Before I started doing my Whole30, I Googled ‘where to eat Whole30 in London’. Pretty much nothing useful came back. Googling ‘where to eat Paleo in London’ was slightly more helpful, although there were about twenty seven mentions of Pret. Compiled over only 30 days, this is obviously by no means a comprehensive list, but I thought it would be useful to share a few places I had success (and one or two places not so much) whilst doing my Whole30. As I’ve said before, get ready to eat a lot of burgers…

Where to eat Whole30 in London

Natural Kitchen

55 Baker Street, W1U 8EW

7 Pepys Street, Trinity Square, Tower Hill, EC3N 4AF

What: Aged Scottish steak beef burger (comes with mature vintage cheddar, caramelised red onions, baby gem lettuce, vine ripened tomatoes & crunchy coleslaw) – £12.95

How: On the menu, it states “we are happy for you to go skinny and replace the bun with a delicious salad”. Very good start. Additional subs required were holding the cheese and coleslaw, and asking to have Parma ham and avocado instead (the Baker Street branch were super nice and gave these for no extra charge, the Trinity Square branch didn’t give us avo and charged the ham as an extra – it’s on the menu for £1). Additional extras of sweet potato fries (£3.25) and grilled Portobello mushrooms (£2.95).

Verdict:  I went here twice, to two different branches (there are four in total), both with Charlie. Both times we each ordered the skinny burger and shared the sides. When you’re making menu changes, it depends on the waiting staff as to how well these are accommodated. We found that the Baker Street branch were much more on the ball in general, and as such were really good at listening to, and catering to our requests. But both times the meals were large, but still light and fresh, with good helpings of salad. There probably are one or two more dishes on their menu that could be easily adapted to be Whole30 compliant, plus over lunch they have a full fresh salad bar which although pricey, looks amazing.

Dalston Superstore

117 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB

What: Classic Beef Burger (free range beef patty, tomato, pickle, leaves, mayo) £7, twelve additional extras available from 50p-£2

How: Six of us (four runners and two support crew) stumbled across this place post-Run Hackney when we were famished after a hard morning of running hard/cheering hard in the hot hot heat of East London. The menu is just brunch and burgers, but for such a small menu, there was so much choice. When we explained all the thing we could and couldn’t have, the waitress said “so you want a burger salad… with as much protein as possible”. YES, that’s exactly it! What we got was a burger, fried egg, bacon, avocado and LOADS of salad. Admittedly, one slice of tomato had mayo on it, but that was scraped off and we were good to eat.

Verdict: Potentially a bit of a random one, but this was one of my favourite dining experiences of the whole month. Thanks in no short part to the brilliant waitress, but they staff in general were happy to cook up and serve up whatever we wanted. It didn’t feel like the healthiest version of burger-and-add-ons ever, and I would bet there was some non-compliant oil going on in there somewhere, but sometimes you just gotta let that go. I want to go back here.

Bill’s

Victor Wharf, Clink Street, SE1 9DW

What: Bill’s naked hamburger (with red onion, tomato, lettuce, horseradish mayonnaise and a a large mixed salad and tzatziki instead of sesame seed bun and skinny fries) – £9.95, guacamole £1.20 extra, sweet potato fries £3.55, tender stem broccoli
with red chilli and toasted sesame seeds £3.25

How: With the obvious bun and skinny fries gone, even the tzatziki in the ‘naked’ version had to go to. We were still charged for the guacamole, but did manage to nab the salsa pictured as a sub for the bits we couldn’t have. We also added sweet potato fries and the oh-s0-scrummy chilli broccoli as sides too. It did get quite pricey with all these additions though.

Verdict: I really, really like Bill’s – it’s one of my favourite chains. I’ve also been to the restaurants in Soho, Wimbledon, Hammersmith, Covent Garden, Islington and Shoreditch (see, quite a fan). I only became slightly less of a fan when they took moules et frites off the menu *sad face* However, because of this, this was the only place where I felt like I was missing out by eating what I did, because the rest of the menu is also so good and I wanted to eat some of it. That being said, this was a really good, really tasty Whole30 option. It was very similar to the skinny burger at Natural Kitchen and again the brilliant waitress made our meal.

(Ignore the not quite so Whole30 breakfast in the background. That was C‘s.)

Kilikya’s

Ivory House, St Katherine Docks, E1W 1AT

What: Sucuklu menemen (a classic Turkish dish made of scrambled eggs, Turkish garlic sausage, tomatoes, red and green peppers, onion and parsley) £6.25

How: I ordered, it came. Easy as that. The only thing I ate out that required no substitutions! Other than ignoring the massive basket of bread placed next to me.

