Picture the scene. Wimbledon 2011, World class tennis is being played, the sun is shining, the strawberries are over priced and I’m lucky enough to be there. I’m handed a plastic glass full of Pimms and ice, which I’d never tried before, but which looked delicious. I take a cautious sip. I’m not immediately bowled over by the taste. I gently swill it round my mouth and make little lip smacking ‘tasty’ noises and try to decide if I like it or not. I take another sip and repeat. Another sip, more lip smacking, more deliberation. Finally I reach the bottom of the glass and decide that, all things considered (not least that I’ve drunk every drop and am now starting on the fruit), I did enjoy it.
Fast forward two and a half years, to find me stressed having not run since the Running Show 10K 10 days ago, surounded by builders’ noise and dust. On an impulse I decided to run away from the chaos for just half an hour. I also decided it would be a great time to road test the bag of goodies I brought home from the Running Show.
I grabbed my new Ron Hill long sleeved top which I’d bought for half price at the Running Show. Although I have several (cough cough) long sleeve tops already, I was drawn to this one because it had useful pockets on the back, like on a cycling jersey. It also had a very special zip neck. With all zip up tops (and jackets and gilets) I’ve had before, as soon as I undo the zip I find the edges of the collar really annoying and flappy. I end up having to tuck the edges in to stop the flapping, which isn’t attractive. This top though, has curved edges at the top of the collar, so I’m hopeful it won’t flap.
With size 6 (and a bit) feet I was hoping the medium size would be big enough, and they did fit very nicely. They were padded nicely around the tops, heels and toes which was looking good for keeping my feet warm on a cold Autumn day. They did come quite a long way up over my ankles which might bother the sort of people who love ‘anklet’ socks (you know, the sort that disappear inside your shoes as you’re running and you have to stop and retrieve them), but was fine for me.
I laced my shoes up, then looked at the Bonders. They sound like a good idea, but by the time I’d knotted my laces I didn’t have long enough ‘loops’ to be able to use the Bonders to strap them down to my shoe. Then I realised that if I did have long enough loops, I would probably just tie my laces in a double knot anyway.
I only remembered it was there when I had to stop to answer my phone and it was easier to extract than having to rumage under layers of clothing. I found the other pockets very useful for stuffing in some litter I found on a pristine footpath (the Wombles would be proud of me.) As the weather gets colder I can see these pockets being great for discarding gloves, hats, ear warmers etc as I warm up.
The small hill after a mile and a half was enough for me to need to undo the zip a little and let some fresh air in. Amazingly, this resulted in no annoying flappage, even when I undid the zip to about halfway, The zip is long (undoing it fully would reveal most of my sports bra) so there is plenty of ventilation if I need it. And don’t mind flashing my underwear.
Talking of underwear, after about a mile I had suddenly become aware of the underside of my socks. The socks have lovely thick sections under the ball of the foot and the heel, and a tighter thinner section around the innerstep. I could suddenly feel the edge of one of these sections. I have had this with other socks so I suspect I get this when my feet are cold, and sure enough after another mile the feeling disappeared. For the rest of my run my feet were lovely and toasty until I hit ‘that puddle’ at 5 miles. As I felt the cold puddle soaking into my socks, my thoughts turned to what was waiting for me at home. Not the builders with their associated dust and noise, but a sachet of ‘Apres’ Chocmalt hot recovery drink.
I usually have a hot chocolate when I get back from a run so I was intrigued to see what chocolate and malt tasted like, and to see if I felt better after a ‘proper’ recovery drink. Squelching around the kitchen I mixed the powder with hot water, and took a sip. I swilled it round my mouth and made little lip smacking ‘tasty’ noises to try to decide if I liked it or not. I took another sip, unsure whether I like it or not. Suddenly I am back at Wimbledon again, sipping and tasting. The Chocmalt isn’t as sweet as hot chocolate, but this means I didn’t feel so guilty about drinking it. It would also appeal to people who aren’t used to such sweet drinks. It feels very satisfying to drink and would be wonderful to have after a cold, wet trail race. Like the Pimms two and a half years ago, I reached the bottom of the cup still smacking my lips, and decided I did like it. Yum!
Ron Hill Top – I loved this top. Great fit, thoughtful design around the neck, and useful pockets. Its on the top of my pile of running clothes, ready to be put straight back on. I *think* this top is a ‘Ron Hill Ladies Trail Long Sleeve Zip Tee’, but mine didn’t have the labels on. Ron Hill’s website is here, and their stuff is available from all good sporting outlets. And some bad ones. Probably.
Balega Socks – Again, I loved these socks. Tight enough not to rub my feet, but not constricting. Long enough so I don’t get that cold gap between tights and socks. These are my new favourite socks, which means they will soon be a sad grey ‘mud stained’ colour. Company website is here, but I’m sure they’re available from all good sports retailers.
Bonders – Just didn’t work for me,and I can’t see how they’re better than double knotting your laces. Available from www.4Distance.co.uk if they’re your sort of thing.
Après Hot Recovery Drink – Much tastier than I thought it would be, but at £1.99 a sachet a little expensive for everyday use. I will buy some to take to races, with a flask of hot water and a mug, to enjoy before the drive home. Check them out here.
Please Note – with the exception of the Ron Hill top, which I paid for myself, the other products were all given free of charge, and I have received no payment for this review.
Notes on the B&T Star rating
3 Stars = How have I lived my life up to this point without this?
2 Stars = Pretty good, but I’m hard to impress.
1 Star = Not for me. Someone else maybe, but not me.
No Stars = What were they thinking of?