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**

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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**

Enter a 2018 MoRun and awaken your inner MoRunner

Early bird entries into a race I volunteered at in 2016 and 2017 – the 10k MoRun in Sutton Park, Birmingham – opened at the beginning of the month.  While I really enjoyed volunteering, I experienced some serious race and medal envy. I’m looking forward to running the 10k this November, and earning myself a unique MoRunning medal.

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Taking part in the 10k MoRun in Sutton Park also means that I’ll be supporting and raising awareness of an amazing charity; the Movember Foundation.

What is the Movember Foundation?

MoRunning supports The Movember Foundation – the only charity tackling men’s health on a global scale, all year round. The Movember Foundation addresses some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.

The Movember Foundation knows what works for men, and how to find and to find the most innovative research to have an impact both globally and locally. The Foundation is independent of government funding, so it can challenge the status quo and invest faster in what works. In 13 years the Foundation has funded more than 1200 men’s health projects around the world.

The Movember Foundation has one goal; to stop men dying too young.

Take part in a MoRunning event this year

 2018 is going to be a massive year for MoRunning!

With 22 confirmed locations to date, Mini MoRuns for a second year and the addition of virtual MoRunning, there will be an incredible month of MoRuns across the UK and Ireland. There’s sure to be a race near you.

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November 3rd

  • The Leeds 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Temple Newsam – 09:30am
  • The Aberdeen 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Hazlehead Park – 09:30am

November 4th

  • The Perth 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – North Inch – 09:30am
  • The Newcastle 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Exhibition Park – 01:30pm

November 10th

  • The Brighton & Hove 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Western Lawns – 09:30am
  • The Edinburgh 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Holyrood Park – 09:30am
  • The Cardiff 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Bute Park – 09:30am

November 11th

  • The Bristol 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Ashton Court – 10:30am
  • The London Battersea Park 5k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Battersea Park – 10:30am
  • The Glasgow 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Glasgow Green – 10:30am

November 17th

  • The Liverpool 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Croxteth Park – 09:30am
  • The Exeter 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Exeter – 09:30am
  • The Birmingham 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Sutton Park – 09:30am

November 18th

  • The Southampton 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Southampton Common – 09:30am
  • The Manchester 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Heaton Park – 09:30am
  • The Nottingham 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Wollaton Park – 09:30am
  • The Milton Keynes 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Campbell Park – 09:30am

November 24th

  • The Dublin 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Phoenix Park- 09:30am
  • The Ipswich 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Chantry Park – 09:30am

November 25th

  • The Whitstable 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Whitstable – 09:30am
  • The London Greenwich Park 10k and 1.5k kids MoRun – Greenwich Park – 09:30am
  • The Belfast 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Stormont Park- 09:30am

Virtual Race November 1st to November 29th

This year there is also the option of taking part in a Virtual Race. Be part of MoRunning 2018 and take part in virtual 5k, 10k or kids 1.5k MoRun.

You can find out everything you need to know about the 2018 series of MoRuns here.

MoRunning 2018 Pricing

  • 5k (Early bird) – £16.00
  • 5k (Standard) – £18.00
  • 5k (On the Day) – £20.00
  • 10k (Early bird) – £19.00
  • 10k (Standard) – £22.00
  • 10k (On the Day) – £25.00
  • Mini MoRun (Standard) – £10.00*
  • Virtual MoRunning – £12 (runners receive a medal and headband on completion)

*Mini MoRun entry price includes Mini MoRunning technical t-shirt.

MoRunners Receive

  • Training plans and support from The Running Bug
  • Race chip timing and instant race results
  • MoRunning medal
  • Legend and Superhero medals for best fancy dress and legends of MoRunning
  • Discount for groups of four or more of 10% (Find out more about how to register a team)
  • MoRunning Headband
  • Yellow Winners Jersey for 1st male and female in the 5k and 10k events as well as a Champion medal and free entry to 2019
  • Professional photos to view and purchase
  • 15% discount voucher code for online purchases from Up and Running

 Mini MoRunners* Receive

  • Free super cool Mini Mo T-Shirt
  • MoRunning headband
  • Mo Medal
  • Yazoo Drink
  • Loads of high fives

* Please note that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure children are able to run the Mini MoRun unaccompanied. If required, one parent can run with Mini MoRunners free of charge.

So run hard, run fast, have fun and enjoy being part of something special.

2016-Leeds-Stormtrooper

I’m aware that I’m repeating myself, but I’m already looking forward to taking part in my local MoRun in November. I’ve already talked a couple of my running friends into entering; it would be awesome to meet some of you there.

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

For loads more information and to sign up please click here.

For more information about the Movember Foundation please click here.