Verdict: A mere 10 minute wander from my house, I will be back here for sure. Friendly, authentic, really reasonably priced and just really flavoursome – I loved this breakfast. The whole breakfast menu is very egg heavy (ace for Whole30!) and you can get a full English for less than £8.50 including coffee. WIN.

Pod

6a Leather Lane, London, EC1N 7RA

What: Sausage and sunblush scrambled eggs (with British free-range sausage, sunblush tomatoes, spinach, basil and chia seeds) £3.99

How: Post spin one morning I was ravenous, and hadn’t had the time or bother to pack my own post-workout brekkie. I tried the Eat near my office (nothing), but then remembered Pod tucked away down the street opposite.

Verdict: Technically, I doubt very much that sausage is compliant, but at least it’s free range. The eggs were well cooked (I watched them prepared as I waited), they weren’t spongy or plasticy which is what eggs on the go usually up like. Only negative point was that they accidentally made some toast with my order, and with no one else to give it to, I got it for free. No one in my office wanted it. I had to throw away toast! I love toast. So upsetting.

Pret

All over the place. No, really. There are EIGHT Prets within 400m of my work. (That is a verified fact and everything. I checked.) Crazy.

What: Crayfish and Avocado No Bread (wild crayfish, avocado, salad leaves, Dijon French dressing)

How: Hold the dressing, and you’re all good.

Verdict: I know you already know how ace Pret is, but it’s really handy to have this salad as a back up for when you’re out and about and starving. They also do an egg and spinach pot, also compliant. Personally I can’t think of anything worse than a boiled egg practically on its own, but if you need it, it’s there.

Le Pain Quotidien

70 Parsons Green Lane, SW6 4HU

What: Organic scrambled eggs with crispy Prosciutto and grilled mushrooms, side of fresh fruit salad

How: Easy subbing of bread with extra sides. Ask for the eggs not to be cooked with butter.

Verdict: Another fave, I have had many a post-long run brunch in the Southbank Centre branch. Le Pain’s food is always top notch, even if the service can be a bit patchy (“table for five please”… “we don’t have any space at the moment”… “we can see all the spare tables over there, can we have one of those?”… “umm, yes… okay then”. Hmmm.) Couldn’t fault this breakfast. I even tortured myself a little and had a wander over to the cake and pastry displays. They’re just so pretty.

Where not to eat Whole30 in London

Tramshed

32 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3LX 

What: Glenarm mighty-marbled steak (rib 200g) £20, sides of lettuce heart salad £3.95 and grilled field mushroom £3.95

How: A LOT of explanation and subbing, followed by plates of really quite plain food.

Verdict: At the time, I raved about this meal (okay, the steak was gooood), but this is not a place to go unless you can fully embrace the menu. I wrote about my thoughts in this post, but in hindsight, not all that Whole30 friendly (even though you’d think a chicken a steak restaurant would be).

Byron

East Pavilion, Greenwich Promenade, SE10 9HT

What: Skinny (6oz hamburger, lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayonnaise with side salad) £7.50, courgette fries £3.25

How: Avoid the mayo, ask for no dressing on the side salad (or check what’s in it).

Verdict: To prove that not everywhere can do a ‘skinny’ burger well, there is Byron. Even though they have it as an option on their menu, the naked option was just a bit measly. I want a BIG salad to replace the bun and chips. Just because I’ve asked for less carbs doesn’t mean I’m not hungry, jeez. And don’t forget the courgette fries come battered. I did, hence the bowl of batter pictured above. Also, this was the least nice Byron I’ve been in. It felt like a ever-so-slightly version of McDonalds, not the warm, cosy, atmospheric restaurants I’ve visited in Covent Garden and Soho.

Leon

29-30 High Holborn, WC1V 6AZ

What: Avocado and smoked salmon egg pot £2.95

How: Just as it is (although technically the smoked salmon isn’t compliant – it contains sugar. Oops).

Verdict: Oh, Leon. How you disappoint me. One egg, half an avo and a square of smoked salmon is not breakfast. It tasted alright (massively complimentary word right there), but really?! Come on now, a girl’s gotta eat more than this.

Right… now hit me with your restaurant recommendations – Whole3o, Paleo or just plain scrummy. GO!

There are few races I’ve enjoyed less than the British 10k 2013. I was lucky to have my place paid for by my employer at the time, and I ran for my industry charity, GroceryAid. However, the race itself was pretty terrible – it started off badly by taking over 45 minutes to get across the start line on one of the hottest days of last summer, and didn’t get much better from there.

I then went onto run the Color Run in the same afternoon, which is probably the only race I’ve ever enjoyed less than the British 10k. Now that really was AWFUL. So hot, so much waiting around, so boring, so crappy to run around Wembley. I haven’t been back to North West London since. Just eurgh.

