Book Review: Fast Fuel: Food for Running Success by Renee McGregor

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. The weather was amazing. Although I don’t want my blog to become a series of product reviews, I decided that as my Running Science book review was quite well received, I would review some of the books I’ve found particularly useful.

I decided to start with a quick(ish) review of Fast Fuel: Food for Running Success written by Renee McGregor. Renee is a registered dietician and is one of the UK’s top sports nutritionists, advising athletes from amateur to Olympic levels. As a result, Renee ensures that all the advice she shares is evidence based i.e. there has been reliable research around the subject, to make claims both accurate and credible.

Front cover

Back cover

Fast Fuel: Food for Running is for runners of all levels who want to:

  • Achieve their performance goals whether that’s improving their weekly parkrun time, bettering their personal best in the marathon, or venturing into ultra-marathons.
  • Stick to a training plan while also trying to earn a living and juggle other commitments.
  • Improve their knowledge of nutrition because it debunks some of the most common myths.
  • Increase their confidence by knowing that they are eating the correct foods to fuel their body and to maximise their training, without over-reaching and potentially risking illness or injury.

The book is divided into two main sections. The first is broken down into three chapters; (1) Fuelling basics, (2) Training – the road to victory and (3) Fine-tuning your body, and provides a practical, easy-to-follow, step-by-step, scientific introduction to sports nutrition. The second contains an extensive selection of simple but mouth-watering recipes and is broken down into recipes for; healthy breakfasts, light meals, main meals, snacks and portables, and finally, desserts.

Once again, rather than attempting to review the entire book, I decided to highlight the sections I found particularly interesting in the first three chapters. I’ve included photographs with this review to illustrate how easy to follow and well laid out the book is.

Chapter 1: Fuelling Basics

“Chapter 1 is a practical guide to what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. We also look at how your body metabolizes food into fuel, and how it can adapt to provide fuel for different levels of training intensity”

I found that in order to take in all the information, I had to read through Chapter 1 a couple of times. Although I found the sections on carbohydrates, protein and fat really informative, the section of supplements was particularly enlightening.

Supplements

The book provides a selection of ‘real food’ alternatives to sports drinks, energy gels, protein shakes and sports bars. After my next run I’ll definitely attempt to create my own, much cheaper sports drink. Chapter 1 also looks at special dietary considerations, recovery nutrition, metabolism and racing weight.

Chapter 2: Training – The Road to Victory

“Chapter 2 shows the different fuelling requirements for different distances and training intensities and how making the right nutritional choices will benefit you. This section also includes sample menus plans, using the recipes from this book to demonstrate practically how to choose appropriate food”

As a runner in urgent need of a refresher in what actually comprises a sensible training plan, I found the ‘Planning your training week’ section really useful.

Planning training

Looking back, I suspect that last year I was inadvertently completing all of my training sessions at a moderate to high level of intensity. I got my pre- and post-run fuelling totally wrong and was eating far too much carbohydrate. After ‘digesting’ the contents of Chapter 2, I’m now impressed that I (a) didn’t put on more weight and (b) didn’t get injured while I was training for the Great Birmingham Run.

Chapter 3: Fine-Tuning your Body

“Chapter 3 highlights the importance of maintaining the well-oiled machine we call our body; it looks at issues relating the injury, illness and over-reaching and demonstrates how the right nutrition can combat these potential problems”

When I bought Fast Fuel, I headed straight to the sections on injury prevention and nutrition for sore, tired or injured bodies.

Injury prevention

The author points out that although being injured is very frustrating – this is an understatement – it is also a good time to reflect and to work out how you can reduce your risk of the same injury occurring again. Reading the book has made me realise just how much I need to improve my diet. I now suspect that my poor diet contributed to my foot injury. The third chapter also includes a thought-provoking section; ‘Have you lost your running mojo?’

As I believe that at some stage, nearly every runner experiences a loss of running mojo, I’ll dedicate a blog post to the subject.