The Movember Foundation is a Registered Charity No.1137948 (England/Wales) SC041981 (Scotland)

**Full disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with MoRunning** 

Beginner’s guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords

I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate with cycling. I can still remember my first ‘proper’ bike; it was a pink Raleigh road bike and I covered the wheels in Kellogg’s bike reflectors.  My brother was horrified. I can also remember my first bike crash; I over-estimated my abilities a little and came to grief on a country lane in Dorset when I was 12.

Looking back, the accident in Dorset wasn’t that serious as I only suffered a couple of grazed knees. The handlebars of my bike came off worse and needed fixing. I returned from Dorset and abandoned my bike in the garden shed. It was very much a case of out of sight, out of mind. My focus shifted to other sports such as running and horse-riding; in my opinion riding a horse was a lot safer than riding a bike.

I didn’t go near a bike again until I travelled to New Zealand with my best friend in 2005. As you can imagine, I wasn’t very enthusiastic when my friend suggested we hired a couple of mountain bikes. Once I’d overcome my slightly irrational fear of failing off, I was thrilled to discover that I hadn’t forgotten how to actually ride a bike.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the photo of me looking terrified, so here’s another photo taken in New Zealand. My friend told me I looked a little reluctant.

New Zealand cycling

Although I enjoyed spending the day mountain biking in New Zealand, I returned to a wet and gloomy England, and immediately started training for a half marathon. I didn’t go near a bike for another three years.

In 2008 I completed the London Marathon with an injury and subsequently spent the second half of the year unable to run. I needed a running replacement, so borrowed my friend’s mountain bike, bought myself a cheap and cheerful bike helmet and started to explore some of the less popular trails in Sutton Park.

Sutton Park

I began to enjoy mountain biking so much, I asked for a mountain bike of my own for Christmas. I’m ashamed to admit that the mountain bike I was given almost 10 years ago remained untouched and unloved until the beginning of the year.

Regular readers of my blog will be aware that I’m nearly always injured. I should really rename my blog ‘The Frequently Injured Runner’. At the start of the year, as I wanted to mix up my training a little in an attempt to avoid injuries, I decided to give my mountain bike a second chance. As I’m still too afraid to cycle on roads, I decided to reacquaint myself with some of the trails in Sutton Park.

I made quite a few what I would call embarrassing, rookie errors.

What would be my number one top tip for beginners? Get your bike fitted properly, I didn’t realise my saddle was far too low until a more experienced cyclist stopped me in Sutton Park. While on the subject of saddles, spend a bit extra on a comfortable saddle, your bottom will most definitely thank you. Also make sure that your tyre pressure is correct, it makes a huge difference. Pushing my mountain bike up a steep hill was hard, hard work.

Luckily, the awesome people at Halfords have produced a Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking.

Beginners Guide Halfords

I wish that I’d read and digested the contents of this guide before I headed into Sutton Park. The guide starts with a section on ‘How to Pick a Mountain Bike’. Did you know that a smaller rider may find 27.5” wheels more manageable? I didn’t.

The guide then shares some basic mountain biking skills and a mountain biking trail grading guide. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be staying well away from black, double black and orange trails!

The guide then recommends a range of mountain biking trails. Although Sutton Park didn’t make it into the guide, I was pleased to discover that another local park – Cannock Chase – did.

Cannock Chase’s green and blue graded Fairoak and Sherbrook trails provide perfect options for those beginning to bike. Master these and you’ll be tackling its famous Follow the Dog and Monkey trails in no time. As an area of natural beauty the Chase is a perfect place to escape in the heart of the country.”

The Gear List is a little dangerous as it includes links to loads of bits and pieces I don’t really need at this stage in my mountain biking career, but will probably end up buying anyway.

Gear List

The guide then provides an incredibly informative section written by Fiona Outdoors on mountain biking etiquette.

I’m ashamed to confess that I’ve made a couple of blunders since the beginning of the year. Apparently, my approach of riding where I think I’m least likely to fall off is incorrect, I should always ride on the left. Next time I hit the trails – hopefully not literally – I’ll make sure I ride on the left.

The guide concludes with a section on mountain biking slang. I’m already thinking of ways I can introduce the word ‘gnarly’ into my next technical hydrology report. I doubt that anyone would actually notice.

So although I’m still not very confident and tend to spend most of the time worrying about what might go wrong, reading the Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking has definitely given me some really useful hints and tips.

You never know, I might ask my friend to drive me and Boris – I gave my mountain bike the least imaginative name ever – the short distance to Cannock Chase to check out some new trails.

If my friend is really lucky, I might even take him to Halfords so that he can pick out a bike from their impressive range of mountain bikes.

Do you have any tips that may help me increase my confidence on two wheels? At the moment, I’m still quite nervous when I ride in Sutton Park.

Have you ever made any mountain biking or cycling blunders? I genuinely had no idea I was meant to stick to the left hand side of trails.

**Full disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Halfords**

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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**