Running in the Green: Achieving Goals at a Sustainable Pace - Featuring Rebecca Milner


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By Stephen Matini. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Marathon runners know more than any other athlete about sustaining a proper pace while getting to the finishing line as fast as possible. "Running in the Green" is a heart-rate based training approach for marathon runners. This method aims at improving performance by training within a heart range that feels comfortable rather than pushing to the max.

I learned about the "running in the green” approach from British designer Rebecca Milner, the guest of this episode of Pity Party Over. Rebecca is a surface pattern designer whose phenomenal work spans wallpaper, textiles, clothing, and furnishings for her international clientele.

Rebecca studied at Central Saint Martins in London and currently resides in Florence, Italy. Rebecca is an entrepreneur, and she also runs marathons, from which she has learned a lot of lessons to run her business at a sustainable pace, Rebecca Milner Design.

Running in the Green refers to the pace that allows us to reach our goals without running out of fuel, so that we can enjoy the journey of becoming someone, of achieving something.

Running in the Green is also the awareness that we do not need to accomplish everything at once, but we need to focus on what we can do today by changing our perspective, from the finishing line to small steps.

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Rebecca Milner Design A surface pattern design brand exploring playful escapism through color, pattern and print

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Stephen (00:04): Welcome to PITY PARTY OVER the podcast for people, teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results in greater happiness. I'm your host, Steven Matini let's pause, learn and move on. PITY PARTY OVER over is brought to you by ALYGN, A L Y G

Stephen (00:29): Hello everyone. And welcome to this episode of PITY PARTY OVER. How are you? I hope you're doing really well. Today we're going to talk about achieving goals at a sustainable pace.

Marathon runners know more than any other athletes about sustaining a proper pace while getting to the finishing line as fast as possible. Running in the green is a heart-based training approach for marathon runners. This method aims at improving performance by training within a heart range that feels comfortable rather than push to the max.

I learned about running in the green from British designer, Rebecca Milner the guest of this episode of PITY PARTY OVER. Rebecca is a surface pattern designer whose phenomenal work spans wallpaper, textiles, clothing, and furnishings for her international clientele. Rebecca studies at Central Saint Martins in London and currently resides in Florence, Italy.

Rebecca is an entrepreneur and she also runs marathons from which she has learned a lot of lessons to run her business at a sustainable pace, Rebecca Milner Design.

Stephen (01:36): Rebecca, I know quite a bit of things about you. I know where you come from, you share a lot of things from your past, your family. You’re British. For our listeners, I would like to ask you as a first question, why don't you share where you grew up? What was the surrounding that influenced you?

Rebecca (01:54): So, yeah, I'm British and I grew up in, in England, went to school there and everything, but I think probably the most influential thing that happened when I was young is my dad was to live in work in Italy when I was younger, when I was 13. And that event kind of changed the trajectory of my life, I would say because I just completely fell in love with it immediately, instantly. I decided at the age of 13 that I wanted to live and work and the rest of my life. So that was kinda a, a really big thing. Um, and in terms of what I was doing, what I was interested in, I was always interested in art that had always been a thing. And then I think when I came here and I saw these really great artists, who'd done all these incredible works of art. I was just really set on the fact that that was what I also wanted to do.

Stephen (02:43): Did your whole family move to Italy when you were 13 or just, uh, some members of the family?

Rebecca (02:49): Yeah. I know we all moved together. There were six of us to Naples.

Stephen (02:53): Ooh.

Rebecca (02:54): I love Naples. Everybody seems to have an opinion about it. Um, it feels like an open air playground, a giant playground just for me. And I was so young that I, we lived an amazing life. We just would go to parties all the time, down to beach all the time. We would go and explore Italy. I've seen more of Italy than I have England.

Stephen (03:13): What was your first impression of Naples? The first thing that you noticed?

