Category Archives: review

Running The Salomon City Trail

A little while ago Salomon Sports contacted me on Twitter and asked me if I had ever tried trail running. I said I hadn’t but admitted that living in Wales I really had no excuse not to (I mean, have you seen Wales? It’s gorgeous). Salomon suggested that I might like to visit one of the Salomon City Trail events, meet their team and try out their shoes on a pre marked route. So that’s what I did on Sunday. I headed to Mortlake Green in South West London ready for action in my brand new snazzy leggings (my Mum says they’re ugly, I disagree).

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I met up with Tord, Dom and Richard who gave me a warm welcome. Dom talked me through the three shoes that they had for me to try out: Speedcross, XR Crossmax and the Sense Mantra. All of these shoes are trail shoes but designed for slightly different requirements. The Speedcross is an out and out trail running shoe. The Crossmax is a door to trail shoe and more like a road/trail hybrid while the Sense Mantra is a light weight shoe for mid to forefoot runners.

To start off my Salomon City Trail experience I opted to go for the , Speedcross (RRP £95.00) the full on trail shoe. I’ve never worn a trail shoe in my life. They always look so bulky and not always aesthetically pleasing but the purple Speedcross was rather pleasing to the eye.

It has an 11mm drop so it is ideal for trail terrain rather than tarmac. I really liked the Quicklace mechanism and the little pocket on the tongue which you could tuck the laces away in. All trainers should have that little pocket. It would mean no more muddy, wet laces. I’m surprised more brands haven’t tried this on their shoes!

After lacing up I headed out on the 4.5 k route which meant running through the high street to Richmond Park, which should be the perfect trail running ground. Not the case however if it’s been dry and hot (not complaining I hasten to add). If I’m honest I wasn’t expecting to like this shoe. I perceived that being a trail shoe it would be heavy and cumbersome. Dom and I ran up to Richmond Park chatting about running and he then asked me how the shoe was. It dawned on me that I had been largely unaware of the shoes. Usually when I try a new runner I feel hyper aware of them on the first few runs. Not this shoe though. I can honestly say it’s one of the most comfortable running shoes I’ve ever put on my feet. I had expected to feel heavy footed and ploddy (is that a word?) but I felt light and bouncy.

When I arrived back it was suggested that I go from one extreme to the other so I popped the Sense Mantra (RRP £110) on. This shoe was developed for midfoot and forefoot runners as a more natural shoe. It was described to me as being a light weight training shoe which encouraged natural motion with neutral cushioning. This reminded me a bit of a road running flat.

salomon sense mantra

It was definitely the case of going to the other extreme. I’m a midfoot runner anyway but this shoe with it’s low heel drop really pushed me up onto my forefoot and I found that was the only way I could run in them. I tried to go back to my normal strike but forefoot was where I felt more comfortable. This shoe felt slightly more roomy than the Speedcross and I was told that they come up a half size large to allow for the splaying that occurs at the toes when you go into forefoot strike. I wasn’t so sure though. Even in my running spikes I prefer to be a bit snug so this shoe felt a little too roomy. If I did use it I’d be tempted to go down a half size to my regular shoe size. I’m a 3.5 and for running I either go for 3.5 or a 4.

The first version of the Sense shoe was developed by Salomon in their S-Lab where they design shoes for their elite ultra and trail athletes. The original Sense was developed for Salomon athlete Kilian Jornet. The shoe was then re-developed with recreational trail runners in mind.

After my second 4.5k lap in the Sense Mantra I moved onto the Crossmax (RRP £100) which is Salomon’s door-trail shoe, ideal for those runners who need to run along the road a bit before reaching their trail.

salomon crossmax

To test this shoe out I went out alongside the river for a 2k route. It struck me how similar this shoe was to a standard road running shoe. It wasn’t as light and bouncy as the Speedcross but definitely more supportive than the natural Sense Mantra. I did like this shoe and I wish now I’d gone on the longer route just to test it out a bit more. I can see how this would be good for door-trail as it isn’t an out and out trail shoe but if you had to stick with the roads I don’t think you’d have to worry too much.

