Healthier eating and drinking update and BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug review

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend; my weekend was a little gloomy at times as I said a final farewell to Wallingford.

As it’s a few weeks since I published my wake-up call post I thought I’d share a progress report on my healthier eating and drinking.

If you’ve been following my Juneathon updates you will have noticed that pubs and restaurants have featured quite heavily. I made the decision to enjoy my final week living and working in Wallingford. I didn’t want to turn down any opportunities; I may not get to visit some of these pubs and restaurants again.The Wallingford dietSo, although my attempts at improving my diet have clearly been a bit of a fail, I have been making a real effort to increase my fluid intake. And by fluid I mean water and not just Diet Coke, beer and red wine! I’m going to review a water jug with a difference I’ve been testing. I hope that you all enjoy reading the review and find it useful.

BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug review

As a hydrologist and runner, when I received an email entitled ‘Magnesium Mineralized Water’ I opened it as I to be completely honest, I wondered what the point of mineralized water was. The email was from the PR coordinator for BWT UK; Europe’s number 1 water technology company and asked if I’d be interested in testing and reviewing a BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug and filter. As always, I did a spot of research before saying yes.

Rather embarrassingly for a hydrologist, I only had a vague idea of how much water or other fluids I should be drinking a day. When I was researching the recommended fluid intake for overweight females aged 40, I found quite a lot of conflicting information. Some sites recommended six glasses of fluid a day, some 10 glasses a day – I’m not sure my bladder would cope – and some 6-8 glasses a day.

I opted to go with the NHS recommendation:

Your body needs water or other fluids to work properly and to avoid dehydration. That’s why it’s important to drink enough fluids. In climates such as the UK’s, we should drink about 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day to stop us getting dehydrated.  In hotter climates, the body needs more than this. We also get some fluid from the food we eat.

I decided to aim for around eight glasses which I believe equates to around 2 litres of water a day. I think it’s safe to say that when the BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug arrived in the post and I started using it, I instantly increased my daily water (and magnesium) intake. Rather conveniently, the jug holds 2.7 litres of water, so I knew that if I worked my way through most of the jug I would meet my daily water target.

Before I attempt to describe the jug and the review process, I thought I’d share a bit more information about magnesium.

Why is Magnesium so important to athletes?

People who actively take part in sports or physical exercises on a daily basis often have a greater need for minerals and magnesium is essential for normal muscle function. For every litre you sweat you lose approximately 36 mg of magnesium – a mineral that we can often be deficient in.BWT bannerBWT provide a wealth of information about the importance of magnesium and a whole range of tips for the optimum supply of magnesium on their website here so I won’t repeat them.

The BWT Penguin 2.7l Magnesium Mineralized Water Filter Jug

I’m not sure I can write an essay about a water jug and filter and all of the information is available on BWT’s website, so I’ll stick to sharing what I think are the key points.BWT penguin water filter jugAccording to BWT’s website, all of their Magnesium Mineralized water filters use patent protected magnesium technology which exchanges calcium ions for magnesium ions. This reduces the pH level more than other water filters, creating magnesium-enriched water which tastes delicious and improves the flavour of the drinks and meals prepared using it.

Main features of the Penguin 2.7l water jug include:

  • Easy control LDC display which provides a visual reminder of when to change the filter
  • Designed so that it fits inside most standard fridge doors
  • Easy to fill with no need to remove the lid
  • Dishwasher safe (with the exception of the lid)
  • Cartridges last 28 days (or 120 litres)
  • Total capacity of 2.7 litres (filtered water capacity of 1.5 litres)

The review process

The review process was straightforward as the water jug and filter came with a detailed, fully illustrated instruction manual. As I didn’t want to cause any issues with the filtering system, I made sure that I followed the instructions in the manual before using the water jug for the first time.BWT Penguin jug pouringAlthough it took me a while to clean the various components of the water filtering system, the instructions were reasonably easy-to-follow. The only slight problem I encountered was trying to work out if the water jug I’d been sent was a Model A or Model B. Fortunately, with the aid of Google I sussed it out in the end and I was up and running so to speak.

The Verdict

I’ve owned a few water filter jugs, and the BWT jug was definitely one of the easiest to set up. It also fits inside the door of my fridge which meant that I could enjoy chilled water.

I love the fact that by using filtered tap water I’m cutting down on my use of disposable plastic water bottles. In the past, I’ve been guilty of popping into the local shop and buying the cheapest bottle of water I could find. Although I always recycled my plastic water bottles, I could have made more effort to reduce my plastic use. I’ve been using the filtered water to fill up my reusable water bottle; this bottle travels with me to and from the office and whenever I travel anywhere. I’m pretty sure that once I get back into some sort of running routine, I’ll be using water from the BWT water jug to dilute my hydration tablets.

So, would I recommend the BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water Filter Jug? Yes, I think one of the biggest positives is that the magnesium-enriched water didn’t actually taste of anything. Had the filtered water tasted what I call chemically, I can pretty much guarantee that I would have gone back to buying bottled water.

The full range of BWT Magnesium Mineralised Water jugs and filters are available from BWT with prices starting at £19.99.

