Friday 19 July 2013

Raindrops on roses: The 2013 version

Back in July 2011, I posted a report on some of my favourite running products.  Anyone involved in sport - of any kind - will know that products/gadgets/brands change quite significantly and quite frequently, so I thought I'd bring the list up-to-date.

So, in no particular order here a few of the little gems that I couldn't live (well, run) without.

I've mentioned a few times in the past that I'm a Hoka fan.  Now I'm a huge fan, as I love their new additions - the Kailua Comp and Rapa Nui - even more.  They look more like regular running shoes, so you don't get the double takes from Joe Public.  They still provide the same protection and cushioning but the Rapa Nui are more responsive off road and the Kailua Comp are ideal for faster road running.  Previously I only wore my Hoka for longer distance running, but now they are every day use.   And after I bought three pairs of them, Hoka asked me to be one their sponsored athletes.  A gal can never have too many pairs of shoes, right?

Since posting my feet fixing post this year, I'm still looking for ways to improve things.  My feet are significantly better using the new regime, but not perfect.  After a visit to Up and Running in Keswick on a Lakeland run recce I was looking to purchase some more kinesiology tape. Unfortunately the shop didn't stock my usual tape, but fortunately Paul Tierney introduced me to RockTape H2O.  This version was designed for water sports - surfers, swimmers, water polo players, triathletes...and ultra runners in the Lake District.  OK the latter might be a stretch, but it should be included in the category.  It stays on longer - even in tough conditions - and is significantly better, so ranks pretty high on my new favourite finds. Thanks, Paul.

The Montane Minimus Mountain Jacket has featured quite heavily in many of my Lakeland recce runs.  As the dear Dave T once said: "Sometimes the weather in the Lakes is really bad.  And then it take a turn for the worse"  Or something of that ilk.  I can honestly say I have felt close to death on a few occasions. Soaked through and freezing.   This updated version of the popular Minimus has been a saviour.  Now we're into milder termperatures, I still carry it as back-up because it's ultra lightweight, breathable and packs down into a fist-sized drawstring bag.
On the subject to fairer climes, anyone living in the UK will know we're experiencing a spell of wonderful weather and high temperatures just now.  Even in Scotland.  My previous favourites post included Banana Boat sun protection products, but they need a repeat mention as their new products are even better.  I love the Sport products and the the Kids' Powder Dri Lotion - for both myself and Cairn - It does literally sink in really fast to leave a powder-like feeling, so there no greasy or sticky feeling.  And it smells amazing.   I really wouldn't use anything else.

Running in the UK, I've certainly put my Drymax Socks through the wringer.  The range includes socks for different weather and conditions.  As previously documented I went from blister-plagued to blister free on the very wet and muddy Thames Path 100, using the Lite Mess No Show  and since running in the dizzy heights of up to 30 degrees (that high for Scotland!) over the passed few weeks, the Drymax Hot Weather Mini Crew have been fantastic.  For really wet and cold weather the Drymax Maximum Protection Running Socks are in a league of their own.  I know, it's a wonder I have time to run at all with all the dilemmas I face before even getting out of the door!

I'm a gal who likes to accessorise, so the Dirty Girl Gaiters are right up my street. Plus, there serve a pretty good purpose and stop little nasties getting into your shoes.  Double bonus.  The only negative I can think of is that I shouldn't have bought the GM the lovely butterfly print ones for her birthday.  Every time I see her in them, I wish I kept them for myself :-)

Salomon are pioneers when it comes supplying products for trail and ultra distance running.  I bought the Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12-set backpack in the spring and have used it on all my long runs since.  It's so comfortable that I even use it for runs that I could have got away with wearing a bottle belt.  It's a well thought-out product with great space and easy access.  The only downside to it is the clips.  They're a nightmare. And with cold hands virtually impossible to deal with.

I don't use the bladder in the backpack.  Actually the main reason I bought it was so I could use front bottles and the  Salomon Soft Flasks were a great investment.  They'd work in most backpacks with a front packet, so it doesn't need to be Salomon.  They are great. No swooshing sounds or bruised ribs from hard bottles.  And they are featherlight.    Just be sure to secure them properly.  Because they are floppy, the can wriggle their way out of the pocket and you won't hear it when it drops.  I learned this the hard way at the weekend.  I was five miles down the WHW on one of the hottest days of the year when I realised it was gone.  It was very early and very remote - even the local hotel hadn't starting serving breakfast - so I had to rummage in a bin for an empty water bottle to fill.  Not my proudest moment, but needs must.  At the moment of realisation I decide to draw a line under it and not fret.  Now I'm totally fretting, as I can't get a replacement for love nor money!! They are so good, everywhere has sold out.

S-lab rucksacks and gear

I promise this will be the last plug for Salomon, but they new Exo S-Lab Twinskin Skort deserves a mention.  I should point out that up until purchasing this little number,  I've always been against skorts.  The concept - and the name - is ridiculous, but I love this one. It doesn't have any special powers, but it's different from anything else on the running market.  And it makes me feel like Anna Frost when I wear it.  Yeah, I know, only in my head.

On the same something-different note, I've recently bought a pair of the X-Bionic Ladies Effektor Running 3/4 Power Tight.  As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.  X-Bionic stuff ain't exactly cheap, by the quality and material is amazing.

My latest food of choice for training, races and general munching are 9 Bars.  Not only are they crap-free, they are freaking delicious, reasonably priced and something the whole family will love (don't last long in Chez Consani), but the company also supports ultrarunners and races.  All big ticks in my books.

Electrolyte sports drink tabs, High5 Zero remains a firm favourite for me.  They contain the vital Vitamin C and electrolytes, including sodium, magnesium and potassium, but they are also portable and refreshing. I just take them with me on a run and fill up from streams. They don't have the nasty taste that some electrolyte tabs have and most importantly for me, there's no sticky mess.  I've had many a mid-race/run meltdown over sticky hands. 

The fuel behind the GB 24 hour team is Alpro Chocolate Soya Milk.  I think we emptied supermarkets in Poland and in Holland of their supplies.  Team Manager, Richard Brown swears by it and we just do what we're told.  Soya Milk is high in plant protein and more palatable and digestible.  So when nothing else will go down, chocolate soya saves the day. 

This is a bit of a random addition, but Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream is last but not least.  You will probably know the brand name for luxurious beauty product, but their Eight House Cream is a skin protentant and nothing short of magical.  The marketing bit: The skincare classic that soothes, restores, calms and helps relieve chapped, cracked, dry skin. Soothes roughness, redness and minor skin irritations.  I've used it to prevent chaffing and blisters and it works a treat.