Race Report: Shenstone Fun Run

Good morning and Happy Tuesday, I’m so pleased it’s not Monday. Yesterday, when I spotted a single magpie during my walk to the train station, I should have gone back to bed. Hopefully, my new job will start to improve ASAP. Anyway, enough moaning and groaning and back to the point of this blog; my first race review since the Royal Parks Half back in October.LogoBefore I launch into a review of the Shenstone Fun Run, I need to rewind back to Saturday evening. Let’s just say a two-hour shopping session – sorry feet – and three pints of beer – sorry head – weren’t the best pre-race preparation. I doubt this pre-race routine will ever feature in Runner’s World et al.Shenstone Fun RunWhen my alarm woke me on Sunday, my head felt a little fuzzy and I was thirsty. A couple of cups of tea and pint of water didn’t do much to alleviate the thirst, not a good sign before a 10k. My pre-race routine went something like; drink tea, nervous wee, make myself eat some Weetabix, shower, get dressed, productive loo visit, drink more tea, another nervous wee, struggle to pin race number to t-shirt, pack bag, have bonus nervous wee and then leave the house. By the time I left the house, I was feeling a lot better and was looking forward to the prospect of taking part in an organised event for the first time this year. The weather was pretty much perfect and my right knee felt completely niggle-free.

I met my running buddy Ellen at the train station, we got on a train and four minutes later reached Shenstone. Quite possibly the most straight-forward I’ve ever had to an event. We walked the short distance to the Race HQ, Ellen collected her number, dropped our bags and then realised we had a lot of time to kill before the start of the run. After spending a bit time chatting and avoiding the drizzle, we decided to track down some loos. Although there was a ladies loo inside Race HQ, there was an impressive queue of female runners waiting, so we decided to have a look around the centre of Shenstone.Waiting to startI spent a lot of time in Shenstone up to the age of 16 because my grandparents lived there. I suspect I bored Ellen to tears with my “that used to be an HSBC”, “that used to be a greengrocers”, “that used to be a chemists” type observations. Even the library had changed; what used to be the children’s books section was now a cafe area with an amazing selection of homemade cakes. We both decided that a cake would make the perfect post-run reward and told the library volunteers we would definitely be back later. As an added bonus, the library had loos with no queues so we both made the most of the facilities.SelfieThe 10k was scheduled to start at 11:00 so at 10:50 we both joined the back of the pack so to speak. After a quick warm-up, we were sent on our way. The 10k route had changed as was advertised as flat and fast so I was a little surprised to find myself running up several short but quite steep hills in the first mile. We headed out of Shenstone past my grandparents’ old house and into the countryside. It took me less than 15 minutes to be reminded of my complete loss of fitness and my fragile right knee. I was struggling to run at Ellen’s pace so slowed down to what was almost a walk. Sorry Ellen!

By the third mile, I felt shattered. I’m not sure if it was the humidity, my lack of food the previous evening, my lack of training or a combination of the three but I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other. I was also struggling a little mentally and started to just want the 10k fun(?) run to end. I’m pretty sure that had the course allowed me to, I would have called it a day there and then.

The second three miles were what I’d describe as undulating. It suddenly seemed to get warm and I was grateful the organisers had provided several water stations. After a quick consultation with Ellen we switched to a strategy of running for four minutes and then walking for a minute. Walking after 5k didn’t make me feel very good about myself but I had to do something to make sure that I actually finished and made it back to Shenstone.

After an hour or so of ‘running’ my temperamental right knee decided to remind me that it didn’t appreciate me running downhill; it was pain-free on the numerous small uphill sections, but very painful on the downhill sections. Awesome, thanks knee! I was not a happy bunny at this stage. Running past a collapsed runner who was receiving treatment gave me the kick up the arse and reality check I so desperately needed. Although I didn’t suddenly turn into Little Miss Happy, I was reminded that I’m lucky to be able to run and that my knee issue was likely to be a temporary setback rather than a long-term injury.

We eventually – sorry again Ellen – reached the bridge next to Shenstone train station, ran past ‘Rocket Ron’ who had his camera with him but wasn’t actually taking any photos. Slightly strange but I suspect he wasn’t one of the official race photographers and was only taking photos of members of his running club. We both ‘sprinted’ towards the finish line, posed for the official photographer, collected our medals and some water and then spotted some of Ellen’s club mates. While Ellen caught up with her club mates, I popped into the medical tent to ask for an icepack for my knee.

