Archives for posts with tag: running gear
Trigger Point Grid Roller

Roll it, gyal!

‘Rolling out’  isn’t just something Ludacris does; it’s actually kind of important. Now that I’m in training mode again and still do not have a live-in masseuse, the foam roller has become my friend again.

The whole point of a foam roller is to massage, and ease tension and aches. They help increase flexibility and range of motion. Which is great for me, because during my recent Sexy In The City bootcamp sessions, trainer Phil told me that it didn’t matter how much I stretched; if I didn’t ease out the knots in my muscles, I wouldn’t become more flexible. Let me tell ya: having tight hips is not as sexy as it sounds.

You can use a regular foam roller, but I decided to buy a fancy one. Why? Because that’s just how I roll.  (Don’t look at me like that.)

The Trigger Point Grid Roller isn’t just pretty, though. The fancy flats and nubs are designed to mimic fingertips, fingers and palms. It doesn’t yield much to cuddles, though. Just so you know.

Warning: You’ll look really odd when using one in the gym (although they’re great for getting random guys talking to you – top tip for being cruised, so don’t say I never gave you useful advice!).

It’s worth it, though. When you give your IT (iliotial) band, which runs down the the outside of your thigh, a good going-over, you’ll be glad you did. No, actually, you won’t (but you will).  OK, I’ll be honest – it hurts like a bitch, but ultimately makes your post-run stretch even more effective – this page will give you a lot of useful info detailing the benefits. I can’t remember half of them; I just feel them.

I roll my inner forearms on it, to stretch them out and help stave off repetitive strain injury from the endless writing that I do; a couple of weeks ago, when one of my calf muscles was threatening me with divorce after a run, I rolled it out before giving it a cold blast in the shower.  Job done. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have two very tender thighs from yesterday’s 8-miler to see to…

How to use a foam roller – exercise videos on YouTube

I’ve had a couple of people ask me on Twitter what they needed to start running, and I’ve had people say they took up running inspired, in part, by my antics. People are coming to me with questions and asking for advice, so this post is inspired by you, and for you.

Now, the great thing about running is that all it takes to start running is to literally get out there and run. You don’t need fancy equipment – just motivation. But there are things you need to get going on the right path. Let’s get the basics covered:

Trainers

Your AirForce 1s will not cut it. Take the time to get a gait analysis, or at least pay attention to what your foot does when it hits the ground. Does it roll inwards? Outwards? Not at all? Go to a running-centric shoe shop and get advice on what to wear. Even if this means getting a pair of basic, sturdy and unsexy Nike ‘Retards’ (see @thetortoisewithnohair, @tahira, @sammi_x)

Clothes

Your cotton tees and joggers will not do, either. Now is the time to invest in lycra – don’t act like you never wanted to!  Cotton is not a sweat-wicking fabric; it will hang heavy and damp on you, and you’ll smell even more rank after a run than you would otherwise. I wouldn’t know, because my BO smells like Chanel No5, but I digress.

When I say ‘sweat wicking’, I mean mechnical gear which draws sweat away from your body, and depending on the time of year you go out running in, is designed to keep you appropriately warm or cool. Think Baby Bear – just right. There’s nothing more likely to put you off your stride than feeling all ‘Betty Swollocks’.

Look out for pieces with pockets in them, preferably zipped-up back or  side pockets; I’m fairly sure you’ll need to carry stuff, unless you have a monkey butler to jog alongside you. The little shiny bits on the clothing aren’t there to make you look like an extra from Tron; they’re designed to help you not get hit by cars in the dark, if you’re not inclined to wear bright yellow or pink running tights like me.

‘OMG. People are looking at me!’

Yes, you will initially feel like 10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag; yes, you’ll feel self-conscious, yes, you’ll look like an escapee from Ninja College. Yes, people will look at you a bit funny, and yes, you’ll feel like the only person in the world wearing lycra. And yes, you’ll just have to get over it. It won’t take long, I promise.