**Full disclosure: BWT sent me a 2.7 litre penguin Magnesium Mineralized Water jug and filter in return for an honest review. The infographics and some of the photographs in this review were taken from BWT’s website. As always all opinions are my own**

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The recent wake-up call I so desperately needed

I hope that everyone had an amazing Bank Holiday weekend. I think the highlights of my weekend were volunteering at my local parkrun – I also had a go at writing the event report – completing a pain-free run, clearing out a load of junk, and catching up with some family friends. Thanks to a few manic weeks at work and the fact I’ve been feeling a bit gloomy, I haven’t blogged much recently.

Anyway, back to the point of this blog. Earlier this month, I had a major wake-up call at the doctors. One of those “I’m 40 now, I need to start taking care of myself” kind of reality checks. Six months of eating far too much processed food and checking out virtually every pub in Wallingford has taken its toll. If you have issues with food, BMI etc I’d recommend not reading any further.Too much food and drinkWhen I discovered that my blood pressure was substantially higher than it should be during my routine pill check-up, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve always experienced white coat hypertension, however, this time, the high blood pressure readings have continued at home.

I have high blood pressure, in less than 12 months I’ve gone from healthy to high blood pressure; it’s time for me to make some significant lifestyle changes. So the healthier regime has started. I’ve allowed myself a couple of months of excess, now it’s time to get sorted.

I mean the camera doesn’t lie; the photos taken on my 40th birthday and during two recent parkruns should have spurred me into action.

It’s not just the terrible photos. I’ve been experiencing joint pain and feeling lethargic, bits of me wobble when I’m on public transport, I’ve had to buy new trousers as my Size 12 work trousers felt like they were going to burst and, finally, most of my online banking seems to be pub and food related. The list goes on. For someone with half a brain, I’ve been pretty stupid.

And then I weighed myself and checked out my BMI. It was 25.2; for the first time in my life I’m classed as being overweight. Another much-needed wake-up call.BMII understand the limitations of the BMI, however, in my case, I don’t think I can blame my reading on muscle weighing more than fat! It’s not all doom and gloom as I only need to lose 5% of my current weight. Fingers crossed I’ll start to lose weight once I start running three times a week

I just hope that my replacement bathroom scales – I was a little concerned about the accuracy of my cheapo scales – don’t add on a few extra pounds. I would have a go on the scales at Boots in Wallingford, but I’m not sure how to take clothing into account.

In an attempt to lose weight and to reduce my blood pressure, I’ve come up with some fairly basic but hopefully effective healthier eating and drinking ‘rules’:

  1. Don’t skip breakfast – at the moment I rarely eat breakfast and end up snacking before lunch
  2. Eat more fruit and vegetables – at the moment I’m nowhere near 5 portions a day
  3. Actually open some of the selection of healthy eating books I’ve purchased over the years
  4. Cook more meals from scratch – at the moment I’m eating a lot of processed food
  5. Only one takeaway meal a week – I need the occasional treat
  6. Cut down on sugar – do I really need sugar in my tea? Probably not!
  7. Drink more water – ideally 6-8 cups a day – and not more Diet Coke
  8. Don’t stop off at the pub after work every evening
  9. Don’t sneak into McD’s when waiting for the train
  10. Finally, stay away from the confectionary aisle in Sainsbury’s

Can you think of anything obvious I’ve missed? I’ll be sure to write some sort of progress report in a couple of week’s time.

So apologies for the somewhat dull blog, however, I think it’s important for me to share the highs and the lows of my life. I’m now going to spend some time planning my meals for when I’m back in Four Oaks. I may also get around to reviewing some of the products I’ve been sent, a couple will help with some of the ‘rules’ I listed earlier in this post.

Can you recommend any cookery books for people who are useless at cooking? I once made vegetable soup that tasted so rank, my pet labrador dog wouldn’t touch it. I mean dogs are meant to eat anything.

Can you think of anything I’ve missed off my healthier eating and drinking rules? I’m sure there’s something really obvious, I can’t think what it is!

Returning to running after a knee injury and aZengear compression review

I hope that everyone is having an amazing week; at least it’s almost the weekend. I think I’ve just about recovered from a slightly traumatic interview yesterday lunchtime. I think the expression ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’ quite accurately described what happened.

I don’t want to put some sort of random ‘injury curse’ on myself, but after almost two months of no running and a lot of knee strengthening exercises, I think that I’m ‘up and running’ again.

With apologies for the randomness, this quote sums up why I’ve missed running so much:

“Our running shoes have magic in them. The power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self-doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle.”
– Mina Samuels, author of Run Like a Girl 

Although I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cake, since the day I DNS the London Landmarks Half, I’ve eaten far, far too much unhealthy food. I’ve also developed an unhealthy post-work drinking habit. I was definitely using my injury as an excuse to overindulge. Let’s just say the scales don’t lie. The healthier regime starts once I’ve celebrated(!?) my 40th birthday at the beginning of May. I’m pretty sure that most 40-year-old women don’t pop into McDonald’s every Sunday evening.Unhealthy choicesWhen I was unable to run, I spent a bit of far too much time thinking about all of the running injuries I’ve had. In my first ever post way back in March 2013 I described myself as an incredibly injury-prone runner. I seem to spend most of the time trapped in a running injury cycle. I wasn’t able to find out what happened to Small Town Runner – hopefully, they haven’t retired from running due to injury – but this running injury cycle diagram is pretty accurate.Running Injury Cycle

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If I remember and if people are interested, I’m going to blog about how I went back to basics to hopefully break my own personal running injury cycle. Let’s just say, I was a little embarrassed when I realised that I’d been working a short walk from a sports injury rehabilitation centre since last January. Not one of my finest moments.