MedalI guess it should be a case of what goes on in the medical tent, stays in the medical tent. However, I wasn’t very impressed with the rudeness of a runner who hobbled in for treatment, I’m going to call this person Runner x. Runner x had injured her ankle before the 10k – I remember seeing her sprawled on the floor – but decided to run anyway. I know that I’m not one to judge, but why would you attempt to run a 10k on a damaged ankle? Anyway, Runner x was incredibly rude to the St John Ambulance person treating her. Apparently, the ice packs weren’t cold enough and the lady treating her was useless. I was quite relieved when another runner came in seeking treatment for a nosebleed and I was able to escape from the medical tent.

And then, once we had collected our bags, it was time for the highlight of the morning, tea and homemade cake. Luckily, the library was still open and there were plenty of cake options. I played it safe and asked for a slice of sponge cake and a cup of breakfast tea. As we didn’t want to ruin everyone else’s tea and cake enjoyment, we decided to sit outside. The homemade cake tasted amazing and I regretted not buying a second slice to take home with me. Tea and cake consumption completed, we hobbled the short distance to Shenstone station and a short train journey later were back in Four Oaks.

Tea and cake

This isn’t a food blog so I’ll stop talking about cake now.

Would I recommend the Shenstone Fun Run?

Yes, I would, but I think the organisers need to consider bringing the start time forward an hour to 10:00. The fun run would also benefit from a few more loo options at the start; the queues were some of the longest I’ve seen. I personally preferred the old, slightly longer than 10k route but that is just my personal opinion.

And finally, the positives which most definitely outweighed the negatives. The organisation was pretty much flawless; I entered well in advance so my number was posted to me. Ellen had to collect her number on the day; this took less than a minute. The organisers provided a secure baggage area, this was well organised and there was no chance of people’s bags getting mixed up. Although I personally didn’t like the new course, feedback from other runners was positive. Every single race volunteer I was out on the course was incredibly supportive, the cowbells and music were definitely impossible to ignore and gave me a much-needed boost. The run was chip timed so results were available the second we crossed the finish line.

Race ratings:

  • Cost: 5/10 (£20 but a proportion of this went to local charities)
  • Course: 5/10
  • Medal: 9/10
  • Race t-shirt: n/a
  • Goody bag: 2/10
Advertisements

Overcoming a slightly irrational fear and a run in Sutton Park

As always, I hope that everyone who reads this blog had a great weekend. I really must come up with a different introduction for my Monday morning blogs.

For once, I had an interesting weekend, however, I have a feeling I tried to fit too much in. I also failed to catch up on some much-needed sleep. Thanks to the early morning bedroom window bird choir and my ‘wonky’ internal alarm clock, I was wide-awake at 05:30 on Saturday morning. By 07:00 I was making the most of the lack of sunshine and was washing my friend’s car.

Following my slightly too early for a Saturday morning car washing session, after several years of avoidance, I had my first experience of parkrun timekeeping. To say that I felt a little concerned when I was handed a stopwatch is a huge understatement. I’m a massive over-thinker and I was concerned that I’d make a mistake and for the first time in the history of Sutton Park parkrun, everyone would end up with a time of 59:59. I know that parkrun is free and this wouldn’t have mattered, but I’m a runner and I know how disappointed I’d have been with an inaccurate time. Rob did his best to calm me down…Sutton Park parkrun

[Photo: Peter Heafield]

With the exception of a couple of runners who pretended they were part of parkrun but were just park runners, I don’t think there were too many major mistakes. Having said that, I don’t think I’ll be asked to be a timekeeper again 😉

The rest of my Saturday was thankfully more what I’d describe as mundane and included several hours in the garden. One of my Four Oaks friends has been having a tough time recently, so I treated them to lunch in Mere Green. I’m sure you can predict where we ate and what I ordered. One day I’ll be brave and will eat at a different restaurant and will order something different. I think I’d used up all my ‘brave’ points at parkrun. 

Early on Saturday evening, I headed into Birmingham as I wanted to see if TK Maxx had any shoes trainers suitable for work. I’d also heard some rumours about a possible yellow sticker sale. I didn’t find anything suitable for work but somehow found myself buying a running top, running vest, cotton t-shirt, pair of Crocs, mud shampoo, two bars of fancy soap, SiS tube of effervescent tablets, and sports bra. Not a bad selection of goodies for less than £60.

I do love the randomness of TK Maxx. And yes, I’m looking forward to wearing the Crocs around the house, I don’t think I’d get away with wearing them in the office 😦 Shopping failOn Sunday morning I did something I hadn’t done for far too long; I met up with Ellen and headed into Sutton Park for a morning run. It wasn’t fast and it definitely wasn’t pretty. As we are both returning from injury, we decided to run the uphill sections and to recover on some of the flat and downhill sections. This approach seemed to work quite well and we got to the end of our four-mile ‘run’ feeling niggle-free.Sutton Park selfieSunday afternoon looked something like this; shower, lunch, emails, some blogmin, a nap, some gardening, a lot of ironing, TV, dinner, more emails, food prep, work prep and an early night. Not very exciting!

