire up the Wandsworth skies. Tickets almost always sell out in advance, so get booking early to see bonfire-torching and an eye-popping 22-minute display, which this year will be set to tunes inspired by the rather abstract theme of ‘Power’.
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WHERE: Battersea Park, Albert Bridge Road. SW11 4NJ
NEAREST TUBE: Battersea Park

5. Head to the flickering fire garden at Kew 

WHAT IS IT? This winter, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew will transform into an enchanted winter wonderland as the much anticipated Christmas at Kew returns once again. After the staggering success of the last four years, Kew has once again teamed up with entertainment promoter Raymond Gubbay Ltd to create a brand new illuminated trail around the Gardens with over 1 million twinkling lights.
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WHERE: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey. TW9 3AE
NEAREST TUBE: Richmond (overground)

6. Get into the Xmas spirit early at Winterville 

WHAT IS IT? Festive playground Winterville is back, swapping Victoria Park for Clapham Common and featuring more dancing, eating, laughing, drinking and skating than you can shake a snow globe at.
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WHERE: Windmill Drive, Clapham Common. SW4 9DE
NEAREST TUBE: Clapham Common or Clapham South

7. Don’t count the calories at Fattie’s Bakery 

WHAT IS IT? Looking for an indulgent salted caramel hot chocolate (uh… who isn’t?) look no further than Fattie’s. Not only is the thick, silky chocolate laden with the salty caramelly stuff, marshmallow is piped around the rim and toasted until golden brown. Either eat all the marshmallow first, eat a bit to make way for the chocolate or buy a cookie and mop up the marshmallowy goodness!
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WHERE: Fatties Bakery, 126 Druid St, Bermondsey. SE1 2HH
NEAREST TUBE: Bermondsey

8. Get inspired at Tribe Shake Shack 

WHAT IS IT? It’s a 2-week TRIBE community concept store on Charlotte Street in Shoreditch celebrating the launch of TRIBE Protein Shakes and the TRIBE community.
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WHERE: 45 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3
NEAREST TUBE: Shoreditch High St or Old St

9. Take in some Thai drinking food at the Smoking Goat

WHAT IS IT? Thai restaurant Smoking Goat has opened a second branch in Shoreditch, this time focusing on Thai drinking food. In a nutshell this is a restaurant that just screams fun. You’d have to be pretty determined not to have a good time. 
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WHERE: 64 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
NEAREST TUBE: Shoreditch High St or Old St 

10. Embrace truffle season at Sartoria

WHAT IS IT? Truffle season is here.. and there are few that do it better than Sartoria and their white truffle menu – it is honestly a thing of wonder! Hailing all things truffle, Francesco Mazzei and his team at Sartoria has created an entire menu dedicated to the white truffle.
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WHERE: 20 Savile Row, Piccadilly. W1S 3PR
NEAREST TUBE: Piccadilly Circus 

The Habit Hunter x 

Top 8 | Tips for New Runners

“Run in the morning, before your brain figures out what you’re doing” 
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1.Buy a good pair of trainers

This might sound obvious, but the number of people I get asking me ‘How do you not get blisters? Why are your feet never sore?’ has made me realise that too many people start out the wrong way — with the wrong shoes. Yes, trainers can be expensive,  but investing in a good pair that suit you, your running stride and the shape of your feet is vital to your training, even as a beginner.

THE HABIT HUNTER’S RECOMMENDATION: Asics Gel Nimbus 18 or Adidas Ultra-Boost ATR (they’re honestly like running on clouds)!

2. Enter a race

Something that to many beginners sounds both ridiculous and daunting. However, when I bit the bullet and entered my first 10km race that was the motivation I needed to get out and run. Not only have you paid the entry fee (it’s a waste of money if you don’t run)! But if you’re running for a charity, the added pressure of fundraising and not letting the charity down can encourage (pile you with guilt) to get your training started.

THE HABIT HUNTER’S RECOMMENDATION: Dependent on your ultimate goal I’d recommend the following events close to/in London, they’re all really friendly (mildly competitive), and great for first-timers:
5km:  ZSL London Zoo Stampede
10km: Richmond Spring Riverside 10k
10miles: Valentines Tough Love 10ish Miles
Half-Marathon: Royal Parks Half

3. Time > Distance

It’s easy to spend too much time thinking about reaching distance goals, saying to yourself “I’m going to run 5km today” or “I need to get in my 10 mile run to keep to the training plan”, reality is, we feel different each time we run. Some days, you might feel like you are dragging yourself around the course, others you get to the end and could do another lap. Needless to say these feelings alter the pace at which we run at, so spending too much time focussing on getting distance in is counteractive. Instead set yourself time goals — start with a low target (maybe 25/30 minutes and just keep going) and gradually increase it over time, whether that means you end up running 2km’s or 10km’s you’ve kept going. Training your feet to be out and moving for a set time is just as (possibly even more so) important as building up distance.

