FLEXISEQ Active review

For some reason – I can’t imagine why – I’ve developed a bit of a reputation as being an injury-prone runner. I’m guessing that complaining about my painful left foot and right knee in virtually every blog post doesn’t help. One advantage – yes really – of being prone to picking up the occasional *ahem* injury, is being sent products that are specifically designed to combat aches and pains.

So as you can imagine, when the company behind FLEXISEQ Active approached me to review their new joint relief pain product, I said yes almost immediately! My sample of FLEXISEQ Active arrived, and I applied some to my troublesome left foot and right knee.

Now I have been using FLEXISEQ Active on a more or less daily basis for several months, I feel that I’m in a position to review the product.

What is FLEXISEQ Active?

The FLEXISEQ website describes FLEXISEQ Active as an adapted, light formulation specifically developed for the daily needs of joint pain and early-stage arthritis sufferers. While I can cope with joint pain, I really hope that the pain in my right knee isn’t early-stage arthritis.

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FLEXISEQ Active lubricates the joints and is proven clinically to relieve pain and to reduce joint stiffness. A lighter formulation than the award-winning original, FLEXISEQ Active is described as the perfect introduction to the benefits of drug-free joint lubrication therapy.

The key benefits of FLEXISEQ Active:

  • Relieves pain
  • Improves mobility
  • Helps lubricate and protect your joints
  • Drug-free
  • Convenient twice daily application

So after several months’ regular usage – thanks running niggles – what did I make of FLEXISEQ Active?

The Verdict

I’ll get the basics out of the way first. I found FLEXISEQ Active really, really easy to use. The gel dried quite quickly, and unlike some of the other gels I’ve used over the years, didn’t leave any stickiness or residue behind. The FLEXISEQ Active gel had a pleasant aroma, and unlike some similar products, didn’t smell too what I call chemically. So far so good.

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Although FLEXISEQ Active didn’t instantly eliminate the pain in my right knee, I did start to notice an improvement after only a couple of days of regular, twice-a-day use. Perhaps this was some sort of placebo effect – I genuinely don’t know! What I do know is that the regular application of FLEXISEQ Active corresponded with a reduction in the pain and stiffness I felt in my right knee. Unfortunately, the gel didn’t seem to reduce the pain on the top of my left foot.

FLEXISEQ Active has become a useful addition to my ever-expanding running first aid kit. I’m currently working my way through my third tube. While I do think £12.99 for a 50g tube of FLEXISEQ Active is quite expensive, I would rather manage my right knee niggle with a drug-free gel than with painkillers.

FLEXISEQ Active is available at Lloyds Pharmacy, Boots, Superdrug and independent pharmacies nationwide at a price of £12.99 for 50g and £22.99 for 100g.

Have you heard of or used FLEXISEQ Active gel? I had no idea the FLEXISEQ brand even existed until I was asked to review FLEXISEQ Active!

Do you have a running first aid kit? I’m so injury-prone I’ve now built up quite an (un)impressive collection of gels and potions.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a 50g tube of FLEXISEQ Active for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions are my own**

NATHAN The Hipster waist belt review

I’ve invested in several running accessories from NATHAN in the past, and I always try to remember to wear the foot lights I bought last year when I run in the dark. As a result, when NATHAN contacted me towards the end of last year to see if I’d like to review their brand new running accessory – The Hipster – I jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, I then got injured and had to delay my product testing and review. Sorry NATHAN!

What is The Hipster?

The Hipster is described by NATHAN as a super-soft step-through belt which incorporates multiple individually separated expandable – so expandable the belt can hold an iPhone 7+ – pockets to keep your items snug and secure. The Hipster belt can be worn at the gym, on a run, and around town. The Hipster is both comfortable and stylish and is designed to stretch to your individual contours.

the-hipster-running-belt[Source]

The Hipster is currently available in four colours; black, cockatoo (light blue), glacier (light grey) and very berry (bright pink) and five sizes ranging from XS (66 cm to 72 cm) to XL (96 cm to 102 cm). My medium glacier-coloured Hipster belt fitted me perfectly before Christmas, now it’s a little snug.

How did I find The Hipster?

I’ve tested out The Hipster belt on several short training runs and have found it really, really comfortable. Although I don’t own an iPhone 7+, my soon to be replaced iPhone 5C fitted easily inside one of the individual pockets, and felt secure while I was running. As an asthmatic I always run with my inhaler when it’s cold. Although my inhaler is quite bulky, I haven’t noticed it sitting inside The Hipster on any of my training runs.

hipster-1Having to breathe in slightly…

The photos I’ve included in this review show me wearing The Hipster belt over my running top. I’ve actually tended to wear the belt underneath my running tops, and haven’t noticed I’m wearing it as the material is really soft and comfortable.

hipster-2Running while not breathing is probably not recommended!

