Category Archives: running kit

Get ready for your autumn running with my kit preview

In our house we have a sweepstake to guess the date when we will clean out the woodburner for lighting the first fire of the autumn. My money is on October 5th, although I would love it to be much later than this date! The sun is still shining and hopefully we’re going to get many more warm days before we have to think about digging out our baselayers and throwing on a rain jacket. With a few canny investments in just a couple of key autumn wardrobe staples you will be pounding the trails and paths whenever the weather deteriorates (and we both know it will…!). Here’s my preview of the newest, loveliest and best running kit that’s in the shops and online this autumn.

LEGGINGS
Xinx Caribbean leggings
xinx.co.uk, £80
Sports luxe at its best, you can tackle any activity with these eye-catching Caribbean leggings. You get a deep , soft waistband, they don’t wrinkle as you run and there’s no bunching at the ankle. Flat-locked seams ensure maximum comfort, however hard you push yourself. You’ll want to wear these all the time, even when you’re not active.

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Manuka Life star stirrup legging
£45, manukalife.com
Slip into these luxury leggings with stirrups to make your feet feel extra toasty. Your legs will also thank you as the heritage cotton fabric wraps around them. And if you fancy an autumn run along the trails the star print is sure to get into the mood.

There's no way your feet are going to be cold this winter!

There’s no way your feet are going to be cold this winter!

Zaazee Eve leggings
£70, zaazee.co.uk
How can you not feel like a million pounds in these premium two-tone leggings? Their figure hugging SUPPLEX fabric will make you feel amazing as you relax into your day and a wide waistband means comfort 24/7. They are very distinctive with a bold stripe – and very flattering!

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Threo London Fields leggings
threo.co.uk, £55
Versatile leggings for any activity, you’ll love how easy you can roll them up or take them off due to the bright ankle zips. There’s a flattering high cut waist and the two-way stretch fabric feels supportive as well as stretchy. A double lining at the back prevents transparency and the long rear pocket is also nifty as it fits a Smart phone. You get a lot for your money!

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New Balance impact premium tights
newbalance.co.uk £51
The design of these latest leggings from New Balance is distinctive. They’re not too dark, have long reflective strips, mesh, ankle zips and silicone grippers. This is premium kit but not ridiculously expensive.

Shewhodaresruns short-sleeve technical tee
£18,
swdrshop.com
This ladies cut tee blends modern fabrics with a perfect fit and old-school looks. You get a flattering fit, the fabric is very soft against your skin and it’s 100% breathable – make a statement now!

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Howies light merino s/s baselayer
howies.co.uk, £45
When you don’t want your kit to bunch up throw on this slim-fitting Merino top that will keep you warm, and dry, until winter. The flat-locked seams won’t irritate and it stays put due to shaped armholes; you can’t tell you’re wearing this top. It’s breathable and odour resistant.

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Manuka Life pullover love hoodie
£65, manukalife.com
The softest, most comfy kit I’ve reviewed this autumn so far. As you snuggle up inside this beautiful oversized hoodie you can relax and reflect on just how far your running has come. Tuck your hands into the front pocket and let the super soft, brushed cotton, and the Love graphic, help you drift off as you focus on love: love for all things running of course!

My fav piece of kit at the moment

My fav piece of kit at the moment

JACKETS
New Balance Newbury Jacket
£60, newbalance.co.uk
A fashion jacket with a cute, cropped fit and a touch of cool-girl faux leather on the inner arms and sides. You’ll love the high neck, boxy fit and luxe, stretchy faux leather accents. Wear it to your workout then keep it on for your warm up – the thick ribbed fabric flaunts sweat-wicking NB Dry technology.

Howies Shewaddywaddy jacket
howies.co.uk, £79
The perfect jacket for the cooler evenings, or to pack down and stash in your backpack all year round. It’s unbelievably lightweight and has the bonus of a windproof ripstop outer. The slim line Primaloft front panels will battle the wind and I love the high collar plus elasticated cuffs and waist for cosiness. Protection from Mother Nature without bulk or feeling restricted.

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Ultimate Direction Ultra jacket
betaclimbingdesigns.com, £130
If you’re not sure whether to pack a wind or rain jacket, worry no more – this jacket is both waterproof and as light as most windbreakers. There’s a nifty internal chest pocket so you’re phone will never get wet. There are also mittens at the end of the arms for extra protection plus vents under the arms and in the hood (which has a stiffened peak for optimum visibility). A superior jacket for ultimate protection.

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BRAS
Shock Absorber active multi sports support bra
figleaves.com, £33
Rock your crop with whatever challenge you face in this Shock Absorber sports bra that gives extreme internal, cup-sized support. The mesh back allows you to stay cool and we loved the thick, padded straps, which we found easy to adjust. It’s not just comfortable; the vibrant colourways are perfect for layering so you stay stylish as you sweat.

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Odlo padded sports bra
£40, odlo.com/uk
It doesn’t matter whether you’re going to yoga or taking in a gentle run, this versatile bra, with wide, adjustable and stretchy straps, will support you. Removal pads provide extra support and coverage. There’s also a comfy under-bust strap; I think you won’t even notice you’re wearing this, it’s so soft.

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TECH
WATCHES
Suunto Spartan Ultra
suunto.com, £509-£559
This watch is a lot of money, there’s no denying that! But for the dedicated sportswomen out there you can use if for running, all-day activity tracking and 80 other activities like skiing and triathlon (as well as in-sport options such as interval/obstacle race and treadmill for running). You get a colour touch screen and lots of nifty add-ons such as guided route navigation. What’s the battery life? 26 hours in training mode. Pay a little more you can get a heart-rate monitor version. It’s an impressive piece of tech.

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Kavson Besiter Eclipse
amazon.co.uk, £9.99
A brilliant gadget for when you’re out and about, the Eclipse has one of the most powerful batteries available, which means your phone need never lose charge again! Tablets will charge incredibly fast and it can also be used as a torch. Ideal for off-roaders and ultra runners.

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Accessories
Ultimate Direction’s The Clutch
betaclimbingdesigns.com, £30
This is a sleek, easy to carry handheld bottle. Designed by women for women it features soft breathable mesh straps that won’t chafe. I love the small, secure pocket for valuables, and there are plenty of reflective accents for visibility.