Food, glorious food – Examples of light and main meals

Although my nut allergy unfortunately meant that I had to discount several recipes in Fast Fuel, I was still left with a decent number of light and main meals to choose from. While I obviously can’t share the exact recipes, I decided to list the meals I’ll be attempting to create over the next few weeks. If you’re really unlucky, I might share my thoughts in a future post.

  • Half and Half Chilli con Carne I’m a fan of ‘normal’ Chilli con Carne so thought this recipe looked intriguing. The recipe halves the amount of beef and replaces it with lentils.
  • Punjabi-Style Aloo Sabsi I picked this recipe simply because I want to try some completely new (to me!) food.
  • Roasted Vegetable and Mozzarella Bruschetta I tend to opt for bruschetta as a starter when I eat out, so I thought I’d see if I could make my own. With a preparation time of only five minutes, nothing can possibly go wrong…
  • Sausage Casserole I love sausages. I also enjoy making casseroles so, when the weather cools down, a sausage casserole sounds like a win-win.
  • Tangy Chicken Stir-Fry I’ve got a culinary confession; I’ve never made a stir-fry from scratch. Fingers crossed I manage to cook the chicken to perfection and don’t burn the vegetables.

If I disappear from twitter for a prolonged period of time, then it is highly likely one of these recipes didn’t quite go to plan.

The Verdict

I found Fast Fuel easy-to-read and I thought that the book was laid out in a logical way, with each chapter building on the previous chapter. If you are a runner who is interested in finding out more about how nutrition can aid your running performance, then this is quite possibly the perfect book for you. If you are a runner with a more advanced understanding of sports nutrition, then I suspect that Fast Fuel may be slightly too basic for you.

Fast Fuel: Food for Running Success is published by Nourish Books and has a RRP of £9.99 and is available from all major bookstores.

**Full disclosure: I bought Fast Fuel: Food for Running Success myself. I was not asked to review the book, but decided to share my honest thoughts on a book I found useful as a runner**

My healthy kitchen ready meal review

Although I’ve been trying to be slightly more adventurous in the kitchen recently, I still seem to end up preparing and cooking the same meals.

It’s probably a good job I live alone as I don’t think many people would tolerate eating pasta several times a week. As you can imagine I was pretty pleased when I received an email inviting me to review a selection of healthy ready meals produced by a brand I hadn’t come across before called my healthy kitchen (myhk).

MYHK Collage

Last week a friendly gentleman in a refrigerated van appeared at my front door carrying a box containing food. Happy days! When I looked inside the box I saw that I’d been sent three myhk ready meals to try; Chicken Paella, Prawn Katsu and Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto. At this stage I’ll admit that I had no idea what one of the meals – Prawn Katsu – would taste like.

What is my healthy kitchen (myhk)?

My healthy kitchen (myhk) was launched earlier this year with the aim of providing speedy, wholesome meals that don’t compromise on taste or goodness.

In an ideal world, we’d all have a fresh, home-cooked dinner every single night. But who has the time?

When it comes to quick, healthier options, you might feel like it’s a choice between bland, low-calorie ready meals and boring salads. But at my healthy kitchen, we don’t think you should have to compromise on taste or goodness when you need a speedy meal. [Source]

At the moment, there are six myhk ready meals available, each inspired by global flavours: Moroccan Prawn; Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Risotto; Oriental Chicken; Chicken Paella; Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto; and Prawn Katsu.

Each meal aims to be as wholesome and tasty as something you’d cook from scratch, contains less than 500 calories and is made with healthy ingredients with no artificial flavours, preservatives or colours. In addition, each meal offers at least one nutritional benefit, whether it’s low in fat, saturated fat, or salt, is a source of protein or fibre, or contains one (or more!) of your five a day.

What can my healthy kitchen (myhk) ready meals be used for?

If you are in a rush and are looking for something fast, filling, and full of flavour to eat!!

