Jenny’s Story

Jenny is an utterly fantastic and awe-inspiring individual. Having only run for a few months, she has set her sights on running a mountain marathon this Summer to raise awareness for Chronic UTI and raise much needed funds for Cystitis Research.

On April 4th, Jenny is reaching a big milestone in her training – running a a Half Marathon!

Here’s Jenny’s story:

“I’ve been on a journey with Chronic UTI (CUTI) for the last 8 years, it still has a big impact on my daily life. 1.7 million women suffer from UTI’S in the UK, but the process for diagnosis and treatment are totally out of date. This results in many women developing a CUTI. I’m hoping to run a mountain marathon both to raise awareness of CUTI and some cash for much needed research and development for the new Centre for Cystitis Research and also for Chronic UTI Campaign who collate and provide crucial information and support. I’m fairly new to running and finding the main challenge is trying to build my mileage without causing a bladder flare. My goal is 26 miles and 8000ft of ascent – 1000ft for each year I’ve had the symptoms. I’m still not sure I’ll make it, but nothing worthwhile comes easy right?!”

Join’ Jenny’s Half Marathon Challenge!

As part of Jenny’s training for the mountain marathon, she is embarking upon a half marathon on April 4th. Always keen to encourage others, both Jenny and myself were keen to use this run as an opportunity for others to join us!

Head over to the Facebook event here for more information and how to get involved.

We hope you can ‘join’ us!

LMB and Jenny


Follow this link for further information on Chronic UTI’s

Lauren’s List of Legends: Lindsay Buck

Lauren’s List of Legends – Q and A with Lindsay Buck

#4 Lindsay Buck

Meet Lindsay. A lover of the outdoors, keen fell runner and avid litter picker; an amazing individual who is devoted to keeping the trails clean.

Lindsay Buck, litter picking up Scafell

In 2019, Lindsay made over 100 trips up Scafell Pike, all of which involved litter picking. This year, just between May and September, Lindsay has collected 721 plastic bottles from Scafell Pike and the local Wasdale Valley.

I was so inspired by Lindsay’s efforts, I felt she deserved to be added to the List of Legends. Take a read below to find out more about Lindsay’s litter picking endeavours.

Where did the term ‘Wasdale Womble’ come from?

The name Wasdale Womble / #wasdalewomble came from a local friend of mine Jo Balmer, who noticed that I was constantly picking up litter (especially on Scafell Pike and in the Wasdale valley).The Wombles were characters on a mid 1970’s show who collected and recycled rubbish to tidy up after humans.

Lindsay collected 721 plastic bottles from Wasdale, locally & Scafell Pike,
between 3rd May and 13th Sept 2020

How often do you go out litter picking?

I litter pick everyday wherever I am.

In terms of litter that you find on the trails, what are the ‘biggest culprits’ i.e. things you find the most of?

Rubbish on the trails – most often found; cigarette butts, chewing gum, sweet wrappers, gels, crisp packet, clothes, wrapped dog poo, tissues & wipes.

Lindsay, A.K.A the ‘Wasdale Womble’ up Scafell on one of the 100 litter picks up Scafell Pike in 2019

What’s the most shocking thing you have found on the trails? And the most bizarre?

Most shocking – not an item but the sheer volume which is left by a minority of people enjoying beautiful places.

Most bizarre – the amount of clothes abandoned, don’t people need them? ( I’ve found boots, pants, top and lots & lots of socks).

Lindsay litter picks every day, wherever she finds herself!

Finally, tell us all about your 60th Birthday challenge! 

As a challenge in my 60th year (11/10/2019 – 11/10/2020) I’ve set the challenge of as many safe ascents of Scafell Pike and litter picks to raise awareness of the issue and funding for the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team (WMRT).

Cycling is my normal transport so the 8 miles from home is a chance to tidy up the roadside enroute (the National Trust team take the haul from me). This has given me a focus in a year with no fell races and the chance to try and help just a little bit.

I’ll continue to litter pick every day and hope many more people will join the ever growing army of us who can’t bear to see rubbish littering the countryside and are prepared to tidy up.

For her 60th, Lindsay is fundraising for Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team (WMRT)

You can find the link to Lindsay’s just giving page here.

Lindsay also featured on BBC Radio Cumbria recently in relation to her amazing litter picking efforts: Take a listen here.

Want to get involved with cleaning up The Lake District?

If you want to get more involved with cleaning up the Lake District, there are numerous ways to do this!

Grab yourself a pair of gloves, a vessel to collect the litter and get out collecting rubbish from the trails! You can even borrow a fancy litter picker from Alpkit stores too. If you want to get involved in a group litter pick, there are various ones to choose from, some of which include:

  • ‘Trash Jog’s’ with LMB Coaching,
  • Alpkit Litter Picks,
  • DirtBags Climbing,
  • The Lakes Plastic Collective (on Instagram).

Let’s all do play a part in keeping the trails litter free.


Lauren’s List of Legends: Sarah Gerrish

Lauren’s List of Legends – Q and A with Sarah Gerrish

#3 Sarah Gerrish

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Current female record holder for the Bay Limestone Round; Sarah Gerrish. Photo by             HDDN Media.

Meet Sarah Gerrish – a gem of a human, the founder of Wonderful Wild Community and one of my favourite running / swimming / adventure buddies.

On Sunday 26th July, Sarah set a new record for The Bay Limestone Round, in a time of 11:24:13. This is a 55mile run that starts in Kents Bank (near Grange) and ends on the Pier at Arnside.

Have a read below to find out how Sarah found the 55 mile run, how she fits in this with full time work and WWW community and her favourite inspirational quote!

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At the finish line!

What inspired you to get into long distance / ultra running?
I think it was a mixture of things really but mostly just a thought of ‘I wonder if I could do this?!’. It’s been a reasonably gradual process after a couple of road marathons and a transition from road to off road running. I’ve learnt that I kind of enjoy a bit of suffering and the challenge of just getting out and my head down for a prolonged period. So in that respect I think the longer endurance challenges suit.
What inspired you to take on the Bay Limestone Round?
First off it was set up by a family friend so I was keen to support what at first glance looked like a really interesting route. Secondly I loved that I could set off walking from home and be at the start line a mile later (proper 2020 lockdown style), plus get a 10 minute train ride home if I needed to at the end!