4. Don’t beat yourself up over missing a run

If you’re not feeling up to it — simply don’t do it. There are some days where you’ll hit a complete lull, any runner telling you otherwise is either superhuman or lying. Yes there are days when we all need a little motivation and once we’ve made it out the door we feel a whole lot better for going. However, there are other days when simply the thought of stepping out of the door is too much to handle. On these days — don’t bother. Not only will it just start making a run into a chore rather than an enjoyment, but neither your mind nor body will thank you for it either. After all, rest is key to letting yourself recover properly and avoiding injury.

5. Don’t stress too much over 10% increase

As a beginner you may find yourself heading over to your expert running coach ‘google’ who no doubt will inform you of a training plan that involves this 10% increase — having to calculate percentages and go for a run? That’s enough to put any beginner off tying their shoelaces and getting out the door. Whilst it is important to increase your running time as the weeks go by, being as structured as a percentage increase can just be overwhelming. After all, you’ve set the goal, you’ve started that’s a positive in itself. If you’re sticking to what you want to achieve, whether that’s 3, 4 or 5 weekly runs (doing any less is just going to be a little counteractive) you’ll soon begin to feel comfortable and know when you can start to pick up the pace or run for that little bit longer!

THE HABIT HUNTER’S RECOMMENDATION: Spend some time noting the pace of your first few runs and how you felt afterwards (I’m talking one word not a whole diary insert) – “Great, Comfortable, ‘On Deaths Door'” – this will give you the chance to find a good starting point and figure out what’s achievable over time.

6. Join a running group (not for everyone) — do what’s right for you

For some, the prospect of running alone is enough to put them off altogether, for others (myself included) that downtime is the best time. So do what is right for you, don’t get me wrong, I love speaking to like-minded people, and running with others on occasion, but I also enjoy the headspace of just myself and my music. Getting started can be a lot easier by surrounding yourself with others in the same boat, so whether it’s simply using one of your runs every week as a social run with others it could be the boost you need to keep yourself motivated. But most importantly, do what’s right for you. Running clubs are great for providing that supportive network, the likelihood there’s a constantly active Facebook group that you’ll be immediately enrolled into once you join, and that in itself is a great way to find that support network. So give it a shot — what’s to lose?

THE HABIT HUNTER’S RECOMMENDATION: If you’re not 100% sure that a running club is right for you head along to a session first. Most (if not all) running clubs will let you go along to a couple of sessions before you make your decision to join, that way you can see if it’s going to suit you or not. It’s also worth spending some time looking up some free clubs, a lot of running communities have popped up all over London and wont charge you to join them — whilst you might get less running related content on Facebook — you’re bound to make some friends along the way too. (Nike Run Club, London Midnight Runners, Run Dem Crew & Tribe all host free weekly events)

7. Wear the right clothes

Just as I mentioned with trainers, finding and wearing the right gear is just as important as finding the motivation to get out there and get started. There’s something about pulling on a new pair of leggings or  investing in a fancy sports bra (so what if it’s only you that gets to appreciate it) that makes getting out the door that little bit inspiring, after all if you’re forking out on some Lululemon or Sweaty Betty gear you’ll want people to appreciate it right? As cliched as it may sound — theres a whole lot of truth in look good-feel good.

THE HABIT HUNTER’S RECOMMENDATION: Check out my Top 10 Winter Fitness Favourites

8. Park Run

Park runs are weekly 5km events held all over the world, and the likelihood is there’s one less than a couple of miles from your home. The best part about park runs? They’re free & they’re properly timed. There’s always a mix of runners, from the experienced to the first-timers, but one thing that never changes, is the friendly atmosphere. As an event held and hosted by volunteers, there’s an abundance of goodwill and spirit flying around and a great way to meet new people – keep a record of your progress – and not spend any money!

THE HABIT HUNTER’S RECOMMENDATION: Don’t just think about it, get a friend involved and find your nearest park run!