Rebecca (03:19): The volcano, obviously, I learned about the volcano when I was six years old and it terrified me and it was thing I was petrified about. I never, I didn't wanna go there to begin with, cause I was so afraid it was explode. Um, and that , I have to be watching my back every day in case it's erupted . Um, so that was kinda a really dramatic side to it as well. Cause I had this kind of fear mixed in with excitement. Um, but uh, yeah, apart from that, like I remember we came in on the tangent alley and was flying high above the, above the city and all these high rise buildings, colorful yellow ones with, um, washing hanging out. And it was, yeah, it was just an amazing impact. And I love cities on the sea as well. That's all sort of exciting vibe to me and the sunshine, the heat, just, yeah, the smells, the, the dogs, there was so many dogs barking. How you sleep at night?

Stephen (04:16): You know, I went to Naples only once for, I think it was four days, five days and he rained the whole time oh, I know. So I have to go back, but I, no, I thought it was great. I went there for Easter and then I visited all the surroundings. I went to Pompeii and Pompeii mm-hmm blew out my mind. I thought, oh my God, this is so big. It was incredible. I really love it. Yeah. I wanna go back. So at the time you already spoke Italian or not at all?

Rebecca (04:43): Not at all. No, I would, um, my dad had a, he'd been out there for a few months before, so he had a grammar book, so I would grab his book and read it in the evenings and learn the names of the vegetables and a few directions and stuff like that. Um, but that was kind, that was it. Yeah.

Stephen (04:59): And how long did you stay there with your family? In Naples?

Rebecca (05:02): Two and a half years. I was still at school in England. So we were coming out for the holidays. Um,

Stephen (05:09): So how did you manage to learn Italian then?

Rebecca (05:12): So after that I went back to school and they offered it for a level. So I did two level, two years of a level. And then, and then I came to Italy for nine months. I came to Florence for nine months to study at the British Institute. Uh, and yeah, but it was difficult to speak Italian then at that point, because lots of students and everybody you spoke to wanted to learn English. And so they would end up speaking English and it was easy to speak English. So, so I did, so I can't say I learned that much in that year. Um,

Stephen (05:47): When the whole, um, design art component came into your life? Was back then in Naples or you started before?

Rebecca (05:56): That was always something that was kind of in me, I guess, from the start, from a young age, I knew that I wanted to work with my hands doing something creative, and I knew that I wanted to run my own business, but I didn't know what that would take or form that would take. Um, it was just a kind of big idea, but I loved to make things that was always something that gave me a lot of peace and a lot of joy. And at school I studied art and textiles in particular. Um, and then after being in Florence for a year, I was, I had a place at university to study Italian, but I just decided, no, I can't do that. I have to go to art college. I have to I did that. And then when I went to art college, there were so many new things to try at school. I'd always done textiles and I knew all about that. And I kind of, there was a part of me that wanted to try something new. Um, so I went towards graphic design, which strangely seemed very exotic. And uh, I dunno why, but it did.

Stephen (06:58): One of the ingredients that you share in the past is also your love for running. So when did you start running?

Rebecca (07:06): I started running very late in life, probably only in 2016, I think. Yeah. So it's only been six years or so, but I always had this desire to run, but I never believed that I could run because at school we had this “one meter, no one mile” challenge every year and I never was able to do it because I would always kind of conk out before the end is, oh, this really heavy labor breathing. And so I never believed that I was able to run. I could did the 200 meters, that was fine, but anything longer was just yeah. And no, no. And then obviously living in England, the London marathon is a big thing. So you see that every year and you see people running along, carrying fridges on their backs or, you know, Big Ben or something. People of all ages, all walks of life. And I would look at these people and think my God, you know, how can they do that? It just seemed like a mystery. Um, something completely unattainable to me, which is always something it's, something feels like that. It always becomes a bit of a challenge in my mind, you know, something so unattainable that other people can are doing. Can I do that myself? So it had this kind feel for me.

Stephen (08:21): What made you decide to get into marathons?

Rebecca (08:24): Well, it, it was something I wanted to do because I saw one day in London, I saw I was walking along to the pavement and I saw this billboard and there was a man sitting on the billboard wrapped in one of the silver foil sheets that they give you after the marathon. And the caption at the bottom said, “One less thing I have to do in life.” So it was like, really kinda, for me, it felt like a personal challenge. Um, and I started applying while I was still in London to run the marathon, even though I wasn't running, I had no training. I had no idea what I was doing, but I would just apply because it was so difficult to get into. Um, luckily they rejected me time. After time I moved to Italy and I still hadn't done any running. Um, but one day I saw near the Duomo, there was this running club on a Wednesday night and they would run eight kilometers.