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BAGS
Under Armour The Works tote
£38, underarmour.co.uk
Let the rain begin – with Storm technology this bag will repel water and protect your kit until you’re home. With a removable laundry bag your dirty kit can be kept separate, and there’s heaps of space for your winter kit and jacket. Being lightweight and spacious – with subtle style – you’ll find this bag perfect for races, the gym, weekends away or work.

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Ron hill commuter xero 5L/10L
ronhill.com, £80
This is a fantastic multi-purpose kit bag that can be used for anything, but it’s especially geared up for your run commute. The waistcoat attached to the bag consists of soft, thick mesh for cushioning. There’s a substantial internal zipped pocket at the top and separate section at the bottom to discreetly hold dirty clothes, and it features a rear light for safety. There are numerous pockets for storage on the waistcoat, including two large zipped ones.

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New Balance Vazee Breathe
£80, newbalance.co.uk
Technically these were launched as summer trainers, due to the cooling open-air mesh throughout the upper that let’s the air weave over your feet. I’ve starting running in them over the last few weeks and am loving them, and will be wearing them through the autumn. Why? They feel like a slipper yet inject energy into your running; they give you a cushioned ride without feeling bulky/heavy/clumsy. If you do find yourself running through a heatwave, the Heat Foil surface underneath the shoe will reflect road surface heat away from your foot. All in all, I think they’re the cleverest shoe on the block, and will really boost your running.

May your autumn running be full of beautiful paths and trails, and some PBs along the way!

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My best women’s winter running kit

Here’s my brief overview of my favourite winter kit at the moment at Women’s Running. Below the film there’s a link for each item. Merry Christmas!

SALOMON PEARL BEANNIE
Luxury with a pom pom! The thick knit of this hat will keep out the cold, ensuring you look stylish while everyone else is shivering in their shoes!
£24, salomon.com/uk

BUFF PLUM BOBBLE HAT
You can’t beat this luxurious bobble hat from Buff that will keep you warm while you wait to race or train. Knitted from Merino wool its thermal inner headband is so soft against your ears. It’s gorgeous!
£27.25, buffwear.co.uk

BUFF ZIGA MAGENTA
This wind resistant hat is designed for the winter trails. The beautiful fabric is brushed inside to give you thermal insulation and the reflective Buff logo enhances your safety. The colours are vibrant and the fit is snug.
£26.26, buffwear.co.uk

HELLY HANSEN CROSS INSULATOR JACKET
Such a luxurious look and featuring water resistant PrimaLoft Silver insulation to keep you toasty. Available in four colour choices, you’ll look stylish on the move, wherever you go in this quilt pattern. Keep the zip done up to the top for ultimate protection, and it’s so lightweight you can stash it anywhere.
£100, hellyhansen.com

HELLY HANSEN AIR JACKET
Stand out in this lightweight wind jacket with a stunning print! With a self-storing pocket this jacket can go anywhere with you. You’ll stay safe from the cold due to the elastic cuffs and edgeband and the quick-drying X-Cool fabric.
£80, hellyhansen.com

FALKE ERGONOMIC VEST
A slimmed down version of the FALKE insulating vest, which provides a snug and flattering fit on the trails. Primaloft lining protects you from the cold, and there are ventilation panels on the back. You get two zipped pockets and a high collar for ultimate protection. The stunning colour stands out and the design is about as feminine as you can get. Superior style.
£160, net-a-porter.com

ADIDAS GYM HOODIE
I felt snug and warm in this stretchy hoodie with two deep front zipped pockets and spacious, adjustable hood. The Climalite moisture-wicking fabric performed brilliantly and I loved wearing the striking, warm colour in low light conditions. Well-done adidas; a fashion-conscious, sustainable product made from recycled polyester.
£45, adidas.co.uk

ODLO BLACKCOMB EVOLUTION WARM BASELAYER WITH FACEMASK
How can you not love this winter kit? It’s already become an essential multifunctional baselayer for when the cold hits; all you need to do is use the facemask to protect from the wind (or as a cosy scarf). The seamless knitting technology is brilliant for staying sweat free, though the thermal insulating fabric is just thick enough to prevent overheating. The fit is super sleek.
£80.00, odlo.com

HELLY HANSEN NORVIZ LONG SLEEVE TOP
The advanced reflective fabric of this top is unbelievable – the whole top lights up when it reflects light. There’s a half zip plus thumb holes to keep your hands warm. X-cool fabric keeps you dry, but it’s the reflectivity that I was wowed by.
£75, hellyhansen.com

TRIBESPORTS HALF ZIP MID LAYER AND CAPRI TIGHTS
Affordable yet high quality, parkrunners will already know this range. We love this kit as runners have helped design it; the half zip mid later feels incredibly soft against your skin and has all the technical features you demand, the capris are really stretchy!
£52 & £32.50, tribesports.com

ODLO EBE RUNNING TIGHTS
Reversible tights with prints on both sides giving you two pairs of leggings in one. They were easy to run in, with a comfortable elastic waistband and feet light and smooth against your skin. Great winter style.
£65, odlo.com

ILU SEAMLESS TEXTURED LEGGINGS
The deepest waistband I’ve reviewed for a long time, these leggings, with a cheeky contrast of grey marl, win my winter award for comfort on the run. The design creates a slimming pattern. Mesh around the calves adds to the look and helps keep you cool.
£45, ilufitwear.com

SUKISHUFU SHOOTING STAR LEGGINGS
A stunning print perfect for winter. I loved the leather look trim on the back of the waistband that gave extra support, as did the extra deep front waistband. The two-way stretch fabric provided a perfect fit, and with anti-fade and anti-pilling material these will last.
£90, stylesportif.com

ZAAZEE ERIN AND ELLA VESTS TOPS
These beautiful tops feature an exquisitely soft and super-stretchy material. The fit is flattering with ruched detail along the straps and back, you get an inner bra layer plus a stand-out design on the back that will make you feel you can conquer the world.
£38, zaazee.co.uk

