Category Archives: running gear

Run Wild!

I am a big fan of animal print. Not in a really obvious Bet from Coronation Street way (I hope) but in that a little touch of animal print can really help an outfit to pop a bit. I have a muted grey leopard print cardigan, three pairs of animal print shoes in different styles and a couple of tops (ok I do sound like Bet).

However I’m very pleased to say that some of the running retailers seem to agree with me regarding animal prints. I’m a huge fan of something a little bit different on my bottom half and it turns out that this post has ended up with a slight lean towards the well dressed legs department. Here’s some of the really wild gear that I’m coveting (just coveting, I’m trying to be good!).

Adidas have a number items in animal print, including their higher end Stella McCartney range but I think the less expensive items are just as nice. They’ve brought out their ‘perfect fit’ three quarter length tights in new prints and shades. I have two pairs of these capris from a previous range and I vouch for them. They are possibly the most comfortable capris I’ve ever trained/run in. Here are a couple of my favourites.

Ok, I don’t think these are strictly ‘animal print’ but the graphic print from a distance and in this grey hue looks a little bit like snake print

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Check out these capris. Zebra print. ZEBRA PRINT! You can pretend you’re galloping across the savannah in Africa during your runs.

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Women’s Techfit Perfect Fit Three-Quarter Tights available £25.00 at http://www.adidas.co.uk.

Nike are always in there with the trends and they have a splash of animal print in their running collection.

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I have these tempo printed boyshorts (£22 from http://www.store.nike.com) and I love them. I bought them in a small but I think if I had them again I would buy them in extra small (actually I did, but the courier company lost the package and Nike were EXCELLENT in dealing with the problem and giving me a refund). The fit came up a bit big on me round the waist band and it gaped, so I would suggest trying them on and committing to fitted and then some. I have to admit the shape of the shorts and the print did make me feel a bit hot stuff. Perfect for a speed session.

Puma have a wild cat as their logo so why not some wild cat themed gear. They have a few items in animal print including these sweat pants (£40 from http://www.shop.puma.com), perfect for cooling down after a hard session…..I guess. Not entirely sure I could go for strolling down the street in these but lounging about at home in them I could possibly manage. Their lifestyle shoe collection of trainers and high tops also have splashes of animal print. And to celebrate Usain Bolt’s World Championships win, Puma have an offer on: buy 2 items and get 50% off the second item with the code bolt100. 

Animal print does tend to have it’s negative associations style wise but I think these pieces are fun and not too in your face. And let’s face it, a splash of animal print in the middle of a tough run will just make us ladies look all the tougher. Like Tarzan’s Jane if she took up marathon running. I definitely fancy saving up for the zebra print capris but I may have to start a one in, one out policy with the running gear like I do with my shoes. Why do the running gear giants do this to me? (I love it really).

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My Unhealthy Kit Obsession

This is just part of my running wardrobe. Lately I have probably spent a small fortune on running kit and work out gear. Last year I was sat in a store having a make up trial and the girl noticed my Nike carrier. ‘Workout gear? Not very exciting is it?’ But yes it is I nearly screamed at her. I get a buzz every time I buy a new piece of kit and then even more of a buzz when I think about when I’m going to wear it. Running gear has replaced my shoe obsession. However when I bought the bright pink running capris last week I was starting to wonder if I had issues.

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This is probably only a third of what is in my running drawer.

Over the whole of my injury period I continued to buy kit. Every time a shop or brand newsletter popped into my email account I was on there, browsing for more neon t-shirts and patterned capris. I was bordering on shopaholic. I kept telling myself these were my post injury presents. I deserved them for all the pain and heartache of not being able to run. Months of injury later I have a huge drawer of kit bulging with sports bras, singlets, socks, shorts and more. But the fact is you can’t wear it all at once and you will have the old favourites that are comfortable and reassuring like a favourite pair of jeans or shoes.

When I was a youth athlete I wasn’t ever kit obsessed. Almost every training session I would wear the same pair of purple shorts and the same, mud stain spattered white/greying Reebok t-shirt. My mum probably despaired of that t-shirt and may even have tried to get me to bin it. But I couldn’t care less. I wore it nearly every track session, spattering more and more mud up the back of it, ruining it further. But I felt safe, happy and confident in it.

