Healthier eating and drinking update and BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug review

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend; my weekend was a little gloomy at times as I said a final farewell to Wallingford.

As it’s a few weeks since I published my wake-up call post I thought I’d share a progress report on my healthier eating and drinking.

If you’ve been following my Juneathon updates you will have noticed that pubs and restaurants have featured quite heavily. I made the decision to enjoy my final week living and working in Wallingford. I didn’t want to turn down any opportunities; I may not get to visit some of these pubs and restaurants again.The Wallingford dietSo, although my attempts at improving my diet have clearly been a bit of a fail, I have been making a real effort to increase my fluid intake. And by fluid I mean water and not just Diet Coke, beer and red wine! I’m going to review a water jug with a difference I’ve been testing. I hope that you all enjoy reading the review and find it useful.

BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug review

As a hydrologist and runner, when I received an email entitled ‘Magnesium Mineralized Water’ I opened it as I to be completely honest, I wondered what the point of mineralized water was. The email was from the PR coordinator for BWT UK; Europe’s number 1 water technology company and asked if I’d be interested in testing and reviewing a BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug and filter. As always, I did a spot of research before saying yes.

Rather embarrassingly for a hydrologist, I only had a vague idea of how much water or other fluids I should be drinking a day. When I was researching the recommended fluid intake for overweight females aged 40, I found quite a lot of conflicting information. Some sites recommended six glasses of fluid a day, some 10 glasses a day – I’m not sure my bladder would cope – and some 6-8 glasses a day.

I opted to go with the NHS recommendation:

Your body needs water or other fluids to work properly and to avoid dehydration. That’s why it’s important to drink enough fluids. In climates such as the UK’s, we should drink about 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day to stop us getting dehydrated.  In hotter climates, the body needs more than this. We also get some fluid from the food we eat.

I decided to aim for around eight glasses which I believe equates to around 2 litres of water a day. I think it’s safe to say that when the BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug arrived in the post and I started using it, I instantly increased my daily water (and magnesium) intake. Rather conveniently, the jug holds 2.7 litres of water, so I knew that if I worked my way through most of the jug I would meet my daily water target.

Before I attempt to describe the jug and the review process, I thought I’d share a bit more information about magnesium.

Why is Magnesium so important to athletes?

People who actively take part in sports or physical exercises on a daily basis often have a greater need for minerals and magnesium is essential for normal muscle function. For every litre you sweat you lose approximately 36 mg of magnesium – a mineral that we can often be deficient in.BWT bannerBWT provide a wealth of information about the importance of magnesium and a whole range of tips for the optimum supply of magnesium on their website here so I won’t repeat them.

The BWT Penguin 2.7l Magnesium Mineralized Water Filter Jug

I’m not sure I can write an essay about a water jug and filter and all of the information is available on BWT’s website, so I’ll stick to sharing what I think are the key points.BWT penguin water filter jugAccording to BWT’s website, all of their Magnesium Mineralized water filters use patent protected magnesium technology which exchanges calcium ions for magnesium ions. This reduces the pH level more than other water filters, creating magnesium-enriched water which tastes delicious and improves the flavour of the drinks and meals prepared using it.

Main features of the Penguin 2.7l water jug include:

  • Easy control LDC display which provides a visual reminder of when to change the filter
  • Designed so that it fits inside most standard fridge doors
  • Easy to fill with no need to remove the lid
  • Dishwasher safe (with the exception of the lid)
  • Cartridges last 28 days (or 120 litres)
  • Total capacity of 2.7 litres (filtered water capacity of 1.5 litres)

The review process

The review process was straightforward as the water jug and filter came with a detailed, fully illustrated instruction manual. As I didn’t want to cause any issues with the filtering system, I made sure that I followed the instructions in the manual before using the water jug for the first time.BWT Penguin jug pouringAlthough it took me a while to clean the various components of the water filtering system, the instructions were reasonably easy-to-follow. The only slight problem I encountered was trying to work out if the water jug I’d been sent was a Model A or Model B. Fortunately, with the aid of Google I sussed it out in the end and I was up and running so to speak.

The Verdict

I’ve owned a few water filter jugs, and the BWT jug was definitely one of the easiest to set up. It also fits inside the door of my fridge which meant that I could enjoy chilled water.

I love the fact that by using filtered tap water I’m cutting down on my use of disposable plastic water bottles. In the past, I’ve been guilty of popping into the local shop and buying the cheapest bottle of water I could find. Although I always recycled my plastic water bottles, I could have made more effort to reduce my plastic use. I’ve been using the filtered water to fill up my reusable water bottle; this bottle travels with me to and from the office and whenever I travel anywhere. I’m pretty sure that once I get back into some sort of running routine, I’ll be using water from the BWT water jug to dilute my hydration tablets.

So, would I recommend the BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water Filter Jug? Yes, I think one of the biggest positives is that the magnesium-enriched water didn’t actually taste of anything. Had the filtered water tasted what I call chemically, I can pretty much guarantee that I would have gone back to buying bottled water.