I unfortunately completely failed to tick off quite a few items on my weekend ‘things to do list’ so I’m going to need to have a productive week.

Is there a parkrun volunteering role you’ve avoided? I don’t think I’ll be rushing to have a second go at timekeeping.

What is the best thing you’ve purchased in a TK Maxx? I think the 2XU tri suit I purchased for £2.00 is the best thing I’ve purchased in TK Maxx, it’s just a shame I’ve no idea where it is.

Running goals for 2019: Progress report

I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend and that Monday wasn’t too much of a chore. As it’s now July – seriously, how quickly is this year going? – I thought I’d write a quick (lack of) progress report on my 2019 running goals.

Run 1000km – I started the year with loads of good intentions; one was to run 1000km. Thanks to the combination of injuries, and a complete loss of running mojo, my running has been sporadic. I’ve just checked out my training log on Fetcheveryone. So far in 2019, I’ve run approximately 51km. Not recording all of my training runs was a mistake. I don’t think I’ll get near my 1000km target but that’s okay.Injured runner

[Source]

Complete 10 races – I haven’t completed a single organised race. Thanks to the reasons I gave above I’ve not made it to the start line of every single race I’ve entered this year. I don’t want to think about how much money I’ve wasted on race entry fees!

Complete 15 parkruns – Back in January, I was quietly confident I would be able to complete 15 parkruns. Sutton Park parkrun is just over three miles from my front door; I had visions of relaxing runs to and from parkrun. The reality is a little different as I’ve only completed one parkrun.

Volunteer 10 times at parkrun – Now this is one running goal I’ll definitely achieve. It’s been very much a case of ‘can’t run, can volunteer’.

parkrun volunteering

I’ve checked out my parkrun volunteer stats and so far in 2019 I’ve marshalled 4 times, written the run report once, tail walked once and handed out finish tokens once. This Saturday I’m having a go at timekeeping.

A sub 8-minute mile – I didn’t head down to London for the Vitality Westminster Mile. My official mile PB remains a very beatable 9:09. Perhaps I should focus on short distances during the second half of 2019.

A sub 25-minute 5k – I think it’s safe to say my only official 5k time of 57:04 is a long way from a sub-25 minute time. The way I’m feeling at the moment, I can’t see me ever getting below 30 minutes again.

A sub 60-minute 10k – I’m yet to complete an official 10k race this year. I’m hoping to complete the Shenstone Fun Run later this month; it will be good to get some sort of benchmark.

A sub 2:15 half marathon – I had grand plans of running a decent time at the London Landmarks Half Marathon. However, the reality was a little different. I completed most of my training runs in the lead up to the London Landmarks and then picked up some sort of office lurgy which refused to go away.  The result? Another DNS!

Listen to my niggles – This is another running goal I’ll definitely achieve. I’ve had so many injuries this year, I’ve now reached the stage I’m almost scared of running. I’m also starting to suspect a lot of niggles are a figment of my imagination.

Improve my core strength – This is another running goal success story. I’m hoping that all the workouts I’ve been completing will start to benefit my running.Clean House Injured Runner

[Source]

Run with others more – Whenever I’ve pulled on my trainers and run, I’ve made more effort to run with others. Although I didn’t get to run with Run Wallingford before I moved back home, I’ve found myself some Birmingham-based running groups to join.

Train consistently – Does consistently training inconsistently count?

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – So far this final running-related goal is more possibly more failure than success. I’ve just worked out how much I’ve spent on running gear, and had a bit of a shock. Having said that, I’ve sold such a lot of unwanted running gear online, I’ve probably ‘made’ more money than I’ve spent.

I think it’s quite obvious that the first half of 2019 wasn’t great from a running perspective. At times I’ve felt like selling all of my running gear. Some people may be questioning the point of this rather negative running goal progress update. I decided to publish this update as I think it’s important to write about the not-so-positive aspects of running.

How are you progressing with your running goals? Hopefully better than I am with mine 🙂

Do you think I should readjust all of my goals or rule out this year and start again next year? I’ve reached the stage I’m about to ‘write-off’ 2019 and will start again next year.

