Running gear

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Night running

What to look for when you’re buying a headtorch for running,

  • Batteries: Most headtorches run on AA or AAA batteries, but some utilise a rechargeable battery. Consider how easy it will be to change the batteries, bearing in mind you may have to do this in the dark with cold or wet hands and away from a convenient electrical supply to recharge them.
  • Tilting head: So you can direct the beam of light, say to the ground, just ahead of you or to the tent guy line you are adjusting, it is important to be able to tilt the head down a little. This needs to be easily adjustable, but not so loose and floppy that it fails to stay in place once it’s set.
  • Light output: A headtorch’s light output is measured in lumens. An output of around 80-100 lumens is suitable for camping and general walking, while 200 lumens is ideal for navigating across open hillsides. Higher powers are useful for crossing terrain with few features, or search and rescue, as well as fast-paced activities, such as mountain biking, running or skiing.
  • Burn time: The light output will dim over timeas the batteries run down. The burn times provided by manufacturers arenot always based on the same criteria, and they will vary with temperature and function settings, so they cannot always be trusted. Packing spare batteries is therefore always wise, and longer burn times are often a worthwhile benefit.
  • Operation: Small buttons are used to operate light output. The two most important points to consider are can the torch be operated with cold, wet and gloved hands in the dark, and could it turn on by itself in a rucksack pocket, leading to flat batteries?
  • Colour of light: Most headtorches are provided with standard white LEDs, and generally these are adequate for most purposes. However red LEDs are handy when you want to preserve your own night vision, and green LEDs are useful for reading maps.
  • Headstraps: The headtorch is attached to a headband that needs to be adjustable to ensure a secure yet comfortable fit.

To help you decide what kind of torch you’ll need when you head out of the door think about how much light you will need. Around 300 lumens will help you in all but the darkest conditions, while something like 5 or 10 will provide enough light for cars to see you.

  1. What type of night running will I do?
  2. Will there be any available light – such as street-lights, a nearby town or village – on my route?
  3. Will I be heading into the mountains?
  4. Will I be running local trails?
  5. Do I run in woodland? Keep in mind there is less background light available.
  6. Do I choose full moon outings or am I happy with moonless nights?
  7. How much will I be carrying?
  8. Is weight an issue and do I mind carrying extra batteries? This is always advisable on longer runs.
  9. Will I be out for one hour or 12?
  10. Will I be running solo or in a group? There’s more lighting available in a group due to the volume of headlamp units.

Buy yourself a foam roller

One way to help your muscle is to use a foam roller.

They’re easy to use and basic techniques include rolling over the muscle and stopping on a tight spot; take 10 deep breaths whilst the knot begins to relax, before rolling gently back and forth and side to side on the point to further release the tight spots. This increase in bloodflow will target muscles to aid in removing waste products that might otherwise cause tightness and/or DOMS. Further, muscle adhesions (such as scar tissue) can be reduced, which in turn aids in flexibility both in the short and long term!


The perfect sports bra

To help England Athletics partner Runderwear put together the recent Big Bra Survey, where better to look when you need real answers than real runners? Happy to help, hundreds of you highlighted everything from colour to fit, breathability and more when it comes to that all-important piece of kit, your sports bra. And while standard findings like fit and things like breathability came out on top, it was the range of needs that proved most useful for Runderwear who will be using the findings to create new models in their already extensive range. 

With more than 1600 responses, it provided an in-depth look at exactly what runners require from this vital piece of sports clothing. And the numbers make for some fascinating reading with a whopping 76 per cent surveyed using a sports bra for running. Good news there, but interestingly just 33 per cent have had fitting within the last three years, and 34 per cent of you suffered discomfort while running. Too much movement and chafing topped the charts in that department.

Hannah Lees, RunTogether Run Leader of the Year 2019 – South West Region, is just such a runner who was more than happy to help. “I started running aged 37 to get away from my children (that’s not an exaggeration – I have twins, they were 2 years old and I was desperate for some time alone),” says Hannah, describing a familiar scene for so many runners. “I’d never run before and hated it at school, but I guess it’s all about context because I discovered that it was a brilliant way to escape from two sleep-stealing toddlers. I quickly got up to 10k, entered a race, didn’t come last, and off the back of that decided to do the Bath Half Marathon. Up to that point I was running alone, but I got the confidence to join a group and admit that I was actually a runner. Fast forward a bit…and now I’m a qualified coach, mentor and mental health champion leading a team of Run Leaders, and we’ve supported over 400 people to start running.

