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The RooSport Running Pocket Review

I regularly run loops of the neighbourhood, alone and under cover of darkness. At these times I am acutely aware of the hugely expensive iPhone strapped to my arm, often lit up by the latest status update from my running app.

So I often run late at night and often feel vulnerable.

Last night I ditched the armband in favour of a RooSport running pocket that I’d recently been sent to review. It is a small pouch designed to replace the pocket that was no doubt omitted from your running tights.

Its a soft fabrich pouch with integral zip pocket and a small flap with a killer magnetic closure.

You stick the pouch inside your waistband and take the flap up and over. The magnet holds everything extremely securely and if you don’t get your fingers out of the way quick it will secure those to your trousers too!

20140708 190916 68956852 The RooSport Running Pocket Review

I didn’t expect to like the RooSport, I thought it would flap around my midriff and cause an unsightly bulge on my already unsightly bulge.

How wrong can you be? I loved it.

I was wearing it with reasonably tight running leggings and after I’d secreted my pouch and pulled my t-shirt over the top there was no bulge and more importantly, no fancy hardware on display.

The RooSport is super discrete and I was able to run without worrying that I was about to be accosted.

I’ve taken to using the RooSport everyday now. I walk into work and because I use a rucksack rather than a shoulder bag I tend to carry my iPhone in my hand. I now put it in the pouch and snap it to the inside of my work trousers.

I’ve become so accustomed to having one hand tied up with my phone that I stopped dead in my tracks this morning, panicking that I’d misplaced my phone, despite being in the middle of listening to an audiobook.

RooSport have currently got a Kickstarter campaign on the go, crowd sourcing for version 2.0 of the RooSport pouch. I don’t really feel that it needs much improvement but I’ve got one order anyway – I rather foolishly promised this one to Lynn before I became so attached to it.

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Grand Union Canal Challenge

20140701 191700 69420884 Grand Union Canal ChallengeThis weekend saw the start of the inaugural Grand Union Challenge and it was time for me to stage another attempt at a 100km hike.

Vicky and I set off in glorious sunshine, from Paddington just before 10am. We were down on the canal in no time and began watching the looming storm clouds with interest. When it did eventually start raining it seemed to stay with us for hours. It wasn’t too troublesome though, we both had waterproofs and the constant drizzle prevented it from getting too darn hot.

20140701 191701 69421855 Grand Union Canal ChallengeDespite the impressive nature of the Grand Union Canal, which cuts an entirely green and remarkably remote corridor from London to Birmingham, it is probably best not consumed in one continuous trog. There is a limit on how many ducklings you can coo at and how many locks you can admire and I certainly had complaints from back home as the instagram updates were getting a bit samey.

20140701 191702 69422727 Grand Union Canal ChallengeLynn joined us at 35k and I think we were still in high spirits, the pick n mix helped with a bit of a sugar rush and we’d caught up with the stand up paddle boarders who were joining us on their own crazy version of the 100k Grand Union Challenge.

On the approach to the 50k rest stop I was ravenous and picked up the pace while dreaming of fish, chips and Stella. The chicken noodles and cold diet coke actually on offer came a close second and filled a big hole. My calf had cramped up at this point so I got myself in the long queue for a massage. This added an hour to our rest stop and although it enabled me to continue in relative comfort, it did add to the pressure at each future stage as we were clearly bringing up the rear.

It was gone midnight now so the lights came out and we got to experience the canalside at its gloomiest. This is not a walk I would consider doing alone. It’s not a huge event like London2Brighton and you can spend hours walking alone. The canal feels completely isolated even when it is cutting swathes through cities and towns and it is probably home to more than its fair share of odd balls. Even with Vicky alongside me, there were times when I thought we might have to start running very soon.

This was a bad stretch for me, my legs felt like they were blowing up with water retention. Coming up to the next stop we were both disappointed to see it come early. The length of each stretch was a bit erratic and if one rest stop arrived early it meant the next would be painfully long and tagging an extra 1 or 2 kms on at this stage just felt punishing.

