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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Greens Best Berries Best Antioxidant review

Apologies for publishing two blog posts in one day, but I think this product review deserves its own post. Since the realisation that six months’ of eating too much processed food and drinking too much beer had taken its toll on my health, I’ve been doing my best to improve my diet.

When I was approached to see if I would like a review a food supplement called Berries Best Antioxidant, I did some research, liked what I read and agreed to try out Berries Best and to write and publish a review.berries-bestI’m aware that I’m repeating myself, but normally, I’m not a fan of taking food supplements. I like to source the nutrients and vitamins I need from my diet. However, my diet hasn’t been as healthy as it could have been for quite some time, so I decided to incorporate Berries Best into my weekday routine.

My tub of Berries Best arrived and I read through the information provided. Discovering that I would have to refrigerate the Berries Best once the tub had been opened left me with a slight dilemma. As I didn’t want to delay the review, I decided to risk storing the tub in one of the fridges at work. Now that I’ve finished the tub, I feel that I’m in a position to produce what I hope will be an informative review.

What is Berries Best?

Berries Best is a nutritious, doctor-formulated food supplement composed of vegetables and organic fruit. The key ingredients in Berries Best are berry fruits such as blueberry, blackberry, bilberry, and lycium berry. Berries Best is a terrific supplement for all-round vitality.

Key features

  • Fully organic ingredients
  • High in vitamin C
  • Free from dairy, soy and artificial sweeteners
  • Vegan friendly
  • 40 calories per serving

According to the manufacturer, Berries Best is different from many blends as it is highly palatable. This is due not only to the berry content but also stevia leaf extract and natural flavours. In addition to a range of berry fruits, the blend contains organic fruits such as papaya, pomegranate and cherry, organic vegetables like beetroot and spinach leaf, and an organic fibre blend.

Who is Berries Best for?

Berries Best is described as the perfect blend for anyone looking to up their intake of nutritious fruit and vegetables. It’s particularly recommended to those who might otherwise struggle to tolerate a greens powder. A rich source of dietary fibre, it’s high in both vitamin C and iron. Berries-Best-Supplement-Facts-UK-1

As someone who finds eating enough fruit and vegetables a bit of a chore, I was curious to see if the Berries Best food supplement would make me feel better. I’d also been having a few digestive issues and wanted to see if the supplement helped settle my stomach. A big ask I know!

The review process

In theory, the review process should have been quite straightforward. All I had to do was:

Take one scoop with 250-350 ml of water. Stir briskly or mix in a shaker and enjoy one or more times per day. The blend is best taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.

Storing the Berries Best at work meant that I was only able to take the supplement when I was in the office. My colleagues quickly got used to me spending quite some time preparing my morning glass of Berries Best; luckily I wasn’t the only person trying to create early morning masterpieces in the second-floor kitchen. Berries Best

Thanks to the winning combination of Bank Holidays and leave, I’ve only been working four days a week. This meant that it took me several weeks to work my way through my tub of Berries Best. Ideally, I would have taken the Berries Best every day. However, I didn’t want to risk transporting the Berries Best to and from Wallingford.

The Verdict?

After completing a 260 g tub of Berries Best, I am pleased to report that the supplement passed the ‘highly palatable’ test. I’m an incredibly fussy eater and found the supplement easy to take first thing in the morning. The Berries Best tasted amazing and was a definite improvement on my usual glass of water from the water filter at work. However, I did find mixing the Berries Best with water quite tricky as I didn’t have access to a blender or shaker. I guess I shouldn’t really complain about the bonus arm workout.

I am also happy to confirm that the Berries Best supplement is gentle on the digestive system. My somewhat temperamental digestive system tolerated the Berries Best supplement, a good thing, as spending too much time in the toilet at work would have definitely triggered some concern from my colleagues.

And now as I always aim to keep my reviews balanced, I’d like to share a couple of the not quite so positives. When I initially opened the tub of Berries Best to say that I didn’t like the smell would be an understatement. Luckily Berries Best tasted better than it smelt. I also thought I’d managed to spill some of the Berries Best as the tub was only half full when I first opened it. With all the awareness over the use of plastic, I think the tub could be slightly smaller.

So, would I recommend Berries Best? Yes, although I’m making a lot more effort to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, I may consider continuing to supplement my diet with Berries Best.

Berries Best is available from Water for Health has RRP of £29.75 and lasts approximately a month.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a tub of Greens Best Berries Best for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As I somehow managed to delete all the photos I took, all images are taken from the Water for Life website. As always, all opinions are my own**

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!