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Kents Bank , the start of the 55 mile Bay Limestone Round. Photo by HDDN Media.

I also liked the idea of a much more runnable trail route. I did have my eye on doing the Bob Graham Round this summer but due to logistics and where I live my ‘training’ over lockdown has hugely lacked the ascent needed for such an attempt. The Bay Limestone Round was much better suited to the running I had been doing lately.
What were the highlights of the epic 55mile route?
Ahhhh there were so many, most of which were all down to the support runners & those who popped out to say hello! It was generally just a great fun day out and having had such a long period of running alone with lockdown etc I just loved having the buzz of other runners around!
The decent off Arnside Knott was also pretty fun. I wasn’t expecting to be running as well as I was at that point so it was nice to just relax and let gravity help me down.

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Sarah G STILL smiling at the summit of one of the many hills in the Bay Limestone Round.

Did you ‘bonk’ at any point over the run? Or were there any points you were struggling mentally?
About 6 miles from the end I had a brief tough moment where I felt the fatigue really set in and a little grump rise – but it really was short lived! We’d just hit a particularly flat sloggy section, I was tipping over into new mileage territory (the longest I’d done up to then was Lakes In A Day at 50miles). The support changed around a bit then too which on a positive gives fresh legs & enthusiasm but I think I was a little aware Jenny, who also knew the route, had left, the record time was closing in & we still had to do Heald Brow – possibly the trickiest summit to find on the whole route. In the end Heald Brow was a doddle and we found it easily as I’d recced it a couple of weeks earlier & once ticked off the smiles started to return again!

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Smiles part way round The Bay Limestone Round. Photo by HDDN Media.

If you do start to struggle mentally, how do you push on?
I think I’ve just learnt that the struggles are temporary.
Particularly with longer endurance events there are so many ups & downs and when I start to feel a bit rubbish I just keep saying to myself ‘it won’t last, you’ll feel better again soon, just ride it out!’, and I do eventually.
How do you juggle full time work, being a mum, ultra running AND organising all the fantastic WWW events?
I’m really fortunate that I have a great support network of family & friends around me & a supportive work environment. Ben & I very much co parent, Ben isn’t the kind of dad that babysits his own child! We also acknowledge and support each other’s need for time out.
I’m also not that great at sitting still so my time gets filled quickly with either doing or planning. Over the years I’ve got quite efficient with my time – that being said I am learning to say no to more things these days as down time is super important.

sg 10
Pit Stop. The aforementioned epic and supportive husband, Ben Gerrish.

Do you have another challenge lined up for this or next year?
Nothing currently planned. I may set my long term goal towards a Bob Graham Round next year & just concentrate on getting stronger for that.
I have a couple of races that I wouldn’t mind incorporating into that training too if they can go ahead – namely tour de Helvellyn by Nav4.
What’s your favourite inspirational quote?
Hmmm… One that really stuck with me at a tough time was:
‘Another persons beauty is not the absence of your own’
I think it’s quite transferable in not comparing yourself to others & learning to accept your own strengths.

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Relief at the finish. Photo by HDDn Media.

Sarah is fundraising for Lake District Mobility. Find her Just Giving page here:
Photo Content: HDDN Media

Lauren’s List of Legends: Fraser Minnican

Lauren’s List of Legends – Q and A with Fraser Minnican

#2 Fraser Minnican

Fraser Minnican, current record holder of the Frog Whitton Challenge.

On Sunday, Fraser broke the record for the Frog Whitton Challenge. He completed the 96 miles on the bike, over some of the toughest gruelling Lakes Passes, and 6 miles of swimming, in a time of 8 hours 31 minutes 55 seconds, taking 2 hours 17 minutes off the previous record.

Fraser’s background is swimming. He was ranked in the top 15 in the world in 2018 in the 400 IM. He also swam for England and had an Olympic qualifying time!… I genuinely think he is part fish! In terms of cycling, Fraser picked this up in the last year or so, as he was training for Ironman Bolton this year.

Have a read below to hear about Fraser’s experience of the Frog Whitton, how, how bio-security measures were adhered to and the importance of the support crew when taking on challenges like this.

Mitch (left), Sam (middle), Fraser (right) about to embark on the Mega Challenge ahead.

How are the legs / shoulders feeling today?!

My legs don’t feel that bad, which is very strange because getting out of the final swim in Rydal Water they cramped up so bad I couldn’t stand up, so I just had to lie in the water floating about… My shoulders and lower back are sore though. It’s the first time I’ve swam anything over 5k since I retired from swimming a couple years back. Big stretch today to start the recovery is on the cards. I’ve got some pretty bad tan lines from the day as well!

What was your motivation behind the challenge?

I had entered Ironman UK which was to be held on this day (12th July) but it understandably got cancelled like many other events. A friend sent a link to the Frog Whitton website and jokingly said I should give it a go… and that was it! I was still following my triathlon training plan so just thought it would be a good idea to direct my fitness into the Frog instead.

I thought it would be a great idea to try and raise some money for charity whilst doing the challenge and chose one that is close to my family who helped support them through my young cousins brain tumour treatment, The Pituitary Foundation. Being the person that I am, I wanted to do the event as best I could and I always (sometimes annoyingly apparently) give 110% to make sure this happens. (Find the link to Fraser’s JustGiving page here).

Fraser, cycling up Wrynose Pass.

It’s such a big event, with lots of logistics to think about, how did you manage to organise it?

People. I had so many people involved, I literally couldn’t have done this on my own. I appointed my fiancé (Lauren Wray) as Team Manager and we sat down every night for a few weeks to plan different aspects. I spoke to anyone and everyone for advice and help on different things about the route, nutrition, logistics and to borrow equipment we didn’t have. I made up some little info cards for each of the legs so my support crew knew exactly where they needed to be, at what time and to be ready with which gear. This was a perfectly laid out plan, until they started getting stuck in holiday traffic!!