Since the beginning of the month, I’ve been running for 15-20 minutes two or three times a week. I’ve left my Garmin behind as I didn’t want to compare my running to this time 12 months ago. Although *touch wood* my knee seems to be coping, I’m not sure I’ll be able to take part in the three 10k events I’ve entered in May.

Now that I’ve finished complaining about my knee and self-inflicted weight gain, I’m going to quickly review a couple of products I’ve been testing. I hope you all enjoy reading the review and find it useful.

aZengear Compression review

At the start of March, Emily one of the co-founders of aZengear, contacted me after reading this blog. Emily wanted to send me some free samples for review. I agreed as I enjoy working with and hopefully increasing the awareness of slightly lesser known brands. As I already own far too many pairs of compression calf sleeves, I opted for a pair of compression socks and a compression knee sleeve. My right knee was incredibly niggly at the time, so I thought it would be really interesting to see if the knee sleeve helped my knee.

Before I start my review, I’m aware that people may not have come across aZengear Compression (I hadn’t) so here’s a very quick introduction to the brand.

A quick introduction to aZengear Compression

aZengear is a UK startup for compression gear for sports, travel and daily wear. The co-founders mission is to design and manufacture compression gear products that contribute to healthy living and make a difference in people’s lives.

The aZengear product range currently includes:

  • Graduated compression socks for sports and travel
  • Compression calf sleeves for running
  • Plantar fasciitis socks
  • Compression knee sleeves for running, squats, weightlifting and arthritis

The compression socks and knee sleeve were well packaged and arrived promptly. Both items came with a Read Me First card which provides information about a 30 day warranty and bonus, wash and care instructions and contact details in case there are any issues with the product. I wish more brands provided the same information.

Compression Knee Sleeve

According to aZengear’s website, if you suffer from intermittent or constant knee pain, their compression knee sleeve will provide immediate joint pain relief, improved blood circulation and muscular recovery. The knee sleeve is described as being perfect for a range of sports and activities, the infographic below provides more information. knee-sleeve-infographic-900x900

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I think it’s safe to say that my recent knee injury meant that I thoroughly tested the compression knee sleeve. So, first things first, did the knee sleeve fit? I’m pleased to report that for once I managed to send the correct measurements to a compression gear brand. The last knee brace I wore was a far too tight behind my knee and felt uncomfortable after I’d been wearing it for a while. I didn’t have any issues with the aZengear knee sleeve, it felt reasonably comfortable and the material didn’t cause any unwanted skin reactions.

As my right knee wasn’t coping very well with the two mile walk to and from the office – walking down the steps on Wallingford Bridge to the Riverside Park was a painful experience – I wore the knee sleeve five days a week. I found the knee sleeve the perfect length and just the right level of compression. It didn’t slide down my leg and remained in place all day. Finally, I think I need to point out that with the exception of short sprints across main roads, I haven’t run in the compression knee sleeve.

Graduated Compression Socks

aZengear describe their graduated compression socks as being perfect for those who are on the move. The socks are described as being a great fit for a range of people including runners, nurses, hikers, cyclists and those suffering from varicose veins, DVT or recovering after surgery. The socks are described as being reliable, stylish, affordable and most importantly, effective. Once again, I’ve included an infographic in order to provide more information. pink-sock-on-white-900x900

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Once I’d realised that there wasn’t a dedicated left and right sock, the graduated compression socks were fairly easy to put on the first time I wore them. I was little surprised to discover they were so long they almost covered my knees. I have longer than average legs so this made a refreshing change, however, shorter runners may find that the socks are too long.aZengear compression socksI’ve worn the compression socks during and for an hour after the majority of my post-knee injury training runs. I genuinely believe that wearing the socks has helped my gradual return to running. The socks provide a good level of compression, my calf muscles have been completely niggle free and my legs have felt amazing. The only minor complaint I have with the compression socks relates to the thickness of the material they are made from. I guess I’m just used to running in thin socks as these compression socks make my trainers feel slightly too tight.

The washing machine test

I’m repeating myself, again, but one of the reasons it takes me a while to publish my product reviews is that I like to wear and to wash items I’m reviewing several times. Unfortunately, in the past some of my running gear hasn’t coped very well with being washed. I’m still a little traumatised about my first ever Lululemon purchase. Having an injury which has prevented me from running also slowed down the review process! I’m pleased to report that the knee sleeve and the compression socks passed the washing machine test.

The Verdict

So, would I recommend aZengear compression to other runners? Yes, I would. The knee sleeve and graduated compression socks all felt comfortable when I wore them. I think that the knee sleeve helped to support my dodgy knee during my walks to and from work; I genuinely believe that it aided the recovery of my knee. The graduated compression socks appear to have helped my calves as I’ve made a return to running, I’ll definitely be wearing them as I increase my weekly mileage.