ZAAZEE ESZTHER CAPRI
Bold, two-tone capris made from figure hugging SUPPLEX fabric for extra support. Using the same stretchy but soft fabric as the vest tops, I felt comfy in the wide waistband (with double support at the front). Great design; a brand to watch out for.
£60, zaazee.co.uk

ILU DOUBLE LAYER TANK
This is such a pretty, comfortable and clever top; featuring a very flattering outer layer that hangs loosely over the areas you want it to most! The blue trim finishes the look and the longer length is perfect. I can’t fault it for style. If looking as good as you feel is important, I recommend Ilu.
£37, ilufitwear.com

ADIDAS BOSTON BOOST 5
Fantastic racing flats that are incredibly responsive due to the boost midsole. Even though it looks like a low profile shoe you get a surprising amount of cushioning. The Torsion System in the forefoot will help you toe-off with speed and energy. This is also a shoe with a conscience – a portion of each pair goes to the Boston Runs As One fund.
£95.00, adidas.co.uk

SAUCONY EVERUN ISO TRIUMPH 2
It’s got to be the shoe of the moment; the EVERUN Topsole and Landing Zone in the heel mean lots more cushioning beneath your feet, and you can really feel it, even when you’re walking. The Isofit upper also feels thicker giving you more protection, especially around your Achilles and across the top of your foot. This trainer looks exactly how women want it to – a bold colour with just a pop of pink.
£135, saucony.co.uk

ADIDAS XT BOOSTS
These have been my favourite trail shoes for a few months now. The fabric of the high-cut collar flows from the shoe up your ankle, rather than stopping with a rounded top. This in-built gaiter keeps out dust, sand, mud, stones or other debris, as well as providing extra support for your ankle. They felt flexible underfoot and the Continental Rubber lugs are strong and effective, with four biting surfaces.
£110, adidas.co.uk

BROOKS PUREFLOW 5
The PureFlow 5 is the first Brooks shoe to use DNA LT, a 10 per cent lighter version of their adaptable cushioning, for a more natural feel that still protects from impact where you need it. A wraparound collar in the heel lends an ultra-plush feel.
£90, brooksrunning.com

ON Cloudflyers
12 “Cloud” elements built from zero gravity foam provide amazing cushioning while staying lightweight. Natural shoes to support your body’s natural gait.
£130, on-running.com

HOKA ONEONE Challenger and Vanquish
More to come soon….
hokaoneone.com

Apologies for rushed pronunciations :)

Apologies for rushed pronunciations :)

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If the shoe fits….

Are you confused about which running shoes to buy? Do you need neutral or support shoes? What do different shoe types offer? And how does the technology do this? I’m going to try and give you the answers!

The running shoe market has never had so much diversity. ‘This is great for customer choice and for ensuring you can get something that is exactly right for you. However, knowing what that is has become increasingly challenging,’ says Richard Fenton, an ultra-marathon runner, fitness coach and footwear manager at Profeet (www.profeet.co.uk).

Challenging it may be, but Richard says this should not deter you from trying to find your perfect shoe. ‘Running shoes are generally designed to achieve one or more of three things: improve performance, improve comfort and reduce injuries,’ he explains. ‘Comfort is the easiest here; multiple studies have reported that we have a lower oxygen consumption when we select shoes based purely on comfort, so if you’re not injured and just looking for something to feel good then simply try on multiple shoes and go from there. The confusion can come when we start to look at performance or reduce injuries.’

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Every shoe will not only interact differently with your foot but also with the rest of your body so it’s important to get an understanding of how you’re moving, and what you need. The two biggest shoe categories are neutral and support, with support being the biggest. It’s likely you’ll fall into one of these two categories, though as your running progresses, you may want to experiment with other shoe types. ‘If in doubt with anything I would always recommend seeing a specialist that looks at you running and takes into consideration your knees and hips as well as your feet,’ advises Richard.

In need of support?
Support shoes are for runners who need medial support (think support on the arch side) and a good level of cushioning. They are best suited for people who over-pronate (think of your knees bending inwards as you run and your feet having to overcompensate for this). These shoes are generally categorised by having a medial post, which is a harder piece of material in the mid-foot, that stops the foot from rolling in – correcting the pronation.

‘Very loosely speaking supportive shoes will tend to be slightly harder/firmer under foot, particularly useful for runners who have issues with their feet spending too much time on the ground or who are unstable,’ states Richard. ‘The firmer materials will help to speed up the foot gait cycle and get things off the ground and moving faster; this can be a common problem with people that have excessive joint/muscle mobility.’

Motion control shoes are for people who may be heavier and need extra support; you may be a bigger runner with low arches. The Brooks Ariel 12 comes under this category; you get comfort and stability as well as the right level of support you need.

Mizuno

Shoe: Wave Inspire 11
The description:
A smooth run is enhanced with Mizuno Running’s keynote technologies: SmoothRide; plus its revolutionary weight-saving U4iC midsole material.
The price: £105
www.mizuno.eu

Going neutral
Neutral shoes offer maximum midsole cushioning with minimum medial (arch side) support. They are best suited to more efficient runners and mid-foot strikers. You’re more likely to have a moderate to high arch if you wear a shoe in this category.

‘The sole of neutral shoes tends to (but not exclusively) be made with softer materials that are great for slowing down movement. Runners that suffer from stiffness issues or have feet that seem to slap to the ground too quickly can benefit hugely from having something softer underfoot,’ says Richard.

‘A flat foot does not necessarily mean it needs supportive shoes though. The same can be said with high arches and neutral shoes. In the past we have treated shoe fitting as “arch fitting”, where wet footprint tests and arch height evaluations determined the shoe we chose. This has started to become outdated as we begin to appreciate there is a lot more to the foot than one arch.’

Steve Wales, tech rep manager at Brooks Running adds: ‘Neutral shoes are aimed at runners of any calibre who have little to no biomechanical inefficiencies. Neutral shoes are so-called because they don’t try to coerce the foot in to behaving in any given way. This means that a neutral shoe doesn’t need to include components which are designed to guide the foot in a certain direction, making them more flexible and allowing much more freedom of movement than a shoe designed to have more control over the foot. Not having stabilising components also reduces the weight of a shoe, which means that a shoe like the Glycerin can have plenty of cushioning without being heavy. In comparison to other styles, a neutral shoe has an absence of technology, because the runners that wear them do not require the shoe to provide any interference.

