My best buys of 2014

Before I blog about the several not so impressive running related purchases I made in 2014, I’ve decided to share my top 10 (ish) buys of 2014. Please note that unless otherwise stated, I paid for all of the items I refer to in this blog myself. In addition, none of the brands paid me to write this blog. The items marked* were either won in twitter competitions or provided for free.

I have used an approximate Cost Per Use (CPU) system. This enabled me to estimate how much value for money I have got from each item. My motto has and will always be “cheap and cheerful”. I splurge on my trainers and save on everything else.

Aldi lightweight running jacket – £14.99

I had never stepped foot inside an Aldi store until May. This wasn’t due to me being Miss Snooty. Unfortunately I don’t have a car, and the nearest Aldi is miles away. Completely by chance I managed to time my first Aldi trip to perfection. After managing to navigate myself away from the “stuff I don’t need” aisles, I spotted some running gear in another aisle. I was restrained and only bought a lightweight running jacket.

This jacket has become a staple part of my winter running wardrobe. It hides my wobbly bits and keeps me warm during the C25K walking reps. My only minor complaint is that the sleeves are slightly too short. At less than £15 I can live with this.JacketApproximate CPU = £1 (and decreasing rapidly).

Brooks Transcend trainers – £150.00

In May I called into Sweatshop with the aim of buying some new inserts. An hour later I left with a pair of inserts and a pair of Brooks Transcends. Although the Transcends were bright pink, they immediately felt so comfortable I decided that I could live with the colour. In July I reviewed the Transcends and highlighted what I considered an issue; the amount of wear to the sole of the right trainer.

At £150 the trainers were very expensive, I had run under 50 miles in them, and most of my runs had been on grass. Concerned that I was imagining things, I asked another runner for a second opinion. They agreed that the amount of wear was excessive and advised me to contact Brooks. A few emails to Brooks and Sweatshop later and I was sent a replacement pair. Full marks to the Customer Service team at Brooks.bce5d-photo4Approximate CPU = currently £1.50/mile (and decreasing with each run).

Carmex Classic Moisturising Lip Balm – £2.69

Some people might feel that lip balm is more suited to a beauty blog, I disagree! My little pot of Carmex has so far saved me from enduring another winter with sore lips. Until discovering Carmex my lips would suffer from running in the cold. Although I have tried and tested other lip balms, I will always return to Carmex.carmexApproximate CPU = pennies

CEP Run Socks 2.0* (competition win) – £39.99

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to win a pair of CEP Short socks. When CEP contacted me I was cheeky and asked if I could have a pair of compression socks (I did offer to pay the difference). CEP kindly agreed to send me a pair of progressive+ run socks 2.0.

At £39.99 a pair these compression socks are expensive and would have been well outside my budget. I have worn several brands of compression socks and the CEP socks are, in my opinion, the best. CEP asks buyers to provide calf circumference measurements; this ensures the socks actually provide compression and don’t fall down halfway through a run. CEP provide a fully illustrated nine-step “putting on sports socks” guide. It turns out that I had been getting it wrong, and that my saggy compression sock issues were probably my fault.runsocks2_0_blackpink_pairApproximate CPU = N/A

Karrimor Ladies running socks – £5.00 (for two pairs)

I have tried and tested loads of different brands of socks. After several blister sagas, I always return to my favourite socks; the Ladies Karrimor Dri socks. The socks are nearly always on a “2 for £10” offer in Sports Direct so are really, really cheap. They are comfortable, don’t rub and most importantly wear and wash well. I bloody love these socks.SocksApproximate CPU = pennies

Liforme Yoga Mat (competition win) – £100

At the start of the year Charlie ran a competition on twitter, the prize was a Liforme yoga mat, and I was lucky enough to win. Thanks Charlie! Although the mat has not been to many yoga classes this year, I am determined to drag my fat ass along to more classes next year. As a runner rather than a yogi I feel that I am unable to provide a fair and meaningful review of the mat. Is this yoga mat worth £100? Is any yoga mat worth £100? I genuinely have no idea!foam rollerApproximate CPU = N/A

MPG – Mondetta Performance Gear shorts – £4.99

People who shop in TK Maxx will have probably noticed the MPG sportswear brand. For people who can’t cope with TK Maxx, look online. A tip for tall female runners, MPG actually fits! If you see an item of MPG then consider buying it. I have purchased MPG running t-shirts, capris, long-sleeved tops, shorts and tights for less than £10.They all fit me perfectly! I bought these black shorts for £4.99, wore them once in the summer and then got injured. I am looking forward to some “Sun’s Out, Guns Out” action next summer.shortsThis photo is rubbish, luckily the shorts are great!

Approximate CPU = £4.99

Nesquik Chocolate/Strawberry/Banana Milkshake Mix – £2.99

I have more or less broken my Diet Coke addiction. Unfortunately, I am now drinking large quantities of strawberry flavoured Nesquik milkshake (sorry teeth). I have tried the chocolate and banana flavours, but always return to strawberry. After each run and before doing anything else I will knock back a glass of strawberry milkshake. So although I am not drinking chocolate milk, strawberry milkshake has to be better than nothing, I hope!?milkshakeApproximate CPU = pennies

Nike/H&M/Kalenji t-shirts – up to £4.99

Last month I bought a new Nike t-shirt on eBay. It is orange, it is bright, it is frankly pretty hideous, but at £3 it was a bargain. I managed to grab the grey t-shirt on sale for £4.99 from H&M. I love how H&M seem to get inspiration from copy more expensive brands. The final t-shirt was given to me in return for marshalling at a Women’s Running 10k event.tee shirtsApproximate CPU = zero-20p per t-shirt (and decreasing)

nuun tablets – £6.00/tube

I was selected as a nuun blogger earlier this year, and in August I wrote about the benefits of nuun. The fact that nuun is also a pretty effective hangover cure has been documented in a number of blogs recently. On Thursday I had lunch at my local T.G.I. Friday’s, I estimate that in under an hour I consumed more salt than I would usually consume in a week. Fast-forward a couple of hours and I was living in headache hell. I gave the paracetamol a miss and reached for my supply of orange nuun, an hour later my headache had gone. nuun-2012-zoomApproximate CPU = N/A

Although I enjoyed compiling this blog, I am really looking forward to blogging about the not so great purchases I made this year. The blog will feature physio sessions, race entries, “long” running tights that were the length of capris and cooling bandages.

I would love more runners to share their product recommendations, please get blogging!


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