Underwear

Men, you will have to wear something under your tights and running shorts to stop your sugar lumps flailing helplessly about. Likewise, you’ll probably want to avoid any Torture Garden-type apparel which will crush the ‘boys’.

Women, you need to wear a sports bra for the same reason. I firmly believe that any woman wearing her normal bra out jogging should be summarily executed. When I am dictator I will shoot first, ask questions later, but I digress.

Tech

You have the choice to run free, to let your spirit take you to weird and wonderful places at your own pace, and that’s great. You also have the option of looking at your stats, so you can see how long time and distance wise you’re going, if you’re kicking anyone’s arse, and work towards getting a personal best (PB). iPhone and iPod touch users (if you’re hooked up to a wi-fi connection) can download the Nike+ app; adidas have the miCoach app too. A cheap alternative to Garmins is a Nike+ Sportband.

Money

Spending it, that is. You don’t need to go to NikeTown and piss all your money away – there are loads of sites where you can get cheap, good quality branded running gear –  new-season stuff, too! I like Start Fitness and TK Maxx, personally – the selection in SportsDirect merely nudges ‘OK’ in my opinion. I tend to shop in Sweaty Betty during the sales, more often than not, to indulge my love of sport luxe style. Some brands are worth spending the extra on because of the pure quality.

Socks

Get technical  running socks which will support and cushion your feet, and protect them from blisters. Leave the Pringles in the drawer.

Feet

Accept now that your feet will suffer from regular training. Toenails will magically disappear, and blisters will make you their bitch. To protect against this, go to a dance shop like Bloch and get the little toe protector thingies. Unlike Boots and Superdrug, they make them to go over, not just round, your big toes and pinkies. Even if you buy good shoes, they can’t protect you totally from the repetitive pounding motion of running. Also, get bunion protectors – you’ll find them in the footcare aisle of Boots and Superdrug, or any local pharmacy.

Accessories

Carrying things in pockets is long.

You need to get clothes with pockets, but for bits which will make you look a bit suspect (lycra  + funny bulges = not even worth it) get a running bumbag or a Y-fumble. My friend makes these, and these awesome little sleeve pockets can easy fit my brick BB, keys, and a small child with no problem. They don’t slide off. WIN.

Music

If you’re going to carry your iPod or phone, even just to track your movements on your chosen app, make sure you get the right holder for the model. How annoying is it if you can’t swipe, press buttons and change playlists unless you take the damn thing off your arm and out of the holder?

Read

Read up on running technique, and if you can go to a free workshop, so much the better. Paid ones are good, too. We don’t want to overthink at this early stage, but I see so many people running like they’re doing the Charleston that I must state how important it is to think about what your body does when you run. Not least because it prevents injury, and people actually pointing and laughing (and hey, when we run, we think people are doing that anyway. Best not to give them any more ammo).

Read up on nutrition. Read up on stretches; they’re essential. Read about other people, like you, like me, who felt a bit scared to begin with, and grew in confidence.

Mens Running/Women’s Running

Runners’ World

Running4Women

RunningBug

Listen to your Body

It’ll take a little time to distinguish this voice from the voice telling you to eat Krispy Kremes. Your body tells you when it’s sick, when it’s tired, when it needs nourishment and love. This isn’t the voice which tells you ‘Oh God, I can’t be arsed’ five minutes into a run but ‘Please. Enough. I really can’t do this. I need to lie down/poop/take some Nurofen/feed my ovaries chocolate’ etc.

I’ve tried to run during the first day of my period, when all I had the energy to do was stay in bed – even after countless ProPlus pills and a glass of Berocca – and ended up feeling worse. There are some days where mental strength will not get you through. You’ll learn what those are the hard way; no two ways about it. Just learn what those voices are and listen out for them.