‘Readers should consider wearing a neutral shoe if a gait assessment at their local specialist running store shows no need to interfere with what their feet do naturally,’ says Steve, ‘or if they’ve been running injury-free in a neutral shoe for a period of time which makes them feel confident that they do not need any extra support from a shoe.’

Brooks

Shoe: Ghost 7
Description:
BioMoGo DNA in the midsole offers adaptive cushioning while staying more flexible.
Price: £110
www.brooksrunning.co.uk

Au natural
Natural shoes have followed in the wake of the minimalist revolution – they are not necessarily minimal, though they are categorised by a low drop (the height from the forefoot to the rear foot) of generally around four millimetres. They’re still a shoe built for speed, but they offer more support than a minimal shoe. Often the goal is to enable the foot to work harder than in conventional shoes – but offer reasonable support and cushioning.

On shoes are a classic natural ride. David Allemann, founder of On, says: ‘Each model of On shoes has a unique set of hollow pods on the sole called Clouds that, on impact, stretch back on impact to cushion the landing and then lock to form the solid foundation required for a powerful push-off. This technology provides runners with the best of both worlds – uniquely combining the soft landing of a cushioned training shoe with the explosive push-off of a fast racing flat.

‘The Clouds act to stabilise your foot strike and activate your postural muscles, putting you in control. On give wearers all the benefits of a natural running style, while still providing optimum comfort, and runners can expect a light, soft yet fast running sensation.’

On

Shoe: On Cloudsurfer
Description:
The CloudTec system is excellent at transforming running energy into forward momentum.
Price: £120
www.on-running.com

Fancy minimalism?
Generally categorised by having a zero millimetre drop, these shoes don’t have a cushioned heel like conventional shoes, where the front tends to be lower than the back. Essentially these shoes are providing protection against ground content – damage from what is below your feet.

‘Running speed and increasing it comes from good skill and appropriate strength,’ says Jamie Page, from Vivobarefoot. ‘Skill can be perfected through practice. It is essential that enough sensory information reaches the athlete’s brain so they can effectively increase their skill level and know what shapes to put their body into whilst moving, and master the correct biomechanics of running.

‘Strength comes from utilising the feet, legs and whole body in the correct fashion (skillfully and completely) on a regular basis. Our shoes are made for anyone who regards full foot functionality as a paramount feature of shoes. The technology is all in your feet. Vivobarefoot shoes allow that “technology” to thrive. How? The shoes are super flexible and light so your big toe can engage rapidly with the ground and be the body’s anchor and provide natural motion control. We make them flat and wide so the foot can splay on impact and recoil on lift off and so the muscles and tendons can provide the natural shock absorption. Lastly the shoes are ultra-thin but with puncture-resistant soles so your brain gets all the information it need to be able to run skillfully. We add terrain specific grip and different uppers depending on the environment and activity.’

If this appeals to you, it’s an idea to slowly get used to minimalist shoes. ‘It will take time to rehabilitate, regain the skill of natural movement (that you once had as an uncompromised child) and gain innate strength,’ says Jamie. ‘This can be done with patience and ease, it involves walking before you run, doing the deep “campfire” squat little and often and practising straight jumps at 90bpm.’

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VIVOBAREFOOT
Shoe:
Trail Freak
Description: The Trail Freak has a lightweight natural fit, duo 3M mesh and laminated structured that gives a comfortable and secure second skin fit.
Price: £90
www.vivobarefoot.com

Is bigger better? Try the HOKA ONE ONE
These shoes use a wider platform than normal underfoot – particularly at the forefoot and heel. This helps to provide a stable running experience. They also use a meta-rocker (the curvature of the outsole at the metatarsal heads). The idea behind this is that when your foot strikes the ground the geometry of the sole unit pushes you forward into the next step – conserving energy and ensuring a fluid stride transition.

‘The shoes themselves are based on two fundamental principles: performance and protection,’ says Jean-Luc Diard, founder of HOKA ONE ONE. ‘Performance refers to the unique geometry of the shoes and the really smooth stride transition this provides. Protection comes via the cushioning volume of the shoes. Running is a high-impact sport, and depending on a variety of factors, you can exert up to four times your body weight in downward pressure. With that in mind it stands to reason that a higher volume of cushioning is important if you’re going to be running regularly or over longer distances.’

Conquest 2 - Women's

Shoe: HOKA Conquest 2
Description: A suspension midsole built with an EVA top-layer provides the signature HOKA cushioning, while the RMAT body provides a perfect blend of underfoot support and a responsive ride.
Price: £140
www.hokaoneone.com

What is your “natural”?
Richard advises everyone to: ‘Look at the wear pattern on the bottom of your shoe to understand how you have been using it. In an ideal world we would see fairly even wear in most parts except for the heel where we would have slightly more just off centre of the heel towards the outside. If you notice a lot of wear on the inside of the heel then this can suggest that a shoe with supportive features on the inside can help to even out that wear. At the front end we want even wear but most commonly you may see extra wear on the part where the ball of your big toe would be; in this case it can help to have a firmer shoe in this area. Excessive wear on the outside of the forefoot can suggest that you have too much support in your shoes so selecting more neutral shoes would be a better option.

If you need a boost…
At the top end of the neutral market is the new adidas Ultra BOOST. Previously, adidas BOOST shoes would have comprised 80 per cent BOOST with an EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) rim. However, new technology has enabled adidas to remove the EVA rim and create a shoe with 100 per cent BOOST. John Stewart, adidas running merchandising manager, says: ‘Boost material is more cushioned and more propulsive than EVA, it’s also more flexible, more durable and less temperature dependent than EVA.

‘What this shoe gives every runner when they put on the shoe on, is it feels secure, it feels comfortable and it feels cushioned in the heel. Those feelings are relevant for an absolute beginner and also a marathon runner.’

adidas boost

Price: £130
www.adidas.co.uk

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the new adidas adizero XT boost trainers: my review

It’s still (just about) summer, but with the recent rain off-road running has already become a bit soggy – cross-country races will be here before we know it.