The review process

As I have a nut allergy, I checked that none of the ready meals I’d been sent contained nuts. Fortunately none of the ready meals prepared by myhk contain nuts, so I was safe, phew!

Once I’d established I could actually eat the ready meals, the preparation and review process was quick and easy. Detailed, specific cooking instructions were provided with each ready meal, and as with most ready meals, all I had to do was remove the cardboard packaging, pierce the film lid, and cook the meal in the microwave for approximately three and a half to four minutes.

When I was satisfied that each ready meal was ready to eat, I got down to what I hoped would be the best part of the review process, actually eating the food!

The Verdict

I’ll start with a confession. Although I took a couple of photos of each ready meal before I put it in the microwave, once the food hit my plate I didn’t want to waste time trying to take arty food photos! It’s a good job I’m not a food blogger.

I’ve decided to give my thoughts on each of the three ready meals I was sent separately. I’ve also included information on the ingredients and nutrition information for each meal.

Chicken Paella

myhk says: Our take on the Valencian classic is simple but tasty, cooked with tender roasted chicken breast, beautifully smoky chorizo, sweet Piquillo peppers, peas, Arborio rice and sundried tomato purée.

Chicken PaellaAlthough the Chicken Paella smelt amazing when I removed it from the microwave, it tasted quite bland, and in my opinion was the least enjoyable of the myhk ready meals I was sent to review. While the roasted chicken breast was tender, I didn’t think the smoky chorizo was very tasty. I didn’t find the Chicken Paella very filling and less than an hour after my meal I felt hungry again.

Prawn Katsu

myhk says: Made with aromatic star anise, fennel, fenugreek, and coriander seeds, our irresistibly tasty katsu sauce has a spicy kick. It works perfectly with the flavours of the juicy king prawns, picked carrot, and jasmine rice.

Prawn KatsuI’ll keep my review simple; I absolutely loved the Prawn Katsu! As an added bonus I found the Prawn Katsu really filling, and didn’t find myself searching for more food an hour later.

Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto

myhk says: We make this vegetarian risotto with Arborio rice and quinoa crushed pea and fresh mint pesto, pickled red cabbage, rocket, and a creamy onion sauce.

Pea Mint Rocket RisottoAs I’m not a huge fan of picked red cabbage, I was a little concerned I’d find the Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto slightly too adventurous for my unsophisticated taste buds. Happily, I was proven wrong, and I absolutely loved the Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto.

All in all, I really enjoyed the three myhk ready meals I reviewed. Although I found the Chicken Paella a little bland, I would definitely purchase the Prawn Katsu and the Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto ready meals if I saw them on sale in my local supermarket. Now that I’ve discovered I enjoy spicy food, I might be slightly more adventurous in the kitchen…

With a RRP of £3.95, my healthy kitchen meals are available on Amazon Fresh and Ocado, and in Waitrose stores nationwide. 

**Full disclosure: I was sent a selection of three myhk ready meals for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review and as always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**

Book Review: Running Science by John Brewer

I hope that everyone had a good weekend, I’ve got something slightly different today; a book review.

The last book review I produced was for a lengthy academic book on the science of environmental flows. To be honest, the experience of having to read and review a 424 page book in three days put me off the process of reviewing books.

However, when I was sent the press release for a new book – Running Science – I knew that I would enjoy reviewing the book as it covers two of my favourite subjects.

Running Science

I’ll start with a huge spoiler.  Running Science is by far and away one of the best running books I’ve read. I found the book so engaging I couldn’t put it down and read it from cover-to-cover in one sitting. Pretty unusual for me as I am normally very easily distracted.

Running Science contains contributions by several different researchers and sports scientists and is edited by John Brewer, Professor of Applied Sports Science at St Mary’s University in London (follow John on twitter @sportprofbrewer). The book looks at the scientific facts behind the world’s best performances and includes insights that offer you the analysis to help you raise your game.