Sitting with my head in my hands at this stop, I just talked myself out of the walk. I hurt but mostly I felt sick and tired. I wanted to sleep more than I wanted to finish. I was also pretty convinced that I could not finish, that I did not have another 39 km in me, and accepting that, it seemed fairly pointless to add any extra miles to my tally.

Vicky on the other hand could not quit. We left the 61k rest stop after a brief break with the intention of walking into the daylight. When the sun rose Vicky would carry on alone and I would abandon the event.

The sun came up at about 4am and Vicky released me from my torment. At 68k I veered off the canal and waited for Lynn to drive by and rescue me. People had tried to persuade me, saying there would be no medal or t-shirt if I didn’t finish but at that point, those things that seemed so powerful at the start of the event meant nothing to me now.

6 hours later, after bed, bath and breakfast I felt more human, but I also felt like a complete heel for leaving a teammate out on the course. Lynn drove me back out to the canal and I walked back to meet up with Vicky to pace her through the final 7km to the finish line.

She’d had an emotional time and was suffering with her feet and knees and overwhelming tiredness. I felt incredibly proud of her and all the other walkers still out on the canal. It was slow going but she was going to get there.

Lynn dropped down on to the canal at various points bringing supplies and then nipping to the finish line to wait for us. She rang me at the 98k marker to tell me that the finish wasn’t actually at 100k, presumably for logistical reasons the finish gantry was sitting in a field at 101k. I didn’t feel this was the right time to tell Vicky. She practically counted every step from 99k and knew full well that the 100k had been swiped.

Lynn and one of the marshalls came out to join us, to see the final walkers cross the line and broke the news of the extra kilometre.

20140701 191704 69424054 Grand Union Canal ChallengeI don’t think she was rewarded with a euphoric state of achievement at the end, more the sheer relief that all the suffering was over. As she said the next day

I am just so pleased not to be on that sodding towpath!!!

I imagine the pride of such an achievement is a slow burn affair. The sort of inner confidence that stays with you. You’ve done something pretty damn amazing, you’ve suffered, endured and finished what you’ve started.

I on the other hand, thought big, started something amazing, walked a long way and then quit. I’m not sure what I’ve learned but have confirmed that I am indeed a “Starter Leaver”

**Other Grand Union Challengers**

  • Stacey at StaceyLovesSUP, blogs about the 100km Stand Up Paddle Boarding challenge.
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Berghaus Rucksack Flux 20

I was recently sent the Berghaus Flux 20 to try out. I used it as a commuter bag for a few days and was so impressed by its comfort and design that I then came very close to using it for my 100k hike along the Grand Union Canal. Berghaus Flux3 Berghaus Rucksack Flux 20

Its not terribly sensible to make last minute decisions before a big event but I loaded it up with all my gear and it handled it all with ease.

  • Water bladder
  • Spare socks
  • Waterproof trousers and coat
  • Lunch and snacks
  • First aid supplies
  • Walking poles

It’s not marketed as hiking rucksack. The blurb from Berghaus suggests that this is a commuter sack, designed to carry work gear rather than mountain gear but it held my hiking paraphenalia and turned out to be a lot lighter than my purpose built North face rucksac.

Take to your daily commute and your everyday urban adventures in style and confidence with the Flux 20 Day Sack. Loaded with usable features to keep you comfortable, secure and equipped for the day ahead – such as our vented Flow back system, laptop sleeve and organiser pockets.

In the end I decided the North Face was just a bit more comfortable when fully loaded. The additional weight was a drag but the mesh frame kept the bulk of the bag away from my back and would prevent me getting too hot and sweaty.

The Berghaus has now become my work bag of choice, it holds a lot of stuff and has plenty of pockets and mesh compartments to isolate key items. It’s a female design, hence the obligatory pink trim but I will forgive them for that as the rest of the bag is in a fantastic khaki. In fact, khaki and pink my just have become my favourite colour combination.