**Full disclosure: aZengear compression sent me a knee sleeve and a pair of graduated compression socks for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As I wore the knee sleeve underneath my work trousers, I forgot to take any ‘action’ photos. The infographics in this review were taken from aZengear’s website. As always all opinions are my own**

Rants and raves #35

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after having a stressful day at work. I lost count of the number of times my computer crashed and I ‘lost’ what I was working on at the time. I’m also feeling a little tired after spending a little too much time out in the sun. As a result, I have a feeling that although I’ll do my best to be positive, this blog may be more grumbly than normal. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Dozens of far less negative running blogs are available**

Happy Tuesday, I hope that everyone who reads this enjoyed the long Easter weekend. How amazing was the weather, I just hope it’s a little cooler this Sunday; two boiling hot London Marathons in a row would be a tad unfortunate.

Rave: ReRun Clothing

Apologies if you’re already aware that this company exists, but I thought I’d start with a quick rave about ReRun Clothing.

ReRun is described as a Community Interest Company aimed at prolonging the life of running clothes and equipment and saving them from landfill.ReRun ClothingAccording to the ReRun Clothing website, extending the life of clothes by just nine months of active use would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30% each. When my self-imposed buying running gear ban comes to and end, I’ll see if I can find anything I like on ReRun.

Rant: Wasting money

In February, I worked out how much I spent on running related purchases last year, the final total was a bit of an eye-opener.  I’m now monitoring how much I’m spending. Thanks to a persistently niggly right knee, I’ve had a frustrating start to the year. I’ve already missed three races:

  • Big Half £35
  • London Landmarks Half £55
  • Cathedral to Castle Run £25

So that’s over £100 worth of entry fees, and no memories or medals. I’m sure that at some point, the race t-shirt, kit bags and safety pins will come in useful… I wish more events allowed the official transfer of entries. I was offered £60 for my London Landmarks number but I didn’t want to risk it.

Fortunately, being injured means I’ve had a lot more spare time, so I’ve sold a lot of my unwanted running gear online.

Rave: The weather

I’m aware that the weather features in virtually every blog I write, but the long Easter weekend weather was amazing.

I lost count of the number of burnt Brummies I spotted during the weekend. In the words of Baz Luhrmann, wear sunscreen:

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
Wear Sunscreen
If I could offer you only one tip for the future,
Sunscreen would be it
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now…”

I remember when I first heard Everybody’s Free, I was 21. Now I’m rapidly approaching 40! The lyrics to Everybody’s Free are pretty much guaranteed to make me cry every time.

Rant: Food shaming, the Easter edition

Apologies for another repeat rant, but I was disappointed but not at all surprised to see so much Easter related food shaming on social media. I can’t remember who shared this infographic, but I’d need to complete a lot of push ups after my Easter egg consumption.Easter food shaming 1

 Women’s Running Magazine shared this on Facebook…Easter food shaming 2…and subsequently deleted their original post and published this apology:

“We’re really sorry for our previous post. We want to promote positive relationships with food: after all, it gives us the strength and energy we need to run our best. Thank you for your feedback we’ll take more care with our posts in future.”

So, to summarise, you don’t ‘earn’ chocolate with exercise. Eat what you want when you want. I need to learn to love dark chocolate.

Rave: Boston Marathon 2019

Although I’m such an injury-prone plodder there’s no way I’ll ever get to take part, I still enjoy following the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately, this year I wasn’t able to watch it live because I was at work. I did manage to catch up with the marathon when I got back to my lodgings, so it wasn’t the end of the world.

I loved the sprint finish at the end of the men’s race; I mean how on earth can people sprint at the end of a marathon? It’s incredible; I can barley shuffle at the end of parkrun. I also loved the women’s race; I just wish they got a little more airtime.

I enjoyed watching one of my all-time favourite runners; Des Linden, in the female race. Although Des didn’t come first this year, she most definitely put in a gutsy performance. This interview with Des made me chuckle. When asked if she was tearing up near the finish line (as she waved to the crowds), Des Linden produced a humorous but blunt assessment:

“I’m going to be totally honest with you,” Linden joked. “That was me almost vomiting.”

Des Linden is one of the few elite runners I follow on twitter; she talks a lot of sense.

Quite frankly, the performance of Joan Benoit Samuelson blew my mind. Joan recorded a time of 3 hours and 4 minutes which was within 40 minutes of her 1979 winning time.

Perhaps there’s still hope for me.

Rant: Bad manners

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve completed a product review, have emailed the person I’ve been dealing with to let them know that the review is live, and have heard nothing back. I get that people are busy, but it only takes a couple of minutes to send an email. Where I work, if I failed to respond to an email, I would probably find myself having a conversation with my line manager. I’m starting to think that my product reviews are terrible.

Rave: London Marathon World Record attempts

Yesterday, the organisers of the London Marathon released information on some of this year’s Guinness World Record attempts. Some of the 84 attempts sound more challenging than others, for example, the fastest marathon wearing ski boots and the fastest marathon wearing ice skates. My fragile left foot hurts just thinking about running in ski boots or ice skates; I struggle to run in trainers. Also, the fastest marathon dressed as a tooth sounds like a rather random choice.

I’ve shared this before, but if you do watch the London Marathon on the BBC, don’t forget to play Marathon bingo!Marathon Bingo

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Rant: People who litter

Apologies for ending this post with a rant. After hearing that Saltaire junior parkrun was cancelled due to there being broken glass and rubbish on a large part of the course, I did a bit of online detective work (cross out) checked out facebook, and was shocked at what I saw.