If you had to create a perfect picture for Runderwear’s survey, Hannah pretty much ticks all the boxes!

“When I started running, I knew I would need trainers and a sports bra. Luckily, I had both from various dalliances with the gym and aerobics classes. Cost was a big issue to start with. I was a stay at home mum. Comfort was definitely important. I’d only just stopped breastfeeding my twins and my ribs had changed shape during pregnancy and were not back to normal.  For me one consideration is how easy it is to get in and out of. I don’t want to feel like I’ve done my warm-up just getting my kit on, and if you have a bra that doesn’t unfasten completely and you’re sweaty from running then there’s going to be some very undignified contortions to get it off without dislocating a shoulder.

“For runners with larger breasts, getting the right size, a really comfortable bra and a good fit is vital. To be honest you know before you start running if getting the right bra is going to be important because in your non-running life you already have to select your bra carefully. High street underwear shops have created good sports bras in larger sizes and it’s not as difficult, intimidating or expensive as it used to be.

“At the other end of the scale, those runners with small breasts will usually wear a bra or crop-top under their running vest if only to avoid nipple chafing. Having a layer that doesn’t move when you run totally solves that particular issue. I’ve got one runner who occasionally doesn’t wear a bra, but she really is in a minority of one.

“For those in the middle, well, we tend to stick with what we know is comfortable. As with trainers your bra can make or break your run so once you find the right one, you’re reluctant to change.”

For Sue Bennett – also RunTogether Run Leader with several groups – running provided an outlet, but for very different reasons. “I began my love of running 2012 , I love the way it keeps me young (60) and the way it has helped my MS and the way it has opened so many opportunities for me.  But when I started I didn’t realise like many, how important it was, it just seemed to be part of the required kit. Starting training for marathons and longer then showed me exactly why you need a good bra, I still have some scars from the dreadful chafing I got from wearing the completely wrong bra!  I look for comfort, no fastenings whatsoever, and those that slip on and off easily without feeling you are going to dislocate your shoulders! It is something I discuss with my groups as I once also asked for advice, I think it should be as essential as getting your trainers right. Smaller runners should still wear one, but it’s importance may not be as high as others.”

“Let’s finish with a bra related anecdote,” says Hannah. “It happened during an interval training session on Great Pulteney Street – one of the grandest Georgian streets you can imagine. I had the group sprinting up the street between lamp posts and one woman, who was new to the group at the time, came to a very abrupt stop clutching her chest so I dashed over to see what was wrong. Her bra was one that zipped at the front and with all the speedwork it had unzipped itself in dramatic style. Preserving her dignity while re-securing her breasts took two of us. Luckily it didn’t put her off running and she’s booked onto the LiRF course in October. That particular model of bra now has a nifty little hook to prevent such catastrophes.”

Big Bra Survey findings included these key points

  • Cater for bigger women
  • Include a bigger range – small back + large cup; large back + small cup
  • Be aware of changing sizes/shape – pregnancy, breast-feeding, mastectomy, odd shaped boobs, getting older
  • Take note of the chafing/discomfort problems
  • Think about the design/fabric
  • Colour is important; nude, funky, patterns
  • Make sure a sports bra is quick drying (triathlon) and easy to wash
  • Include older women in the testing
  • Test them on long runs not just treadmill
  • And don’t forget; when you’re advertising a sports bra, show real women

The Runderwear range can be found at runderwear.co.uk


Enertor’s PX1 insole

Out today! Enertor, official partner of England Athletics, has launched the PX1 insole, the first shock-absorbing technology to be specifically developed for protecting the feet and body from ground forces. Enertor’s PX1 insoles transmit impact forces horizontally through the insole, greatly reducing shockwaves through the leg. The technology, endorsed by Usain Bolt, provides 89% more protection per mm. 40% lighter and 90% softer than competitor insole brands, PX1 gives instant relief from sporting demands and long-term protection. In comparison, standard insoles allow forces to be transmitted vertically through the shoe, creating shockwaves and trauma through the leg.

Priced at £29.99 and available in UK sizes 3-4 to 13-14, the PX1 insole boasts flexibility, comfort, durability and energy returning properties. Lasting over seven times as long as standard insoles and with a 60-day money back guarantee, every active individual and anyone with any lower limb or foot pain should give them a go, worry free.

Enertor’s full PX1 range can be found at www.enertor.com


Shoes for faster runners

With the 30-minute challenge really picking up pace, it’s time to think of footwear that does exactly that – put a bit of pace into your running.