So after all of that, you’d probably wonder why on earth I would even bother showing up to this year’s British 10k? Well firstly, I was lucky (again) to win a place with Tiger Balm to run as part of their #BorntoRun team. I’ll get the race fee thing out of the way straight away. No 10k should cost £50. It’s just ludicrous. I would not have run this race either last year or this if I had to pay for it.

And despite getting the race place for free, I still found myself no more impressed with the race this year than I did in 2013.

Tiger Balm were excellent. I got the place only a few days prior to race day, their communication was spot on and the pre race meet up – despite being early – was friendly, organised and really good fun. They asked us to wear onesies for the photocall, with the option of wearing them for the race. We were given a tshirt too, but I thought it would be fun to go with the onesie.

IMG_9894

This obviously made me really, really hot. But this wasn’t what I disliked about this race – I still wasn’t as hot as I was running it last year. I disliked the long walk to the start from the bag drop, the long wait before we got started (although admittedly not anywhere near as long as last year) and the fact that there wasn’t start pens by finishing time – which meant a painful mixture of weaving around walkers and being elbowed by faster runners. That was the worst. I’ve never felt so jostled, nudged and just generally harassed as I have in this race. It really started to stress me out by the second half and I ran the final 3k with panic rising in my chest.

The long walk to the start…

After the horrible bit right near the end where you reach Parliament Square, but then get shot off towards Victoria for an out and back loop along Victoria Street (my least favourite part of the whole route – and you run through the Blackfriars underpass – twice), I was really glad to have finished.

The we all got held from entering Whitehall Place, the location of the bag drop. The crowds mounted up quickly as more and more people crossed the finish line. It all got a bit ridiculous.

It then transpired that everyone was queing for the Help for Heroes tent, regardless of whether they had run for them or not and it was blocking the whole road. It took almost half an hour for someone to come and sort this out. By the time I made it to my bag and to Charlie, Harry, Jonny and Seb, I was so on the edge of panic from being hot, tired and packed in a crowd for the past hour and a half, that I did a little cry. I thought I was past the point of crying at 10k’s… so thanks for that British 10k. Oh, and one more thing – I still have no idea what my time was because when I put my race number into the website, someone else’s result comes up. Not that it matters, but you’re supposed to be able to find it out.

Thankfully, my day drastically improved post race thanks to my awesome ambush of tigers, as the five of us headed to Le Pain at the Southbank Centre for fizz, granola, coffee and a whole load of bread. Love Le Pain.

Then me and Charlie shared a peanut buttery cake of amazingness from Outsider Tart‘s stall at the food market, accompanied by a coffee whilst soaking up the sun.

I gave the British 10k a second chance, but I don’t think I’ll be giving it a third…

 

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I don’t want to keep bloody banging on about it, because it’s shit and boring and I want to move on, but a few months ago I went through one of those life altering, perspective shifting break ups. (I’ve written about it already here and here.)

The problem is, I can’t seem to get over it, and it’s starting to annoy me. Over the last few weeks, I seem to have gone backwards on the ‘getting over it’ scale. It’s partly because I started seeing someone new (which, it turns out, I am absolutely not ready for, and it has consequently ended) and partly because I’m missing a big goal and some focus, so my thoughts are drifting off elsewhere. Unfortunately that place is back into the past.

To start with I thought I might rectify the problem with the obvious. The first few months after my break up were so (relatively) bearable as I let myself be completely and totally consumed with training for the Paris marathon. Maybe that’s what I need to do again, I thought. I’ll sign up for an autumn marathon. But as much as I would love to go back to Berlin in September, I don’t think repetition is the way forward.

I’ve already decided on a rather large and scary nutrition goal, which I’ll share more on next week. But for now, I’m feeling a little bit lost when it comes to my fitness life. I’m running WOTN in Amsterdam next weekend which I’m really looking forward to, but I have already decided not to run Run Hackney two weeks later. I am just not feeling in the right frame of mind to train for and run a half marathon. In fact, I haven’t run in two weeks. Two weeks is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it’s probably been a good six or seven months since I’ve gone that long. I was loving running at the beginning of May, but then my knee decided to get angry with me and I haven’t run since.

So I’m properly on a break from boys and now running has decided we need some time off too. I don’t have a race in the calendar until September and the last of my four planned European run adventures will soon be here and gone. Now what the heck do I do?!

The weekend kicked off early on Saturday morning, with a trip to Southwark parkrun. This is technically now my ‘home’ parkrun, as it is the closest to me, but I am also in fairly easy Overground distance of Highbury Fields, Hilly Fields and maybe even Crystal Palace too (but am yet to venture there). I decided to walk the relatively short distance over the river and along Jamaica Road to Southwark park to meet up with Charlie and Laureen who had also volunteered.