The full range of BWT Magnesium Mineralised Water jugs and filters are available from BWT with prices starting at £19.99.

**Full disclosure: BWT sent me a 2.7 litre penguin Magnesium Mineralized Water jug and filter in return for an honest review. The infographics and some of the photographs in this review were taken from BWT’s website. As always all opinions are my own**

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Greens Best Berries Best Antioxidant review

Apologies for publishing two blog posts in one day, but I think this product review deserves its own post. Since the realisation that six months’ of eating too much processed food and drinking too much beer had taken its toll on my health, I’ve been doing my best to improve my diet.

When I was approached to see if I would like a review a food supplement called Berries Best Antioxidant, I did some research, liked what I read and agreed to try out Berries Best and to write and publish a review.berries-bestI’m aware that I’m repeating myself, but normally, I’m not a fan of taking food supplements. I like to source the nutrients and vitamins I need from my diet. However, my diet hasn’t been as healthy as it could have been for quite some time, so I decided to incorporate Berries Best into my weekday routine.

My tub of Berries Best arrived and I read through the information provided. Discovering that I would have to refrigerate the Berries Best once the tub had been opened left me with a slight dilemma. As I didn’t want to delay the review, I decided to risk storing the tub in one of the fridges at work. Now that I’ve finished the tub, I feel that I’m in a position to produce what I hope will be an informative review.

What is Berries Best?

Berries Best is a nutritious, doctor-formulated food supplement composed of vegetables and organic fruit. The key ingredients in Berries Best are berry fruits such as blueberry, blackberry, bilberry, and lycium berry. Berries Best is a terrific supplement for all-round vitality.

Key features

  • Fully organic ingredients
  • High in vitamin C
  • Free from dairy, soy and artificial sweeteners
  • Vegan friendly
  • 40 calories per serving

According to the manufacturer, Berries Best is different from many blends as it is highly palatable. This is due not only to the berry content but also stevia leaf extract and natural flavours. In addition to a range of berry fruits, the blend contains organic fruits such as papaya, pomegranate and cherry, organic vegetables like beetroot and spinach leaf, and an organic fibre blend.

Who is Berries Best for?

Berries Best is described as the perfect blend for anyone looking to up their intake of nutritious fruit and vegetables. It’s particularly recommended to those who might otherwise struggle to tolerate a greens powder. A rich source of dietary fibre, it’s high in both vitamin C and iron. Berries-Best-Supplement-Facts-UK-1

As someone who finds eating enough fruit and vegetables a bit of a chore, I was curious to see if the Berries Best food supplement would make me feel better. I’d also been having a few digestive issues and wanted to see if the supplement helped settle my stomach. A big ask I know!

The review process

In theory, the review process should have been quite straightforward. All I had to do was:

Take one scoop with 250-350 ml of water. Stir briskly or mix in a shaker and enjoy one or more times per day. The blend is best taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.

Storing the Berries Best at work meant that I was only able to take the supplement when I was in the office. My colleagues quickly got used to me spending quite some time preparing my morning glass of Berries Best; luckily I wasn’t the only person trying to create early morning masterpieces in the second-floor kitchen. Berries Best

Thanks to the winning combination of Bank Holidays and leave, I’ve only been working four days a week. This meant that it took me several weeks to work my way through my tub of Berries Best. Ideally, I would have taken the Berries Best every day. However, I didn’t want to risk transporting the Berries Best to and from Wallingford.

The Verdict?

After completing a 260 g tub of Berries Best, I am pleased to report that the supplement passed the ‘highly palatable’ test. I’m an incredibly fussy eater and found the supplement easy to take first thing in the morning. The Berries Best tasted amazing and was a definite improvement on my usual glass of water from the water filter at work. However, I did find mixing the Berries Best with water quite tricky as I didn’t have access to a blender or shaker. I guess I shouldn’t really complain about the bonus arm workout.

I am also happy to confirm that the Berries Best supplement is gentle on the digestive system. My somewhat temperamental digestive system tolerated the Berries Best supplement, a good thing, as spending too much time in the toilet at work would have definitely triggered some concern from my colleagues.

And now as I always aim to keep my reviews balanced, I’d like to share a couple of the not quite so positives. When I initially opened the tub of Berries Best to say that I didn’t like the smell would be an understatement. Luckily Berries Best tasted better than it smelt. I also thought I’d managed to spill some of the Berries Best as the tub was only half full when I first opened it. With all the awareness over the use of plastic, I think the tub could be slightly smaller.

So, would I recommend Berries Best? Yes, although I’m making a lot more effort to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, I may consider continuing to supplement my diet with Berries Best.