Rebecca (09:08): So I thought, okay, I'll join them. And I signed up with the slowest group, um, and I managed to do my first eight kilometers. I dunno how, but somehow. And then I kept going with him and after a while I was like, Hey, I can do eight kilometers. If I can do eight kilometers, maybe I can do 21. Maybe I can do a half. So I signed up with a trainer to do a half marathon and he gave me the program and I thought to myself, okay, all I have to do is follow the program. I trust the guy, you know, I'll just see what happens. Um, and sure enough, I was able to run a half marathon, which was amazing to me. And then I thought if I can run a half marathon, maybe I can run a full one. So I signed up for the same guy, asked him for a program for the full marathon and seven months later I achieved it

Stephen (09:55): Dear Lord. Wow. I could never do it!

Rebecca (09:58): You say that, but , that sounds like a challenge to me.

Stephen (10:03): Well, sure. Maybe, maybe. So you didn't have any sore back? Nothing. I mean?

Rebecca (10:08): Oh yeah. I couldn't walk four days after

Stephen (10:13): I would be a mess if I, no, I used to, I used to run a lot, um, because I don't know if I told you this, but, um, I used to play volleyball. I started out, I was 13 and I did it up to 20 years old. So anyhow, when I stopped, I didn't have a sport to do. I, I worked out and I decided to start running. So I would go, you know, here in Florence, um, to the park, near my house every morning, religiously. And, and I did that for long this time. Like for years and years and years, it was my meditation essentially, but I never, I never done it with intention of, I have to accomplish this, you know, I have to compete against people just for me, but I know the feeling. It's incredible.

What do you love the most about running other than the challenge of pushing yourself, doing something that seems to be unachievable?

Rebecca (11:02): The sense of freedom that it gives you when you, especially in those moments, when you can forget about your body and the pain that you might be going through and you just get those moments of mental freedom, not only the physical freedom of, and you know, that feeling there, but just like just, you could just forget about everything else and you're just in this kind of zone, everything else just kind of goes and suddenly something will happen. You'll be like, oh, brought back into your body. But then you realize you've had that amazing moment of just kind of liberation. So it's just a kind of, yeah. Feeling of freedom.

Stephen (11:40): There was a moment when I started running and I still remember it, you know, like when you start running and you're always out of breath, like what you said. Yeah. And there was one day, I don't remember how many months it took to get the point that I was running. And it felt like I was flying. Like there was no effort. It really felt, oh my God, I'm running on a cloud. And I still remember the feeling, you know, it didn't happen at first, but eventually I got, you know, at that point.

The thing that was curious to ask you is this one you mentioned in the past to me, the whole notion of, uh, “running in the green” now, which is part of your training. So how does that work?

Rebecca (12:17): So running in the green is something I have discovered lately because I, I suffer a lot when I'm running. I find it incredibly difficult. Um, I'm always huffing and puffing and struggling to, to go any faster because I literally can't breathe or I can't speak. I, you know, there's a lot of, um, effort and I look at other runners and they just seem to glide along and it seems so easy for them. And I'm like, what is the difference between me and them? Like, how come I'm having such a struggle Fest and they are just gliding. Um, so I did a lot of research, um, and it turns out there's this thing called heart rate training, which was a complete, um, unknown to me. Cause I would just go out and give what I could go as fast as I could, but I was always suffering.

Rebecca (13:01): So with this method you run like there's five different heart rate zones, I think. And you run in the green, which is a kind of, um, aerobic state. So you can run for a long time at a level that you can have a conversation at. So you're breathing well. And if you do that for a long time, it's supposed to develop your aerobic capacity so that you can eventually run faster at that same heart rate. Yeah. So you can kind of develop your ability. And that's what I'm hoping now is kind of the idea of this has opened up a whole new world of potential running, how it could feel if I could actually go out there and, you know, feel okay when I'm doing it, not feel like I'm gonna pass out every that's a bit extreme, but you know,

Stephen (13:45): So if I understood it correctly, it's basically the notion that I can improve it without killing myself.

