My favourite running kit from head to toe

I haven’t blogged about running kit for a while so I thought I’d write a post about some of my current favourites that make running more comfortable for me.

Cap: Ciele Athletics FASTCap

A few months ago The Running Works began stocking Ciele Athletics, ever since I have been expanding my cap collection. I am a big fan for a number of reasons; they are super comfortable, lightweight, breathable, flexible and packable. Ciele have a good range of caps, including; TRLCap, GOCaps and FASTCap. My favourite is the FASTCap as it has a lower profile being made of three panels as opposed to the five panelled GOCap.  

  

They come in a variety of colours and cost £30: http://run-fast-retail.net/catalogsearch/result/?q=ciele
Tops: Adidas Supernova T-shirts & Adidas Adizero singlets

The main reasons for opting for Adidas Supernova T-shirts is that; they fit me well and are really lightweight and breathable. The most important thing for a running top is that it has to be good at moisture wicking and drying.

When racing I generally wear an Adizero singlet, similarly to the Supernova t-shirts I find they fit me well and are super lightweight. As you want to push your limits in a race you don’t want to be carrying any extra weight, as Adidas put it “light makes fast”.   

   

http://www.adidas.co.uk/adizero-singlet/S93579.html

Watch: Suunto Ambit 3

I have had my Suunto watch for over a year now and I have been really impressed. I was incredibly lucky to win it via a competition on Instagram, the only drawback was that I couldn’t choose the colour and so received the quite bold lime green watch. The best thing about the Suunto Ambit 3 for me is the battery life. I used to have a TomTom runner (or as I called it SteveSteve) and I had to charge it quite regularly, now I can normally do 4 or 5 runs before charging. The watch is really simple to use and has lots of cool features. Through the movescount app you can create a cool little video of a run and you can sync straight to Strava so you can monitor your stats. Other pluses are that it is really lightweight despite looking a bit chunky and it doesn’t take very long to pick up GPS (normally within 10 seconds).  

The Suunto Ambit 3 is currently £175 from the Suunto website: http://www.suunto.com/en-GB/Products/sports-watches/Suunto-Ambit3-Run/Suunto-Ambit3-Run-Lime/

Shorts: Adidas Supernova & Adidas Adizero split shorts

In terms of shorts I generally opt for the same brand/ranges as my tops. When training I’ll wear Supernova shorts and when racing I’ll don some Adizero split shorts. The Supernovas have some reflective detailing which is good and a small zip pocket for keys etc. I wear the Adizero split shorts for racing because I want to feel comfortable and streamlined. The Supernova shorts retail at £31.00 at The Running Works: http://run-fast-retail.net/adidas-men-s-supernova-running-shorts. The Adizero split shorts cost £34.95 on the Adidas website: http://www.adidas.co.uk/adizero-split-short-men/AI3183.html.

Socks: Stance

Since The Running Works began stocking Stance a fair few months ago they have become my favourite socks. I used to choose between a variety of sock brands depending on what type of running I was doing, which trainers I was going to wear and what the weather was doing. I choose to wear Stance now because I find them super comfortable. As Stance put it their socks:

“Feature a custom blend of moisture-wicking fibres that keep your feet cool and dry. A network of mesh vents wraps from the top of the foot to the arch to further enhance breathability while Stance’s Air Channel Cushioning uses an articulated foot bed to increase padding and airflow. Its tight, 200 needle count stitching is paired with a reinforced heel and toe for a clean appearance and plenty of durability.”

The Fusion Run range of socks is vast and therefore you can find a sock suitable for each run. If I’m hitting the trails I’ll opt for some OTC (over the calf) whereas if I’m heading to run around in circles aka track I’ll put on lightweight tabs. When I’m road running I’ll wear the Crew height. Mainly because they are comfortable and due to the massive range of styles/colours they look cool. 