Rants and raves #37

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after a not so successful day in the office. I’m also feeling slightly more stressed than normal as I’m still trying to get used to working in a busy office. Apologies if this selection of rants and raves are more moany than usual. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Dozens of far less negative running blogs are available, I’m always happy to recommend a few**

Rave: Being back at home

While I think it’s safe to say that I grew to love living and working in Wallingford, I’m enjoying being back at home in Four Oaks. I’m saving a fortune on train tickets and rent, and with my side hustles am managing to transfer a fair amount of money into my savings account each month. It’s just a shame it took me 40 years to start making the effort to save money.

Rant: Commuting

One of the few downsides of living back in Four Oaks and working in Solihull is the commute. My commute into the Wallingford office comprised of a 20 minute walk along a route which included crossing Wallingford Bridge. I loved stopping off at the River Thames each morning.

Four Oaks to Solihull

My new commute takes over an hour as I have to catch a train into Birmingham New Street, walk to Birmingham Moor Street and then catch a train to Solihull. After enduring a couple of overcrowded trains, I’ve decided that although getting up at 05:30 is challenging, missing both the morning and evening rush hours makes it worthwhile.

I’m looking forward to the day the office moves into the centre of Birmingham.

Rave: My Wallingford colleagues

My colleagues in Wallingford gave me the most amazing send-off. My final week was a nonstop marathon of after work meals and drinks. By the final day I was shattered and felt like a beached whale.

The comments in my leaving card made me a little teary and my leaving presents were incredibly thoughtful.  I’m keeping an eye on the internal jobs board for permanent jobs in the Wallingford office.

Rant: Hot desking

Another reason I’m missing working in the Wallingford office is what I’m going to call the joy of hot desking. In the Wallingford office, I was allocated my own desk and as long as it was kept reasonably clear, I was allowed to leave my cup, work etc on my desk when I went home. It definitely made life easier as I knew I had somewhere to sit. It also meant that my chair and monitor etc were set up correctly.

Hotdesking

[Source]

My new office operates a strict hot desking policy. I’m finding having to sit at a different desk every day quite hard to get used to. There is a lot less conversation in the new office. I can see why a lot of people work from home.

Rave: Skid Row Marathon

I watched the Skid Row Marathon documentary last May and wrote the following:

 “I don’t want to give too much away, but if you get the opportunity please, please go and watch Skid Row Marathon. I was in tears before it even started. ..”

Skid Row Marathon

[Source]

For less than the cost of a pint in my local pub, Skid Row Marathon is now available to stream via this link.

Rant: Social Media

I’ve been avoiding social media recently as I find the utter crap that some people write incredibly frustrating. I know that I can just scroll past and ignore the crap, but it’s now so widespread it’s getting difficult.

duty_calls

[Source]

And as for the people who hide behind anonymous social media accounts to dish out snarky comments; please don’t. I didn’t appreciate being called a fat and worthless lazy f**ker, and doubt that you’d have the balls to say it to my face.

Rave: Plogging Sutton Coldfield

I recently ranted about people who litter; I’m now going to rave about a group I spotted on Farcebook.

Since moving back to Four Oaks, I’ve been searching the internet for local running groups. I spotted a page called Plogging Sutton Coldfield and got in contact with James, the local runner who set up the Farcebook page. I’m going to see if I can drum up a bit of local support.

Rant: Your parkrun needs you posts

I’m not sure if it’s due to the weather or time of year, but I’ve noticed a lot of ‘Your parkrun needs you’ posts on social media recently.

Your parkrun needs you

 [Source]

The Farcebook page for my local parkrun – Sutton Park parkrun – has almost 1300 likes. Unfortunately, despite several shout outs for help, it was almost cancelled last weekend due to a lack of marshals.

I tried to promote volunteering in the run report  I produced a few weeks ago. I guess the whole point of volunteering is that people don’t have to volunteer unless they want to.

Rave: My new blog header

Now that I have a bit more free time on a Sunday evening, I’m aiming to improve the layout of this blog. I spent far too long debating the pros and cons of changing the name of my blog. I eventually decided to stick with the PhD Runner and invested in a new blog header. I just need to invest in a new theme.

I was about to invest in the blog migration service offered by Pipdig when it all got a bit heated online. However, as I’ve had enough of the irritating advert at the top of the page I’m now researching alternatives. If anyone can recommend an alternative to Pipdig then please get in touch 🙂

If you’ve got to the end of this random selection of rants and raves, then I’d like to say a massive “thank-you”. As always, I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. I feel a little better now that I’ve shared my moans and groans.

Does your office operate a hot desking policy? I’m aware that hot desking is quite popular, I’d love to hear some positive stories.

Have you watched Skid Row Marathon? If you haven’t please consider paying to watch it on Vimeo. I’m not on commission, I just think it’s an amazing running documentary.

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**

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!