At its most basic level, running is deceptively simple. All you need to start is a decent pair of running shoes and some comfortable clothes. However, after a while most runners will want to learn more about the many factors – for example the weather – that affect running performance. Science plays an important role in most, if not all, of these factors.

photo

John Brewer and his team of expert contributors read through hundreds of scientific studies on running – a detailed reference list is provided – and broke their findings down into eight chapters; (1) The runner’s body, (2) Perfect motion, (3) Fuel and fluid, (4) Running psychology, (5) Training and racing, (6) Equipment, (7) Running well and (8) The big questions. Each chapter explores a different aspect of the sport through a series of questions for example:

Do ice baths aid recovery after long or intense runs? Are there physical limits to human marathon running achievement? The answer to each question is presented in a straightforward, accessible manner with accompanying infographics.

Rather than attempting to review the entire book, I decided to highlight four of the articles I found particularly interesting. Although the quality of my photographs is poor – sorry! – I decided to include them to show how each article is well laid out, includes infographics and is very easy to follow. If you want to read the text you’ll have to purchase the book.

How much does body weight affect running performance?

The combination of an unhealthy diet, drinking too much alcohol and being unable to run has left me feeling out of shape. I’m definitely carrying too much weight at the moment.

Weight performance

This article looks at the results of a study that explored the effect of excess weight on running performance. Although carrying excess weight slowed down the six runners who were tested, the added weight also reduced their maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) relative to their body weight.

Can running shoes help with running form?

Like most runners, once I found a brand and type of running shoe that suited my running style, I’ve tended to stick with it. I do sometimes worry that always wearing motion control shoes when I run is weakening my feet. I also wonder what would happen if I attempted to run in minimalist running shoes.

Running shoes

Although this article isn’t particularly technical, it does provide a useful guide to the different types of running shoe. It also highlights the five elements a runner needs to consider when selecting running shoes. I hadn’t even considered two of these elements.

Can compression clothing improve performance and prevent injury?

I regularly wear compression socks when I run longer distances, and find that they help to reduce muscle fatigue. However, I’m aware that a lot of runners think that compression clothing is a waste of time and a gimmick.

Compression clothing

Although, from this article, it appears that the jury is still out on the efficacy of compression clothing, if as a runner you think compression helps then it’s worth considering including compression wear in your running gear.

Is it advisable to continue to train when injured?

I’m not the only runner who has chosen to ignore the occasional niggle. If I’d been given a pound every time a runner asked if they could run through the pain, I’d be a multi-millionaire.

Training when injured

When I read this article, I loved the Pain – it’s all in the mind infographic; apparently ultramarathoners really are masters at coping with extreme physiological stress. The article concludes that although it is possible to run through an injury, it depends on you and your unique brain.

If in doubt, get it checked out!

The Verdict

I would highly recommend Running Science to runners of all standards. I can guarantee that even experienced runners, who think they know everything there is to know about running, will find this book useful. I’ve made room in my already overflowing bookcase for this book as I am certain I will be referring back to it on a regular basis.

Running Science is published by Ivy Press and has a RRP of £20 and is available from all major bookstores.

**Full disclosure: I was sent an advance copy of Running Science for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review and as always all opinions and photographs are my own**

Rants and raves #14

**Disclaimer: I’m sharing my latest random selection of rants and raves after drinking slightly too much Malibu. I’ve been told that I’m far too honest when I’ve had a couple of drinks. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Tuesday! I hope that everyone had a great Bank Holiday weekend. I can’t believe it’s almost June, whatever happened to May?

Rave: Running

As I’ve spent months complaining about my inability to run, I thought I should probably start my latest selection of rants and raves with a rave. My right heel is feeling so much better *touch wood* I can run again. Although I’m still completing the majority of my runs without my Garmin, I’m now able to run three times a week.