Finally, the most important feature of any running belt has to be its ability to stay put and to not ride-up. I stopped wearing another running belt because it used to bounce around while I was running, really – quite literally – irritating! Although my festive weight gain may have slightly influenced the outcome of this aspect of the review process, I found that The Hipster belt really is bounce-free.

The Verdict

Although I was unable to test out The Hipster belt on a long training run, injury permitting I will be wearing this belt during the Cambridge half marathon. It might contain some energy gels; it will definitely contain my mobile phone and keys. The NATHAN Hipster retails at approximately £25 and is available from all good running stores including Runner’s Need and Sweatshop and The Hipster website.

Do you wear running belts on training runs during races?

What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever carried in a running belt?

**Full disclosure: I was sent The Hipster running belt for free in return for an honest review. As always, all opinions of the product and dodgy photographs are my own**

XMiles monthly nutrition box review

Last month, while I was researching a number of energy gel brands and flavours, I stumbled across the XMiles endurance and sports nutrition website.

xmiles-logo

What is XMiles?

XMiles is a “…vibrant young company formed by runners focused on nutrition products”. The company was launched in October 2014 and in December 2015 XMiles UK Ltd was founded.

As an independent endurance sports nutrition store, XMiles aims to “…support and be active in the running community.”

Now although I’m definitely not an endurance athlete, after the Great Birmingham Run I’m acutely aware that I need to find out if my temperamental digestive system can cope with energy gels.

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As I result I treated (?) myself to the XMiles November nutrition box (£13.99 and £2.95 P&P). Unfortunately, a couple of days later got struck down with norovirus. When the nutrition box arrived I felt so unwell, I decided to delay opening the box until I felt fully recovered.

So what’s in the November nutrition box?

As I don’t get out much at the moment, when I finally got around to opening my XMiles November nutrition box, I was really, really excited.

Upon opening the box – I think that it’s definitely worth noting that the box should fit through a standard letterbox – I spotted a handwritten postcard and some rather exciting looking goodies…

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So what was actually included in the XMiles November nutrition box? As I don’t want to write an essay, I’ve listed what was included:

  • Truestart – 5 single sachets of performance coffee
  • Clif Shot Gels – one Razz flavour 37G energy gel
  • Torq Energy Gel – one limited special edition Adnams ‘Ghost Ship Ale’ energy gel
  • Torq Energy Bar – one Raspberry and Apple flavour 45G energy bar
  • Tailwind Nutrition – one Green Tea Buzz flavour two serving stickpack
  • Saltstick Fastchews – one tube of Tart Orange flavour chewable electrolyte tablets
  • Sports Beans – one 28G pack of assorted sports beans with electrolytes
  • Mule Bare Energy Bars – one Peanut Punch flavour 40G energy bar

As I have a nut allergy and can’t stand the taste of coffee, I won’t be able to test a couple of these products. I will, however, be testing out the rest of the products during my Cambridge Half Marathon training. I’m particularly looking forward to finding out what the ‘Ghost Ship Ale’ energy gel actually tastes like!

What are the subscription options and prices?

Now that I’ve very briefly reviewed the contents of the XMiles monthly nutrition box, I need to answer a really important question:

How much do the XMiles monthly nutrition boxes cost?

Subscription boxes can be quite expensive to purchase every month. I personally couldn’t afford to sign up to a regular subscription at the moment even if I wanted to. The option to purchase a nutrition box as a one-off treat is, therefore, a great idea.

A monthly subscription costs £12.59 (this price includes a 10 per cent ‘subscribe and save’ discount) plus P&P.

A one-time purchase costs £13.99 plus P&P.

The Verdict

A major concern that I have with subscription boxes is that the items included in the box aren’t actually worth the cost of the subscription.

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I quickly calculated the value of the items included in the November XMiles nutrition box using prices I found online, and found that the contents of the box are worth more or less the same as the subscription which is reassuring.

In my opinion, charging £2.95 for P&P when the actual postage cost was only £1.54 was a perhaps a little excessive. I was also slightly disappointed to receive five identical sachets of performance coffee, with subscription boxes variety is the key to success.

All in all, I would be happy to recommend XMiles to other runners, and can’t wait to test out the contents of the box.

If you would like to find out more about XMiles and the wide range of products they stock – they sell nuun hydration tabs – take a look at their website.