Mental Fortitude (or ‘Haters are Gonna Hate’)

People are looking at you funny. The people you run with might be more advanced than you. It’s too cold; it’s too hot. Get over it! Smile, and tell yourself you’re having fun, and when you’re not having fun, dig deep and concentrate on the music, the scenery, your breath – anything that takes away from the kill-me-now-ness.  Some of your friends and family will treat you like you’ve taken up sword-juggling; some people will be hostile and be, as the Scientologists call them, Suppressive Persons. I think 95% of running is up here *taps temple* – as Riley from The Boondocks would say, it’s all in the mental mind, yo.

Everything you do as a runner makes you a stronger person.

You’re Still Here? Get off Your Arse!

So. You have the trainers, the gear, and the attitude. If you’re still reading this, then it’s time to get off your arse and into the big bad world.

Go forth and enjoy – you’re a runner now!

Nike+ Sportband

buy one NOW NOW NOW

This, a humble sports watch, is the single most revolutionary piece of running kit I own since, like, my feet.

I’ve logged over 150 miles todate. I didn’t know I’d ever run that much in my lifetime, never mind in 3 or 4 months. That kind of thing is useful to know when you’re in need of motivation.

It’s simple to use – set it up, strap it on, make sure your sensor is tucked away in your shoe (Nike+ shoes have a handy groove under the left insole). Get a Nike+ account and race other people, play tag (using the iPhone/iPod touch GPS app), or join challenges and set goals.

If you’re not ready for a hardcore Garmin but want to track your progress, I can’t recommend this highly enough. Sometimes it’s the only reason I’m out of bed and hitting the road – when you know you can achieve a tangible goal and beat total strangers for time and distance, what’s not to love?

Find me on Nike+ as Ruby_A

Nike+ Store

Toe Stretchers

Essential for tight toes - seriouslyI know, I know. They sound completely ridiculous - but you'll have to prise these from my cold, dead hands, for they are amazing.

I know, I know. They sound completely ridiculous. Here’s the thing, though: I don’t know about you, but I’m the opposite of what’s called ‘mobile’.

This means I struggle, despite years of yoga and Pilates, to touch my toes. I can’t even point my toes without going into spasm; people who are hypermobile go on to become contortionists, and people who are hypomobile go on about how difficult it is to touch their toes.

Not many people seem to understand this. Take, for example, the yoga instructor who wanted to know if there was ‘a good reason’ why I couldn’t perform a simple stretch with the same ease as everyone else. I gave her my best ‘because it’s physically fucking impossible, bitch!’ look, which took special effort as I was doing Bikram yoga at the time, and everyone’s faces look like that to some degree.

And speaking of Pilates, I’ve come to love doing it on the Reformer (the discerning bougie twat’s torture rack). Doing standing exercises on the frame, (e.g. with one foot on the foot rest, the other one on the moveable carriage) or exercises with my feet in the straps, cause my feet to go ‘oh, HELL no’, and into painful spasm.

My feet are incredibly inflexible, and the toe stretchers have helped open them up massively. They’re satisfyingly thick and rubbery little things, which slide on around your toes, like the ones you’d get to help your toenails dry afetr a pedicure – but much more effective. You wet them, slide them on, and then you, you know, just chill. Cotch. Jam. Whatever. You can wear them in the bath or shower, and I like to slip them on after a run.

I’ll talk more about being hypomobile, and why this isn’t a bad thing for running necessarily, another time…

Get a pair of Toe Stretchers here.

The word/phrase ‘winning’ has been much overused lately, but that, dear reader, is especially relevant here because I WON something. That would be a Sheactive goody bag.

How did I do this? By leaving a review of the beloved Stella McCartney Image Seamless Running Tights I’d bought from them. They break all natural laws by being super-hot and incredibly cool at the same time:

Let’s have a look-see and get a load of my goodies…

Goody bag contents - Zoca Active tee, black

Zocaactive.com tee with Sheactive branding. I really like this!

Merrell running socks

Merrell 'Swift' merino wool running sockies, Raspberry

 

A Shock Absorber Run Bra! (I talk more about the need for a bra here)

 

No more bouncy bouncy!

And a Merrell Tools torch, and Stella McCartney for adidas gym bag padlock.

Padlock and torch