20130609_142510So after about 11k of running I had tested the three Salomon shoes. I liked all three shoes. The Crossmax was great but very similar I think to the Nike Pegasus and Brooks Ravenna that I already run in and I wouldn’t be bothered about taking either of those on a slightly mucky trail. I did like the Sense Mantra but as I said for me I would like it to be a bit more snug, but that’s just me. I think if I had a tighter fit I could imagine racing a trail 5k or 10k in this shoe. The way it pushes you onto your forefoot almost forces you into a race stance, so it might not be a trail shoe for beginners who aren’t used to that.

salomon speedcross

Out of the three I tried I was pleasantly surprised by the Speedcross. Light, bouncy and not cumbersome in the slightest. It fitted well, had great support and felt effortless on my feet. The complete opposite of what I expected a trail shoe to be and if you haven’t tried a trail shoe before then the Salomon City Trail events are a great excuse to try them out.

Meeting the Salomon team, trying the shoes and talking about trail running has got me thinking a bit more about the type of running I do right now. I’m very much a road runner right now but this event has got me thinking about where I do my training and the types of events I tend to enter. I’d definitely like to try a trail race in the future so watch this space!

To find a Salomon City Event near you to try the shoes, meet the team and their athletes visit www.salomoncitytrail.co.uk for more information.

(This is an honest review and all opinions and views are my own).

 

Race Review: She Runs Windsor

A sunny 6th of May, Bank Holiday Monday saw the inaugural She Runs Windsor 10k event. The setting for this event was the stunning Windsor Great Park with the start and finish line on the Long Walk with Windsor Castle as the backdrop.

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I wonder if she watched us?

Communication leading up to the event had been excellent with regular email updates and information forthcoming. The day before there was an ‘Exoptique’ which enabled runners to pick up their race packs and browse the marquee for running treats. With sponsors including Shock Absorber, CEP sportswear, Halo Headband, Yurbuds and Clif Bar to name but a few, this was a lovely expo which was obviously developed with the runners in mind. Not one to shirk the opportunity to shop I managed to purchase some neon pink CEP compression socks and a Halo headband to get geared up for the race.

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Can you tell how much I love my new socks?

The organisation was slick and I didn’t encounter any problems when collecting my number or picking up my t-shirt and canvas bag. Parking was plentiful and there were no issues with access on the Sunday or on the day of the race itself. The only problem for runners who left it a bit late to arrive on Monday morning may have been hitting the traffic that was heading for the Star Wars event at Legoland Windsor!

I couldn’t fault race day. Again it was really well organised. Plenty of toilets (always important) and lots of information forthcoming over the tannoy. Apparently 27% of the field were running their first ever 10k which is fantastic. The music in the build up was just right to get everyone in the mood and the atmosphere was brilliant. There was also plenty for family and friends with refreshments available from a Coffee and Cake camper van and a Toasted Sandwich van.

We were introduced to the pacers who were all wearing matching CEP kit. Each pacer carried a different colour balloon which had a target time written on it. I did see one of the pacer balloons drifting off in the sky just before the start but the organisers quickly got round that. I found myself near the 50 minute pacer at one point and she was really encouraging.

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Pacers rocking their CEP gear minus one balloon.

There were some supporters scattered round the course and there were water stops at 2km and 6km. The course was really well marked out and took us on a really lovely route through the Great Park. Maybe I’ll take the family back and I’ll walk it and take in the scenery properly!

This course had one of the nicest finishes I’ve run in a race with the castle coming into view as we turned onto the final downhill and into the last kilometre. Support was heavier round this part of the course and really helped to lift the runners as we came in.

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Kat was thrilled to discover the medal matched her nail polish.

As we made our way out of the finish area I was presented with my rather stunning medal and then confronted by a welcome plethora of goodies: bananas, water, Luna bars and crisps (yeah was surprised at that one to be honest). As I exited the goody area there was a live band playing and there was a real carnival atmosphere. We couldn’t stay for long after I finished but I said a quick thank you to the guys from CEP for helping me pick my compression socks and then I was off home, buzzing from my first race back after a long time away.