Bio-security is a really sensitive topic, especially as Derwentwater unfortunately is now home to New Zealand Pigmyweed, an alien, Non-Native Invasive Species… what steps did you take to prevent the spread of this?

Bio-security is very important and I wanted to make sure we did everything possible to avoid contamination. I had planned on hiring multiple wetsuits for each different swim leg but due to the current situation, no one is lending them. I had 2 wetsuits for the day and and a different set of hat and goggles for each leg. I made sure that once I had worn anything in Derwent, it wouldn’t be worn again by putting it all in a big plastic tub. I made a point of telling everyone on the team that if they entered Derwent, they would need to change clothes too if they planned on going in Crummock or Rydal after. They kayak got rinsed with water and wiped down before and after each leg. Even the dog was rinsed!

Fraser and Nathan about to exit Crummock Water.

Which was the most challenging section?

At first I would’ve said the swim in Derwentwater. It was so windy and wavy for a lake I didn’t know it was even possible for a lake! Being a pool swimmer I didn’t take kindly to having a wave pushing me back every couple of seconds.

Once I’d finished this swim I didn’t think it could get much worse… until the end of the Rydal swim. It was so painful it was funny. Double hamstring cramp preventing me from bending my leg and then quad cramp when I straightened them. I thought I’d be lying there for the rest of the day it was that bad! But once I’d crawled out and onto the grass it was just funny!

Did you find the cycle legs or swim stints harder?

I openly admit that I underestimated the challenge. It’s nearly a full Fred Whitton with 6 miles if open water swimming thrown in… I aimed for a time of 9 hours, which leading up to the day even I thought that was very ambitious. I set off far too quick on the first bike leg with all the adrenaline and then the first swim was almost out of panic. After that, I started to relax into it a bit more.

Physically, I’d say the bike legs were harder because when I was on the bike I was just riding hard non stop, but I had people with me the whole time to chat with. Mentally, the swims were harder for me, partly because I’m not a huge fan of open water, especially in Derwent. Crummock was the best swim as it just felt so relaxed and the water felt clean.

The cycling and swim support crew at the end of the challenge.

Ben, the previous record holder, came and cycled the last section with you – did this Frog Whitton challenge feel like you were part of cool, supportive community?

Yes, Ben came out on the day and we actually rode past him as we we leaving Crummock Water. Getting out of the last swim to have him ride the final leg with me was a great feeling. This challenge was his whole idea and he is obviously really proud of it so to have him come and show his support really meant a lot! I spoke with him on the phone the week before to ask about the route and to make sure I followed the rules he set out because I wanted to do his challenge justice. I guess being the only other person to complete it does give some kind of community now and I hope I can offer help and advice to others who want to take on the challenge!

Ben, the previous record holder and founder of the Frog Whitton Challenge (left) and Fraser, current record holder (right).

Are you excited for someone else in the future who may try and go for your record?

Of course! Obviously I love for my record to stand but it’s there to be broken now! There are probably different aspects of the day where time was lost and just generally places where things could have been done quicker so there is definitely room for it to be beaten! Even if someone sees this event and it gets them to challenge themselves to do something really tough, then that’s awesome!

Finally, my favourite inspirational words from Fraser…

Don’t be afraid to get out there into the unknown and test yourself, chances are you’ll find something about yourself you didn’t even know!

Lauren, Team Manager for the Challenge, and Fraser, looking super happy (and relieved) the Challenge is over!




The Frog Whitton Challenge:

The Pituatry Foundation:

Just Giving Page:


Lauren’s List of Legends: Hannah Rhodes-Patterson

L M B Coaching 

Lauren’s List of Legends – Q and A with Hannah Rhodes-Patterson

#1 Hannah Rhodes Patterson

On Thursday 4th June 2020 Hannah became the Women’s World Record Holder.

Hannah currently holds the UK record overall – beating all previous male and female times – for climbing the equivalent of Everest. She broke the previous record by 40 minutes,  set by Ben Goodfellow (a local lad from the lakes) and she is currently the fastest female by 50 minutes. Hannah completed this Everesting challenge in a time of 9 hours 8 minutes 31 seconds.

What is Everesting? I didn’t know what it was either. Well, once I explain it, you won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. Everesting is one of the toughest endurance challenges, involving:  8,848 metres of elevation, up one hill of your choosing. Hannah chose the lovely Kirkstone Pass hill situated in the heart of the Lake District.

hannah rh 2

I had the pleasure of training with Hannah at Durham University Triathlon Club and I can confirm she is an absolute machine on the bike. It brings me so much happiness to see her smash out such a huge challenge and get the recognition she massively deserves. I asked her a few questions the day after she casually told me she had completed the challenge, and she “may have broken the world record on my practice session”.


I guess for the motivation behind the challenge was I really do like riding my bike hard for quite a long time, so it was a challenge that was really perfect for me. It’s also a challenge that I could do with just the (much needed!) help of my family and friends.

I really like the aspect of working out the best hill, the numbers and the nutrition, I like that you can work all that out yourself and make a big difference

BUCS Duathlon National Championships, 2014


I didn’t feel too bad after, a bit empty. But it’s not like an absolutely massive ride compared to what I’ve been doing for the past 2 months, so I’m hoping recovery won’t be too bad! (My back is sore though).

hannah rp
Hannah R-P and her super supportive cyclist boyfriend, Ruari Grant


Hannah is raising money for North Staff Citizens Advice Bureau. I asked her why she chose this fantastic local charity;

I’ve chosen the Staffordshire North & Stoke-on-Trent CitizensAdviceBureaux.  Through the Citizens Advice Bureaux  I hope to be able to provide support to people in the local area who have had a particularly difficult few months and for whom the little things that make a big difference. 

I wanted to raise some money for a local cause because I think it’s really easy for little causes to get overlooked with so my coverage of the big causes. Also, I think they can spend the money in a bit more of an efficient way.