I received my pair of adizero xt boost trainers about a week ago, and thought it would be a while before I took them out for their first run. However, a few days ago, when I ran my loop around the fields behind my house I was surprised how wet and muddy the lower part of the closest field had become. Dog walkers were wearing their wellies – always a sign that the ground underfoot is changing.

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Do my feet look big in these?

So today I knew, even though it was warm, muggy and 23 degrees, that there would be mud waiting for me so I decided to give the xt boosts a try. Needing to work on a bit of speed, which I’ve really neglected over the summer, I decided to do my 10 x 1minute reps around the field rather than on pavements because I just couldn’t face running on the road! Tarmac exhaustion.

I knew this session would be tougher on the field, as I’m running along grassy edges, through a lot of mud and puddles, some areas of more compact mud where the sun bakes the ground and a few kinder stretches that are almost trails. It’s quite a rutted route around the field though, and there are a few little inclines – all perfect for blowing out some speed and doing a hard session when you are short of time.

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The xt boosts felt comfy when I put them on and they definitely didn’t feel too heavy, which some trail shoes can. They also didn’t feel rigid around the cuffs – another feature that I don’t like in some trail shoes (especially when they’ve been caked in mud a few times and start to resemble the texture of wood). Unlike traditional trail shoes, the fabric of the high-cut collar flows from the shoe up your ankle, rather than stopping with a rounded top. They were much more comfortable in this aspect than I expected.

I have small, narrow feet; size 4 in normal shoes. I usually go up one size for trainers, but with adidas I go up 1.5 sizes as they always come up a bit small. I thought the laces for the shoes were a bit too long, as even doubled up they were still flapping around my feet and swinging up and catching the skin on my ankles. Obviously I have small feet so had to pull the laces tight, but I think even someone with much wider size 5-5.5 feet would find this too. The fabric around the laces was quite bunched – this wasn’t a fault; as I said, I have narrow tiny feet and am used to this on most of my trainers.

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I’d had a sneak preview of the shoes during the London Marathon expo week back in April, when I was invited to view the adidas autumn/winter collection and I was really impressed with the look and the advancement in technology they offer. When I first took the trainers out of their box I was again impressed with the design and I love the high-cut collar they give you. Acting like an in-built gaiter, this keeps out dust, sand, mud, stones, or other debris – which really annoys me when it somehow finds its way into your trainers then rubs causing irritation. The collar also provides extra support for your ankle, so crucial in off-road running where the terrain constantly changes. I also realised after my first run that it helps wick away sweat, which I seem to produce a lot of, even – bizarrely – around my ankles! I’m sure this will be beneficial in the really colder, harsher weather when your feet are freezing as you run.

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Sweaty betty ankles

The shoes are easy to put on (the collar is very stretchy) and they felt snug. There was no rubbing from the cuffs of the trainers, which I think is another distraction we can all do without.

My youngest asked me why I was lying on the grass. She's never done off-road intervals

My youngest asked me why I was lying on the grass. She’s never done off-road intervals

My run went through plenty of mud, puddles, grassy banks and a little bit of a drier pathway, and there was no slippage as I hit the wet ground underneath. When I ran a few days ago in normal trainers around the field my feet were soaked after the first lap, though I think the higher midsole lifted my feet up a bit so I didn’t notice them feeling wet as I ran.

 

Not too caked in mud after the run

Not too caked in mud after the run

These shoes have a boost midsole, which helps to transfer your energy back up to you through your legs, and I felt as if I was zipping along nicely in them. The fact they are so light also helps with this. They felt flexible underfoot, as well as stable. I’ve had a knee injury on and off for a few years, which meant I cautiously avoided most cross-country races last winter due to worrying that the terrain would cause the injury to flare up. However this year I’ve done a lot more strength and conditioning exercises on my left side to strengthen my glutes, thanks to doing six sessions at Southampton Running School earlier in the summer, so I’m ready to give cross-country races a go this season. I don’t want to feel my fit are slipping away as I hit wet conditions underfoot, as I think this constantly jolts and aggravates your knees, and I felt today that my ankles and knees felt stable in this shoe. The true test will be a few months down the line when conditions are a lot worse than they are now.

You also get a really rugged outsole which I think makes you feel you are getting protection from harder knocks, such as when your feet hit against a larger rock. This is especially noticeable around the toes. I also thought the Continental Rubber lugs were strong and effective. You get four biting surfaces for both lateral and linear traction.

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Your feet are going to get wet once you are running in the rain, as there’s a mesh upper – but if you are worried about this you wouldn’t be running on the trails or in cross-country races. Also, I know the shoes will soon be caked and covered in mud, but I would really like to see more colour in them, so that they look distinctively like women’s trail shoes rather than unisex.

As far as the session I did, I managed 9 x 1 minute reps off a 75 second recovery; after five I was ready to give up! Running off-road stretches you so much more than on paths – I find this session easy and a bit boring when I do it on the road, and only give myself 60 seconds to recover. I tried to focus on keeping my chin level, with my arms pumping, especially during the inclines (another gem I’ve learnt from the Running School). As soon as I get tired my arms begin to pump across my body instead of forward, so if you decide to do a session like this make sure you are looking forward about five metres and pump your arms (held at a 90 degree angle) to help propel you forwards as you tire. And you will tire quickly!

Random photo - just as important as running is being an embarrassing parent

Just as important as running is being an embarrassing parent

I haven’t done as much running as I hoped to over the school summer holidays, so am not as fit or as fast as I would like to be. So, if you’re feeling like me it’s also worth taking each rep at a time. After five intervals I didn’t think I would make it to eight, but I just put in the effort, and said one more each time. I was surprised I did the ninth, and happy – I didn’t go for the 10th as I was feeling really tired and weak by that time. As I mature into my running I’ve come to realize it’s not always worth doing the whole number, if you are slowing down dramatically. I would rather do eight or nine reasonable efforts then stop, then carry on to the bitter end and do a slow effort. I think really struggling on when you know the speed has gone really negatively impacts on me after the session – I always feel better about myself when I’ve said ‘That’s enough!’