Back then I didn’t have all the running clothes that I have now but I was just as happy in my training. I think it’s time to curb the kit splurging habit and get back to basics. Concentrate on getting fit again and being healthy. Focus on my goals and training for those goals. Kit buying obviously became a distraction which swiftly became a habit. These sports brands have cottoned on to the running market and in particular the female running market. I’ve been well and truly sucked in but no more I say. I will no doubt buy something now if I need it or if something has worn out but not just for the sake of it. Looking smart in new running kit can make you feel good but getting fit again and running well will make me feel even better and if I’m really honest? I’d swap all that gear for my old Reebok t-shirt and purple shorts if it meant I could get the last six months back.

Twatchops AKA: my GPS watch

I hate my GPS watch right now. After many months of injury I am actively avoiding it. I hardly ever charge it up anymore. The watch is feeling neglected too. It’s sat in the hallway, unused and rejected by it’s owner. It’s been sat there so long that it’s reset itself to January 2007 in some kind of attention seeking blip, begging for a software update. Well right now it’s not getting one.

Ok, I’ve told an untruth. I have used it recently. I used it for a 4 mile run just after I started running again. I’m still none the wiser as to why I set it to track my run and my pace. I kept looking at it and was continually depressed by the fact I was running slower than my marathon pace. Every time I looked down at it I felt like I was having my nose rubbed in how slow I was. My watch was taunting me, ‘Look at you, you’re pathetic. Why are you even bothering? Just walk, it’s all you’re good for!’

When I finished the run, which felt dreadful anyway, it just stopped. No ‘well done’ or ‘you smashed it’ message on the screen like it used to. It was a run where the least said the better. I left the watch on the side and walked away, not even flinching when my son took it to pretend it was a Ben 10 Omnitrix.

So my watch and I haven’t spent a lot of time together since then. I feel that I’m enjoying my running more without it. No pressure, no furtive looks to see how fast I’m going and no feelings of failure at the end of the run however or whatever I’m feeling.

Technology and running can be a blessing but occasionally it can become a bit of a curse. We can become so dependent on it that we forget to run for the love of running and instead have our run dictated to us. This is fine if we are doing tempo runs or have a specific training goal but this isn’t me right now. I need to learn to run and enjoy training again. I’m still building back up to regular running which after 6 months of injury I’m finding tough, mentally and physically. So until I get my fitness back up the GPS is staying at home where it can’t mess with my head and we won’t fall out.

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(Twatchops is an anagram for Stopwatch)

Hills: Get Over ‘Em.

Hills are a nemesis for many. It can be the undoing of so many runners and you can learn to fear them and seek to avoid them. The thing is that the only way to get better at hills is to train on them and run them regularly. After a while hills become no big deal. Yes, they are tough but I think I’ve learnt that the key is to show the hill no fear. Once you show the hill the slightest bit of weakness it will consume you and spit you out crying at the top.

Living in South Wales means that I can’t run very far without finding a hill in my run. They can vary from the obvious steep inclines that feel like you’re walking up a mountain or they can be creepers, the sort that gradually increase their incline without you really realising. Or they can be crafty hills, where you think you’ve reached the top and you’re on the flat and yet you turn a corner to discover you’re still going up.

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We are all bound to have a particular hill that we have on our regular routes that challenges us. You’ve just got to reconcile that as a runner you’ve got to deal with them. The more hills you learn to conquer the better and fitter you become. And then when you come to a race that has a hill you can be like ‘A hill? You call that a hill? That is a mere bump in the road. I laugh at your ‘hill’.  Or you can just run up it without stopping and keep going when you get to the top.

I came across this tee by Thoosa that sums up how I feel about hills. Get up ’em and Get over it!

Running Mantras

I love a good mantra me. They can be short and snappy to give you a sharp pep up during a particularly hard gym or interval session. Or they can be long and philosophical to give running a bigger meaning and help us understand why we’re getting up at 6am to run for 3 hours. With the collision of the worlds of running and social media mantras are constantly doing the rounds and people find inspiration from them all the time. I’m a big fan of ‘Go hard or go home’ and ‘Pain is weakness leaving the body’ (the latter which I first heard in a chronic Back Pain Rehab group about 6 years ago). I also love the phrase ‘If you don’t look a mess then you didn’t work hard enough’, mainly because it’s true. If you’re not a hot, red, sweaty mess at the end of you training then how can you expect to improve?