Rants and raves #36

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after treating a relative to breakfast at the local farm shop. Because I have a full-time job, nine times out of ten I end up treating people. I sometimes wonder how I’m ever going to save enough money to get on the property ladder. I’m going to have to learn how to say no. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Dozens of far less negative running blogs are available**

Happy Monday, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I’m working from home today as I need to prepare for a two-day training course in London.

Rave: My 40th birthday

I recently celebrated my 40th birthday. Thanks to the efforts of my colleagues and ‘Wallingford family’ – I knew they were plotting something but had no idea exactly what – I had an amazing day. I’ve included a few photos; I would have included more but don’t want to risk getting in trouble.

Highlights included a huge cooked breakfast at the Old Post Office in Wallingford, lunch at the Waterfront Cafe in Benson, an amazing chocolate cake made by my colleague Sally, and a few too many drinks in the evening. I’m going to miss everyone when my fixed term contract ends next month.

Rant: My 40th birthday

The rest of my birthday was a tad disappointing. I don’t want to complain, but most of my close family didn’t even send me a card. I know I haven’t always been the best daughter/sister/aunt and people have busy lives, but I still felt slightly offended.

Happy Birthday

[Source]

Having to explain to colleagues that I hadn’t seen most of my family was quite difficult. I guess there’s always next week. Once I’d stopped feeling sorry for myself I decided to buy myself some birthday presents. Thanks to TK Maxx, I’m now the proud owner of a new Radley watch and purse.

Rave: Recognition for this blog

I know this has featured as a rave before so sorry if you suddenly experience a spot of déjà vu. When I started writing this blog I had no idea if anyone would actually read it. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve felt like calling it a day but haven’t because I really enjoy writing.

I was over the moon when I recently discovered I’d made it into Vuelio’s top 10 running blogs for a third consecutive year. I was given the opportunity to complete a Blogger spotlight interview and was able to share my favourite running blogs.Blogger Spotlight 2019If you haven’t already, please check out the five awesome running bloggers I highlighted in my interview.

Rant: The Weather

Since my last rants and raves blog, the weather has been a tad disappointing and somewhat unpredictable. I’ve lost count of the number of times it’s rained during my morning walk into the office and at lunchtime. I shouldn’t complain too much as the southeast of England desperately needs more rain. It would be good it if could rain during the night.

Last week, I completed my fifth and final Thames Water Situation Report. After three consecutive dry winters, I have a feeling I’m escaping from a stressful summer. If it doesn’t rain a lot more, my current team are going to be very busy this summer. My new role has the potential to be equally as stressful as I’ll be providing hydrological support to the whole of England. Nothing will go wrong!

Rave: Volunteering at parkrun

I’ve definitely caught the parkrun volunteering bug. My fragile right knee means that it’s unlikely I’ll ever attempt to complete another Sutton Park parkrun. The first half of the course is uneven and the numerous steep downhill sections make my knee twinge. I’ve really enjoyed my recent volunteering stints. Tail walking gave me a completely different perspective of parkrun. It also gave me a what I call a ‘kick up the arse’ photo.

Marshal briefingSutton Park parkrun tail walker

[Photos: Peter Heafield]

The healthier eating has now started.

This may sound slightly geeky but I’ve got a favourite marshalling location. I love ‘position 10’ as it’s in a busy part of Sutton Park at the top of a longish hill. When people reach me they have completed the most challenging sections of the course and it’s downhill to the finish.Sutton Park parkrun

IMG_3649When I’m feeling brave I may have a go at timekeeping. The Core Team keep telling me it’s easy and that there is always a backup timer.

Rant: Having to leave Wallingford

At the end of 2017 and the beginning of last year I was dreading having to move to Wallingford. I think it’s safe to say I was shitting myself and I shared some of my fears in what became one of my most highly viewed posts.

After a slightly rocky start, I’ve had the most amazing time in Wallingford. I’ve made some amazing friends that I’ll be in contact with for life, and I’m now feeling sad that the end of my fixed term contract is rapidly approaching. I’m incredibly fortunate because I’ve landed myself an amazing new job within the EA, however, leaving Wallingford is going to be difficult. There will be tears on my final day.

Rave: Alysia Montaño

I had heard horror stories about Nike and other top brands dropping sponsored athletes for petty reasons like getting pregnant before. After reading this opinion piece, I now have even more respect for Alysia Montaño.

Rant: Public transport

I’m aware that this is another repeat rant, but I’ve had far too many not very positive bus and train journeys recently. For the amount I pay to travel between Oxford and Birmingham I should as a minimum feel safe. I think all evening trains should introduce compulsory alcohol breath tests before people are allowed to board.

Getting to my new job is going to involve two trains and an hour plus journey from north to south Birmingham. I can’t wait…

And finally, a (sort of) bonus rave. I’ve decided to conclude all of my ‘rants and raves’ posts with a random music recommendation.