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Overall: a great inaugural event for She Runs Windsor. It was good value for money (£25) when you consider the venue, the Expotique, the amenities and the goodies which included the canvas bag and a technical t-shirt. There was a lovely atmosphere and if they did this event again I would have no problem taking my children with me. The organisers did a great job which meant a headache free, turn up and run, day for me. I would highly recommend this as a women only event for runners of any ability.

Lorna Jane Active: Sports Bra Review

A little while ago I wrote about running mantras and how they can motivate you. Within that post I included an image of a sports bra by Lorna Jane Active, an Australian brand that is now available in the UK. A couple of weeks ago my back was feeling better enough for me to start a few short runs so in celebration I ordered the Determined Bra to try out.

Now I’m fairly fussy when it comes to sports bras. Some bras claim to be high impact and to absorb all the wobbles but when you try them on it’s like the bra can’t actually be bothered. And because my exercise is predominantly high impact I need a sports bra that’s going to work as hard as me. It’s not even that I’m particularly well endowed at a 32B (thanks kids). Even so when I wear a sports bra I like to feel like I’m a medieval woman who has bandaged her breasts down so tight that she could enter court and masquerade as a boy. My Shock Absorber bras have always done this for me so I never thought I would stray from my usual brand. If I’m honest I was a bit worried that the new bra would be a let down like others before it.

I had picked the Determined bra because yes, I had been impressed by the mantra by the same name along the rear band. The bra was £40 but at the time of purchase there was a special Valentine’s Day discount of 20% which brought the price to £32. This combined with free delivery for purchases over £30 left me an extremely happy customer. What can I say, I’m easily pleased. I ordered the bra on a Thursday and it was with me by the following Monday. Speedy delivery, what’s not to love?

I wasn’t able to get out for a run straight away but I dashed upstairs and put it on under my normal clothes. I think this is a nice test for sports bras to see if you can get away with wearing it doing your usual day to day activities. I had ordered an XS size by using the sizing scale on the Lorna Jane UK site and it tallied right with my bra size. It was easy to get on with no awkward contortionist manoeuvres or attempts to fiddle with fastenings. I was able to slip the bra over my head with ease. There were adjusters on the straps if required. I thought the extra padding might annoy me but it actually felt quite comfortable and under my t-shirt gave a nice silhouette.

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I left the bra on and carried on playing with my 3 year old and doing the school run. By the end of the afternoon I realised that I had forgotten I had the bra on. A sign of a good bra is one that you are not aware that you are wearing and I can definitely say this was the case with the Determined bra.

Crunch time came that evening when my husband came home and I got my first chance to go out for a run. As I’m just getting over injury it was a short one. I was concerned that I would become aware of this bra as soon as I started running or that the padding would make me overheat in that area and annoy me. But nothing. Nada. Good, firm support. No jiggling and no strap irritation. It as a cold evening and I think the extra padding may have helped!

So far so good but how would it come out in the wash? I followed the instructions according to the label but I did wonder if the pads would move or become misshapen  Again I was proved wrong in my scepticism. The bra washed really well, the bra maintained it’s shape and I was able to use it for a slightly longer run on the weekend. Again the bra was supportive and gave me no issues with rubbing or irritation.

Overall I think this bra is a really good buy. The price is what I’d expect to pay for a decent sports bra. The styling is flattering under clothes and I would wear this as a day to day bra if I needed to. The bra was comfortable during my steady runs and I was really happy with it. I’m not sure though if it would be suitable for someone with a larger chest size who needs more support than me. This probably highlights the need for a proper sports bra fitting if you’re not a seasoned runner and you’re not sure what your body shape requires in terms of fit and support.

I really liked this bra and it is a great addition to my running kit. Lorna Jane Active are still fairly new to the UK but if all their products are like this I think they’ll do well. Hopefully I ‘ll get to try some of their other products when I’m in the market for some new running tights or even the leopard print bra, because you can never have too many sports bras!

20130223_172514On another note, the running has been going ok. Coming back from injury is hard but I’m definitely Determined. If you don’t believe me read my bra!

For Lorna Jane’s full range of work out gear, which covers yoga, running, gym, dance and leisure, visit http://www.activeinstyle.co.uk.