Bronze Team for us (Durham University Triathlon Girls Team) at National Relay Championships in Nottingham, 2016. (Left to right; Natalie Mitchell, Rachel Hardy, Hannah R-P, Lauren M-B)




Links to;

Hannah’s GoFundMe page:

Hannah’s Everesting Strava Activity:

Everesting Challenge Official Website:

Can Mental Health Awareness Campaigns do more damage than good?

I’m nervous to share this because it’s the first blog post I have written that isn’t all about me. I want to share my opinion on a topic concerning mental health as a whole; and it’s a controversial one. I worry that some Campaigns are causing more damage than good when it comes to understanding Mental Health. As a society, we have created a minefield of contradicting concepts that prevent us from moving forward in order to be helpful and offer support to those in need.


I want to address this topic for two reasons. Firstly, I have had discussions in the past with friends about this bug-bear of mine and some of my mates share a similar opinion. In my previous blog I allude to this:

“Mental Health is an emotive and complex topic to write about. As a society we have made huge steps forward in recognising the importance of good mental health which is great, but I don’t think we fully accept what poor mental health can look like.”

~ In it for the long haul

Secondly, I listened to Sathnam Sanghera in a podcast hosted by Elizabeth Day (as part of her ‘How to Fail’ series – give them a listen!!) and he explained pretty much how I felt about the topic, in a much more eloquent and sophisticated way. Thanks Sathnam – you have inspired me to go for it and write about my opinion! So, after listening to the podcast a second time, making tonnes of notes, reading articles and watching lots of YouTube videos to get to grips with this complex topic;  I think have figured out how I feel about it. Even though I definitely don’t feel ready to share it with you, here goes…

Can Mental Health Awareness Campaigns do more damage than good?

I will refer to the campaigns as ‘MHA’ Campaigns from now on, otherwise it’s a bit of a mouthful! What are these? MHA Campaigns can be anything from news articles, videos, social media movements which raise awareness about topic of mental health and attempt to break the stigma that our good-old westernised, capitalist world has created. One really positive and useful MHA campaign is ‘The Black Dog’ which helps raise awareness and improve understanding of depression. It’s a fabulous way of explaining the mental illness (Find the cool video here).

However, one MHA Campaign that springs to mind which is less helpful is the popular #hashtag “It’s okay not to be okay” on Social Media. In the past, I have used this #hashtag in some of my posts on my personal Instagram but have since re-considered and I no longer use it. If you really think about the sentence, about what you are promoting, what are you message are you sending? My bullet points below explain my thoughts on it!

I wanted a second opinion so I chatted with a few friends before sharing this (@joy.bynature and @alice__kerr on Instagram) and we bounced back and forth the following points:

  • Raising awareness for mental health is great! I want to highlight that I have no doubt in my mind the intentions of these MHA Campaigns are inherently good: They want to raise awareness for individuals struggling with mental health and try to break the stigma that our society has created. However…
  • Slogans and hashtags can sometime’s have a negative on understanding Mental Heath, because:
    • Hashtags are good for raising awareness but NOT so good for offer advice and the wording of the #hashtags are so important (we explore this further in a later point).
    • Sometimes it’s okay not to be okay. But in the context of severe mental health struggles, most of the time it’s not okay. For example, we don’t want to spread the message that “it’s okay to feel suicidal”. The feeling of being suicidal is a valid feeling. However I would never say “It’s okay to feel suicidal” because it’s such a horrible feeling to experience and I want to help anyone who experiences them. Rather than shrug off and normalise these (valid) suicidal feelings, I think they need to be addressed head-on.
    • This is where the use of #hashtags backfires. It’s too bla-zay and doesn’t encapsulate the true essence of what struggling with mental health means. Furthermore, everyone’s experience with Mental Health is different which is always important to recognise.
    • Better examples that could replace this #hashtag include: “it’s okay to talk when you don’t feel okay” or “it’s okay to ask for help when you don’t feel okay”. These phrases are noticeably less catchy, so it doesn’t cut the Social Media standard. This highlights another issue – Mental Health is NOT a brand: but the fancy hashtags can put pressure on individuals to BE and FEEL the slogan rather than accept how they really feel.

This is why I feel strongly that the MHA Campaign ‘It’s okay not to be okay’ is detrimental for individuals struggling with mental health and at a larger scale, detrimental to society, to understand the true nature of mental illness. The main conclusion from our discussion was that mental health needs funding rather than fashionable hashtags.

(NB: There are lots more  MHA Campaigns but I chose to focus on these two).

“Does society as a whole view mental health issues as a failure of some sort?”

This is one of the questions Elizabeth asks Sathnam during the podcast. I think Sathnam would hold a similar opinion when it comes to MHA Campaigns having good intentions at their core (I will have to ask him!) but the way mental health can be portrayed, particularly extreme mental illness, troubles start to bubble to the surface. Sathnam expressed some of his concerns with some MHA Campaigns and I wanted to share them here too:

  • Sathnam made a really interesting point that the more common mental illnesses, for example depression and anxiety, have more advocates compared to the rarer and more complex mental illnesses, like Schizophrenia. There are very few advocates for this. (He is right – No advocates come to mind when I think of it. I feel lucky to have studied Psychology and understand extreme cases of mental illness more so than someone who may not have that knowledge). He says that most people would fall into the category of  “Cross road to avoid” if they saw someone struggling with Schizophrenia in the street.
    • My thoughts – I understand his point but would like to think I wouldn’t cross the road to avoid someone with Schizophrenia and struggling with it… I think its important to have empathy and patience in this situation). 
  • Sathnam goes onto explore a more complex point – he argues that increased awareness of mild anxiety puts more strain on the already stretched resources of Mental Health, which he finds frustrating due to his personal experiences. He argued this is one of the reasons why some people may be more scared of more complex mental illnesses. He went as far to say we were taking money away from those that need it most.
    • My thoughts – I find this a very interesting point – and I’m not sure where I stand on this one. Need more time to think!
  • Essentially, Sathnam argues some MHA Campaigns have created confusion for us – one example he gave was a MHA Campaign drawing similarities between anxiety and Schizophrenia. Although they are in essence opposite ends of the spectrum, some campaigns have confused them to have similar symptoms!
    • My thoughts – this is a really interesting point that I hadn’t put much thought into before. Again, I need more time to explore my thoughts on it.