 

It’s been hard to fit in much training over the summer, and I didn’t think I would make it out for a run today, so I was chuffed to get round the field, with some speed thrown in, and it helped me get through this afternoon. Doing one thing for you every day is so valuable, whether it’s for fitness or mental health. I am really looking forward to running in the mud this winter – if you would like to give it a try I’ve written a feature on giving cross-country a go in the November issue of Women’s Running mag, which will be on sale 26th September. There are some top tips from Liz Yelling in it too! I’m sure all cross-country runners are slightly madder than normal runners!

Has anyone else tried the adizeros yet? Who else is looking forward to the cross-country season?

adidas.co.uk  £105

Warning: take care if you are doing efforts off-road. There’s a risk you may get seriously faster

Essential women’s running kit for autumn

It’s unbelievable… the Women’s Running office is already getting kit in for autumn/winter when it’s in the 20s, we’re in July and the summer holidays haven’t even started! I hate to say it, but before we know it the summer will be over and we will be eating our Christmas dinner! Eeek – I don’t know if that’s exciting or I want to cry!
What is for sure is that time has a way of dissolving… I’m hoping summer stretches out till the end of September at least (last year we were wearing shorts when we decorated our house on Halloween, so warm weather may you remain forever) but at some stage we are going to have to think about colder weather kit. Make sure you beat the chill with my sneak preview of what I think is going to be flying off the running shop shelves, as well as a few old favourites that are worth buying, and why I think the kit is great.
I’m refusing to wear capris until the end of September! Full tights are not allowed before the end of October, but there’s something for everyone here, and for whatever our beautiful British weather throws at us from September onwards. I’ve reviewed, and run in the kit, but I asked my 12-year-old daughter Amelie to model the pieces as she is a bit taller than I am; all the kit she has on is a size small. She’s a dancer not a runner – it was easier to let her ‘pose’ to get the pictures taken and avoid all-out war!

Shoes
Merrell Allout Terra Trail, £100, www.merrell.com/UK
I couldn’t wait to get my feet in this brand new shoe from Merrell: I’ve always found Merrell’s trail shoes offer brilliant stability whether you are tackling mud, snow or rock. I love the hybrid sock-like tongue that prevents debris from the trail entering the shoe and causing discomfort. It seems lots of brands are offering this addition to shoes this year, and now we have it I wonder why it wasn’t thought of before: it’s so effective and means no more bending over to flick out those tiny stones that seem to find their way into the top of your socks and are so irritating. The lugs are really chunky and feel very grippy underfoot. I also found the shoes to be super light due to the UniFly cushioning system, which consists of soft EVA foam that Merrell tells me is 20 per cent lighter than standard EVA foams. There’s also a small rock plate in the forefoot that works to protect against the toughest debris lurking under our feet. The upper is tough, too. All round, one of my favourite trail shoes so far, and I can’t wait for a muddy cross-country race to really put them to work.

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Salomon Speedcross 3, £100, salomon.com/uk
These aren’t new but I’ve loved running in them so much in the last month or so I wanted to include them anyway! I first raced in them for the South Downs Trail Half Marathon in June, having only been out in them for a few short runs and they performed brilliantly. For comfort and stability I really rate them; even though they may look like they are rigid or heavy they are very deceptive. I’m not a fan of trail shoes that are too solid/inflexible in the upper, or if they are heavy as you begin to feel like you’re dragging a heavy mass of mud around on your feet. These feel strong and sturdy but aren’t heavy or rigid.

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There’s plenty of padding around the ankles that makes these shoes feel extremely comfy, even after you’ve been wearing them for a few hours. And they are so robust! I feel a couple of inches taller in these shoes and find them springy: the lugs give you a powerful grip. Salomon are clever designers and when they first bought out their ‘lace garage’, to allow us to tuck away our laces and prevent snagging on the run I thought it was so clever. Yes, for me and the Speedys it was love at first sight.

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INOV-8 TERRACLAW 250, £120, inov-8.com
I haven’t had a pair of these come in for review yet, but weighing just 250g, the Terraclaw 250 promises to be a lightweight and agile shoe. It’s one of those shoes that will serve you well whatever distance you are training or racing. It has multi-directional outsole lugs for great grip, while the fit has been engineered to keep the foot stable yet still allow the toes to splay. May suit runners with slightly wider feet as I’ve always found the toebox in Inov-8’s to be quite generous.

Terraclaw 250 W Blk Berry Blue side updated

Terraclaw 250 W Blk Berry Blue sole updated

Capris/tights
Saucony Bullet Capri, £45, www.saucony.co.uk
Over the last few seasons I’ve become quite a fan of Saucony women’s running kit. These capris are going to be one of my kit choices in autumn as I like the way they finish just below your knee (the inseam is 16.5inches) compared to mid-calf, as many do. For me the longer length is just irritating, as my legs don’t like the pressure of seams mid-calf. And with these you can run in them all year – saving you money! There’s a zippered back storage pocket as well as side cargo pockets, so you get plenty of space for essentials. The scalloped reflective trip on the side pockets and the back covers safety, and the wide waistband is a winner for any size.

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VAARA Sports Leggings, £55  vaara.com
Vaara’s capsule collection is aimed at the busy working woman, mother and gym goer who is just not prepared to compromise on technical performance or style…so it’s right up our street. The range includes cashmere knits, but I was lucky enough to review the sports bra and sports legging in black/coral.

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Amelie is also wearing the Vaara sports bra which is included further down this blog

The waistband of the sports legging really sets it apart as it puts such a pretty finishing touch; I thought it was very unique. It sits just above your hip bones and crosses over at the front, creating the ‘Vaara diamond’ – both flattering and a bright pop of colour for your winter wardrobe. These are leggings that will allow you to feel comfortable all day, regardless of whether you’re out on a run, or just flying around at work or doing chores. The soft material has great stretch, too.

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BoomBoom Athletica 26.2 Leggings £98, boomboomathletica.com
One of many new brands that are offering cross-over kit that you can workout in but also head out in (whether it’s to the shops/school run/cafes), these sleek black leggings are meant to feel tight to provide the benefits of compression technology. So you may have to struggle in to them, but once you’re in they feel like a second skin. I’ve also recently reviewed the elite tank (Amelie is wearing the blue version in this picture… you can find it here), which I loved, so I had to give the leggings a slot.

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What you get with these brands offering fewer items that are multi-functional is much better quality than some of the global brands with a vast collection of kit.