Following on from my last rants and raves post I had to fork out £35 to enter the Great Birmingham Run In order to get my £55 Birmingham International Marathon entry fee refunded. I’m quietly confident I’ll be able to complete the half marathon in October. If I’m injured again then at least I’ve ‘only’ wasted £35 on race entry fees and not £55…

Hopefully the local trains will be running slightly earlier on the morning of the race this year.

Rant: Trains

While on the subject of trains, anyone who follows me on twitter will be aware that I tweet about my train related woes on a regular basis. My personal train travel ‘highlights’ so far this year have included being stuck just outside Birmingham International station for two hours without any information, delays and cancellations due to unexploded bombs and overhead line damage, witnessing fights and drug dealing, phone calls lasting two hours and my least favourite; people vomiting all over the place.Train DelayJust a slightly delayed journey back to Birmingham.

At least Virgin trains have really, really effective air conditioning. It’s just a shame their trains make me feel really travel sick because they smell like a sewage treatment works on wheels.

Rave: The weather

As I’m writing this it’s a typical wet and gloomy Bank Holiday Monday morning. I’m hoping that summer 2017 hasn’t already been and gone, but how awesome was the summery weather we had last week? I’ve just checked out the weather forecast for Four Oaks and it looks like we will get to enjoy a combination of light rain and heavy thundery showers.

Bank Holiday weatherTypical Bank Holiday Monday weather!

Fortunately, the weather for the remainder of the week looks slightly more positive.

Rant: My inability to drink in moderation

On Thursday I travelled down to London to meet up with someone I hadn’t seen for ages for “a quick drink” and a bite to eat. Four hours, several pints, half a bottle of red wine an Italian meal (I can’t remember what I ate…) and a shot of Limoncello(?) later I was feeling slightly inebriated. For some reason I decided to take several photos of the local architecture, so much for drunken selfies.

Drunken photosI have zero interest in architecture so have no idea why I took these photos.

My “I’m never drinking again” vow on Friday morning clearly didn’t last very long as I spent Sunday evening working my way through the bottle of Malibu my brother bought me for my birthday. Cheers Paul!

Rave: My bargain MPG leggings

Whenever I’m in Sutton Coldfield, I always end up calling into TK Maxx to check out the Activewear. Although I tend to leave empty-handed, I got my friend to treat me to a pair of these  Mondetta tights for my birthday.

Mondetta tightsUnfortunately it was too wet to get a photo of me posing in my new running tights. 

They are easily the most comfortable pair of running tights I’ve worn.

Rant: My diet

After keeping a detailed food diary for a few weeks, it’s clear that I urgently need to improve my diet. I rarely eat enough portions of fruit and vegetables and I eat far too much junk food. I treated myself to a couple of Renee McGregor’s books last year; it’s about time I actually read them!

Rave: Nuun mixology

I was going to have a rant about the BBQ my new neighbours had on Saturday – smelling the BBQ food was torture – but I decided to include a short bonus rave. My mobile has been playing up so much recently; I’ve transferred all of the photos from my phone onto my computer. In among all the random photos I found this article on Nuun mixology.Nuun Mixology

Apologies for the rubbish quality of the article, I found more information here and here.

Once again, if you’ve reached the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, then thank-you.

Did you have an enjoyable Bank Holiday weekend? Hopefully the weather was better than it was here in Sutton Coldfield.

Do you ever run without your GPS? Hopefully I’m not the only ‘naked’ runner out there!

SOLE Active Medium Footbed review

Although I’ve always been a rather injury-prone runner, over the last five years I’ve really struggled with my feet. Back in 2014 I fractured one of the metatarsals in my left foot and since the beginning of the year I’ve been struggling with plantar fasciitis. As an added bonus I recently discovered that I have weak arches.

I’ve worn customised insoles in my trainers for a number of years, so I was over the moon when I was offered the opportunity to review a pair of SOLE Active Medium footbeds.

