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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ilu Compression Leggings, £60, ilufitwear.com
Turning up to a race and feeling relaxed is important, right? These compression leggings are designed for comfort.
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.
Great to wear whether your training, gyming or racing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
VAARA Sports Bra, £35 vaara.com
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.
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.