**Full disclosure: I purchased the November XMiles nutrition box myself. I was not asked to review the nutrition box, and have not received any payment for this review. As always, all opinions, typos and dodgy photographs are my own**

My go-to shoe: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16

I’ve been running for over 25 years. As a result I own far too many pairs of running shoes. I have a pair of spikes for cross country, a pair for middle distance track running and a pair for the long jump. I doubt that I’ll ever get to wear these running spikes again but I’m reluctant to part with them. I also have several pairs of trail shoes, some fell shoes and a couple of pairs of racing flats. I’ve worn several different styles and brands of what I call everyday trainers during my running career. Some have suited my rather strange running gait, others haven’t and have left me unable to run.

So where’s all of this leading? At the start of the year Brooks very kindly sent me a pair of the latest Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers. I’ve worn the Adrenalines for more than 200 miles, so feel that I’m in a good position to share some of my thoughts.

I first wore the Adrenalines at Walsall Arboretum parkrun. I took the Adrenalines out of their box, replaced the insoles with my customised insoles, and ran my fastest 5 km in years.parkrun pbI think it’s always a pretty good sign when you don’t notice your trainers when you are running. We were off to a very positive start.

As a result of the parkrun success, I wore the Adrenalines on most of my longer London Marathon training runs. When I packed my bags for the marathon weekend, the Adrenalines and my running number were the first items I packed.  I figured that I could easily replace everything else.

Kit choices

The marathon itself was relatively uneventful. Although I ended the day with a couple of blisters – perhaps not surprising with my lack of training – I was able to walk around London the next day. The Adrenalines had clearly looked after my feet.

Following the London Marathon my focus turned to my autumn target event – the Great Birmingham Run half marathon. I started training for the half marathon at the end of June and am about to reach the halfway point of my training. I’ve worn the Adrenalines on every training run and can honestly say that my feet have never felt in better condition.

Brooks collage 1

There have been cold and wet training runs – the Adrenalines aren’t so great on wet surfaces, hot training runs, scenic training runs and challenging training runs. When I returned home from a recent early morning training run I discovered that I’d run just over 200 miles in my Adrenalines.

Brooks training

That’s 200 miles of virtually pain free running. The Adrenalines have enabled this injury-prone runner to train consistently for the first time in what feels like years. Thanks Brooks! The realisation that I would probably need to replace the Adrenalines at some point before the Great Birmingham Run in October suddenly hit me. Although the Adrenalines look fine I wanted to know when they would need replacing.

Brooks collage 2

Unfortunately, as the Adrenalines are quite expensive, I hoped that they would see me through most of the rest of my half marathon training. I found the following answer to my question:

“A standard performance running shoe, such as the Trance or Adrenaline GTS, will typically last for between 300-500 miles…” [Source].

Great news!

So thank you again Brooks for sending me a pair of the latest Adrenaline GTS 16. After 25 years of running I think that I’ve finally found my very own go-to shoe.

**Full disclosure: I was sent the Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers by Brooks.  As always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**

Red Kooga Natural Energy Release review

As you know I’ve been training for the Great Birmingham Run since the end of June. The combination of warm evenings and light mornings has meant that I’ve also been struggling to sleep. As a result of my limited sleep and increased training I’ve been feeling really tired after lunch – not ideal for my afternoon productivity.

When I received an email in June asking me if I would like to review a new herbal product – Red Kooga Natural Energy Release, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more. I received the sample of Red Kooga in the post and then decided to delay my product testing until after I’d given blood at the start of July.

What is Red Kooga?

Red Kooga Natural Energy release apparently enhances both energy and sports performance using tried and tested herbs. The tablets contain a unique combination of vitalising natural ingredients:

  • Panax ginseng – a herb used in the Orient for thousands of years to promote vitality and maintain mental alertness.
  • Guarana – a herb that helps to provide a natural source of caffeine.
  • The recommended daily allowance of B Complex Vitamins – to help maintain a healthy nervous system and help release energy from food.

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Did Red Kooga make me feel more energised?

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of taking tablets and will always try to source the vitamins and nutrients I need from food. In addition, I was slightly dubious about some of the claims the product manufacturers were making.

As Red Kooga aims to provide a natural energy boost, I tried taking the tablets before I would usually experience mid-morning and afternoon energy slumps. I initially tried taking a couple of tablets at the start of the day – I hoped that this would eliminate my mid-morning energy slump. Unfortunately, the tablets didn’t appear to make me feel more energised and I still felt quite tired in the lead up to lunch.

