A Note: Backpackers

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I often think about why I run, about what motivates me to put on my trainers and head outdoors to get the miles under my feet, and the thing I always come back to is community. Running has given me an amazing sense of community. I love how it attracts people from all walks of life to come together and share in something meaningful. I've found my community in different places at different times. The amazing women of Team Naturally got me through my first marathon, the crews at Lululemon and We Heart Living taught me that my passion is supporting others, and now Backpackers have given me a home. The kinship I feel to this motley crew extends well beyond the the hour or so we spend putting one foot in front of another, it matters to me that we're about more than running, that we create a space to be open, to talk and to support. We create this by celebrating achievements, reaching out in difficult times, breaking bread together and making time for each other. They say running is a family, I've definitely found mine. Thank you Backpackers for being my crew. 

Who's your running family? Don't have one yet? Come and join ours - 6.30 for a 7pm start, Lululemon Regent's Street, every Thursday.

Five Ways I Handle Anxious Moments

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Since I finished my masters I’ve been feeling pretty discombobulated. As a creature who likes routine, and sleep, the last few weeks have sent my head spinning. Not only has the structure of studying come to an end, but I’ve also moved house (apparently one of the most stressful things you can do), and been hit by a wave of exhaustion and the impact of suddenly have time to think about all the things that trigger my anxiety. It’s an emotional tsunami.

Watershed moments have never been easy for me. My first very serious bout of anxiety, aged 12, was when I made the transition from primary school to secondary school. The more I’ve learnt about myself the more I’ve come to realise that times of change are when I have to be most aware of myself and how I feel. It’s tricky at a time which isn’t necessarily conducive to stepping back and taking a breath, but there are a few things that I find help tide me over until I can have a proper rest and recalibrate.

1. Rest – it always feels easier said than done when there are a million things to do, but proper rest always makes a difference. At emotionally intense times I make an effort to prioritise sleep, it makes so much difference to how I feel and perform.

2. Eat well and stay hydrated – when you feel overwhelmed it’s easy to reach for processed comfort foods which can spike your blood sugar. I try to keep it in my mind that veggies, wholegrains and protein will make me feel much better, although I’m not too hard on myself if I also reach for a bar of chocolate. I also know that if I’m dehydrated I have far less clarity, which means my thoughts become more cloudy and it’s easier for me to become confused and overwhelmed.

3. Move, mindfully – I’ll be talking more about this over the coming months, but movement can make a world of difference. However, when I’m really stressed out I avoid anything too intense as it can push up my flight hormones (a real sticking point for me) and stick to gentle, reflective workouts like walking, yoga and gentle running.

4. Talk to someone – when I keep things to myself I am prone to ruminating and catastrophising, so I talk. Whether it’s speaking to a therapist or to a trusted friend, getting it out there helps.

5. Be kind to yourself – when you’re finding life hard it can be easy to judge yourself harshly. Try to take a moment to reflect on why you’re feeling how you feel and let yourself off if you’re not perfect. It takes practice, but little acts of kindness towards yourself make the world of difference.

None of these tips are meant to be a fix all, or to replace proper support from a medical professional, they're based on my own experiences and what works for me. You might be different. 

Have you listened to The Mental Health Podcast yet? Check it out here.

*image: Anna Rachel Photography*

Vieve Protein Water

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Although I don't use supplements religiously, from time to time I dabble with protein powders. It's usually when I've been working particularly hard and feel like my body needs a little extra to help it recover. Over the years I've tried all sorts of things, from shakes to bars, and most of the time they've had a weird texture or taste which has always been a bit off putting. Plus I'm not the hugest fan of milkshakes, so I'm not naturally drawn to anything too 'milky'. Although I'm not doing enough training to mean I need supplements right now, I was curious when I came across Vieve Protein Water - a sugar free drink that contains 20g protein. No faff, no mess and some curious sounding flavours, I figured it could be a game changer, so Mike and I put it to the test! 

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First up was Coconut Honey, although it smelt a little strange (the best description I can think of is something similar to meringue), it actually tasted pretty good as the coconut balanced out the sweet flavours of the honey. Mike was a fan, describing it as 'pina colada-y', and you know something is good if he is drawing parallels with a cocktail! Overall a very respectable 8/10!  

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Strawberry Rhubarb was far and away our favourite flavour, particularly because it was the only one that didn't smell a bit strange (which can be a teeny bit off putting when you're drinking something!). It also tasted great! We gave it a winning 9/10!

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Citrus, Apple and Mint was probably our least favourite flavour of the three. While the mint and the citrus flavours were strong, there wasn't much apple, which was a bit disappointing! It was also mega sweet and smelt a bit strange, so I'm not sure how refreshing it would be after a work out. 7/10.

Overall we were pretty impressed with Vieve, the idea of a Protein Water rather than a powdery, milky drink is really innovative and we loved how creative the flavours were (and that the company donates a portion of its profits to Mind, a charity we're both really passionate about). On the downside we both found the drinks a little too sweet for our taste, surprising give they're been certified sugar free by Sweetwise! That aside, I don't think it would put me off grabbing a Strawberry Rhubarb drink next time I workout hard! 

Have you tried Protein Water? What did you think?

*Vieve kindly send us some samples to put to the test, but all opinions are our own.*