Littering unfortunately seems to be on the increase. I’ve recently taken part in a couple of organised litter picks in Four Oaks. In a couple of hours, a group of five of us managed to fill 23 large bags with litter. While on the subject of letter, I’d love to see a few ShokzPlog events outside of London.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of random rants and raves, then “thank-you”. I’m not convinced I would have made it to the end of my rather random waffle. I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. I do feel much better now that I’ve shared my moans and groans with you.

Did you enjoy the long Easter weekend? Did you manage to make the most of the amazing weather? I just hope it’s cooler this weekend.

Do you follow any elite runners on social media? I’m always looking to follow more inspirational female athletes.

Rants and raves #34

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after spending the morning at the dentist, again. My debit card has taken a bit of a battering.  I’m also still not completely recovered from the lurgy and Wolves have just lost. As a result, this blog may be even more moany than usual if that’s possible. As always, all moans groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, far less negative running blogs are available**

Rave: The weather

I’m loving the weather at the moment; sunny but quite chilly mornings and gorgeous afternoons. On Thursday, it was mild enough for me to enjoy my first outdoors pint of the year after work. Although the weather isn’t meant to be great this week – I guess it’s time for some good old April showers – the forecast for next weekend looks reasonable.Spring 2019I just need to start running again sooner rather than later because at the moment I’m feeling incredibly unfit. I don’t want a repeat of a few years ago when I started running after a longish injury break and struggled because it was so warm.

Rant: EE network coverage

A rather random rant, but I’ve reached the stage I’ve had enough of EE. Someone told me that EE was formerly known as ‘Everything Everywhere’. I personally think EE should be called NA ‘Nothing Anywhere’. I do wonder how bad other networks are if EE keep winning this.EE best network

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My EE phone doesn’t tend to work in my office. This is incredibly frustrating when I need to check my personal email account (we aren’t allowed to access hotmail at work) and when someone tries to contact me. My phone lies and tells me it has 4G signal, the second I try to send a text the signal mysteriously disappears and the dreaded ‘No Signal’ appears on the screen.

My phone also doesn’t work for most of the journey between Oxford and Leamington Spa, in large areas of Four Oaks and in my house. Network coverage used to be a million times better, I’ve no idea why it is now so bad. And to think there are plans to install a 4G network on the Moon. I can’t wait to escape from EE when my contract ends in June.

Rave: Feedback from people who read this blog

Like most bloggers, I do sometimes wonder if people actually read my waffle. My blogging stats haven’t been that great recently, possibly because I haven’t had much to say. I was thrilled when Paul contacted me completely out of the blue to say they had found this running blog, and that my blog injected some welcome reality into things.

Thanks for taking the time to contact me Paul, your lovely feedback made my day. I’m hopeful that normal service will resume once I am up and running again!

Rant: My right knee

My fragile right knee has been incredibly painful – 9/10 on my niggleometer – for a couple of weeks now. Frustrating when the lurgy means that I haven’t been able to run recently. The ‘did not starts’ are starting to frustrate me, there’s no way I’m even going to attempt the Cathedral to Castle 10 mile run on Sunday, last year I ended the race with a knee injury.

I had hoped that a break from running would help my right knee settle down and get better, if anything it seems to be more painful the longer I don’t run. I can’t avoid using it as I have to walk to and from the office Monday to Friday. I’ve been following the strengthening routine a sports physio gave me a couple of years ago and have been wearing a knee support. I’m rapidly running out of ideas…

Rave: The Old Post Office

I have a new favourite drinking establishment in Wallingford. After a couple of not so positive experiences, the Boat House has been relegated into second place and The Old Post Office promoted to first place.

As an added bonus, the food in The Old Post Office is amazing. It’s just a shame it’s a tad on the expensive side, definitely more of an occasional treat. I’m still not completely sure how two of us managed to spend £70 in there a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t even feeling tipsy when I left.

Rant: The Oxford Half Marathon ballot

With the exception of the London Marathon et al, I struggle with the concept of races having ballots. Races should be first come first served. I was more than a little surprised when a colleague told me that the Oxford Half was now ballot entry. I mean the Oxford Half didn’t even sell out in 2018. They also had an issue with medals; the complaints on social media were pretty impressive. I can only assume they held a ballot to encourage people to enter and to hype the event up.Oxford Half ballot

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I don’t know of anyone who entered who didn’t get a place through the ballot. I know some people didn’t get in via the first round of invites, but predictably they got a place via the second round of invites. I won’t complain about the price. Let’s just hope the medals arrive in time for the race this year.

Rave: Wolverhampton Wanderers

I know I’ve said it before, but after a few not very enjoyable seasons, I’m really enjoying being a Wolves supporter. I would love to be able to say that I’m heading down to the FA Cup Semi-Final on Sunday but I’m not. I’ve donated my ticket to a good friend who has never experienced the new(ish) Wembley.WolvesI just hope that he manages to get on the right train to London Euston, manages to find Wembley, and that Wolves put on a decent performance. If they get hammered by Watford it will be a disappointing day out for Wolves.

Rant: CrossCountry Trains

And while on the subject of trains, I want to rant about CrossCountry trains. I won’t complain about the fact most of their trains are overcrowded and quite clearly not designed for passengers with longer than average legs. I won’t complain about the fact that 90 per cent of the trains I catch on a Friday arrive into Birmingham New Street late. I do want to complain about the fact CrossCountry trains now charge £1 for the privilege(?) of having paper rather than e-tickets. When I contacted CrossCountry to ask why, this was part of their response: 

CrossCounty always offer a free method of fulfilment, and the £1 collection fee for collecting your tickets at a station is only chargeable where an m-Ticket or e-Ticket is available.