Berries Best is available from Water for Health has RRP of £29.75 and lasts approximately a month.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a tub of Greens Best Berries Best for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As I somehow managed to delete all the photos I took, all images are taken from the Water for Life website. As always, all opinions are my own**

Returning to running after a knee injury and aZengear compression review

I hope that everyone is having an amazing week; at least it’s almost the weekend. I think I’ve just about recovered from a slightly traumatic interview yesterday lunchtime. I think the expression ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’ quite accurately described what happened.

I don’t want to put some sort of random ‘injury curse’ on myself, but after almost two months of no running and a lot of knee strengthening exercises, I think that I’m ‘up and running’ again.

With apologies for the randomness, this quote sums up why I’ve missed running so much:

“Our running shoes have magic in them. The power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self-doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle.”
– Mina Samuels, author of Run Like a Girl 

Although I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cake, since the day I DNS the London Landmarks Half, I’ve eaten far, far too much unhealthy food. I’ve also developed an unhealthy post-work drinking habit. I was definitely using my injury as an excuse to overindulge. Let’s just say the scales don’t lie. The healthier regime starts once I’ve celebrated(!?) my 40th birthday at the beginning of May. I’m pretty sure that most 40-year-old women don’t pop into McDonald’s every Sunday evening.Unhealthy choicesWhen I was unable to run, I spent a bit of far too much time thinking about all of the running injuries I’ve had. In my first ever post way back in March 2013 I described myself as an incredibly injury-prone runner. I seem to spend most of the time trapped in a running injury cycle. I wasn’t able to find out what happened to Small Town Runner – hopefully, they haven’t retired from running due to injury – but this running injury cycle diagram is pretty accurate.Running Injury Cycle

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If I remember and if people are interested, I’m going to blog about how I went back to basics to hopefully break my own personal running injury cycle. Let’s just say, I was a little embarrassed when I realised that I’d been working a short walk from a sports injury rehabilitation centre since last January. Not one of my finest moments.

Since the beginning of the month, I’ve been running for 15-20 minutes two or three times a week. I’ve left my Garmin behind as I didn’t want to compare my running to this time 12 months ago. Although *touch wood* my knee seems to be coping, I’m not sure I’ll be able to take part in the three 10k events I’ve entered in May.

Now that I’ve finished complaining about my knee and self-inflicted weight gain, I’m going to quickly review a couple of products I’ve been testing. I hope you all enjoy reading the review and find it useful.

aZengear Compression review

At the start of March, Emily one of the co-founders of aZengear, contacted me after reading this blog. Emily wanted to send me some free samples for review. I agreed as I enjoy working with and hopefully increasing the awareness of slightly lesser known brands. As I already own far too many pairs of compression calf sleeves, I opted for a pair of compression socks and a compression knee sleeve. My right knee was incredibly niggly at the time, so I thought it would be really interesting to see if the knee sleeve helped my knee.

Before I start my review, I’m aware that people may not have come across aZengear Compression (I hadn’t) so here’s a very quick introduction to the brand.

A quick introduction to aZengear Compression

aZengear is a UK startup for compression gear for sports, travel and daily wear. The co-founders mission is to design and manufacture compression gear products that contribute to healthy living and make a difference in people’s lives.

The aZengear product range currently includes:

  • Graduated compression socks for sports and travel
  • Compression calf sleeves for running
  • Plantar fasciitis socks
  • Compression knee sleeves for running, squats, weightlifting and arthritis

The compression socks and knee sleeve were well packaged and arrived promptly. Both items came with a Read Me First card which provides information about a 30 day warranty and bonus, wash and care instructions and contact details in case there are any issues with the product. I wish more brands provided the same information.

Compression Knee Sleeve

According to aZengear’s website, if you suffer from intermittent or constant knee pain, their compression knee sleeve will provide immediate joint pain relief, improved blood circulation and muscular recovery. The knee sleeve is described as being perfect for a range of sports and activities, the infographic below provides more information. knee-sleeve-infographic-900x900

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I think it’s safe to say that my recent knee injury meant that I thoroughly tested the compression knee sleeve. So, first things first, did the knee sleeve fit? I’m pleased to report that for once I managed to send the correct measurements to a compression gear brand. The last knee brace I wore was a far too tight behind my knee and felt uncomfortable after I’d been wearing it for a while. I didn’t have any issues with the aZengear knee sleeve, it felt reasonably comfortable and the material didn’t cause any unwanted skin reactions.

As my right knee wasn’t coping very well with the two mile walk to and from the office – walking down the steps on Wallingford Bridge to the Riverside Park was a painful experience – I wore the knee sleeve five days a week. I found the knee sleeve the perfect length and just the right level of compression. It didn’t slide down my leg and remained in place all day. Finally, I think I need to point out that with the exception of short sprints across main roads, I haven’t run in the compression knee sleeve.