This particular rucksack doesn’t seem to be widely available anymore but you can find the full range of Berghaus rucksacks here.

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A Lunge for the Samaritans

I’ve just started another 12 week round of fitness and fat loss with Julia Buckley. Last time was The Fat Burn Revolution but now its stepped up a notch and become Extreme Inferno.

I kicked off the week with an Insanity styled grilling called SweatMax. After 25 minutes leaping around the front room I was left with a semi-permanent frown, sweat blindness and a mass of lumpen concrete where my calf used to be. Just my cup of tea.

Screen Shot 2014 06 24 at 07.23.16 A Lunge for the Samaritans

Today was time for MetaSculpt which meant I got to drag out the dumbbells again and partake in increasingly tricky, whole body moves. Here’s Julia illustrating the particularly nasty side plank dip. I managed 5 heavily modified side plank dips before deciding it was time to move on to the next set. Unfortunately that meant I had to start lunging on my dodgy calf. I’m not good at lunging at the best of times and as my Achilles appears to have calcified these were especially wobbly versions.

Screen Shot 2014 06 24 at 07.23.04 A Lunge for the Samaritans

I therefore surprised myself when on the morning walk into work, I managed to perform the smoothest and deepest lunge of my adult life.

I spotted, a few yards ahead of me, a discarded crumple of paper. The paper had a certain quality about it, the sort that makes you not want to draw too much attention. I looked ahead, ensuring that I wouldn’t give anything away with my line of sight. And then I walked on and in perfect flow, I dipped with a knee to floor action, scooped up the crumple and came back up again into a walk.

I continued on my way and didn’t examine my pickings until I’d cleared at least a mile. To my delight I found two £5 notes scrunched together and now sitting in my hands.

Not wanting to offend the pavement gods I have now deposited the offering in my Samaritans charity fund. So my Grand Union Canal Challenge fund is slowly rising but I still have a very dodgy calf and a very, very long walk to do this weekend.

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How to Tape Your Feet for Blister Prevention

20140615 225706 82626423 How to Tape Your Feet for Blister PreventionI’ve had some great results from pre-taping my feet prior to long hikes and can now walk around 40 miles, confident that I won’t get blisters. Even on this year’s London2Brighton challenge where the weather conditions were appalling and I ended up wearing two pairs of unfamiliar shoes, I managed 57km feeling physically broken but with my feet still intact – not a single blister.

My Blister Prevention Routine

  • Keep your feet in good nick – in the run up to your long walk you should keep your feet free of callouses and moisturise to prevent cracked skin.
  • Practice taping before your big event – there is a knack to applying tape so start practising early.
  • I apply tape to my own feet so I can flex while I’m applying it to make sure it is not too tight.
  • After taping, dust down with talcum powder to absorb any excess adhesive
  • Wear Bridgedale lining socks on top of the tape.
  • Put the hiking or running sock on next, being careful not to introduce creases.
  • During the event, change the lining socks regularly and check the the tape is still secure.

Zinc Oxide Tape for Blister Prevention

I’ve worked my way through a number of different brands of zinc oxide tape and have now settled on Leukotape P. I’ve found this to have excellent adhesive properties and a good degree of stretch. It somehow manages to avoid leaving adhesive on the non-sticky side of the tape, which is a big bonus and a problem I’ve noted with every other roll of tape I’ve tried.

Tape Adherent

A lot of guides suggest that you purchase an additional spray adhesive to apply to the foot before adding the tape. I’ve tried this technique but I’ve stopped using it because there is a fine balance between too little and too much stickiness. If you get a decent tape you shouldn’t need extra glue and you don’t want to have any extra adhesive on the outside of the tape as it will stick to your socks, increasing the chances of fabric folds under your feet. I apply a liberal sprinkling of talcum powder before I put on my socks as well.