E-Tickets are easier to collect due to how flexible they are, you get four options for showing your ticket so you can save time queuing at the train station or waiting for your tickets to arrive in the post. You can show the PDF on your smartphone, print at home/work, send to Apple Wallet or use our Train Tickets app where your ticket will be visible in your wallet.”

I’m quite happy queuing at the train station for a couple of minutes to collect my tickets. I’d rather have paper tickets as I know they (1) will open the barriers at Oxford station, (2) will open the barriers at Birmingham New Street station, (3) don’t rely on having phone signal to actually work, (4) don’t rely on me having phone battery, (5) mean that I don’t have to risk dropping my phone when I’m already struggling to carry a couple of large bags and (6) are far more convenient.

And finally, I’m afraid I’m going to finish with a bonus rant…

Rant: Me!

I’ve been feeling incredibly gloomy and completely lacking in motivation for a couple of weeks now. Although not knowing where I’ll be living and working when my temporary contract ends probably isn’t helping, I’m blaming my gloominess on not being able to run. I’m definitely more positive when I can run. I’ve been struggling at work and have stopped enjoying my job. Getting out of bed each morning and heading into the office has been a chore. I haven’t felt like blogging and have struggled to find the motivation to write. Most evenings, I get back to my room; have a lengthy nap and then waste time watching TV.

I’ve got a job interview later this week and to be honest I don’t feel very well prepared. I don’t even know if I want the job, I just felt like I needed to apply for it as it’s a permanent position nearer to Four Oaks. Hopefully I’ll start to feel a bit more positive when I know what I’ll be doing when my temporary contract ends. Running will also help.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of random rants and raves, then a huge ‘thank-you’. I’m not sure I would have made it to the end. I hope that you think that my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel better now that I’ve shared my moans and groans on here.

Do you have any recommendations for mobile phone providers? After 15+ years, I’ve had enough of Orange/EE. I’m just worried they are all equally as bad.

Do you agree with races holding ballots or do you think it should be first come first served? I can understand why races like the London, Chicago and Berlin Marathons hold ballots. I struggle with the concept of smaller races holding ballots.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 11

Good afternoon, I hope that everyone who reads this – ‘thank-you!’ – had an amazing weekend and start to the new week. This blog is over 24 hours later than usual because I’ve been stuck down by the office lurgy; again. As it stands, I think it’s extremely unlikely I’ll be well enough to head to London, at the moment; I can’t even run a bath.Collage 27The eleventh week of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training – the ‘start of the taper’ – suggested that I completed a 20 minute jog on Monday, a steady 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady 40-45 minute run on Friday, and an hour long run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. After cutting short a couple of longer runs, I decided to run for 90 minutes on Sunday.

So how did I cope during the penultimate week of half marathon training? Did Storm Gareth – does anyone else think the name ‘Gareth’ sounds far too friendly to be a storm? – derail my training? Most importantly, did I manage to avoid picking up my usual last minute injury or illness?

Monday – 20 min jog Rest

Thanks to a couple of glasses of red wine on Sunday evening and a late night, I started the week feeling tired with a slightly fuzzy head. Fortunately, the combination of a somewhat windy 30 minute walk into the office and a Gregg’s sausage roll cleared my head. A good job, because the first challenge of the day was getting my computer fixed. Apparently a colleague had saved 4GB worth of ‘stuff’ on my computer, the computer technician said he was amazed it was functioning at all. I wonder if I’ve got too much ‘junk’ stored away inside my head, maybe a good clear out would help me too. Anyway, fingers crossed that’s the end of my work computer woes.

I escaped the office at a sensible time, walked back to my lodgings and lay down on my bed. Not the most productive use of my time but I felt completely shattered. I’m sure people who read my weekly updates on a regular basis can predict what happened next, I nodded off and woke up a couple of hours later feeling a tad disorientated. I decided to delay my 20 minute run by 24 hours.

Tuesday – Rest 20 min jog

Tuesday got off to a positive start when I managed to avoid getting soaked on the way into the office. I also remembered to distribute the report I’d produced last week, I have been known to forget.IMG_2778The rest of the day was reasonably productive as the office was virtually empty. I discovered that I’d got an interview for the job I’d applied for a couple of weeks ago. After completely messing up my last interview, I’ll make sure that I’m more prepared.

I almost stopped off at the Boat House pub with a colleague after work, but knew that one pint would turn into ‘several’ pints and I wouldn’t run. Such will power! I got back to my room, got changed into some running gear and spent an hour catching up on emails and blogmin. I was a little frustrated when I discovered Holby City had been postponed due to the idiots who are failing to lead our country.

When I eventually set out on what should have been a jog, I discovered it was mild and quite windy. I found the short ‘jog’ quite challenging, it most definitely wasn’t a confidence boosting training session. My post-run beetroot-face took a long time to fade.