Graduated Compression Socks

aZengear describe their graduated compression socks as being perfect for those who are on the move. The socks are described as being a great fit for a range of people including runners, nurses, hikers, cyclists and those suffering from varicose veins, DVT or recovering after surgery. The socks are described as being reliable, stylish, affordable and most importantly, effective. Once again, I’ve included an infographic in order to provide more information. pink-sock-on-white-900x900

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Once I’d realised that there wasn’t a dedicated left and right sock, the graduated compression socks were fairly easy to put on the first time I wore them. I was little surprised to discover they were so long they almost covered my knees. I have longer than average legs so this made a refreshing change, however, shorter runners may find that the socks are too long.aZengear compression socksI’ve worn the compression socks during and for an hour after the majority of my post-knee injury training runs. I genuinely believe that wearing the socks has helped my gradual return to running. The socks provide a good level of compression, my calf muscles have been completely niggle free and my legs have felt amazing. The only minor complaint I have with the compression socks relates to the thickness of the material they are made from. I guess I’m just used to running in thin socks as these compression socks make my trainers feel slightly too tight.

The washing machine test

I’m repeating myself, again, but one of the reasons it takes me a while to publish my product reviews is that I like to wear and to wash items I’m reviewing several times. Unfortunately, in the past some of my running gear hasn’t coped very well with being washed. I’m still a little traumatised about my first ever Lululemon purchase. Having an injury which has prevented me from running also slowed down the review process! I’m pleased to report that the knee sleeve and the compression socks passed the washing machine test.

The Verdict

So, would I recommend aZengear compression to other runners? Yes, I would. The knee sleeve and graduated compression socks all felt comfortable when I wore them. I think that the knee sleeve helped to support my dodgy knee during my walks to and from work; I genuinely believe that it aided the recovery of my knee. The graduated compression socks appear to have helped my calves as I’ve made a return to running, I’ll definitely be wearing them as I increase my weekly mileage.

**Full disclosure: aZengear compression sent me a knee sleeve and a pair of graduated compression socks for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As I wore the knee sleeve underneath my work trousers, I forgot to take any ‘action’ photos. The infographics in this review were taken from aZengear’s website. As always all opinions are my own**

Pretty Athletic skincare review

Good morning and happy Thursday. I can’t believe that it’s almost the weekend again. This year really does seem to be flying by. I’ve got something a little different for you today; my thoughts on some skincare products I’ve been reviewing.

Now you all know that I love running. I love running in the rain, in the snow, when it’s cold and when it’s warm. I won’t lie and say that I love running when it’s hot as my face ends up the same colour as a beetroot. Running is awesome; it boosts my mood and helps me sleep, I’m definitely happier when I’m able to run consistently.Running photo collageUnfortunately, my skin doesn’t appear to be such a fan of my slight running obsession. The last couple of years, my skin has felt dry and at times quite sore, especially when I’ve been running outside. I don’t think the recent cold weather has helped as walking to and from the office five days a week means that my skin has been getting a bit of a battering.

I’ll be 40 in May *gulp* so I think it’s about time I started to take more care of my skin. At the moment, my skincare routine is very much ‘wash and go’ and I don’t have a clue when it comes to skincare products. I was therefore excited but also a little apprehensive when I was given the opportunity to select an item from the Pretty Athletic skincare range to test out and review. I didn’t have a clue which item to choose and selected an item based on its name. I was delighted when the following products arrived in the post:

  • Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser
  • Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic
  • Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum

Now that I’ve been using the Pretty Athletic skincare products for a month or so, I feel that I’m able to produce a hopefully useful product review.

Before I look at each product in turn, I’d like to provide a bit of information about the Pretty Athletic skincare brand.

An Introduction to Pretty Athletic skincare

Pretty Athletic skincare was founded by Leyla Cooper.  Leyla explains that Pretty Athletic came about when, rushing back to work after a lunchtime workout, she realised that there was a lack of products and advice relating to what to use on her skin before and after exercise. Leyla also noticed that while skincare brands love to put ‘sport’ on products like shower gel to market them at men, there weren’t any skincare brands that addressed the needs of active women.

Let’s face it, women sweat too!

Pretty Athletic skincare is free from gimmicks. From product conception, to formulation and testing, every product has to meet the specific skincare needs of active women. The Pretty Athletic skincare range is 95% natural, vegan and packed with scientifically-proven actives. With six products currently available and more being developed, Pretty Athletic aim to be the go-to brand for active women.

As a keen runner with sensitive, dry and I suspect rapidly aging skin, I couldn’t wait to try out the three products I’d been sent. So how did I get on?

The review process

I’m aware that I’m repeating myself but I’m a complete novice when it comes to skincare products. I don’t have a clue when to actually use different types of skincare products; luckily Pretty Athletic provide guidance on when each of their products should be used. Thanks Pretty Athletic, this stopped me getting my moisturiser mixed up with my tonic.

Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser

“Lightweight and easily absorbed, this cooling gel body moisturiser is a beautifully refreshing way to hydrate. Formulated with Sasha Inchi Oil, Hyaluronic Acid and Black Oats to deeply hydrate the skin. Rich in soothing Aloe Vera, and infused with nourishing vitamins and antioxidants. A patented multi-mineral complex revitalises and energizes the skin” Hydration KickThe Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser was the first product I tried out. I massaged a load into my face and then panicked when I read the bottle and spotted that it clearly says ‘body’ moisturiser. Sometimes I’m such an idiot! Fortunately, although my face felt cool, my skin didn’t react and I was able to go to work the following morning.