Sathnam also had a really interesting point concerning The Wellness Industry, which deserved its very own subtitle…

The Wellness Industry  

The Western world, societal constructs and capitalism (and probably other factors) have led to the booming of a fancy new thing known as The Wellness Industry. Essentially, some companies are now making lots of dollar from us gremlins being unhappy. I agree with Sathnam when he states in the podcast: there are some magazines out there that set the assumption we are entitled to be happy 24/7. The wellness industry makes money from it.

I want to point out I am a HUGE advocate for mindfulness, meditation and treating yourself to nice things and/or experiences for your happiness and well-being. However, there is a line, and it can be crossed… Just in a more disguised difficult form to spot. I know I can live very minimally and don’t need certain things to be mentally “well”. Sometimes it could be good to remind yourself of the fundamental things you ‘need’ to actually be happy. For me, that’s, friends company, being outside, writing my positive lists and doing yoga. All of that is free! Try jotting some of the essential things you need to keep your mental health in check, you might be surprised how many of them you don’t need money for!

In short, the wellness industry exploits the struggles with mental health of individuals. Let’s remind ourselves that feeling unhappy is a normal human condition and different from depression. Congrats, you are alive! And no pill, 30 day mindfulness plan, or essential oil can fix that.

Food For Thought

“If you’re not embarrassed by the person you were 10 years ago, then you are probably not trying to live life deeply enough”

~ Sathnam Sanghera

Sathnam noted he was full of confidence in his twenties, and when he compares this to the younger generation today, he sees anxiety everywhere. I agree with him. It could be interesting to explore why that may be: Could it be due to the pressure Generation X feel to achieve, or is it linked to the instant gratification generation movement? Who knows?!

I hope I have put my ideas across clearly and haven’t offended anyone. If anything, it’s just good food for thought in this eerie time. What do you think? I would love to hear other points of view on this matter.

LMB. x




NB: This Lockdown period is the perfect time to go and check out Elizabeth Day’s ‘How to Fail’ Podcasts, and Sathnam’s hilarious Twitter.

In it for the long haul.

Mental Health Taboo

Mental Health is an emotive and complex topic to write about. As a society we have made huge steps forward in recognising the importance of good mental health which is great, but I don’t think we fully accept what poor mental health can look like. I still feel a mix of negative emotions – shame, embarrassment, guilt – for struggling with my depression and anxiety. I think this is partly because of my own insecurities for viewing myself as being weak and a failure due to these ‘invisible’ struggles. I also think it is due to off-the-cuff, unhelpful remarks and prejudices concerning mental health – for example – “people who have depression are lazy and can snap out of it”. I hope writing about my personal relationship with mental health in this blog will help break the stigma a teeny bit more.

During this COVID-19 Lockdown I have had many hours (in all honesty, days!) to reflect on the past few months and come to terms with my own depression, anxiety and the lovely ADHD label. I want to share my reflections and thoughts because writing things down helps me process stuff. Plus, I’m a bit of an over-sharer and I like to think that my words may help others feel less alone, if they are having a bit of a shitter too. You are not alone, however much it feels like you are. I promise!

So, here goes…

My Account

Since October last year, I have had my phone switched off, not checked any social media, stopped all forms of exercise, had minimal contact with friends and have even struggled interacting with my own family… It’s been a bit rough to put it mildly.

I think it’s fair to say I got overwhelmed with life and had a little (well, pretty flipping huge) breakdown. I resorted to ‘Netflix and Chill’ and eating copious amounts of chocolate. Bingeing series online let me hide from the hideous thoughts swirling round my brain and the chocolate gave me a mini sugar-rush. My room was a safe place and my anxiety was so crippling that leaving the house to even go for a walk was exhausting. This went on pretty much until March this year. 

Eventually, by mid-March, a teeny little spark of hope appeared and a change of environment meant the fog started to lift and I had put the black dog back on it’s lead. In all honesty, I couldn’t tell you what triggered the flick of the switch in my brain to start living again, but I’m so happy it did. What I do know is that the unconditional love and support from the friends who forced themselves on me, even though I had made it impossible for anyone to contact me, helped hugely in the kick-start to my recovery. And now I feel I am in a position to reflect and learn from this situation, so I can deal with things in a healthier way when I next feel anxious or overwhelmed. 

I was catching up with a friend on the phone the other day and she explained depression to me in a pretty cool way: depression is like going downstairs to the basement of your brain and shutting the door from the world because life has become too much. This is exactly what I did towards the end of last year. And even though I can openly chat about how I handled things now and joke about having watched every programme on Netflix, it was very difficult to make that first step; accepting my current situation and moving on from there, with baby-steps forward.

Lessons Learnt…

No Quick Fix

There is no quick fix or magic wand. This black dog is going to be by my side for the rest of my existence. So it’s a good job I love dogs, hey?!.. In all seriousness, this is the most important thing I learnt during the past six months of darkness: I’m not going to be magically cured after crawling out of one of my dips. Keeping my mental health in check is a full time job, 24/7. And learning not to feel weak or a failure because of this is one of the biggest challenges I think I face.

My Triggers

I think I have recognised some of my triggers that lead to an episode of depression. This is a really big step in learning to understand myself more so I can handle situations better to help prevent future episodes. My triggers tend to be when I return from a big adventure (after travelling), there is job uncertainty and I feel like I have no purpose in life. I have also noticed the huge impact that food and sleep have on me! I need to make sure I eat at regular times and I recognise that evenings tends to be when I feel most vulnerable. Armed with this insight, I will hopefully be able to spot future triggers and reach out for support if I feel overwhelmed (and also not feel ashamed to do so!).


Being diagnosed with ADHD has helped me understand why I behave in certain ways. I have realised I don’t need to ‘act up’ to the label or broadcast it to everyone I meet, like “Hi I’m Lauren and I have ADHD!!!”. It’s just something I am aware of and have learnt a lot about how my brain processes stimuli. This means I am better equipped to deal with  my hyperactive tendencies and managing my energy levels in a sustainable way.

