Hunkemoller sports backpack review

Last month, I was given the opportunity to review a sports backpack manufactured by a brand I hadn’t come across before; Hunkemoller. The sports backpack is part of Hunkemoller’s limited edition Caro E collection and as I needed a new bag for the gym, I checked out the collection, loved what I saw and accepted the opportunity.

A couple of weeks later a gorgeous pink sports backpack arrived in the post.



Now that the backpack has accompanied me on a couple of trips to the gym, my local tennis club and a half marathon, I feel that I’m in a position to produce a hopefully useful review.

An introduction to the Hunkemoller Caro E collection

Caro Einhoff is a German blogger with a huge passion for fashion and beauty. In collaboration with Hunkemoller, Caro recently designed her own sports collection featuring a pink colour scheme. Combined with black, this sports collection aims to have a feminine but powerful look and feel. The collection includes a variety of sports bras, leggings, tops and other accessories.

The review process

When I first unpacked the backpack, I must admit that the first thing I noticed was the quirky and slightly unusual design of the backpack. It is definitely far more eye-catching than my current sports bag.

After spending a few minutes trying to work out how the clip lock fastening worked, I was ready to fill the backpack with my gym gear. As I like to take a lot of ‘stuff’ with me when I go to the gym, I decided to see how much I could fit into the backpack. Thanks to the clever design of the backpack, I managed to squeeze in everything I needed and more. The zip and clip lock fastening which allows for expansion when required, means that the backpack is far, far roomier than it first appears.


On Sunday, I decided to let my Hunkemoller sport backpack experience the organised chaos of a baggage bus at a major running event. Although my existing sports bag has more interior storage compartments and pockets, the Hunkemoller backpack is so distinctive; I was able to spot it as soon as I stepped on the baggage bus. As a runner who was feeling a little delirious after completing a half marathon, this was definitely a positive.

The Verdict

All in all, I was really impressed with the Hunkemoller sport backpack. The backpack has quilted fabric and looks quirky and stylish, almost too stylish for a 38 year old runner. The inside of the backpack is fully lined and contains a small zipped interior pocket which is just about large enough to keep some change, keys etc secure.



The only aspect of the backpack I’m not so keen on – this is more down to my own personal taste – is the colour; pale pink, a colour I don’t think is very practical. Unfortunately, after a couple of train journeys, a trip to the gym and a few hours inside a baggage bus, the backpack already looks a little grubby in places.

I’m quite clumsy, and can guarantee that the backpack will end up ‘wearing’ my sports drink at some stage. Luckily the backpack can be washed on a standard 40 degree washing machine cycle. This is a massive positive as it means I can continue to use the sports backpack without worrying about it getting dirty. I just hope that it survives the washing machine!

So thanks again to Hunkemoller for the opportunity to review the sports backpack. The backpack is part of the limited edition Caro E collection, is available from Hunkemoller and has a RRP of £32.00.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a Hunkemoller sports backpack for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions and 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.


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**

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.


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.


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-beltThe 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**

Getting my mojo back with MoRunning

I completed the Great Birmingham Run in the middle of October and then completely lost my running mojo. My trainers sat in the corner gathering dust, and my enjoyable early morning runs felt like a distant memory. I needed a new running goal to help me rediscover my mojo.

As a result I was thrilled when I was recently contacted by an amazing organisation, MoRunning. MoRunning asked if I would be interested in promoting awareness for the Movember Foundation by taking part in a MoRunning race. I immediately agreed, and with the help of MoRunning entered my local MoRunning event in Sutton Park, Birmingham


What is the Movember Foundation?

From humble beginnings back in 2003 the Movember movement has grown to be a truly global one, inspiring support from over 5 million MoBros and MoSistas. The Movember Foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global scale, and helps to fund projects that address some of the largest health issues faced by men including testicular cancer, prostate cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. The Movember Foundation is independent of government funding, so can challenge the status quo and invest faster in what works. In 13 years the Movember Foundation has funded more than 1,200 men’s health projects around the world.

Take part in a MoRunning event this month!

Due to the popularity of Movember it is now pretty common for MoBros to grow their moustaches in November. Although as a MoSista I’m unable to grow a moustache, I can still get directly involved by pulling on my trainers and by completing a MoRun.


This year there are 17 MoRunning events taking place between the 5th and 27th November so there’s sure to be a race near you:

Leeds Saturday – 5th November 10:00
Dublin – Saturday 5th November 10:00

Swinley Forest – Saturday 5th November 10:00
Belfast – Sunday 6th November 10:00
Newcastle – Sunday 6th November 14:00

Edinburgh – Saturday 12th November 10:00

Bristol – Saturday 12th November 10:00
Battersea Park – Sunday 13th November 10:00
Glasgow – Sunday 13th November 10:00

Cardiff – Sunday 13th November 11:10

Birmingham – Saturday 19th November 10:00
Liverpool – Saturday 19th November 10:00
Nottingham – Sunday 20th November 10:00
Manchester – Sunday 20th November 10:00
Milton Keynes – Sunday 20th November 10:00

Brighton – Saturday 26th November 10:00
Greenwich London – Sunday 27th November 10:00

You can find out everything you need to know about the series of MoRuns here and when you register you have the option to make a donation with your entry fee(£18 for the 5k or £22 for the 10k distance) or to set up a Just Giving page straight away.


All runners will receive a race pack and race number, chip timing, a medal and loads of other amazing goodies.

Could you run a 5k or 10k for Movember?

For more information and to sign up please click here

The cost of becoming an Olympian

Like the majority of sports obsessed children, I used to love watching the summer Olympics. I started to ride horses before I could walk, and spent my evenings, weekends and school holidays improving my riding and jumping skills. By the time I was 14 I had lofty ambitions of being selected to represent my country in showjumping at the Olympics.

Although I stopped riding when I was 17, I have continued to follow the sport. Watching Nick Skelton finally win an individual Olympic gold medal last week on his horse Big Star at the age of 58 was amazing. Nick had been forced to retire after breaking his neck in 2000, but returned to the sport two years later.

Perhaps I could come out of retirement? Watching the showjumping got me thinking about the possibility of me competing for Team GB at the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. How much would it cost and how many hours of training would it take?

Voucherbox recently conducted some research to determine exactly how much it would cost and how long it would take to train to become an Olympic qualifier in time for Tokyo 2020. Researchers looked at the time and financial investment required to master a wide variety of Olympic sports in time for the next Olympics.

Researchers found that aspiring Olympians train for an average of five and a half hours per day, six days a week. However, the vast differences of hiring world-class coaches and buying equipment across different sporting disciplines led to some massive differences in the cost of achieving that elusive Olympic dream.Olympic-infographic


I was surprised to read that researchers found that triathlon was the fastest sport to master – requiring an average time investment of just 5200 hours over the next four years. I had always assumed that having to master the three components of triathlon – swimming, cycling and running – would take longer than a sport such as Judo or Badminton.

Unfortunately, the cost of mastering an equestrian sporting discipline such as showjumping – £468,000 for four years – immediately rules me out of Tokyo 2020. To start now and be ready for Team GB’s equestrian team in 2020 I would have to put in a massive 6240 hours of training. I sometimes struggle to find the time to complete four training runs a week, so suspect that dedicating 30 hours per week to horse riding would be impossible.

If you could represent Team GB in any sport at an Olympic Games, which sport would it be?

Do you think it’s possible to progress from a beginner to an Olympian in just four years?

**This post was written in collaboration with Voucherbox**

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.


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…


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.


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.


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**