On the days I get up really early to fit in a training run before it gets too warm, I’ve really struggled to stay awake during the afternoon. On some occasions I actually had to have an afternoon nap. Not ideal! I decided to take a couple of tablets with my lunch to see if they would help eliminate my post-training run afternoon fatigue and naps. This time the tablets did seem to make a difference, and I felt far more energised and mentally alert during the afternoon. I definitely didn’t need a post-training run afternoon nap.

The Verdict

Although the Red Kooga tablets didn’t always manage to completely eliminate my energy slumps and tiredness, on the days I didn’t take the tablets I definitely noticed a difference in my energy levels. Perhaps this was some sort of placebo effect – I genuinely don’t know. I do know that my afternoons were far more productive on the days I did take a couple of Red Kooga tablets with my lunch.

Red Kooga is available in Boots for £7.99. I’ve already purchased some more to help me remain more mentally alert on my longer training run days.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a box of Red Kooga Natural Energy Release tablets for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions are my own**

Spark and Gusto subscription box review

I enjoy receiving parcels in the post, and occasionally treat myself to surprise boxes from the Lucky Dip Club.  I love receiving and trying new products and brands, and think that the concept of subscription boxes is pretty awesome!  I was obviously really excited to get the opportunity to review one of the subscription boxes created by the team at Spark and Gusto.

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What is Spark and Gusto?

Spark and Gusto is a new addition to the subscription box market, aimed at inspiring and motivating people to get active by providing a mix of good quality health, fitness and adventure inspired products.

“We’re called Spark & Gusto because we aim to provide the ideas and encouragement (that little spark), all you need to do is bring along the enthusiasm and energy (the gusto in this case)!

Each month we’ll send you a box filled with health, fitness and adventure inspired products to help you lead a healthier lifestyle and maybe inspire you to plan an adventure or two!

Alongside our healthy snacks and drinks, we also include accessories to inspire you to get out there and move!”

Although the Spark and Gusto monthly subscription boxes are a surprise, they will usually contain at least 10 products. These products will include a healthy drink, some healthy snacks, fitness supplement, accessories and possibly a magazine. As Spark and Gusto aim to avoid revealing the contents of their subscription boxes, I had no idea what the May box would include. I was intrigued!

What is included in May’s box?

When my Spark and Gusto box arrived I was really, really excited. I was also accused of buying more trainers by my mother! I think that it’s definitely worth noting that the box will not fit through your letterbox…

Box

Upon opening the box, I spotted a sticker instructing me to ‘Do 25 squats & it’s all yours!’ The team at Spark and Gusto had also included a postcard saying hello and thanking me for the review. Thanks guys!

After completing 25 squats, I finally got to see the contents of the May subscription box. When I unfolded the tissue paper my eyes were drawn towards a slightly mysterious looking pink object!  Fortunately, the box contained a useful guide, thank-you Spark and Gusto! This guide provides information on each of the items included inside the subscription box and website links. Incidentally, the mysterious pink object is a reaction ball that can also be used as a massage ball.

So what was included in the Spark and Gusto May subscription box? I’ll start with the food and drink items.

Contents

As I have a nut allergy, I asked another runner to review the Chia Charge banana flapjack and the LoveRaw Cacao and Maca organic energy bar. I received really positive feedback on both products, and for the millionth time wished that I could eat whatever I wanted. The box also contained two HIGH5 energy gels and a packet of Sports Beans Energizing jelly beans. I’ve used HIGH5 energy gels before during my long runs and can vouch for their effectiveness. Unfortunately, as I’ve just completed a marathon, I wasn’t able to test out the energy beans. I have, however, been told by other runners that they provide a really effective alternative to energy gels. I can’t wait to try them myself later this summer. The box also contained a carton of Tåpped Birch Water, I’ll be drinking this after my next run, and a tube of 12 citrus fruit flavoured Nuun hydration tablets.

The May box also contained a HIGH5 run bottle, a Ronhill stretch arm pocket, a packet of BetterYou Magnesium flakes and the pink reaction ball I spotted when I first opened the box. As I don’t carry a water bottle when I run, I decided to see how I found carrying the HIGH5 run bottle on a warm lunchtime run. Although the HIGH5 run bottle was compact and easy to carry, I was constantly aware that I was carrying the run bottle, and won’t be using it again. I do, however, see loads of runners carrying bottles, so suspect other runners would use the run bottle. I used the Ronhill stretch arm pocket to carry my asthma inhaler and suspect that the arm pocket will get worn a lot this summer. I’ve decided to save the packet of BetterYou Magnesium flakes for after my half marathon, so have no idea how my overly sensitive feet will react to a foot soak.