Also, since returning from Australia in 2017, I had sub-consciously created three versions of myself;

  • The “University” Lauren – the competitive, organised, successful (and slightly obsessed) triathlete who had her shit together Lauren. (Even though at the time I didn’t think I was successful in any way, plus I definitely did not have my shit together… brains are strange things, people!)
  • The “hyper” Lauren – the post Australia hippie who said YES to everything and resented the rigidness of “University” Lauren.
  • The “depressed” Lauren – the Lauren who turns into everything I hate… who is too anxious to socialise, unable to be in a swimming costume or any sporty clothes, who is overwhelmed by simple tasks, who ends up spiralling and unable to function.

I’m currently having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) where I’m learning to counteract these negative, unhelpful personas and embrace who I am as a whole. I am trying not to dwell on past mistakes or set myself unrelenting high standards. Instead, I want to accept all of me (the good the bad and the ugly) and be best person I can, for myself and for others. Plus, it’s all about working on my low self-esteem and to be comfortable in my own skin. I want to be proud of who I am, rather than cringe at myself and obsess over all the mistakes I have made in the past.


I will forever be indebted to the Wonderful Wild Women Community, my beautiful, kind friends and my family for the support over the past few months. I know it’s not easy to be friends with someone who has these struggles, or to live with them (sorry mum and dad for the past few months!). But they have stood by me and it fills my heart with happiness, as well as baffling me, that they still wanted to be around even when I was at my worst. Hence, why I love this Rupi Kaur poem:

When the world comes crashing at your feet

It’s okay to let others

Help pick up the pieces

If we’re present to take part in your happiness

When your circumstances are great

We are more than capable

Of sharing your pain.

Community – Rupi Kaur


I have written down three main things I have learnt through this low episode in hope that it might be useful for someone else:

  1. Surround yourself with those who support you through the rough times as well as being there for the good times.
  2. Be kind to yourself. Be Less judgemental. Let go of comparisons.
  3. Life is a journey… and I’m 25. I have learnt a lot about myself and my values, but (hopefully) will have many more years to get my shit together, although I’m pretty sure we never feel that we ever get to that point.


Finally, if you can, try to make the best of this unsettling Lockdown situation. It has given me chance to reflect and let go of feelings of guilt and shame for not doing the things I ‘should’ be doing (like working full-time) and has allowed me to be a bit creative. I hope you can shine some light in what might be a grey or unsettling time for you right now. 




Small Hours

Beautiful poetry, as always, by my dear friend.

Wanderings and Wonderings LJF

I want to talk with you

into the smallest hours of the morning.

To sit and talk.

No more.

Of hopes

of fears

of dreams

and everything in between.


don’t think me dull

that I want to talk.

For what could be more fascinating

than to sit

with you.

Hearts and minds open.

To listen to you speak

about the very stardust we are made of.

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WWW Instagram Takeover

In February I did an Instagram ‘take over’ for Wonderful Wild Women. It was fun, scary, liberating, empowering and nerve wracking all at the same time!

I wanted to pull all the posts together so I can look back at them when in need of inspiration.

Below is the amalgination of posts from the week in February.

Wonderful Wild Women, Instagram Takeover (21st-28th February 2019).

Day 1

It’s time for February’s takeover. 🙌

I’m Lauren – I was lucky enough to grow up in the Lake District. After a few years studying in the North East, a few months across the pond in Australia and a short period of city life in Manchester, I found my way back to the mountains. Shortly after, I discovered the amazing Wonderful Wild Women community. 💜

I haven’t got a plan behind my posts yet, but I do know this: I want to share some recent experiences that have significantly altered my perception of what life is about – including mental health, body image, the importance of adventures and inspiring others to get outside. I’m going to go with the flowwww, so bear with me! 🌊

I hope you enjoy them! 💫

@mrjumpyjames 📷

#wonderfulwildwomen #getoutside #mentalhealthawareness #outdoorswimming #sharetheswimlove #lovethelakes #lakedistrict #liquidmeditation #selfcare

Day 2

Accepting yourself. ✨

As part of this Instagram takeover I want to talk about loving our bodies.

Social media can become a bit of a paradox when it comes to self acceptance. Instagram has many positives; it creates amazing communities (like this!), it can be a source of inspiration and fantastic connections can be made. As with anything, there are also negatives; it can increase pressure to strive towards the non-existent ‘perfect’ body and we can fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others.

Through my own mental health struggles my body has fluctuated in weight and appearance. I had long periods of inactivity and then periods doing lots of exercise. This exacerbated my body insecurities.

Fellow ambassador, @gillymcarthur, gave me this pearl of wisdom. Gilly told me as a way of helping her body confidence, she bought a bikini and started to learn not to focus on her own body hang-ups… so I went and did the same!! 😍

Also, I rediscovered the blog I wrote for WWW last year, which reinforced that I want to love my body for what it can do, rather than focusing on what it looks like. (I will leave a link in the comments below ⬇️). Perspective shift — I want to focus on the beautiful tarn I am about to jump into, surrounded by the amazing mountains, rather than fixating on my body hang-ups.

So, to all of you women and men struggling with accepting your body – let’s celebrate the amazing functionality of the human body and the adventures it can take us on!! .





Thanks @mrjumpyjames for these delightful photos.

#wonderfulwildwomen #outdoorswimming #selfcare #loveyourself #liquidmeditation #bodypositivity #getoutside #lovethelakes #goexplore #thisgirlcan #happyplace

Day 3

Have you ever had to redefine your identity? It could be out of choice or due to circumstance: Either way, it can be hard.

I have struggled with my own identity the past few years, specifically relating to competitive sport.

I have always viewed myself as sporty. As a child I swam for a local club, in my teens I viewed myself as a Fell Runner, later at University a die-hard triathlete. With this identity, other expectations followed. Because I was a triathlete, I “was someone who”: ate healthily, trained 2-3 times a day, raced most weekends, sticked to the training plan and never missed a training session – regardless of how my body was feeling.

My training and racing came first. Friends, a social life, studies came second. Happiness and health after that.