Rave: Exposé – Let Me Be The One

I’m a huge fan of 80s/early 90s music so to start with I’d like to introduce you to ‘Let me be the One’ by Exposé.

Expose
[Source]

I sometimes wish I could just go back in time to the late 80s, I could listen to cheesy music all day.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of rants and raves, then a huge “thank-you”. 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.

Have your family ever forgotten your birthday? I have a feeling that most other families are slightly more reliable than mine.   

Do you have a favourite parkrun volunteering role? I would love to have a go at barcode scanning but have heard a few too many horror stories.

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

[Source]

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

[Source]

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

[Source]

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

[Source]

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.

Try on my Trainers: A Day in my Life

Happy Friday, the weekend is nearly here. I’ve got something a little different for you all today. As I can’t run, I’ve decided to write and share a ‘Day in my Life’ type post. I personally really enjoy reading these sort of posts, I love reading about how other people spend 24 hours. I hope that a typical Tuesday in my life isn’t too boring.

For obvious reasons, I haven’t gone into too much detail about what I got up to at work!

7:00am – My alarm wakes me

The alarm on my phone is set to go off at 7:00 every day of the week. I used to treat myself to a lie in on a Sunday morning, but don’t now because I realised that the extra sleep was making me feel more tired. This time of the year it’s so light, I’m usually already awake when my alarm goes off, this morning it was so dark outside my alarm woke me up.

7:05am – Have a wash, brush my teeth and get dressed

My weekday routine is very predictable. I’ll get up, pop to the loo, brush my teeth and wash my face etc, get dressed, grab my breakfast and then head out the door. I’m very much a get up and go type of person. As I’m rapidly approaching 40, I think I need to start making a bit more effort with my skincare regime.

7:20am-7:50am – Walk to work

The walk into the office takes me between 30 and 40 minutes. Once I’ve walked through Bull Croft Park, the centre of Wallingford and have crossed Wallingford Bridge, I have a range of different routes to choose from. Some are slightly weather dependent, the cleaners get a little grumpy when I walk mud into the office.
The Bull Croft 1The Bull Croft 2Wallingford 1Wallingford BridgeThe Boat House

This morning, when it started to rain, I decided to risk walking across the recreation ground. The ground was a little on the soggy side, but I managed to avoid getting wet feet and muddy trainers. I reached the office, dug out my security and access passes – I can guarantee that these are usually buried in my bag – let myself in, had a quick conversation with the security man, and then headed up to my desk.

7:50am-8:00am – Breakfast

I switched on my computer, headed to the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea, filled up my water bottle and prepared my breakfast. Some mornings I’ll have porridge, other mornings just a croissant. This morning I wasn’t feeling very hungry, so I opted for a croissant.

8:00am-12:00pm – Work

The highlight of my morning had to be eating my first ever hot cross bun. A colleague had made a batch of hot cross buns, they were amazing. I just worry that if I buy some in a supermarket at the weekend, they won’t taste the same.

12:00pm-12:30pm – Lunch

One of the unwritten ‘rules’ of my team is that whenever possible, we all walk down to the Manor House for lunch as a team. When I worked in Lichfield, my office was located on an industrial estate. We tended to eat lunch at our desks. My Wallingford office is located in the grounds of an old Manor House, it couldn’t be more different.
Howbery Park 1Howbery Park 2Howbery Park 3A massive perk is the staff canteen which sells the most amazing hot and cold food. Everything is subsidised, so I always tend to treat myself to a hot meal at lunchtime. Today, I treated myself to lasagne, garlic bread and potato wedges. And I wonder why I’m putting on weight!

When the weather is warm we eat outside, today it was unfortunately a tad chilly and wet so we had to eat inside. Once lunch was done and dusted, we walked the ‘long way’ back to the office.

12:30pm-4:30pm – Work

Highlights of the afternoon included a TED talk on the subject of the Happy secrets to better work, getting a job application submitted and completing some slightly tedious river flow assessments.

4:30pm – Leave Work

I usually pack up all my belongings and then double check I’ve got everything. Today, in my rush to leave the office, I almost left my phone charger on my desk. Now that would have been a disaster. As I was feeling slightly on edge and needed time to think, I decided to walk the long way back into Wallingford.

4:30pm-5:00pm – Walk back to Wallingford

The walk back into the centre of Wallingford is usually a time of reflection for me. I like to think about what went well at work and what I could have done differently. Occasionally I’ll spend a couple of minutes watching the Thames flow past me. I’ve always found being near water incredibly relaxing, one of the reasons I became a hydrologist.

