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**

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

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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.

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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.

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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

[Source]

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.

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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**

Putting my feet first with Flexitol

When I started blogging I vowed to avoid sharing photographs of my feet. Although, rather unusually as a runner I’m still waiting to lose my first toenail, an incident involving a dry stone wall when I was 13 has left me with an extremely unphotogenic right foot.

A couple of months ago I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing a Flexitol product. As I had never heard of Flexitol I was intrigued and did some research into the brand (i.e. Googled Flexitol).

Although I can’t run at the moment, I estimate that I walk at least five miles a day. In addition, I recently started a temporary Christmas job working in a storeroom.  At the end of each shift my feet were feeling painful and uncared for.

After years of running and neglect, I decided to give my feet a treat by agreeing to review a Flexitol product. A few days later I was the proud owner of some Flexitol Moisturising Foot Cream and some Flexitol Heel Magic. I was only expecting to be sent one product so the tub of Heel Magic was a bonus.

Would my feet start to love me again?

Flexitol Moisturising Foot Cream

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The Moisturising Foot Cream is suitable for everyday use and is described as:

“…light and gentle, and quickly absorbed into your skin. It is the perfect product for use on dry and flaky skin on the heels, feet and legs. Enriched with Vitamin E and a balanced blend of moisturisers, Flexitol Moisturising Foot Cream helps your skin to be quickly restored to a healthy, well-nourished condition.”  [Source]

The Verdict

After I’d realised that the tube was cunningly sealed, the foot cream passed my strict “sniff test”. If a product has a strong aroma I won’t use it. My feet smell bad enough, and I didn’t want to go to bed smelling of chemicals. After being slightly too generous with the foot cream (I quickly discovered that a small amount goes a long way!) I left the product to work its magic during the night.

After only a few days my feet did feel smoother. A small application of the foot cream at the end of each day definitely left my feet feeling refreshed.

Flexitol Heel Magic lhuk-flexitol-ukwebsite-heelmagic

The Flexitol Heel Magic is also suitable for everyday use and is described as:

“…a convenient, easily applied treatment for feet with dry skin or rough heels. Rich moisturising ingredients, including Shea Butter and Olive Oil combine to help provide all the attention your feet need to make them look and feel great…” [Source]

Now my heels were slightly cracked in places, so I was a little concerned when I spotted the warning that stinging might occur if applied to deep or open heel fissures. Stinging!? I decided to use the foot cream for a month before trying out the heel magic. Yes I am a wimp!

The Verdict

After less than a month’s use, the Heel Magic has made such an improvement to the condition of my heels I was almost brave enough to include a foot photograph. Almost!

I’m looking forward to continuing to use both products when I start running again. Hopefully having happier feet will make me a happier runner.

**Full disclosure: I was sent the Flexitol Moisturising Cream and Heel Magic for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions are my own**