Wow…it’s Friday and I’m sitting here with a strange feeling- I’ve a weekend ahead of me involving no races or massive plans. Recently these have been like unicorn poo and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself! My options involve work (a necessary evil but hopefully I’ll keep it to a bare minimum!), lots of time with my lovely hounds and some training. The plan is a ‘double’ on Saturday (Park Run and BMF) and then a bike ride on Sunday- I have my second ever triathlon next weekend and to say that I’m terrified is an understatement!
I was having a little think to myself this week, what could I write about given that I have no race to write up? I haven’t even really trained that hard this week as I’ve been recovering from the Manchester Marathon. Having a trainee-sports massage therapist for a husband has been as absolute Godsend as my quads are now feeling normal again. Work on Monday was decidedly unpleasant (an inability to go down stairs combined with a post-race celebration induced hangover is never a good combo). My main activity seems to have been stuffing my face with anything I can find. After the process of carb loading for a marathon and the shock to the system of the actual race, I always think that my body goes into survival mode, not trusting that I won’t do something horrible to it again!
Anyway, I was chatting to a friend who is new to running this week about kit and various things, so I decided to write a little blog about the products I absolutely could not manage without. Clearly trainers are a prerequisite (although I’m not sure my current tally of 14 different pairs is entirely necessary?)… but I’m going to focus on the smaller items, things that might get overlooked but that I’m so glad I’ve found. Hopefully it might save someone reading this a little trial and error! As a disclaimer I have no financial vested interest in any of these companies or products- they are simply things I use and would recommend wholeheartedly!
So from the top:
- Tailwind. I know, I know, this sounds like some sort of affliction caused by too many fig rolls. However, I can honestly say that this is the single most useful product that I have discovered. I have a rather delicate gut and, despite playing around with volume, different makes and types, I just do not get on with gels and sports type drinks in races/runs longer than 2-2.5 hours. For a half marathon I can happily run the whole thing using just water, with maybe a single gel around 10 miles to perk me up a little for the last few miles of the race… but in a marathon the only thing gels will achieve is me having to sprint as fast as possible for the nearest *portaloo/*pub/*clump of hedgerow (*delete as appropriate). Tailwind is a magical product which has stopped all of my issues and anxieties about this! It looks alarmingly like a Class A drug (I really hope my race bag never gets raided) and mixes into water. The taste is pleasant and non-sickly AND, importantly, provides electrolytes and calories. This means that you don’t need to take on anything else, so long as you keep sipping on your Tailwind, you are good to go for the day. I have a ridiculously high sweat rate (something I’d actually like to get tested) and so without some sort of electrolytes I will cramp- since using Tailwind I’ve had zero issues on this front. I’ve completed races of well over 12 hours with no food at all, I’ve just kept my water supply topped up with Tailwind. The best place to find out more is probably to check out the UK site.
- Epsom Salts. DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is something that all runners (or indeed exercisers) are familiar with…The magic way to lessen the effect is to invest in some magnesium. This is a vital mineral which helps us in a multitude of ways (this blog has some useful further info- runnerunleashed blog), including relieving muscle soreness and helping with a restful night’s sleep. Epsom salts are jam-packed full of magnesium and so a relaxing post run bath can kill two birds with one stone. If you don’t have a bath then I’d recommend a transdermal magnsium product (like this one ). I get my Epsom Salts online in bulk from epsomsalts.co.uk
- Toe socks. I’m not really someone who suffers with blisters as a general rule- I think all my time wandering around the house with no shoes or socks on has paid off! However, on very long runs over marathon distance I do have a tendency to get rather painful blisters in between my toes. The solution has been Injinji toe socks. Now I hate feet, and I’m really quite freaked out by shoes and socks that look like gloves, which is why I resisted buying any toe socks for ages, despite reading lots of positive reviews… however, in the end, I caved in as comfort has to be a priority, and I’m so glad that I did. It’s like running with little fluffy clouds on your feet- and once they are in your trainers, there’s no need to look at them. You can buy these online, I’ve used feetus.com to get mine. As you can see below, manky feet vs. happy feet! 🙂
- Arm warmers. As I mentioned above, I sweat a lot. This is bad in summer, but I find the colder months more difficult. In summer dressing for running is easy- a vest and shorts and I’m good to go. However, in winter it might be raining or the cold weather might convince me to add more layers than I really need. Arm warmers have been an absolute revelation- I can keep my arms warm, without my torso overheating. Even better, they are easy to pull off once I’m warmed up- which isn’t as convenient when wearing a baselayer! Most sports clothing lines include arm warmers, but mine were an absolute bargain- £2 from Aldi’s cycling range!
- Kinesiology tape. Watch most televised sporting events and you’ll see the athletes wearing a garish range of brightly coloured tape covering various parts of their anatomy. This is a relatively ‘new’ technology- Kinesiology tape. A quick internet search should provide you with the scientific blurb (e.g. Rock Tape Website), but I can say from my own experience that this stuff works! I have taped various bits of my body before long runs and big races and I find that any pain is dispersed and the joints and muscles feel more supported. I have a long standing back injury and my back can get very stiff and sore after long races (especially on the road). I now tape as a precaution and the after effects have definitely lessened. I like to use Rock Tape H2O as I have found it the most durable. I swim and have several baths a week and I find that the tape lasts well over 7 days, despite being soaked regularly in water. Rock Tape also comes in a range of snazzy colours. I believe that the Chinese even ascribe different healing properties to the different colours available!
I hope these pointers help… I love trying out new products and ideas, so please let me know about your ‘must have’ purchases! Happy running folks 🙂