Wednesday – 40 mins steady Rest

I think the highlight of the working day were avoiding getting drenched during the walk into work – others weren’t as lucky – and the amazing cakes a colleague brought in for our team meeting. I spent lunchtime reminiscing about clubbing and trance music in the late 1990s with a colleague. We both agreed the lack of digital cameras and social media when we were at university was definitely a massive positive.

I’m not sure what went wrong but I didn’t leave the office until 17:30. This meant that I had to postpone my training run by a day as my landlady had arranged for her neighbour – a lady who works in my office – to come round for some wine and nibbles. The evening was incredibly civilised, I think the equation three bottles of red wine between three people over three hours worked well. I even remembered to pack my bags before heading to bed.

Thursday – Rest 40 mins steady

I woke up feeling incredibly perky, perhaps I should drink red wine instead of beer next time I find myself in a pub. My day got off to a positive start when i avoid the rain by a matter of minutes for the second day in a row. The theme of the day seemed to be ‘ask Dr Emma’ this was great as it meant the day flew by really quickly.

I did my usual trick of getting an earlier bus back to Oxford than I needed to. This left me with enough time to have a quick look around the castle and prison located in the centre of Oxford. I must admit I found both slightly underwhelming.   Collage 28I got back to Four Oaks at 20:00ish, dumped my bags, pulled on some running gear and headed straight back out the door. I found the 40 minute steady run difficult as I felt like I had no energy. I hadn’t eaten for eight hours so I guess I was running on empty. I got home, had quick shower and went into ‘adulting’ mode. It’s just a shame I didn’t feel hungry and completely forgot to eat.

Friday – 40-45 mins steady Rest

I didn’t feel great when I woke up, but put it down to the fact I hadn’t eaten enough after running the previous evening. I made myself eat a decent breakfast and then made a start on the manuscript I need to finish reviewing by the end of the month. After a couple of hours I needed a break, so when my friend said he was popped into Sutton Coldfield, I asked if I could join him. I wanted to buy two things; an electric toothbrush and some running socks. I went into Boots; they didn’t have the toothbrush I wanted. I also failed to find any running socks and was reminded for the millionth time that online shopping is the way forward. The rest of the day was so mundane I won’t bore you all to tears with the details. It’s just a shame my head felt so fuzzy – not alcohol induced – I was unable to make much progress with the manuscript. I was also unable to run.

Saturday – Rest

I spent all day in bed feeling terrible. One minute I was boiling hot, the next I was freezing cold. After one epic coughing fit, my heart was beating so quickly it started to scare me. I unfortunately felt too unwell to travel to Wolverhampton to the Wolves v Man United match. I didn’t even feel well enough to watch it on the TV; hopefully I’ll be able to get tickets for Wembley.

Sunday – 60 mins comfortable pace Rest

Just looking at my trainers made me feel tired, there was no way I could have completed a training run. Rather worryingly, I somehow managed to injure my foot while lying in bed coughing. It feels like I’ve managed to bruise a bone. Only I could injure myself lying down! Sunday was another waste of a day, just thinking about running a half marathon stressed me out.1 week to goSo that’s the penultimate week of my half marathon training not successfully completed. Once again, I’ve been struck down by the office lurgy in the lead up to a race, I wish people would stay at home when they are ill. I also wish I had a better immune system. Unless I recover quickly during the week (it’s now Tuesday, and I still feel terrible) I don’t think I’ll be heading down to London. I’m in danger of earning myself the nickname the ‘DNS’ runner.

The final week of my half marathon training is described as the taper and race week. After missing far too many training runs, I don’t need to taper, I just need to get better ASAP! At the moment, I think there’s zero chance of me making it to the start line of the London Landmarks Half Marathon. Even attempting to walk around the course would end in tears.

Training totals

  • Runs: 24
  • Time: 19 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 105.12 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 4/10
  • Left foot: 5/10

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 10

Happy Monday! I hope that everyone who reads my waffle had an amazing weekend. I had an enjoyable but perhaps slightly chaotic weekend. I’m feeling tired this morning, getting out of bed this morning was difficult.Collage 24Week 10 of my half marathon training plan – the ‘peak’ week – recommended that I completed a 30 minute easy run on Monday, a 60 minute easy run on Thursday, a 5k run or parkrun on Saturday, and a longer 120-130 minute run on Sunday. After missing far too many longer runs, I was determined to run for a couple of hours on Sunday.

So how did I cope during the tenth week of my London Landmarks Half training? Did my niggly right knee behave itself? Did I remain injury free? Did I allow the pub to get in the way of running?

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

After a celebratory wine and beer on Sunday evening, I started the week with a slightly fuzzy head. Fortunately for everyone, I felt a lot better after the walk into the office. Thanks to some computer related issues – I’m pretty certain computers shouldn’t take 30 minutes to load – I didn’t have the most productive morning ever. The afternoon didn’t improve and I wasn’t in the best of moods when I left work.

The walk back to my room and a sneaky powernap helped me to shift my slightly grumpy mood. I decided to postpone my 30 minute run by a day as my right knee felt quite niggly after my long run on Sunday and I felt too tired to run. Not the most positive start to the week, perhaps I need to avoid working on Mondays.