The Habit Hunter x

Habit Hunter Hotspots | October Edition

1. Take in a Piece of Italy at House of Peroni 
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WHAT IS IT? The House will bring to life the vivacity and zest for life that is undeniably Italian, and will transport guests to the bustling streets of Italy where they are given the chance to reimagine citrus and explore previously undiscovered flavour combinations.

WHERE: N&C SHOWROOMS, 3-10 Shoreditch High Street. E1 6PG
NEAREST TUBE:  Shoreditch High Street

2. Head to Brixton for a Touch of Bavaria
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WHAT IS IT? Bavaria meets Berlin in the heart of Brixton. They’re bringing the biggest craft beer selection south of the river plus Steins of Prosecco & many kinds of cocktails to share.

WHERE: Brixton Rooftop, Pope’s Road Brixton. SW9 8JH
NEAREST TUBE: Brixton

3. Dine Under the Stars at Pergola Winter Edition
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WHAT IS IT? Pergola Paddington Central is BACK!!! And it’s tastier – and toastier – than ever before. They’re back with a brand new roof on their top deck, fully covering and weatherproofing their site ~ bringing the outside IN!

WHERE: Pergola Paddington, 5 Kingdom Street, Paddington Central. W2 6PY
NEAREST TUBE: Paddington

4. Become a Gin Master at The Holborn Dining Room
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WHAT IS IT? The Gin Journey is a perfect introduction to this very British spirit. Guests will learn about its place in London’s history (with over 7,000 gin shops catering to Londoners in the 18th century, it is no surprise that the spirit’s popularity remains to this day), how gin is made, and how different botanicals help create unique and exciting nuances in flavour. Guests will also sample 4 different gins, with the opportunity to make their own gin cocktail.

WHERE: Holborn Dining Room, 252 High Holborn. WC1V 7EN
NEAREST TUBE: Holborn

5. Dine as a Beauty Leave as a Beast
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WHAT IS IT? The Vaults is an underground network of tunnels that hosts theatrical spectaculars, sprawling festivals and artistic adventures of all kinds. Forget the fairytale ending, this ball is about swinging from the chandeliers. Think thigh slapping, dancing on the table, eating with your face.

WHERE: The Vaults, Leake Street. SE1 7NN
NEAREST TUBE: Waterloo

6. Take in a Tipple at London Cocktail Week 
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WHAT IS IT? Returning for its eighth year, the biggest drinks festival in the UK, London Cocktail Week (LCW), is joining forces with World Class to celebrate the best and booziest of our capital’s cocktail scene from Sunday 1 to 8 October.

WHERE: All over London
NEAREST TUBE: N/A

7. Sip Gold Pomegranate Bellini in a Moroccan Hideaway 
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WHAT IS IT? Inspired by Morocco and the famous Jardin Majorelle (AKA Yves Saint Laurent Garden), the Queen of Hoxton rooftop will be transformed into a medina come October. With patterned cushions, rugs, throws and lots of candlelight, their winter wigwam will channel Marrakesh, as will the selection of food and drink.

WHERE: Queen of Hoxton, 1-5 Curtain Road, Shoreditch. EC2A 3JX
NEAREST TUBE: Liverpool Street 

8. Go Cocoa Loco at The Chocolate Show 
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WHAT IS IT? Truffles, bars, brownies and cakes galore await you atThe Chocolate Show from 13th-15th October,as the UK’s biggest celebration of the nation’s favourite sweet treat!

WHERE: Olympia National Hall, Hammersmith Road, Kensington.
NEAREST TUBE: Kensington Olympia

9. Head into the Wild 
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WHAT IS IT? Working in collaboration with Sager + Wilde restaurant in Paradise Row, The Botanist Gin, the first and only Islay gin, is bringing the Hebridean island to London for one week only.

WHERE: Sager & Wilde, Arch 250 Paradise Row. E2 9LE
NEAREST TUBE: Bethnal Green

10. Get Behind the NFL 

WHAT IS IT? This year the NFL is celebrating 10 years since the first regular-season game was staged in London by playing a record four games. Two games will take place at the historic Wembley stadium on September 24 and October 1, with two further games being played at Twickenham Stadium on October 22 and 29 which will bring the total number of games staged in London to 21.

WHERE: Wembley & Twickenham Stadium
NEAREST TUBE: Wembley/Twickenham

The Habit Hunter x