After that initial hiccup, I’ve been using the body moisturiser after my nightly shower and I love it. The moisturiser is lightweight and easily absorbed. It smells amazing and a little goes a long way; I have a feeling that the bottle will last me a long time. Finally, although I have sensitive skin, the moisturiser didn’t cause any skin irritation, even when I accidentally applied it to my face. I’ll definitely be treating myself to more when this bottle runs out.

Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic

“This beautiful rose water tonic enriched with gentle coconut-derived cleansers and vital skin nutrients is a super quick way of achieving clean, nourished and hydrated skin in one simple step. Lightweight Hyaluronic Acid and botanical extracts of Rose and Calendula help to leave the skin feeling perfectly balanced. Vitamin E and Niacinamide nourish and provide antioxidant benefits. Use pre & post workout”Workout GlowOnce I’d recovered from applying body moisturiser to my face, I felt brave enough to test out the Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic. I made sure that I read and re-read the packaging, Pretty Athletic recommend cleansing your skin before and after exercise, spraying the Vitamin Tonic onto your face, and then wiping off any excess with a cotton pad.

I first applied the Vitamin Tonic after a long run, it was definitely quite cooling, almost a little too cooling. I think I’ll save the Vitamin Tonic for Summer 2019, hopefully its cooling properties will reduce the amount of time I spend looking like a beetroot. A runner can always hope.

Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum

“A lightweight serum-oil, rich in phytosterols and high levels of antioxidants that helps to restore the skin barrier and fight the signs of environmental damage. Contains 0.5% Vitamin A Palmitate, 0.5% Vitamin E and 1% Vitamin C as well as the active Phytoserene which has a proven capacity to improve the skin’s barrier effect after stress, improve skin moisturisation, and help diminish skin redness after stress”Recovery BoostThe final product I tried was the Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum. This product is designed to repair and to soothe so I thought it would be perfect after a long run. Pretty Athletic recommend that it is applied to dry skin, at night.

The first time I used the Repair Serum I suspect I applied too much as my skin felt slightly greasy. A little definitely goes a long way. Now that I’ve sussed out how much Repair Serum to apply, I’ve incorporated it into my nightly post-shower routine. After less than a month’s use, my skin feels a lot smoother and is not as dry as it was.

The Verdict

Once I’d worked out when to use each product, I felt confident enough to try out the Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser, Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic and Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum. I also appreciated getting the opportunity to find out how to look after my skin more both before and after I’ve been running. I did, however, find myself questioning if we really need special skincare products for sport. Are the standard moisturisers and other skincare products in my bathroom cabinet capable of looking after my skin? I’ve genuinely got no idea. What I do know is that the Pretty Athletic products didn’t irritate my sensitive skin. My skin is in better condition than it has done in years, the products are now part of my skincare routine.

So thanks again to Pretty Athletic for sending me three products from your skincare range to test out and review. For more information on Pretty Athletic please visit their website. Pretty Athletic skincare is available from a range of retailers and items in the skincare collection start from £15.50. You can also purchase items direct from Pretty Athletic.

**Full disclosure: Pretty Athletic sent me a bottle of Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser, Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic and Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always, all dodgy photographs and opinions are my own**

Supacore Compression performance wear review

Most of you will be aware that I’m a somewhat injury-prone runner. So as you can imagine, when the marketing manager for Supacore Compression, a compression performance wear company with a focus on injury prevention and rehabilitation contacted me, I was over the moon. They had found this website when they were searching for running blogs, and wondered whether I’d be interested in collaborating with a product review or feature. supacore_compression-colI went away, did a bit of research, liked what I read and agreed to review some products. Before I start my review, I’m aware that people may not have come across Supacore Compression (I hadn’t) so here’s some information about the brand.

An introduction to Supacore Compression

Supacore’s website includes a page dedicated to answering a range of FAQs. I’ve decided to share a couple of questions and answers here to provide some information about the brand.

How is Supacore different from other compression brands? Supacore is the only seamless compression product that assists with injury prevention and recovery for core, hip, groin and back related injuries. Products are constructed using unique seamless technology, enabling specific compression to be engineered into the garment without the use of uncomfortable seams.

Who should be wearing Supacore? According to the website, Supacore should be worn by:

  • All athletes (from beginners to professionals) who suffer from back, groin and hamstring injury and would like to keep playing and recover from injury faster.
  • All athletes who want to increase core stability.
  • All athletes wanting increased blood circulation, less soft tissue damage and faster recovery.
  • All athletes wanting to reduce the effect of DOMS and increase blood circulation.