Tuesday – Rest 30 mins easy

Thanks to some decent sleep, I woke up feeling reasonably refreshed, even my archaic work computer failed to wind me up. I spent the day preparing flow and groundwater data for a hydrology report and felt like I’d had a productive day when I left the office with a colleague. I’m not sure what happened, but we ended up back in The Old Post Office enjoying a beer and some healthy snacks crisps. Fortunately, my colleague could only stay for a couple; otherwise there is no way I would have headed out for a run.Collage 25I escaped from The Old Post Office, picked up some bits and pieces in Waitrose, got back to my room and then spent an hour writing a product review and watching Casualty. Once I felt confident the beer had settled, I got changed into some running gear and headed out of the door before I could change my mind. The half hour run felt reasonably easy, the beer just about stayed put and I avoided having an unfortunate incident in the centre of Wallingford. It felt good to make a start on ‘peak’ week.

Wednesday – Rest

My computer finally ‘died’ and I spent quite a lot of time on the ‘phone talking to someone on the computer helpdesk. I’m not sure why I was told changing my password would solve my computer related woes; it didn’t. In the end, I abandoned my computer, tracked down a spare desktop and managed to finish collating a technical report that had to be completed by Friday. My colleague very kindly saved me from a wet walk, gave me a lift back to her house in Wallingford and cooked us an awesome meal.

The rest of the evening was incredibly chilled out, just what this doctor ordered. I set my alarm for 05:30 as I wanted to run before work. Sensible people would have gone to bed at a reasonable time, I somehow ended up watching violin master classes on YouTube and completely lost track of the time. Who needs sleep..?

Thursday – 60 mins easy

Getting out of bed at 05:30 was a bit of a struggle. Once I got outside, it took me quite a long time to wake up and to get into my stride, to be honest, the run felt anything but easy. I was reminded that Wallingford is quite a small town and that the bridge over the River Thames is just like Mount Everest when your legs are feeling tired. Although the run was challenging, it felt incredibly satisfying to complete a midweek training run before 07:00. It’s just a shame my lack of fitness meant that the post-run walk into the office seemed to take forever.

Computer issues meant that work was a little frustrating at times. Anyone who has ever used ArcGIS will know you need a decent computer to actually use it; my temporary computer didn’t seem to cope with the map I was trying to produce. My early start meant that by lunchtime I was feeling pretty tired, I’ve got so much respect for people who run before work, I couldn’t do it on a regular basis.

The rest of Thursday was a little predictable. One minute I was in the office, the next I was enjoying a couple of pints in The Old Post Office. I think it’s safe to say that I slept well on Thursday night.

Friday – Rest

I had a productive Friday as I was quite literally the only person in the office from my team. Walking to lunch on my own felt a little strange, but I found myself a different team to sit with. After a short but productive afternoon, I escaped from the office at 15:00 and arrived back home in Four Oaks after a reasonably stress free journey, three hours later. The evening was dull but incredibly productive as I made a great start on my weekend ‘things to do’ list. I’ve no idea how I used to go out every Friday evening, these days I’m in bed well before midnight.

Saturday – parkrun Rest

I looked at the weather forecast, saw it was going to be a tad soggy, and decided not to head to my local parkrun. I spent the morning replying to emails, reading Tokyo Marathon race recaps – one day, I’d love to go to Tokyo, and generally faffing around. At lunchtime I met up with a friend in Bistrot Pierre in Mere Green for an early lunch. I decided to be brave and opted for a new to me starter; the Goats’ cheese bruschetta. I’m not a huge fan of beetroot but quite enjoyed the bruschetta. The steak with my steak-frites was a little chewy, and the Crème brûlée quite small compared to last time. I guess you can’t win them all.Collage 26After lunch, I had the enjoyable experience of Sutton Coldfield on a Saturday afternoon. I had to collect an order from TK Maxx and needed to buy a couple of birthday cards. TK Maxx was incredibly busy but people didn’t seem to be actually buying anything. I was in and out of the store in less than five minutes, definitely a personal best. I grabbed a couple of birthday cards and escaped from the crowds. The rest of my Saturday was so mundane – think sleep and lots of carbs – I won’t bore you all to tears with the details.

Sunday – 120-130 mins easy 80 mins easy

I felt shattered when my alarm woke me at 05:00, not the best way to feel before a long training run. I lay in bed and mentally debated the pros and cons of getting my run done first thing in the morning, the pros just about outweighed the cons so I reluctantly got out of bed. The weather wasn’t ideal; cold, wet and quite windy, and it took me a long time to find my rhythm. My stomach unfortunately didn’t feel ‘right’ from the start, and after an hour of running, I reluctantly headed back home. I’m hoping that running for 80 minutes is better than running for zero minutes.LLHM MapI just about made it back home and headed straight to the loo. Loo stop completed, I headed to the kitchen made myself drink a pint of strawberry milkshake, stretched and then headed back to bed for a couple of hours. I treated myself to a bit of a lie-in and watched the Big Half in bed – watching all the runners made me feel a tad lazy – next year I will hopefully at least start the race.

So that’s the tenth week of my half marathon training not really completed. I can’t believe there are now only a couple of weeks to go. I most definitely don’t feel at all prepared at the moment.

The penultimate week of the training plan I’ve been following is described as the ‘start of the taper’. To be honest, I haven’t done enough training to justify or to need a taper. I’ve got to complete a 20 minute jog later today, a steady 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady 40-45 minute run on Friday and a 60 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. If my knee feels okay, I may try to run for 90 minutes on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 22
  • Time: 18 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 99.59 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 4/10
  • Left foot: 2/10