Rebecca (13:50): Yeah, exactly. This could actually, um, feel good. I could go out there and do better and have a good, you know, feel good while doing it. Not have to kind of go out there and feel like I'm at the max every single time.

Stephen (14:06): You and I talked about so many times how exciting and challenging it is to run our own businesses. You know, you and I are in different industries, there are ups and downs, sometimes it’s super hard, anxiety and fear, excitement, possibilities, and all the whole gamut of things that happened to, to people that want to run their own business. What did running teach you? You know, they, maybe you, you have used in your business.

Rebecca (14:31): I think for me in both places, both in the running and in the business, I feel a lot of overwhelmed. So obviously in the running that comes into that translates into a physical form, you know, I've got a lot of breathing difficulties and, and kind of feeling physically that this is very difficult. And in the business, I feel overwhelmed so often because there, I feel like there are so many things to do. I don't know a, how to find the time in the day or B how to get started, which one to do first. It just, sometimes there's still to be such a weight of stuff to do. I, I kind of get bit like a rabbit in the headlights and I don't know which way to go or how to start. And so when I discovered the idea of running in the green, I was like, Ooh, you know, that could be possibly a way or like a philosophy that I could take and adapt into my business.

Rebecca (15:23): Um, maybe one way is to, instead of feeling like, okay, I've got X amount of hours to, to work on this or a day or whatever, feeling like I have to get the whole thing done. You know, like tomorrow I've got tomorrow to do it. I've gotta achieve the whole of my website. I've gotta achieve the whole of this or that. Just, you know, breaking it down, small, manageable chunk size pieces that I can actually do and not looking at the, the great distance that I have to cover, but just breaking it down into bits that feel manageable and that feel achievable so that when I've done that little bit, I feel good and I don't come away feeling, “Ah!” You know, um, so just kind of re-dimensioning it and putting it into a better perspective,

Stephen (16:11): Running a business is a marathon. It is a long, long marathon that takes a good pace. Otherwise you end up, you know, out of breath completely, absolutely the whole notion of this podcast it's called PITY PARTY OVER because I was interested in exploring how people get out of a funk. You know, when you feel bad when somehow you get stuck, uh, maybe you go through the same cycle again and again and again. And so the first question is this, how do you love to pity party? You know, when you want to be, indulgently sorry for yourself. What is your best pity party moment? What do you do?

Rebecca (16:51): I think I kind of probably pace around and feel like I have too much to do and, and make endless lists of like all the kind of things in different. I mean, I could show you my desktop. It was filled with so many different forms of this. I love to overwhelm myself and, um, myself, I'll never get it and that a failure, I, how it's never gonna work out all those kinda, really negative things. I just, you know, I love to pile them on top of myself, really wallow and all that.

Stephen (17:28): That sounds a lovely pity party.

Rebecca (17:30): Oh, it's great.

Stephen (17:32): You know, but yeah, I I'm, I'm a firm believer that we need pity parties in order to move on. I mean, if you don't hit rock bottom multiple times, it's really difficult to, I think, to develop the stamina, you know, the resilience to get somewhere else. And I, I also strongly believe that when you really, really get fet up is when miracles happen, when you push yourself, you know, extra hard and you get out. The second question is how do you pity party over? So based on what you have experienced, what are some of the tools that you use in order to get out of the funk?

Rebecca (18:04): one of the ways, well, often my pity party happens when I'm sitting here at my desk. And so it kind of feels a bit swampy, um, you know, these lifts of like a fog or like a mud I have to move through. Um, so one of the things that I do is I get up and I leave my house and I go for a fast walk because I feel like physical movement really helps me to get out of that mental stuck, stuck-ness. And then I have a couple of like mantras that I'm always telling myself, you can do this, you always do this. You always get it done. I just kind of repeat that to myself. And especially if it's something visual that I'm trying to, if I'm feeling stuck in a kinda ... with a, with a design or, or just with anything really, I really, I feel like moving helps me just to shift perspective and I get more ideas by seeing things. Yeah. And just moving through the space and it just telling myself I can do it. And then I come back when I come back in, I'm often in a different mindset, so I can sit down and do something. Even if it's not the whole thing, I can get something done.