  • Take a look at the women’s Nike Zoom Fly just in. Light, bouncy and reviews will confirm, this is one of the fastest shoes in the Nike stable. Click to find out more.
  • Or equally new for men is the Nike Renew Run. Nice and light, this is an everyday kind of shoe that will be great for long runs, but also faster sessions. Perfect! Click to find out more.

Comfortable running shoes

  • The Asics Gel Zone 7 is exclusive to DW Sports this summer and a great shoe to consider if you’re in the market for a comfortable, supportive road running shoe. Designed with a bit of speed in mind, it’s at home on the road or on the track and includes rearfoot Gel for cushioning. Click to find out more.
  • The Asics Novablast is just in and promises to propel you like never before thanks to the new super springy foam tech now being employed. If you’re all about PBs take a look at this super fast shoe. Just out, it’s already received rave reviews; try them for yourself. Click to find out more.

More ways to keep you cool this summer

  • Nike Kawa Shower Slides – big with the younger crowd, these flip flop-style shoes are a fabulous way to allow your feet to relax before or after a tough workout. It sounds a bit unlikely, but the science is there to confirm they actually work! Click to find out more.
  • Camelbak pro vest – given the warmer weather we’re currently enjoying, there’s never been a better time to invest in this vest. Light, breathable and easily capable of carrying all the water and fuel you need for the longest of runs, this is a great piece of kit to add to your wardrobe. Click to find out more.
  • New Balance 1080 running shoes – smooth feeling, super responsive and light; these shoes offer all the cushioning you’ll need for a summer of running thanks to New Balance’s Freshfoam technology. Click to find out more.

Key items for the summer

Summer days can only mean one thing: great breathable kit that not only keeps your body working at an optimal temperature, you’ll look good as well. Here’s what has caught our eye this week:


Compression clothing

When you think about what sports kit you need, make sure compression clothing is on your list. There’s loads of science out there that suggests it works well when it comes to perform at a higher intensity. No, it won’t make you run quicker, but it will mean you’ll enjoy better recovery, better temperature regulation and better better muscle efficiency. Plus compression clothing reduces the feeling of fatigue. Click here to find out more.


Foam roller

Olympic champion Sally Gunnell says, “try a foam roller to help some of those aching muscles, Experienced runners swear by them.” They help give you a soft tissue massage which helps to work out those knots and any tight spots using the pressure created by your own bodyweight. Just 10 minutes while you’re watching TV can make a huge difference. Click here to find out more.


Your go-to jargon buster for buying running shoes

  • EVA: The cushioning material in most running shoes.
  • Breathable: Man-made fabrics are, cotton isn’t.
  • Cushioning: Personal, some shoes are hard, some are soft. Go with what feels comfortable to you!
  • Knitted upper: Gone are leather, rigid uppers; now they fit like a sock using a knitted fabric for fit and support.
  • Venting: Essential in every running jacket, bar none. They can be zipped or permanent.
  • Aggressive lugs: Longer for mud (5mm and longer), less are better for road and hard surfaces.
  • Zero drop: Be wary. 0mm is flat, 12mm is closer to your everyday shoe. 8mm is a good punt.
  • Pronation: We all pronate to protect our knees, but some collapse inwards resulting in the need for a support shoe.

What to look for in a running shoe

  • Midsole: Placed between the insole and the outsole, this layer of spongy material can vary in make-up. EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) is still pretty much the standard.
  • Heel counter: The typically plastic insert at the back of the shoe is responsible for providing rearfoot support, allowing for or combatting against pronation and protecting the Achilles.
  • Outsole: The material can be blown runner, better for flexibility and cushioning, or more durable carbon rubber. Look at the lugs (the tread) on the very bottom of the shoe. The deeper the lug, obviously the better the grip.
  • Upper: What you’re looking for in the uppermost part of the shoe depends on your needs. For example, a racing shoe would try to save a few grams here, whereas a trail shoe would offer a bit more protection than a road shoe.
  • Tongue: It can help to provide extra support.
  • Last: This is the three-dimensional mould of the shoe – the ‘shape’. It can be curved, semi-curved and straight. Lighter shoes will tend to be curved, whereas those providing the most support use a straight last.
  • Toe box: The width for your toes tends to vary from shoe to shoe. How much you need will depend on the make-up of your own foot and personal preference

Find out more about shoes on the DW Sports website: click here for women, click here for men.
Click here to find out more about insoles on the Enertor website.