And finally, my thoughts on the pink reaction ball. The reaction ball can be used to build core strength, speed and agility and can be used as a massage tool to target specific trigger points. Impressive!  As a tennis player I assumed I would be pretty good at reacting to the different rebounds of the ball. I was rubbish! Although I was slightly sceptical about the pink reaction ball to start with, after a week I can already see an improvement in my reflexes.

Packaging

What are the subscription options and prices?

Now that I’ve briefly reviewed the contents of the Spark and Gusto May subscription box, I need to answer an important question:

How much do Spark and Gusto subscription boxes cost?

Subscription boxes can be quite expensive to have every month. I personally can’t afford to sign up to regular subscriptions at the moment. The option to buy a subscription box as a one-off is, therefore, a great idea. Next time I beat a personal best I’ll definitely be treating myself to a Spark and Gusto subscription box!

A monthly subscription costs £25 plus £4.50 P&P (tracked). A single box costs the same.

Spark and Gusto also produce special one-off boxes such as the Run Box for the slightly higher price of £35.

The Verdict

A concern that I have with subscription boxes is that the items included in the box aren’t worth the cost of the subscription. I quickly worked out the value of the May Spark and Gusto box using prices I found online, and found that the contents of the box are worth more than the subscription which is really reassuring. All in all, I would be more than happy to recommend Spark and Gusto subscription boxes to people interested in health and fitness. The May box contained a great range of products and introduced me to some brands I hadn’t come across before. Although I was unable to eat the flapjack and the energy bar, everything else in the box will definitely get used.

If you would like to find out more about Spark and Gusto and what they have to offer, please take a look at their website!

Have you ever subscribed to a monthly subscription box before?

What would your ideal subscription box contain?

**Full disclosure: I received the May Spark and Gusto subscription box for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always, all opinions of the product are my own**

Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll-on lotion review

Since the beginning of the year I have been training for the London Marathon. Training for a marathon is physically challenging, and as my weekly mileage increased, minor niggles and then a more serious knee injury made an unwelcome appearance.

When I received an email asking me if I would like to review a brand new product; Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll-on lotion, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more. Like most runners I have used Deep Heat cream before and will always associate the distinctive aroma of Deep Heat with being surrounded by other runners in the start area of races. In the past, personally I have found Deep Heat a bit messy to apply, so the idea of a Deep Heat roll-on sounded perfect.

I received a sample of the Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll-On Lotion, got injured and was unable to run for three weeks. Now I am back running again and have thoroughly tested the roll-on lotion as part of my pre-run warm-up routine, I feel that I am in a position to review the product.

What is Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll-On Lotion?

Deep Heat is the UK’s number one selling heat brand, with a range of products designed to offer effective and targeted relief with the relaxing benefits of heat therapy. Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll-on lotion is specifically designed to provide targeted, warming relief to help ease tight, knotted muscles through the benefit of massage therapy.Deep Heat 1The lotion is the first Deep Heat product to be applied using a rollerball applicator. The dual action of the lotion provides a quick and convenient pre-workout warm-up which may be used to gently target knotted muscles and to loosen any trouble spots. The lotion can also be used after exercise and post injury where it helps to realign muscle fibres and to break down adhesions and scar tissue.

The Verdict

After using the roll-on lotion on my injured knee, I can see the benefits of the latest addition to the Deep Heat family. The rollerball applicator made applying the lotion really simple and enabled me to provide targeted treatment to my injured knee. There was hardly any sticky residue or mess, important when you are as clumsy and as uncoordinated as I am. My knee has genuinely felt a lot better whenever I have used the lotion before running. The lotion will definitely be travelling with me to the start of the London Marathon on April 24th!Deep Heat 2Although the lotion is described as featuring a “pleasant herbal aroma” I think that it still smells like Deep Heat. Although I personally quite like the distinctive smell of Deep Heat, I am aware that some people dislike the smell. The lotion definitely heats whichever area of the body it is applied to. This heating process takes about a minute. Unfortunately, the first time I applied the lotion I didn’t think it was working and applied more. As a result my right knee felt like it was on fire. I also discovered that applying the lotion straight after shaving my legs caused really efficient heating.

When I used the rollerball applicator to massage my right knee as part of my pre-workout warm-up routine, I ended up with my knee covered in the lotion. As a result I had to massage the excess lotion into my knee. The additional massage was probably a bonus!

Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll-On Lotion is available from Boots, Tesco and other pharmacies and grocery stores for £4.99

Do you use Deep Heat?

Have you ever had any Deep Heat related mishaps?

**Full disclosure: I was sent a sample of Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll-On Lotion for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions are my own**