I am not denying that my commitment and some of these self-imposed rules led to pretty cool opportunities, like racing all over the world and meeting some awe inspiring people through sport, like @nic13jackson! Plus I did love pushing myself in races.

However, I have recognised at this current time in my life I want to let go of that obsessive routine I had turned sport into and enjoy life for what it is. As @lucy_in_the_lakes told me recently “we want to ride the wave, not be taken under it.” 🌊

It’s still a work in progress. I realised I haven’t completed a triathlon since 2016; yet there is still a part of me that defines myself as a triathlete.

Perspective shift — everyday I am challenging this “old Lauren” identity. I currently don’t have a training plan, I have started climbing more regularly for fun and I check in with how my body feels as to whether I swim, ride, run or climb. Now, I also thoroughly enjoy sharing the outdoors with friends, rather than worrying about completing the session on my training plan.

Also, I have set myself a new and daunting challenge, I have entered my first ultra marathon in October! 👟

Here’s to the next chapter of no training plan, enjoying adventures with friends and completing fun challenges along the way. 💫

I would love to hear your thoughts on how identity has affected you, sport related or otherwise. 🙌 📷 @mrjumpyjames

Day 4


“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust. 💫
I want to dedicate my next post to the delicate topic of mental health.
Today I ran Bournemouth 10mile road race with @zoebazza. We chose this as our February event for the ’12 months for MIND’ challenge we have set ourselves.This race was an amazing experience: I ran it alongside my best friend, I enjoyed the challenge, I didn’t worry about a time or position, I soaked up the atmosphere, we sang ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley most of the way round and enjoyed the sea air and views. ✨

 Day 5


“Aim for the stars,
No matter how high,
Have faith in yourself
And reach for the sky.

Just follow your dreams,
They’re waiting for you
And you are the one
Who can make them
      Come true.”                                                                            The Wonderful Wild Women community has added so much sparkle to my life — the people, the events and the challenges make it special.
I am incredibly lucky to be an ambassador for WWW and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to share my experiences this week.
If you haven’t been to an event yet, please join us! We are a friendly bunch. 💜💚 Also – without compromising your safety – there is no ‘correct’ outfit for going on adventures in the outdoors. Here, I forgot my bobble so used my buff instead, I’m wearing a cotton top and (not running) leggings and I’m rocking the odd sock look (this has become a bit of a trademark look for me. 🤷‍♀️ Never let the fact you don’t have the ‘proper’ running (or other sports) gear stop you getting outside. 👟
Just one more post left for me tomorrow, then normal WWW Instagram will resume. Happy Monday! 💃
@mrjumpyjames 📷

 Day 6


Thankyou. 💓
This is the last post from me!
Despite my initial apprehension for this takeover, I have had a blast! My goal was to inspire others to get into the outdoors and get active. I hope I have been successful! Plus, it has been great for me to reflect on what I have learnt the past few months.
…Thanks @sarah_gerrish for the amazing opportunity. 😘
I want to share another cute little quote which the wonderful @rmarikate passed onto me:
“We are all cups, constantly and
Quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing How to tip ourselves over and
Let the beautiful stuff out.” 🌸
~Ray Bradbury. … But I’m not quite finished yet! Keep an eye on the WWW Instagram stories for updates tomorrow. 🙌
This photo was taken by the super talented @hugoshootsfilm on his film camera. 🎥

Until next time.


How Buoy 13 saved my life.

Mental Health Awareness Week: How Buoy 13 saved my life.

Its mental health awareness week so I guess it’s a fitting time to share last years events with you. I love sharing my experiences with others – it’s how I connect with people. But this story feels different. I have been sitting on it for a long time: Although I have openly discussed my struggles with those who are close to me, this is the first time I have documented it on paper.

Sometimes it’s still painful to think about what happened. It still feels raw. I get flashbacks when I see something that triggers my memory back to the dark place I was in; my heart starts pounding and breathing goes shallow. One part of me wants to keep these series of events hidden away, because its easier that way. Writing it down makes it feel real, like it actually happened. I can’t hide away from it. But there is another (bigger) part of me who wants to share my story. My struggles last year have shaped me to be who I am now. There is a reason I have a crazy ‘fuck it’ attitude who jumps at any adventure.

My mate described me as being ‘bloody minded’ and continued to say; “[You have a] to hell with it, let’s give this whirl, what have you got to lose’ type of approach”. She hit the nail on the head: I say yes to life. But I haven’t always been like this. I guess this is what the blog post is all about: how I survived the worst few months of my life and came out of it a hell of a lot stronger. I’m the same Lauren, but different. FAR more confident and outrageous.


So what happened last year? It went something like this…


July 2017: Back to the UK, Re-adjusting

I returned from Australia. I moved back in with the parents and a few days later I started at the same job I had before I went travelling (I was skint so had to start earning asap!). Looking back now, I realise there was no time to process travelling or to adjust back to UK life. I think this sparked the troubled few months.

The anxiety started to creep in. I couldn’t talk to others without analysing what they were thinking, and it would always be negative. For example; “they think I am boring to talk to”, “they think that I am not living how I should be” ,”they are thinking I am getting nowhere in life” etc etc… With. Every. Conversation. 

I got by and was functioning from the outside: I was holding down a job, occasionally meeting friends and doing a bit of exercise. I don’t think many people noticed that I wasn’t myself – I may have just looked a bit on edge. But on the inside nothing felt right, I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I was resisting everything. It felt like I was in a glass box: I was still participating in life but also felt cut off from others. I could visualise how the usual Lauren would be in certain situations (bubbly, smiley, chatty), but for some reason I couldn’t be ‘me’. I felt empty. So I ended up becoming very quiet and low.

Then, in August (with a nudge from the rents) I decided to see a counsellor. I went for one session and I cried for the whole hour. I explained how I didn’t know how to bring the things I had learnt in Australia back to the UK. I also felt like I had changed whilst travelling and wasn’t understood or accepted after these new experiences which was the worst feeling.