Where to Apply the Anti Blister Tape

Ideally you will have slowly built up your long walks or runs and should now have a clear idea of where you tend to develop hot spots. When I first started training for 100km walks I would get blisters forming after only 10k when wearing hiking boots, and they would always be in the same place. Mine started under the heel and across the ball of my foot and for good measure, the back of my heel would regularly rub raw.

I chose the taping technique illustrated in the video below, as it covered all my weak points. If you develop hot spots in other places you may need to extend the covered regions.

Pre-Taping for Blister Prevention

  •  Start by applying anchor strips along the inner and outer sides of your foot.
  • Join the two anchor strips with a piece that goes across the heel.

20140615 224818 82098006 How to Tape Your Feet for Blister Prevention

  • Start applying strips across the underside of your heel, with a slight overlap on each strip.
  • Be careful not to introduce creases and keep your foot flexed upward (dorsi-flexed) so that you don’t apply the tape too tightly.
  • Continue with more overlapped strips on the ball of your foot.
    20140615 224818 82098384 How to Tape Your Feet for Blister Prevention
  • Finish by re-applying the anchor strips on either side of the foot.

Let me know how you get on……

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A Juneathon Triple

I’ve had a mini streak.

3 days jogged and logged but I’ve fallen at the blogging hurdle.

Each run has been just a tiny bit worse than the last one. It started on Friday with a late night run after an “end of exams” celebratory evening. I valiantly tackled the hilly, round the block, circuit with a half chicken and 3 bottle of Sagres inside me.

They did their absolute best not to stay inside me.

20140615 221732 80252360 A Juneathon Triple

On Day 14 (a Saturday) I slept in til 11:30am and therefore missed all parkrun opportunities and risked a repeat of last weeks midday sun showdown. I opted for an easier life and relaxed until sundown before embarking on a Thames loop with Lynn. I only had a light salad for tea so there was no chicken tapping desperately on my stomach wall but I felt pretty wretched nonetheless. I gasped my way around a shortened 6k loop and grasped at hypochondriacal straws.

Today I thought I’d remove any meal obstacles, so I could neither blame half chickens or light salads for my running malaise. I rolled out of bed at 9am and hit the treadmill without even a coffee passing my lips.

I opted for a 20 minute HIT session and would like to say I killed that routine. Rather predictably though, it came closer to killing me.

Lets hope Juneathon Week 3 welcomes a fitter me.

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Screen Shot 2014 05 31 at 09.28.01 536x149 No Sports Bra, No Sport and The Energising Purple Bra

Berlei contacted me recently offering me a bra to review as part of their No Sports Bra, No Sports campaign. I have the sort of build that means partaking in sport, particularly a running sport, without the assistance of a serious boob controlling device is a no brainier. Unfortunately Berlei don’t produce a bra in my size so perhaps I should give up sports?

Screen Shot 2014 06 12 at 07.32.59 No Sports Bra, No Sport and The Energising Purple BraMy loss was the teenagers gain. She received the donated bra and at last has a proper sports bra to run in.

It is a lovely quality bra with some nice details. The rear clasps are hidden behind a stretch fabric covering which means the bra looks good enough to wear as a top without looking half dressed. Its very soft as well so shouldn’t rub excessively.

While Berlei don’t produce sports bras for the larger boob, Shock Absorber support women in action all the way up to HH cup.

I was sent a Purple Ultimate Bra to try out. The purple colour supposedly has energising properties for women.

Screen Shot 2014 06 12 at 07.27.32 536x101 No Sports Bra, No Sport and The Energising Purple Bra

20140610 093011 34211404 No Sports Bra, No Sport and The Energising Purple BraI’m not sure if it can energise the wearer from underneath a t-shirt so I considered going topless. But not for long.

I already run in Shock Absorber bras but this is the first requiring external assistance. There seems to be a recent trend for two-person sports bras. Maybe following the adage, No Partner, No Sports Bra.