Mantras motivate us and keep us going when times are tough. My personal favourite, that I chanted to myself during marathon training, was ‘Cup of tea, cup of tea’. I even chanted it during bad patches in my actual marathon. I would chant it and visualise the warming, safe, sweet cuppa that would meet me at the end. It was such an inoccuous phrase but it gave me a distraction and weirdly a motivation to get to the end. It may not do much for others but it was my own little mantra. Liking tea obviously helps. I have since christened this mantra the ‘Mrs Doyle’.

T-shirts with slogans and mantras are everywhere and runners love them.They announce our intentions for the run ahead or declare our love of the sport to the world. If you go to Parkrun then a t-shirt might tell the running community how many times you’ve got up on a Saturday to run a 5k. Unfortunately I do like the occasional lie in so I doubt one of those tees will ever be mine.

Slogan t-shirts aren’t always too obvious either. Well not to me anyway. I had a Nike tee which said ‘Kiss My Airs’ and I hadn’t thought anything of it until my Mum pointed out that it sounded like ‘Kiss My Arse’. I was instantly horrified. I know I’m competitive but I wouldn’t like to be rude about it!

Whilst in injury limbo I’ve discovered some mantra running wear that I’d like for my hundredth running comeback. The Australian sports wear line Lorna Jane is now available in the UK and while I was checking out their site I discovered some great mantras on their running gear. I’ve picked some that are probably relevant to me right now in my current return from injury phrase. This post injury running gift list is growing and growing!

Singlet £37

Singlet £37

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Bra £40

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Akira tights £62

What’s your favourite mantra or phrase that motivates your running?

Running Gear Lust: Back Away From Black

I know I get fed up with women’s running leggings almost being exclusively black and from seeing running ladies chat on Twitter I know I’m not alone. There does seem to be a trend towards black and pink where women’s running gear is concerned, as in the t-shirts are pink and the leggings are *snore* black. I’m not sure if sports companies ever listen to their customers but WE WANT OTHER OPTIONS!

Fortunately I’m here to let you know that some retailers are starting to branch out into the colour spectrum where t-shirts and leggings are concerned. I’ve found a few of my favourites to share but I’ve come to the conclusion that if you want something a little bit different the internets is more likely to come up with the goods than the High Street. That goes for some of the specialist running shops too.

First up is my go to brand for the majority of my running gear: Nike. Nike, oh Nike, how I love thee so. Having a scroll through their new releases there are a variety of colour choices in both tops and bottoms.

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I love the Nike Legend Print Tight Poly Capris which come in black and grey or pink. Another colourful option would be the Nike Relay capris. These aren’t even available in black, instead Nike have produced these in purple, pink and my personal favourite, yellow.

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The Nike Relay print capris which I have in the grey print are available in red. The pattern is pretty funky and dazzles your eyes if you look at it for too long! I’m loving Nike’s colour palette for their work out gear. With Nike you needn’t where any black at all or you could dress entirely in black. Your call.

I popped the latest copy of Zest in my trolley and was rather taken by the yellow leggings on the front cover. Info on the front cover led me to a brand I was totally unaware of called Hey Jo. They produce two styles of workout leggings in Italian jersey. They aren’t just for working out though. They are so luxe that Hey Jo says pair them with a pair of heels for that catwalk Sports Luxe look (yeah, I won’t ever be doing that). The colours though are amazing and only one black pair in sight. They do an amazing yellow pair which you can see below (I must have a thing for yellow right now). They are a bit on the pricey side for work out gear but good news, there is a sale on at the moment giving 30% off their tights.

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I don’t often look at Sweaty Betty’s site but I thought I’d check it out in my search for running gear porn. The trend over there was still towards black for leggings (I mean how many types of plain black leggings can you sell?) but I spotted these funky patterned numbers. I have heard that Sweaty Betty leggings are on the long side, a bit like Thoosa leggings, so these might be more for the amazonian runners amongst you. Not sure about the matchy matchy top, looks a bit onesie for my taste, However the pattern reminds me of Fairisle which makes me think of winter jumpers which means these could be perfect for winter running. I’m an enabler, you’re welcome.

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Shopping around other stores online I came across a pair of pink running tights on Sweatshop’s site for half price in their sale but sadly that was about it for non black leggings on their site. The  No Balls site has leggings with leopard print touches but they are still predominantly black.

So it appears you don’t have to stick with black leggings if you shop around. It does seem though that Nike are yet again at the forefront or if you want a choice of colour you may have to go to the high end price wise. All I know from writing this post is that I now want some yellow leggings or capris. A post injury gift to myself perhaps. At this rate there’s going to be a lot of those ‘gifts’.