A few months later, I was a little surprised when a parcel from Australia arrived in the post (I’d assumed I’d be receiving a parcel from Supacore’s UK-based distributor). Supacore had very generously sent me three items to review:

  • A unisex sleeveless compression top
  • A pair of women’s Coretech injury recovery and prevention compression shorts
  • A pair of calf compression sleeves

The items were well packaged and had been placed inside a white net bag with a drawstring. I’ve used this bag to transport my toiletries to and from the bathroom of my shared house. I had struggled to carry everything before; it’s always good to receive a ‘bonus’ item from a brand.  

Anyway, back to the point of this blog, a review of Supacore compression performance wear! I’ve decided to review the top, shorts and then the compression sleeves. A sort of top-down approach.

When I saw how tiny both the shorts and the sleeveless compression top looked, I had a scary flashback to the time I got myself trapped inside a top in a tiny changing room inside Selfridges. The changing room was boiling hot, and the more I tried and failed to remove the top, the more I panicked. At one stage I thought I was going to have to be cut out of a £100 top. I’ll never forget the feeling of relief when I finally managed to wiggle my way out of the top.

Sorry, I got sidetracked again. I figured that (a) compression gear is meant to be tight, the clue is in the name and (b) I was in my own bedroom, not in a tiny changing room. Also, if I couldn’t physically squeeze myself into the sleeveless top or the shorts it wasn’t the end of the world. I could always pass them onto someone who hasn’t spent the last couple of months trying out every food establishment in Wallingford.

Unisex sleeveless compression training top

According to Suapacore’s website, this top provides postural support at the upper and lower back which enables improved body movement, as well as reducing muscle oscillation and thereby injury during training. Compression also aids circulation during workouts, increasing performance and recovery.  The top is designed to be worn whenever you exercise, and can even be worn underneath everyday clothes to provide postural support. While I wasn’t quite brave enough to wear the top underneath my work clothes, I was brave enough to test the top out during some of my longer training runs.Training sleeveless top

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Apologies for including a stock photo, but I’ve decided not to include the photo my friend took of me wearing this top. I’m all for keeping it real, but I look terrible in the photos. The top was so tight I looked at the size guide for the top, unearthed my measuring tape and checked I’d asked for the correct size. I had done. I think it’s safe to say that when I saw the photo I had a bit of a reality check.TrainingTankBlack1_grande_13ac0cf6-aab4-474f-bd19-40871644b4fc_540x

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During longer runs, my complete lack of core strength and poor posture occasionally combine to leave me with back ache during and after my runs. In the lead up to the Royal Parks Half Marathon, I actually had to lie down after some of my longer training runs to give my back a break. I briefly considered wearing the sleeveless compression top during the Royal Parks Half, but decided that wearing two new running tops in wet conditions was possibly asking for trouble.

I’ve worn the top during some of my recent longer training runs in Sutton Park. I love it! The top is quite long and doesn’t ride up when I’m running, perfect for this taller than average runner. The material is comfortable and doesn’t rub; I wish the same could be said for some of my other running vests. The material is also breathable which is brilliant because I don’t overheat when I wear the top as a base layer. Finally, the top feels incredibly supportive while not being restrictive, and definitely seems to help my posture. I haven’t had backache during or after any of my recent longer runs. I’m looking forward to wearing the top during a 2+ hour training run later this year.

Patented women’s CORETECH® injury recovery and prevention compression shorts 

I checked out the Supacore website, and discovered that these shorts are ideal for people with groin injury, hamstring injury or osteitis pubis; a common cause of chronic groin pain in footballers.  The shorts are also described as being ideal for new mothers wanting to speed up recovery after pregnancy. The shorts are different to other shorts, because along with several other features they have patented waistband technology, seamless knitting technology for comfort and longevity and medical grade compression level.Womens Coretech shorts

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Now although I can honestly say I’ve never owned or worn such an expensive pair of shorts – the shorts have a RRP of £85 – I looked forward to trying out the Coretech compression shorts more than the sleeves and top. It’s been a long time – possibly more than 10 years – since I last ran in a pair of compression shorts. I was intrigued to see how much or even if compression technology had evolved. Would the Coretech shorts live up to my expectations?Shorts

Shorts 2I’ve had more than my fair share of random running injuries. In 2005, a groin injury meant that I missed all of my longer training runs in the lead up to the London Marathon. One second I was running on a treadmill, the next I was in agony and could hardly walk. I managed to get around the London Marathon but ended up having to take a break from running. Fortunately, I haven’t had any issues with my groin since that disastrous treadmill training session.

I’ve worn the compression shorts on several training runs and I’m a fan. While the material the shorts are manufactured from looks slightly unusual, they are incredibly comfortable. I love the higher than normal waistband, it stays put and doesn’t ride down, definitely a bonus. Although the shorts feel tight and I could definitely feel the compression when I wore them, they weren’t overly restrictive when I was running. Finally, the material is not see-through, and the shorts passed the all important squat test.