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Why pay so much for a pair of leggings? The texture of the fabric against your skin is very soft and smooth; it feels luxurious! I really liked the hypoallergenic silicon strip on the inside of the waistband that helps prevent the tights riding up around your waist. It’s a strange sensation at first, but it’s effective. You’ve got mesh panels behind the knees, which definitely help with ventilation. Overall the fit was just about perfect (I tried a small). There’s also a subtle reflective logo on the right ankle. I personally would like to see a bit more reflectivity for the really dark months. If you were going to invest in one pair of decent leggings for the winter months I would put these on your wish list.

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Ilu Compression Leggings, £60, ilufitwear.com
Turning up to a race and feeling relaxed is important, right? These compression leggings are designed for comfort.

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Amelie is wearing the Ilu pants and chic seamless jacket

There are lots of details that make them stand out though, it’s not just the overall style. The deep ribbed waistband allows them to sit gently against your hips and tummy, and I really like the way the ruched ankles fitted.

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Great to wear whether your training, gyming or racing.

Tops/jackets
Ilu Chic Seamless Jacket, £70, ilufitwear.com
This jacket is available in three distinctive colours, blue (my pics), coral and grey; to be honest, I think all of the colourways work. This isn’t a heavy jacket, it’s a zip-up you can either wear whilst running when the temperatures do start to drop a bit, to give you that extra layer (until the true winter cold sets in), or you can just as easily wear it before/after your races, or casually as you are out and about – that’s why I’ve included it.

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It doesn’t look like a traditional running top/jacket, and that’s the beauty of it. There are mesh panels under the arms and along the sides, thumb loops so you get mittens built-in, and beautiful ruching all over the garment. It’s uber cosy. This is a jacket I will be happy to throw on to run in until the cold forces me into thermals. I also know it will look great when I’m dashing out the house, as I’m prone to do about 10 times a day.

Odlo Flender Down Vest, £130, www.odlo.co.uk (Available from mid August)
My sample hasn’t quite arrived – once it has I’ll update this blog. Odlo are one of my favourite brands, especially when it comes to running gilets as they always seem to get them right: warm enough, light enough and stylish. I’ve run in very similar vests for the last two winters so I know this vest will keep me warm, and I always use mine to layer up on the way to/from races when it gets really cold, as well as using as a layer against the cold when I’m running.

Odlo Flender down vest

They feature ‘Pertex Soft Micro’, a ightweight and soft microfibre material that is perfect for insulation. The fabric wicks sweat away from the interior, while providing excellent weather protection on the exterior. There’s also a mesh fleece back. This is also lightweight, very soft, micro fleece, brushed on both sides, with an anti-pilling finish. I love my Odlo vests, and will wear them around the house in the winter as they are so cosy and so effective at heat retention.

Glofaster Light-up Jacket, £99 www.glofaster.com
If you like to be ahead of the game when it comes to technology then the new range of Glofaster kit is for you. Their new light-up running jacket will be a great hit during the darker months, especially as you can link it up to a heart-rate monitor and your smartphone to make it flash in time with your heart rate! How amazing is that! In the quest to become more visible technology is also becoming much more fun. You can programme them to work a variety of ways, for example if you want your heart rate to reach a certain level you can programme the jacket’s lights to be on solidly when this is achieved, or change pattern when you are ‘in the zone’. If you are a runner who likes to get into their music when they run, the jacket can flash in time to your playlist! The LEDs can be seen 200m away, so there is the added benefit of being seen while you train. I don’t know about you but even though I hate the dark nights during winter I can’t wait to wear mine!

Here is a short video showcasing the jackets:

Gore Mythos So Light Lady Vest, £89.99, www.goreapparel.co.uk
I put in this piece of kit with my practical, mum head on as it’s so reflective and fluoro, yet retains the understated simple style I expect from Gore. I really like that it has two pockets as I tend to travel on foot with a few accessories. Also, being able to zip up the collar to keep the cold out is a bonus for me as I hate the first 10 minutes of running in the autumn/winter when the cold air somehow always finds a way of sneaking in through your kit.

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I am quite tiny, so the Gore XS fits perfect, and I know with this vest I will be running with a base-layer on underneath. It’s also made with a tapered fit, so it is definitely flattering. I know Gore kit is a bit more expensive, but none of my Gore running gear has ever got holes in or worn out (yet!) and I can never part with it.

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If I want to be sure to be warm in the winter I will always wear Gore. Every year Gore tweaks it’s running kit and I’m always excited to see what they have on offer each season.

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Saucony Reflex Jacket – white, www.saucony.co.uk
Saucony’s new range offers quite a few jackets, but I’ve picked the Reflex as my favourite as I think it’s the most practical/stylish offering for the darker months. What do you get? 360 degree high reflectivity with through little bubbles that are all over the jacket. It’s like being covered in tiny cat-lights. If there aren’t any lights shining on you the pattern is hardly noticeable. The fabric is also coated so it also provides the wind and water resistance you know you’re going to need. And there are mesh panels under the arms for ventilation, and freedom of movement. There’s more than enough storage space with zipped pockets on the front and one on the back right. I’m waiting for a sample, so for now this is what it looks like.

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Socks
Bridgedale Active Compression Sock, £28, www.bridgedale.com
I’ve become a convert to Bridgedale socks after spending the summer favouring their Speed Diva, due to the extra cushioning they offer. I really like thicker, cushioned socks, even in the heat, not just for protection from blisters but also for cosiness. These compression socks have just been launched and will help aid blood circulation and improve oxygen supply to muscles to increase stamina. The close stretch fit of the socks also reduces muscle vibration and enhances recovery. You’ll stay dry with Coolmax fibres. I also think the Black/Fluoro colourway is stylish.

529 Compression Active 008 Black fluro

Bridgedale Speed Trail, £15, www.bridgedale.com
Staying on the theme of thick winter socks, the Speed Trail is a variation on the Speed Diva, which offers more underfoot cushioning, and warmth, whilst at the same time keeping over foot ventilation. It’s also slightly longer so will keep the winter chill away from your ankle. I love the padding in vulnerable areas. Just about perfect for autumn.