Active Medium

[Source]

Now that I’ve been wearing the SOLE footbeds for over a month, I feel that I am in a position to write a hopefully useful review.

What is the SOLE Active Medium footbed?

Performance footbed specialist SOLE has been giving runners an edge since 2001. Last November, SOLE reinvigorated its product line with the new and improved Active Footbed range. The new footbeds have a moisture wicking top sheet and Polygiene anti-odour coating for improved hygiene and added comfort and are ideally suited to both runners and walkers. The luxury mouldable footbeds adapt through the heat of your feet and through general wear to fit perfectly.

What can the Active Medium footbed be used for?

  • To avoid aching arches and heel pain.
  • To reduce plantar fascia strain.
  • To improve balance.
  • To distribute weight and pressure equally.
  • To provide natural heel support to encourage good alignment of your feet and lower legs.

As a runner with plantar fasciitis the SOLE Active Medium footbeds sounded perfect, and after reading about the potential benefits of the footbeds I couldn’t wait to put them to the test.

The review process

When the SOLE Active Medium footbeds arrived they looked huge and I was initially worried I’d somehow managed to order the wrong size. I then placed the SOLE footbeds next to the insoles provided with the trainers and realised they were the right size; I’d temporarily forgotten that my size 9 trainers are like boats!

Sole 2

Sole 1

The SOLE footbeds came with limited instructions so I looked online and found more detailed moulding instructions here. I was given two options; to either wear mould or to heat mould my footbeds. Although heat moulding provides the highest level of customisation in the shortest amount of time, I decided to go with the simpler wear moulding approach for two reasons; (1) my oven tends to burn food and I didn’t want to burn my footbeds, and (2) I’m not very brave and tend to take the easier and safer option.

I loosened the laces a little, removed the customised footbeds I’d been using and then really struggled to push the SOLE footbeds inside my trainers. Top tip: don’t be lazy like I was and make sure you thoroughly loosen your laces, you may even need to remove the laces to fit the SOLE footbeds. Once I’d managed to wedge place the SOLE footbeds inside my trainers I was ready to go.

SOLE footbeds

In order to customise and mould my new footbeds, I started off by wearing the SOLE footbeds around the house for several days. This hopefully gave the footbeds plenty of time to adapt to my feet, giving a fit unique to my feet and dodgy arches. I then progressed to walking and after a couple of weeks running with the SOLE footbeds in my trainers. Although I couldn’t really feel the footbeds – always a positive sign with customised footbeds – both of my arches felt well supported. My running friend said that my form had improved; apparently I wasn’t doing my usual wonky runner impression.

It will be interesting to see if the SOLE footbeds are equally as effective when I’m fatigued as this is when my running form tends to go to pieces. I’ll find out soon and report back.

The Verdict

The SOLE Active Medium footbeds have definitely helped to reduce the pain in my right heel. I would be happy to recommend these footbeds to anyone struggling with plantar fasciitis, your feet will be grateful for additional, customised support.

So thanks again to SOLE for sending me a pair of Active Medium footbeds and for letting me thoroughly test them out! For more information on the footbeds please visit.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a pair of SOLE Active Medium footbeds for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review and as always all opinions and photographs are my own**

Regaining my running confidence and CocoPro review

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I don’t want to tempt fate, but after more than two months of complete rest, I think that I might finally be able to call myself a runner again.
October runTaken after I’d completed my last long run back in October. It’s good to be running up this hill again.

For once I’ve been sensible with my return to running. Gone are the days I’d happily ignore niggles and run when I was in pain. It has taken a long time and a lot of frustrating running injuries, but I think I’ve finally accepted that I need to listen to my body.Injury ebib

[Source]

Like most injury-prone runners I probably delayed heading out for a run for longer than I needed to. I was afraid that the second I started to run, my foot would implode and I’d be back on the injury bench.