Although I don’t think I’ll be wearing these shorts when I tackle my next half marathon in March – I need pockets – I will be wearing them during the majority of my longer training runs.

Calf compression sleeves

The final product I was sent to review was a pair of calf compression sleeves. I’m not going to go into too much detail as more information is available online. Supacore state that their calf compression sleeves are designed and manufactured using garment construction technology, including medically-proven gradient compression, and are seamless to ensure durability and comfort during use. The sleeves provide targeted compression to the lower leg providing a range of benefits; these include the reduction of muscle vibration which decreases the risk of injury whilst exercising.Calf Compression

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I’m not sure if I completely misinterpreted the size guide, but these were so long, they actually almost covered my knees. Now I have longer than average legs so this actually made quite a refreshing change. The sleeves felt slightly lacking in compression, and when I wore them during a run, they slipped down slightly.

I’ve worn several brands of compression sleeves and socks. In my opinion, compression sleeves have a couple of major advantages over socks. They are easier to put on and can also be worn with normal socks after a long run. These sleeves were lifesavers immediately after the Royal Parks Half when I wanted to wear compression socks to help my calf muscles recover but my feet were too sore to cope with anything other than my favourite fluffy ankle socks.

I’ve worn the sleeves a lot. I genuinely believe that wearing the sleeves immediately after the Royal Parks Half helped my slightly tight and niggly calf muscles recover from pounding the streets of London. I was able to walk rather than hobble the two miles to and from the office the day after the half marathon. Although at £26 these aren’t the cheapest compression sleeves on the market, I would be more than happy to spend that amount to invest in a second pair.

The washing machine test

One of the reasons it takes me a while to produce my product reviews is that I like to wear and wash items I’m reviewing several times. Unfortunately, in the past some of my running gear hasn’t coped very well with being washed. Grey Lululemon anti-stink top I’m looking at you.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that all three items most definitely passed my stringent washing machine test.

The Verdict

So would I recommend Supacore compression performance wear? Yes, I would. The compression top, shorts and sleeves all felt incredibly comfortable when I wore them during and after longer training runs. All three items appear to have aided my recovery. I’ll definitely be wearing the shorts and top in the lead up to my next two half marathons.

Although the HQ of Supacore Compression performance wear is located in Melbourne, Australia, Supacore has a distributor in the UK called Live on the Edge.

**Full disclosure: Supacore sent me a unisex training sleeveless compression top, a pair of women’s Coretech compression shorts and a pair of calf compression sleeves for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As I didn’t want to break the internet, some photos were taken from the Supacore website. As always all opinions are my own**

OmegaBrite premium Omega-3 supplement review

I think it’s safe to say, I’m a pretty injury-prone runner. My most recent injury – a painful right knee – made an unexpected and unwelcome appearance when I was walking to work. Not ideal, as I was about to start training for my next half marathon in March.

When OmegaBrite approached me to review their Omega-3 gelcaps, I did some research, liked what I read, and agreed to try out OmegaBrite and write a review.omegabrite-gelcapsNormally, I’m not a huge fan of taking supplements, and will try to source the vitamins and nutrients I need from food. However, since the start of the year I’ve been living in a shared house, and have struggled to access the kitchen. As a result, my diet hasn’t been as varied as it could have been.

My box of OmegaBrite gelcaps arrived, I read through the information provided, and decided to start the trial after the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Now that I’ve reached the end of the box and the trial, I feel that I’m in a position to produce what I hope will be an informative review.

What is OmegaBrite?

OmegaBrite is described as a physician formulated, pharmaceutical quality supplement. Each box comes with 60 x 500mg easy to swallow gelcaps. Each gelcap is scientifically formulated with high purity EPA for maximum benefit.

The extremely pure 90% Omega-3 supplement has been scientifically formulated to promote a number of benefits:

  • Cardiac health
  • Emotional well-being
  • Joint health
  • Cognitive clarity
  • Positive mood
  • Eye health

According to the manufacturer, OmegaBrite customers take the supplement for a range of reasons including cardiac and joint health. As OmegaBrite is an Omega-3 supplement, it is a natural anti-inflammatory and is, therefore, great for muscle recovery after exercise.back-of-boxAs a keen but injured runner, I was curious to see if OmegaBrite would help to reduce the pain and inflammation in my right knee. Although I must admit I was a little sceptical when I started taking the gelcaps, I was also interested to see if OmegaBrite would improve my mood. Recently, a complete lack of decent sleep combined with some stressful life events have combined to leave me feeling a little gloomy and irritable. I’m pretty sure I’ve been a bit of a nightmare to work with!

The review process

In theory, the review process was straightforward. All I had to do was take three easy-to-swallow OmegaBrite gelcaps per day with a meal. Each box contains 60 capsules so my trial should have lasted approximately three weeks.

It took me a few days to get into the habit of taking the OmegaBrite capsules. I think it’s safe to say I’m not great at remembering to take tablets. I didn’t want to take the gelcaps at lunchtime – I’m concerned my colleagues already think I have slightly unusual eating habits – so I decided to wait until my evening meal. Looking back, this was a bit of a mistake as I don’t always eat in the evening.