But then I was offered an opportunity. My friend asked if I would temporarily house sit for her in Manchester whilst she went travelling. I jumped at the chance! I thought it would give me a fresh start, a second chance. Manchester was an exciting place, I would get a job, make new friends, see what it’s like living in a city, join the triathlon club and maybe try new things like climbing.

However, I knew something wasn’t quite right with the move. I became very anxious before I left: I didn’t want to do sport, I avoided packing for the move and generally wasn’t nice to be around. I guess deep down I knew I wasn’t solving anything by moving location. Instead, I was avoiding the problem. I wasn’t being honest with myself with what I truly wanted to do and was hoping Manchester would ‘fix’ me. 

But I pushed all the doubts to the back of my mind and moved to Manchester on the 4th September.

September 2017: Manchester, where the wheels fell off

Initially things seemed to go well, I went through the motions. I got a job at a grocery shop that seemed to fit with my Auz experiences. I volunteered for a cool social enterprise called ‘Sow the City’. I joined the Manchester Tri Club and went to one bike ride and a few swims. It looked like I was functioning on the outside. I think I even fooled myself that I was fine.

But I couldn’t shake the anxious thoughts I’d had at home. Negativity encompassed my whole presence, like being in thick fog. I felt so alone. In the flat I cried every night. I would get out of bed at the last possible moment to start the day. I couldn’t make decisions on anything (it took two painful hours to decide on a pair of running trainers.) I even left a group interview at LUSH in tears at the second question; I choked up and lost the ability to even speak coherently because I was that anxious. 

In my eyes life was so depressing, I couldn’t see one ounce of goodness. I never smiled. I avoided conversation with others. I wouldn’t get out of bed until 2pm on my days off. I would cry all the time. I would tell a select few how I didn’t want to be here anymore. I stopped doing any exercise. I wouldn’t cook meals for myself and would just binge eat – I pretty much lived off  bread, humus and chocolate for 2 months. I stopped looking after myself. I think this self destruct mindset was my way of asking for help – I just stopped participating in life and hope the world would stop or someone would pick up the pieces for me.

Then the suicidal thoughts began.

At my lowest point that was all I would think about. I had given up on life. I had stopped participating in every way possible. I wanted the world to swallow me up. I planned how not to be here: I would walk over bridges and have to fit every muscle not to jump off. I would lie in bed and think about where I could buy rope. Looking back now, it was pretty horrendous.

The worst part of all this was putting those who loved me through this emotional turmoil. I knew my actions and words were hurting them, but what I was feeling was still so real. I convinced myself I didn’t want to be on this earth – how scary is that?

In the end Dad told me on the phone I needed to come home, but he made it clear I was the one who had to make the decision. Again, I delayed and delayed making another decision – it took me about three weeks! Eventually I realised I had to get out. I accepted I couldn’t do this alone, I needed help. So I came back to the lakes.

November 2017: Getting Lauren back

I was back at home. In my eyes I was back at square one – and worse: I was unemployed, felt like a failure and was anxious and depressed. I was still avoiding social interactions due to the fear of being boring and no one would want to spend time with someone who is depressed. I was doing them a favour by cutting myself off.

My parents thought medication would help but I didn’t want to go on antidepressents. I went to the doctors anyway and I told them I didn’t want medication, so they recommended some counselling. In the same week as this I somehow got a job at Phase Eight in town. Hurray, I was no longer unemployed! This forced me to put effort again into looking after myself as it was a fancy clothes shop. This was the start of the slow turnaround – I had put a bit of normality, routine, structure back into my life.


Buoy 13 Swimming Club

After telling people these events, most people ask “How did you get yourself out of it?” and I always struggle to answer them.

There was absolutely no quick fix.

I had to force myself out of the door every single day for a few weeks. Force myself to chat to friends. Force myself to go and do ‘normal’ tasks like get out of bed, have a shower, make breakfast. Then I forced myself (with the help of Dad) to do things I knew I enjoyed but for some reason was avoiding, like to go on a bike ride and go swimming.

What is crystal clear now is how cold water swimming was a constant theme throughout it all. And this is all down to the amazing Buoy13 Swimming Club. (We aren’t really a club but it sounds catchy!). Buoy 13 swimming club saved my life. ‘How?’ I hear you ask? Well;

  • The act of swimming helped bring me back to myself: The tranquil, serene, (flipping cold!!!) water was a distraction to all the negative, draining thoughts encompassing my mind. I escaped from all the anxieties in the cold water.
  • The people I have met through this wonderful hobby: The morning chats after the dip, the coffee and cake are the best way to start the morning. The simplicity was amazing. I felt human again. I felt part of something.

These combined, for me, were better than any form of medication or therapy. (I mentioned previously I was referred for counselling by a doctor – I had a telephone assessment and two counselling sessions but didn’t find them to be very useful). This is why cold water swimming will always be such a big part of my life.

So, thank you Buoy13 Swimming club. Thank you for accepting me when I wouldn’t talk and was an anxious mess. I owe you everything. I also owe the Giant lot in Kendal a big thank you, the girls I worked with at Phase Eight, and to everyone who managed to put up with me the latter part of 2017. You guys will never know how much you helped me.


I wanted to share my experiences with mental health because I think it is important to recognise that anyone can have bad spells; however extreme and whether it lasts a few days, weeks or months. I am aware most people view me as a confident, positive and chatty person; and I am most of the time. But, like everyone, I have my moments where I am insecure, low and anxious. And that’s also okay. We are human, we are allowed to go through rough patches. For me, I now recognise when I feel a bit low and remind myself it is just a feeling and it will pass. I will either go for a swim / run / slack lining / adventure of some sort, meet a mate for a beer or have an early night and know that I will wake up the next day feeling great again.

I recently discovered the beautiful song by Vera Blue, ‘Regular Touch’ and loved these words:

“Feel securer in your own skin
Love from within, time to begin”

Going through this episode of depression and anxiety, I have learnt so much about myself. Although I don’t think I have fully processed it all yet, I am in a good place where I see it as a learning curve. This is where my new life philosophy was born: As I survived the scariest threat on this earth (myself), with a bit of grit, luck and sass, I can do anything.

… And the best bit of advice I got?

Three words: You do you.

LMB. x