Fortunately, my close friend gave me a bit of a talking to and told me to get out the f**king door. I also rediscovered the cheesy but motivational song my coach used to make us listen to before competitions.

“Never surrender to the doubts that cloud your mind
Never retreat from who you are…“

Perhaps I should listen to it before my next job interview…

Since the start of the month I’ve been running without my Garmin. This may sound slightly stupid but I didn’t want the added pressure. Although the majority of my runs have lasted less than 30 minutes, yesterday I decided it was time to find out if my right foot could cope with a slightly longer run.

I’m writing this several hours after I ran for the not so impressive total of 20 minutes before lunch. Although I clearly didn’t drink enough after my run as I’ve got a headache, my heel is 99.9 per cent pain free.

Fingers crossed I’ll be able to walk in the morning!

CocoPro review

Earlier this year CocoPro were recruiting for brand ambassadors.  Although I knew I wasn’t social media savvy enough to be an ambassador, I rather cheekily asked if I could review their products. CocoPro kindly agreed and added me to their mailing list.
CocoPro

[Source]

Fast forward a couple of weeks and a random bloke called Paul appeared at my front door holding a small parcel; the postman had delivered my bottles of CocoPro to the wrong address. So thanks Paul for being so honest and for delivering my parcel.

What is CocoPro?

CocoPro is the world’s first pure coconut water with added protein drink and is currently available in two flavours; plain coconut and coconut with pineapple. I was sent one 330ml bottle of each flavour to try.

Coconut flavour

I think coconut water is a bit like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. After a slightly rocky start, I’ve grown to quite like the taste of coconut water.

Although the drink is meant to be consumed after exercise or prolonged activity, I decided to drink my bottle of coconut flavoured CocoPro after I’d been for a short run in humid conditions. I was concerned the added protein would give the drink an artificial taste. Although I was pleased to discover the drink tasted quite natural, it was quite bland and didn’t seem to taste very much of anything.

On the plus side the coconut flavoured CocoPro was easy to drink, and left me feeling hydrated and refreshed. It definitely quenched my post-run thirst and as an added bonus, I didn’t develop my usual post running in humid conditions headache.

May runNot the best photo but I’m in love with these Lululemon shorts.

Coconut with pineapple flavour

I saved my bottle of coconut with pineapple CocoPro as a reward for running up one of my nemesis hills without walking, twice. Quite frankly, I’ll take any running positives I can at the moment.

After personally finding the coconut flavoured CocoPro a little disappointing, I was a tad concerned the coconut with pineapple flavoured CocoPro would also be quite bland. Happily I discovered that this wasn’t the case and I could really taste the pineapple. I wonder if I could use the CocoPro to make a refreshing post workout mocktail.

Would I recommend CocoPro?

Yes, I would definitely recommend the coconut with pineapple flavoured CocoPro, thanks to my local Waitrose I’ve already filled my fridge ready for the warmer weather. Although some might think £2.50 for a bottle of coconut and pineapple water is expensive, I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for a refreshing drink that contains protein electrolytes and coconut.

Do you have a favourite post-workout drink?

Have you ever been too scared to run after being injured?

**Full disclosure: I was sent a couple of bottles of CocoPro for free, I wasn’t asked to write a review. As always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**

CEP Ortho Plantar Fasciitis Sleeve review

One advantage of being injured is getting the opportunity to test out a number of innovative running products. Regular readers of my blog will be aware that I have been experiencing pain in my right heel since the beginning of the year. I was devastated when a physiotherapist told me I had the injury all runners dread – Plantar Fasciitis.

I have tried all sorts to alleviate the pain in my right heel: rolling my foot on a frozen bottle, physio sessions, stretching, taping, rolling my foot over a tennis ball and wearing supportive shoes the whole time. Although I started to find walking more bearable, the pain in my right heel stubbornly refused to go away and running felt like a distant dream.

So as you can imagine, I was thrilled when CEP very kindly agreed to send me a pair of their Ortho Plantar Fasciitis (PF) Sleeves to thoroughly test out and review.