The gelcaps are described as easy-to-swallow, however, by the time I got to my third gelcap, I was reminded that I’ve never been very good at swallowing tablets. omega-3-capsI managed to overcome this minor hurdle by taking one gelcap before, one during and one immediately after my evening meal. I also found taking the gelcaps with a lot of water quite beneficial. My water intake increased a lot during this trial, definitely a positive.

The Verdict

After completing the three week trial of OmegaBrite Omega-3 gelcaps, I can confirm that this supplement is gentle on the digestive system. My somewhat temperamental digestive system tolerated the OmegaBrite gelcaps, a good job as five days a week, I live in a shared house with only one working toilet.

When I started the OmegaBrite trial, I had a painful right knee. I had no idea what I’d done to my knee, but it would get increasingly painful during each walk to and from the office. Walking down the stairs in the office was a challenge, and running was unfortunately completely out of the question.  OmegaBrite-omega-3I’m pleased to report that the Inflammation gradually decreased while I was taking the OmegaBrite gelcaps. Unfortunately, the pain in my right knee didn’t appear to improve much. Although I have a feeling that only complete rest will help my right knee recover, it will be interesting to see how my knee reacts now that I’ve stopped taking OmegaBrite.

One of the main benefits of OmegaBrite is described as ‘mood elevation’. Since the weekend of the Royal Parks Half Marathon, I’ve been feeling increasingly fatigued and quite irritable. Although the OmegaBrite didn’t completely eliminate my irritability, I do think my mood improved during the trial. My stress levels also seemed to decrease, pretty impressive when you consider I didn’t run once during the trial. Once again, it will be interesting to see what happens now I’ve stopped taking OmegaBrite. I’m actually a little concerned I’ll turn back into a ‘mardy Mary’.

Would I recommend OmegaBrite? Yes, I genuinely believe that OmegaBrite helped to reduce the inflammation in my right knee. I also found that the supplement helped to improve my mood. Perhaps both were some sort of placebo effect, I genuinely don’t know.

OmegaBrite are available from OmegaBrite and other online retailers and have a RRP of £29.99 for 60 gelcaps.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a packet of OmegaBrite gelcaps for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As I somehow managed to delete all the photos I took, all images are taken from the OmegaBrite website. As always, all opinions are my own**

Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration Cream review

Although I love winter and enjoy running when it’s cold, my skin most definitely doesn’t. If you’d asked me to list my winter running essentials 10 years ago, I’d have said a hi-visibility running jacket, gloves and a head torch. A sports specific moisturiser wouldn’t have featured.

I’m not sure if it’s age related, but for the last couple of years my skin has felt really dry during the winter, especially after I’ve been running.

As you can imagine I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to test out and review a sports moisturiser; Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration cream.

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Now that I’ve been using the Recovery Phase Rehydration cream for several months, I feel that I’m definitely in a position to write a hopefully useful review.

What is Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration cream?

While exercise has many amazing health benefits, it can be tough on the skin. During periods of exercise, the amount of oxygen used by the body increases, raising the number of free radicals produced, potentially causing damage to the skin. The combination of heat, acidic sweat, oxidative stress and dehydration can result in dry, sore and sensitive skin.

Brodie Skin Care developed Recovery Phase Rehydration cream to help the skin recover quickly and effectively from the internal and external stresses following exercise.

The cream:

  • Is specifically designed to help your skin repair and recover after exercising.
  • Provides intense rehydration.
  • Promotes cell regeneration.
  • Balances your skins natural pH.
  • Cools, soothes and protects.

As a keen runner with incredibly sensitive and rapidly aging skin, the Recovery Phase Rehydration cream sounded perfect. After researching the potential benefits of the cream, I couldn’t wait to put it to the test.

The review process

As I’m a complete novice when it comes to skincare products and moisturisers, I decided to read the guidance Brodie Skin Care provided, and applied the Recovery Phase Rehydration cream immediately after my post-run showers for maximum absorption. I think it’s worth me highlighting that when it comes to applying this cream, less is more and a little goes a long way!

Brodie 2

I was a little concerned that my overly sensitive skin would react to the cream. However, thanks to the natural ingredients my skin felt completely fine.

The Verdict

I’ve been using Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration cream at night for several months. My skin definitely feels a lot better and the dry patches on my face have more or less completely cleared up. The cream is suitable for all skin types as it isn’t fragranced and doesn’t contain any ingredients that could irritate the skin. I just wish that this product had been invented a few years earlier.

So thanks again to Brodie Skin Care for sending me a bottle of Recovery Phase Rehydration cream to test out and review. For more information on Brodie Skin Care please visit.

Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration Cream is available from Brodie Skin Care and selected online retailers and has a RRP of £17.95. I personally think that this is amazing value for money.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a bottle of Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration Cream for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions are my own**