Charlie’s photo

Steph, ever the parkrun tourist, joined us from SW London as she edges to within touching distance of her 50 tshirt (just checked – she’s on 48!) I was given barcode scanning (it took me a while to get the ‘knack’ of it and at one point quite a queue had built up!), Charlie on finisher tokens and Laureen was marshalling out on the course. It was a really miserable, cold and wet morning, but it was great fun and we headed for brunch on the promise that we’d all be back soon.

Brunch was at Village East over on Bermondsey Street. Fairly quickly I recognised a lot of similarities to The Riding House Café on Great Titchfield Street (where I went for a ‘nice’ lunch with my mum a few months ago) which were in no way a coincidence as a quick Google search told me they are part of the same company, along with The Garrison, also on Bermondsey Street.

I had the bacon sandwich with avocado and chilli jam (£7) with a side of oh-so-creamy scrambled eggs (£2). Avocado is always a winner for me, and I do like a menu to make a bit of an effort wih staple brunch items such as sandwiches or a full English. Speaking of which, Charlie had the Village veggie breakfast (£10) which was one of the most inventive non-meat breakfasts I’ve come across with halloumi, egg, mushroom, tomato, quinoa, chilli and carrot. (As a side note, the Bill’s vegetarian breakfast (£7.95) is pretty ace on this front too.)

Laureen’s photo

After this, we decided we wanted brunch pudding, so headed to Del Aziz. All of us have been there before, and we decided on a pot of fresh mint tea and three cakes to share between the four of us. We went for baked cheesecake, banana and walnut cake and apple and walnut tart. I am LOVING apple tarts at the moment! The cake was massive, the tea delicious and we spent almost three hours lounging on the sofas in the corner. Devine.

Charlie’s photo

Finally, I get to the race report part. I went home, had a cake-induced nap and woke up grouchy with the rain lashing down against my window. Going to run around Victoria Park was the last thing I wanted to do. Nevertheless, soon I was stood freezing at the start line, and instead of a plan to take it easy, Charlie had somehow got me and Harry to agree to try (for as long as we could) to go sub-50. Umm, what?!

Charlie’s photo

We were the closest to the start of a race that I’ve even been, so we were off very quickly. We settled into a 8:45 pace for the first two miles, with me and/or Harry saying “I could slow down” at fairly regular intervals. We passed the awesome Cheer Dem at 4k, and despite speeding up after coming through the cheers, it become obvious by around halfway that sub-50 was off the cards.

Photo by Ash Narod

Did this mean Charlie let us step off the gas? HELL NO. She was the ultimate cheerleader and pacer all in one, tearing her way through the crowds and for most of it I literally felt like I was clinging on. It was super congested by the second lap, but somehow we managed to gain speed. Round two of Cheer Dem was even better than the first, and boosted us to a fastest final mile of 8:07. This was followed by the final few hundred metres at a pace of 7:30!

Unfortunately neither Charlie or Harry beat their PBs, but their fantastic pacing, dragging, chat and encouragement helped me take almost 3 minutes off mine (which still stood from WOTN last year), coming in at 53:15. I am absolutely chuffed with that time, and it has given me the confidence to think that one day, I might be able to conquer sub-50 (Charlie’s definitely got it in the bag).

After the race, we found a few of the TNR girls (in the tent handing out free Prosecco, natch) and we headed to Shoreditch for Pad Thai. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Charlie's photos

Charlie’s photos

Despite being really dubious beforehand and really not wanting to run at the time, this was a really, really good race. It’s come on LOADS since last year (bigger race village, speedier bag drop, more starting waves, less windy and narrow course) and I had a really great time. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending people sign up. For me to have broken my PB at this race two years running it must be doing something right, eh?!

I’ve taken all this week as annual leave to ‘prepare’ myself for the weekend. It hindsight, work might have been a good distraction.

I’m a fully paid up member of the ‘running is a journey’ cult and all this time I’ve now got on my hands is allowing me far too much space to think. A lot has happened to me over the past six months (new big girl job, newly and surprisingly single, new house and housemates in a new part of town). I think to a certain extent, marathon training has been the glue, the focus, the one constant thing, whatever you want to call it through all of these things. It’s been the one thing that’s always been there, that I knew I had to keep ploughing away at whilst everything else was changing around me.

And on Sunday it will stop.

I’m terrified of the race, but I have also accepted that I can be no more ready than I am. I’m more terrified of the anti climax.

But I’m so glad for everything that training for this race has given me before I’ve even done it. I needed the distraction. I needed to know I was strong enough to do it. I needed the truly dear friends I have made. And I’ll still have all of these things AND MORE after Sunday.

Paris, I am ready.