Lynn runs in this model and has a particularly troublesome time with it, especially at a BMF session. She’s constantly requiring assistance as either the top impossible clasp has snapped open or the adjustable straps have slid off their guides and its a tricky task trying to reassemble the myriad straps under cover of a t-shirt while being yelled at by military personnel.

20140610 093012 34212436 No Sports Bra, No Sport and The Energising Purple BraMy new purple bra has a slightly different design to the one pictured, with 3 connectors running up the back and the standard variety of adjustable strap. Its the same Ultimate Run model so it might be that the design changes slightly as you move up sizes. I’m quite happy with my design – once I’m in it, there is very little risk of anything coming undone which is a bonus not to be sniffed at.

It doesn’t eradicate all bounce but is extremely comfortable.

If you are quick, SportPursuit have a few days left on a Shock Absorber sale offering 40% off the Ultimate Run bra.

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Primal Kitchen Loveliness

I was sent 3 snack bars from The Primal Kitchen to try out last week. I’m afraid they were so lovely that I didn’t have chance to take artistic photos before I’d polished them off.

20140611 212942 77382223 Primal Kitchen Loveliness

The Almond and Cashew bar is particularly delicious and I’ve already bulk ordered some additional bars for the snack cupboard.

They’ve been designed to make paleo snacks more accessible and include minimal ingredients, all real food. My favourite bar contains only dates, almonds, cashews and almond oil.

I have found them the perfect snack for taking on endurance events like the London2Brighton. They’re also handy in the office drawer but can be a little to tempting for my own good.

Just as a quick aside. It’s Day 11 of Juneathon and I’m still on track. I reluctantly dragged myself on to the treadmill this morning for a High Intensity Training session before work and was mighty glad I made the effort. There are few things more rewarding than a completed run.

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Garden Squats of the Heavy Variety

I’ve been reviewing Gubernatrix’s video on How to Squat Heavy. It seems I’ve been doing it wrong all along.

I tend to split the action into two distinct parts. The first where I load up my shoulders and descend to my haunches.

Then I pause…….for quite a long time.

I use the pause to ponder my options. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Can I make it back up? What happens if I can’t?

Then the second part starts and I stand. So far successfully, but it’s only a matter of time.

Watching Sally’s video I see it is all one continuous motion and all completed (I think) on one breath. Breath in – down – up – breathe out.

I better get out there and try again.

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Mad Dogs

20140608 231750 83870669 Mad DogsTerrible timing today.

I was on twitter this morning trying to get Lynn to wake up so we could hit the trail. It would have been more effective to have given her nudge.

As it was, we didn’t get to leave the house til midday and then spent at least an hour driving the 30 mins to Putney. Most of it was spent jumping from bumper to bumper in Wandsworth.

When we finally arrived at the river, the sun was baking. Every runner passing us looked thoroughly jaded, in a damp, beetroot impression of jaded, and I was a little nervous about starting to run.

We started, and my heart rate rapidly climbed to 168 desperate beats per minute and stayed like that til we reached Hammersmith. By Hammersmith my guts had knotted themselves so tightly that I had to crawl into Riverside Studios in an attempt to recover.

That recovery took 15 mins and I was still shaken when we set off again.

There was a hint of a breeze and the stretch of riverside pubs were upon us. Watching other people drinking ice cold lagers gave me some peculiar relief and I began to feel a bit better and was actually encouraged to extend our planned 8k to a 10k.

The extension was probably a mistake.

When we turned back it felt like the oven door had been opened and we had 5k left to retrace our steps.

It turned into a run/walk torment but we made it back to the car without passing out and my Garmin declared it to be the fastest 10k I’ve run since I got the watch for Xmas. That can only indicate quite how lazy this year has been – there was nothing fast about today. It was beautiful though.

20140608 200618 72378795 Mad Dogs

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