Now that I have been wearing the PF sleeve on my right foot on an almost daily basis since the end of March, I feel that I am in a position to write a review.

What is the CEP Ortho Plantar Fasciitis Sleeve?

CEP recognises that for runners, remaining fit and healthy is a priority. Unfortunately, injuries can and do occur, and recovering and getting back to running quickly is important. With this in mind, CEP developed the Ortho PF sleeve. The CEP website describes the sleeve as suitable for sports or everyday use – perfect for a runner trying to make a return to the sport they love. The sleeves are designed to provide comfort with every step, yes please! Finally, the fit and compression are designed to stabilise your arch and provide much needed support.CEP PF Sleeves

The innovative design of the PF sleeve means that your sole and heel are optimally protected when you run. As an added bonus the deep tissue massage effect helps you maintain your level of fitness – or quickly regain it again if you suffer from minor pain and discomfort. Where can I sign up?

What can the CEP Ortho Plantar Fasciitis Sleeve be used for? 

  • To support the arch of the foot and reduce stressful and painful tension at the insertion of the plantar fascia.
  • To relieve the ankle joint and reduce joint irritation.
  • To provide an increased sense of security during exercise.
  • To minimise wear and tear and alleviate inflammation.

So after reading all about the potential benefits of the product, I was intrigued and eagerly awaited the arrival of my pair of Plantar Fasciitis sleeves.

The review process

Like all CEP products, the PF sleeves are provided with detailed illustrated instructions which outline how to put them on. I would strongly recommend following these instructions because they make life a lot easier. The PF sleeve felt quite snug but not restrictive and fitted underneath my right sock. Although I could immediately feel the support and compression, the PF sleeve never felt obtrusive or too inhibiting.

I started off wearing the PF sleeve around the house and on a couple of short 2-3 mile walks. Although both my right heel and arch instantly felt more supported, it did take a few days for my foot to get used to the extra support. The first time I wore the sleeve on a walk my heel felt sore for the first 10 minutes or so. However, once my foot adapted to the extra arch support, the soreness went away and hasn’t returned.CEP montage 1

After particularly active days, I decided to wear the sleeve in bed – being single has some advantages – and noticed a huge improvement in my right heel the following morning. Before I wore the sleeve I would lie in bed each morning dreading having to make those first few painful steps. Fortunately, the PF sleeve virtually eliminated the early morning hobble, I’m no longer reluctant to walk in the morning.

I’ve been wearing the PF sleeve on an almost daily basis since the end of March. Fortunately, CEP provided me with two identical sleeves so I had a spare sleeve I could wear when the other one was in the wash. Both sleeves have now been washed on numerous occasions and have maintained their fit and support.

A week ago, I finally felt confident enough to run for the first time since February. I pulled on a PF sleeve, worked my way through my stretching routine and headed out the door into the rain. Although I was thrilled to discover that my heel felt relatively pain free during the run, like most runners with PF I was more interested in how my heel would react to a couple of miles of pavement pounding. CEP montage 2

After spending two hours sitting down watching the Great Birmingham 10k, I stood up and discovered that my right heel felt great! After a slightly frustrating couple of months of inactivity, the PF sleeve had enabled me to make a return to running.

The Verdict

While the PF sleeve hasn’t completely eliminated the pain in my right heel – at the moment I’m pretty certain that only complete rest would – it has enabled me to walk and run without too much discomfort. The sleeve has also given me the confidence to make a gradual return to running and with a bit of luck, I might still make the start line of the Great Birmingham Run in the autumn.

So huge thanks again to CEP for sending me the PF sleeves and for allowing me enough time to produce a hopefully meaningful review.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a pair of CEP Plantar Fasciitis sleeves for free in return for a review. Please note that the use of a CEP Ortho product does not replace the advice of a doctor/physiotherapist. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**