5:00pm-5:45pm – Quick drink in the Old Post Office

I decided to pop into one of my favourite pubs in Wallingford – the Old Post Office – for a quiet pint. My plans for a peaceful pint didn’t go completely to plan as a rather noisy family decided to sit at the table next to me.
The OPOOPO 2The rest of the bar area was completely empty, I’ll never understand what I call the herding instinct. I was sensible and left after one pint.

5:45pm-6:00pm – Walk back to my Lodgings

The walk back from the centre of Wallingford to my lodgings usually takes me between 15 and 20 minutes, it all depends on how much I’ve had to drink. The walk takes me past what I called the ‘House of Doom’, I always feel a huge sense of relief that I escaped my previous accommodation. I got back to my lodgings, let myself in, headed up to my room, kicked off my trainers and collapsed on my bed.

6:00pm-7:00pm – Catch up on emails and some blogmin

I was in a fairly productive what I call ‘get shit done’ mode, so I decided to allocate an hour to responding to emails and also some slightly overdue blogmin. I was a little surprised this blog had so many broken links, clearly monthly broken link checks aren’t adequate.

7:00pm-8:00pm – Eat and Have a Nap

By 7:00pm my stomach was letting me know it was time to eat so I made myself a quick and easy meal. So quick and easy I forgot to take a photo #bloggerfail!

And I guess you know what happened next, I ended up having a sneaky nap. At least I woke up in time for the highlight of my Tuesday evenings; Holby City.

8:00pm-9:00pm – Watch Holby City

I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I’ve watched Holby City since it started in 1999. My friends and family know not to contact me between 8:00pm and 9:00pm on Tuesday evenings.
HolbyI’ve no idea what happened the previous week, but it took me a couple of minutes to realise that I’d somehow managed to miss an episode. I had some urgent catching up to do. Fortunately, BBC iPlayer came to the rescue.

9:00pm-10:00pm – Make a start on Outrunning the Demons

Some evenings I’ll spend an hour blogging, it really depends if I’m in the mood. As I wanted to give my eyes a bit of a break, I decided to make a start on Outrunning the Demons.
Outrunning DemonsHere’s a bit more information about the book:

“Running can take us to fantastic places. Just as importantly, it can also bring us back from terrible ones. For people in times of crisis, trauma and physical or mental illness – when normality collapses – running can put things back together again.

Told through 34 deeply affecting real-life stories and covering such diverse themes as trauma, bereavement, addiction, depression and anxiety, this compelling book is an exposition of just why running can so often be the answer to everything when we find ourselves in extremis.”

10:00pm-10:15pm – Shower etc

I never shower in the mornings. I’m lazy and I like going to bed with wet hair and waking up with dry hair. I like heading to bed feeling clean. I’ve never owned hair straighteners or any sort of fancy hair products. When I had my hair cut last Saturday, Alicia the lady who had the dubious honour of cutting my hair said that my hair was in very good condition. It’s just a shame it’s so grey. Apologies, I got side-tracked again. I brushed my teeth and had a great shower; I don’t think I need to say any more.

10:15pm-10:30pm – General faffing

Once I’ve got dressed in my PJs, I like to spend a few minutes getting ready for the next morning. I pick an outfit for work, pack my work bag and make sure that my phone is on charge.

10:30pm – Climb into Bed

I aim to be in bed by 10:30pm at the latest. This probably won’t make sense, but it takes me a long time to relax and feel ready to go to sleep. I decided to read a few more pages of Outrunning the Demons. I was clearly quite tired because I only managed a few pages.

Please, if you haven’t read Outrunning the Demons consider treating yourself to a copy of the book.

11:00pm – Lights Out

I usually try to switch my bedside lamp off before 11:00pm. I check my phone is charging – the battery life is terrible and I can’t wait to get a replacement – grab my teddy and hopefully fall asleep.

I hope you enjoyed reading about what was a more mundane week day, the following day was far more interesting as I had a few glasses of red wine after work and didn’t fall into bed until 12:30am.

Some evenings I’ll head straight to the pub after work. When I’m feeling brave, I’ll head along to the fortnightly ‘Beer and Bants’ evenings. These are a brilliant way of meeting people from my office outside of work. When my right knee recovers, I’ll aim to run a couple of evenings a week after work. I like to let the traffic calm down so don’t head out until after 7:00pm. At the moment my weekdays are slightly predictable, I think this suits my personality.

I’d like to say that my weekends are a little more exciting, but that would be a lie. Circumstances mean that my weekends are a tad mundane. Four Oaks has a lot to offer, I need to be brave and to meet up with people. My schoolmates keep asking when I’m free, I need to organise some sort of get-together.

Finally, if you made it to the end of this waffle than a huge thank-you, I think you deserve a medal.