635 RUN Speed Trail Wmn 413 Turquoise shadow

Sports Bras
VAARA Sports Bra, £35  vaara.com

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Offering mid-support (the bra is available in sizes 6-12), this sports bra will suit women who are a smaller cup, or are heading to a yoga or Pilates class. For me it was perfect to run in, though I have to admit I need little support in this area being an A cup (three lots of breastfeeding seemed to cause my boobs to shrink away to nothing! So I blame my three girls for this!). It was comfortable during running, as well as when I’ve been wearing it all day after returning from the gym, largely due to the wide band that sits just beneath your boobs. I loved the cross-over straps as they were adjustable to get a really tight fit. There are removable cups – I decided to leave mine in of course! As I said above, this bra is definitely suitable for smaller ladies.

Running Buggy
Bugaboo Runner, £583, bugaboo.com
Bugaboo’s first foray into the running stroller arena is loaded with intuitive functionalities. Practical features include speed control brakes, high spec suspension systems, mudguards, adjustable handlebars and a fixed front wheel for stability that are built to deliver whether heading out for a leisurely jog on your local footpath or taking on the trail on untrodden paths.

Bugaboo

 

Run with CEP

Do you, like me, love your CEP socks/calf guards? I’ll be giving them a good wash so they’re sparkling clean ready for next week’s launch of RunwithCEP, a series of fun, informative running events throughout London. Starts next Tuesday, 7th July in Broadgate shopping district. These are my faves, my orange ones…

ByiLTr1CYAAa-wL

What colour do you like? ‪#‎RunwithCEP‬

 

Womens summer running kit essentials

Here’s my nine summer must-have kit essentials!

Sunglasses
DHB PRO TRIPLE LENS SUNGLASSES
Why I rate them: You can’t beat these for value, as you get clear, smoke and orange lenses with each frame option. I’m really light sensitive and found the large lenses blocked out all peripheral light. You get 100 per cent UVA and UVB protection, plus I think the quality/fit of the frame is excellent.
£29.99, www.wiggle.co.uk

Style rating: 4/5
Value for money: 4/5

dhb-Pro-Triple-Lens-Sunglasses-Performance-Sunglasses-Red-4

Vest
HELLY HANSEN W VTR MESH SINGLET
Why I rate it: I loved the vivid colours of this singlet; I went for the pink option even though I’m not really a pink gal! It’s quite long in the body which I really liked as it felt comfortable but also looks good with leggings. It’s also super soft material, and the style on the back is very flattering.
£20, www.hellyhansen.com

Style rating: 4/5
Value for money: 5/5

SS15SS15

If you have a bit more money to spend…
GORE SUNLIGHT LADY PRINT SINGLET
Why I like it: Yes it’s quite a lot of money to spend on one vest but you get such excellent quality with Gore I think it’s worth having the odd essential item in your running wardrobe. None of my Gore kit has ever worn out (yet!). I really like it that Gore has stepped up to the line and delivered more feminine/stylish kit this year. You get draped fabric at the sides and a very distinctive, flattering print. It’s lightweight with stretch material, giving you function that really does looks fantastic! Remember, you’re worth it!
£54.99, www.goreapparel.co.uk

Style rating: 5/5
Value for money: 3/5

GORE RUNNING WEAR Sunlight Lady Print Singlet

Tee
ADIDAS CLIMACHILL TEE
How could I not put this inventive tee on my list? When you first feel the aluminium-silver dots on the inside of the back it feels like tiny fingers are tickling your skin. The mesh-like fabric is also unbelievably lightweight. With a heat-wave forecast I know I am going to be grateful I have this tee to throw on.
£30, www.adidas.co.uk

Style rating: 4/5
Value for money: 4/5

Adidas Climachill

Shorts
SAUCONY PE SHORT
I really love the flattering, athletic cut of these shorts. They were comfy on the run and very breathable. Their greatest feature is the comfortable elastic waistband, and you also get a zipped storage pocket. I don’t know about you but I want my pockets to have zips so I don’t have to worry about losing my front door key.
£30, www.saucony.co.uk

Style rating: 4/5
Value for money: 4/5

Saucony copy

Or if you’ve got a bit more to spend…
FALKE HOT PANTS
These are much more expensive but I really love the super soft and light elastic fabric of these shorts. The material is incredibly thin so you don’t feel anything rubbing against your skin. There’s a handy, secure zip pocket on the rear as well. These are the shorts I grab when I don’t have time to think about what I’m going to wear, as I know they fit perfectly and are the most comfortable summer shorts I have at the moment.
£55, www.net-a-porter.com

Style rating: 4/5
Value for money: 3/5

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Sports Bra
MOVING COMFORT FINEFORM BRA
I’m a petite lady so I find it quite hard to find sports bras that fit me properly. This bra did exactly that, and the Drilayer Adapt straps, which will stretch to fit the wearer, impressed me. I really loved the back j-hook, which can be used to change to a racer back, which I think looks much prettier.
£34, www.movingcomfort.co.uk

Style rating: 4/5
Value for money: 5/5

Moving Comfort FineForm_AB

Accessory
FLIPBELT
If you haven’t yet invested in a FlipBelt, get one now! It’s amazing! There’s space to stash everything you need (I like to take lots with me on the trails and managed to fit four gels, my car keys, a packet of tissues, a flapjack, my inhaler and even a lightweight jacket in mine!). Stuff it all in then flip the whole belt over to keep your essentials secure (I didn’t do this the first time I ran and lost a couple of gels!). If you couldn’t get so much in it I would say it’s a bit expensive for what it is, but you can – and there’s plenty of colours to chose from too.
£25, theflipbelt.co.uk

Style rating: 5/5
Value for money: 5/5

Flip belt

Nutrition
HONEYSTINGER CHEWS
I find too many gels make me quite nauseous, but I tried out these chews as I was training for the my South Downs Trail Half marathon and now wont run without a pack stashed in my kit. The best thing about them is you don’t actually have to chew them – just pop one in your mouth and it slowly dissolves. Saving precious energy for your running.
£2.25, www.honeystingeruk.co.uk

Style rating: None!
Value for money: 5/5

honey stinger

What about your summer essentials? I would love to hear what you couldn’t run without this summer…