Stephen (19:08): I love that. And actually I do the same. I go for walks, Running a business is hard. What would you say that is the biggest motivator to put yourself through this ordeal of ups and downs and doubts and, and excitement?

Rebecca (19:25): To me it's like pulling something intangible that's in my head, into the physical world and making it real. That is, has always been a great giver of joy. I love to imagine things and digitalize stuff. Um, and then make it physical.

Stephen (19:48): Make it physical.

Rebecca (19:48): Yeah.

Stephen (19:50): When you were talking about running, you said something that got stuck in my head, you said, um, you talked about freedom, feeling of freedom. And also you said that about art. Is freedom, something important also is one of the reasons why you have your own business?

Rebecca (20:04): I think so. Absolutely. Yeah. I love to feel that I'm driving my own train and that I can decide where I'm going. You know, I've got this gift of life. I'm here on the planet, and it's really fun to think that you can kind of shape or achieve what you wanna achieve. I mean, obviously within some limits, you're not necessarily gonna achieve everything, but to, to be able to have an idea and, and to, to able to work towards that, have that a goal and take the steps and make it happen and make it come true is such a rewarding thing for me. Um, yeah. And, and to be able to decide that for myself and not have somebody say, okay, you need to shuffle 10 envelopes today. Or, you know, to be able to make those decisions for myself is, is a great freedom.

Stephen (20:51): I am a huge fan of your designs, and I'm not saying this because you are here, you know, we are recording this I think the first design you showed me must have been the tiger. I think when you show me that what I loved about your design is how they look intricate. And at the same time, they have all these different flavors. They remind me of places, emotions that I went through, that I cannot quite pinpoint. When people use your designs, you know, it could be wallpaper, it could be something printed on a pillow. What do you hope people to feel?

Rebecca (21:23): Happiness. I hope that it brings a smile to their face, that they, that when they encounter my work in a shop or on a website or wherever it might be, that that's something about it just gives them a bit of joy and lightens up their day. And if I can make somebody smile, if I can make somebody laugh, then, then my job is done.

Stephen (21:45): Amen.

Rebecca (21:46): , ,

Stephen (21:48): It's a wonderful vision for your business where people can find you online. If they want to check your, your beautiful designs,

Rebecca (21:57): They can find me on my website, Rebecca Milner, and also on Instagram at Rebecca Miller Design.

Stephen (22:06): Wonderful Rebecca, it's been a joy to hear your experiences and all that I can say. I wish for your business to get bigger and bigger and bigger because your talent is huge. So your heart

Rebecca (22:19): Thank so much.

Stephen (22:21): Thank you. Thank you. Bye

Rebecca (22:23): Bye.

Stephen (22:25): Thank you for listening to this episode of PITY PARTY OVER. I invite you to enjoy Rebecca's creations at And also you can find Rebecca on Instagram at Rebecca Milner Design. Rebecca is spelled R E B E C C A and Milner is M I L N E R. You can find Rebecca’s business details in the episode’s notes.

So running in the green refers to the pace that allow us to reach our goals without running out of fuel, so that we can enjoy the journey of becoming someone, of achieving something.

Running in the green is also the awareness that we do not need to accomplish all at once, but we need to focus on what we can do today by changing our perspective, from the finishing line to small steps.

You have any questions pertaining how to proceed at a sustainable pace with your professional endeavors. I would love to talk to you. My contact information are in the episode's notes.

If you enjoy this content, you may subscribe to my podcast or blog PITY PARTY OVER, and we can also connect on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I invite you to visit our website,, ALYGN is spelled with a Y, A L Y G, where you can find many routes for managerial and leadership development.

Be happy, be well. And until we connect again, thank you for listening.

18 episodes