 I previously wrote about the UK leg of the Stance Street Art European Tour that I was lucky enough to go on; you can read about it here: https://steveskinner3.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/stance-european-street-art-tour-london/

Stance socks are available to buy at The Running Works: http://run-fast-retail.net/products/accessories/socks?manufacturer=1436

Stance website: https://www.stance.com/

Trainers: Adidas Adios Boost

Over the last couple of years I have accumulated quite a number of running trainers. Despite trying a large number of brands none of them have trumped my trusty Adidas Adios. When I began training for the Bristol Half Marathon in 2011 I bought my first proper pair of running trainers, they were the Adidas Adios with the standard EVA midsole. I absolutely loved those trainers, so much so that I still have a couple of them stocked up in a box at home. However as Adidas introduced the Boost technology I decided to give them a try knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get the pair with EVA in the future. I have since gotten used to the more bouncy and energy returning midsole and tend to do all my training in them despite being labelled a racing/lightweight shoe. Having relatively narrow feet the Adios seem to fit my feet perfectly, over the last 5 years I haven’t had a single blister and no signs of black toe nails. I guess I can get away with using the Adios as a training shoe as I am pretty light on my feet but also because they provide enough cushioning for me. They are also great for track sessions and races because they are light. I have recently ordered the Adios 3 and can’t wait to start running in them, I believe they haven’t changed much apart from more grip in the forefoot equating to an added 5g in weight. This was on request from the elite runners, quite often I see a large number of them racing in the Adios particularly over half and full marathons. 

 Here is a link to the Adios 3 available for £109.95 on the Adidas website: http://www.adidas.co.uk/adizero-adios-3-shoes/AQ2429.html?pr=CUSTOMIZE_IMG_adizero%2520Adios%25203%2520Shoes

I like the new orange colourway a lot!

I’d be interested to hear your opinions on any of your favourite running kit or the kit I’ve mentioned, drop me a tweet or message on Instagram @StephenSkinner6.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

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The North Face Zagori Marathon 2016

On Saturday the 23rd of July Lorna and I took part in the Zagori Marathon. We signed up a few months back and the initial plan was to run it with Michalis and Freya. The main reason we signed up was because Michalis is Greek and could show us around but unfortunately due to injuries etc neither of them could make it. Having paid for the race, accommodation and flights Lorna and I still made the trip. We travelled to Athens on the Wednesday before the race and spent a day and a bit there before heading north to Aristi, near to where the race started.It was my first trip to Greece so I didn’t really know what to expect. We arrived on the Wednesday afternoon and headed straight to the pool on the roof of our hotel for a spot of swimming and sunbathing.

The weather was awesome, roughly 30 degrees, I may have burnt a little. In the evening we went to a restaurant, recommended by Michalis, just down the road from our hotel. The food was amazing; we had Greek salad, lots of bread with tzatziki and Souvlaki. The wine wasn’t quite up to standard but it was really cheap so we couldn’t complain really.

On the Thursday morning we went for an exploratory 10k of Athens. Michalis had sent us over a route to follow so that we could take in some of the ruins and run passed the Acropolis Museum etc.

We started our run at around 9am and already it was baking hot. We kept it nice and steady bearing in mind we had a mountain marathon in two days time. After the run we rehydrated and found a nice little bakery near our hotel that sold massive ice creams. We returned to that bakery a fair few times throughout our stay. In the afternoon we chilled by the pool, it was so nice to just relax and not have to do anything. We went for an amazing meal in the evening at Orizontes which is situated at the top of Lycabettus Hill. The hill is the highest peak of Athens which overlooks the capital from 277 meters. This was one of my personal highlights of the trip; we had great food and wine and then watched the beautiful sunset.


After a nice couple of days in Athens the time had come to head up North. We got a taxi to the bus station and then boarded a bus for the 8 hour trip to Ioannina. Once we arrived in Ioannina we were picked up by a taxi arranged by Michalis, we were driven to fifth element to collect our race packs before being taken to Aristi Mountain Resort where we would stay for the weekend. The resort was amazing; the views of the mountains were awesome.

We carb-loaded up before getting an early night as we had to be up around 5 o’clock to get organised and get a taxi to the start.

Our taxi arrived at 5:30am to take us to the race; luckily it was only a half an hour drive to the start, in the village of Kipoi (750m altitude), as the race started at 6:30am. We took a few pre-race photos, dropped our bags off and before we knew it the race began.

Being a mountain marathon there wasn’t the sprint start of a shorter distance race but some of the elite guys took off pretty sharpish. The first 700m or so of the race was on road, luckily I wore my Salomon X-series which have good grip for trail but due to not having any real lugs they are also good on road. Then we ran over a three arched bridge called Kalogeriko entering a well preserved path. Within the first couple of kilometres we went over a couple of stone bridges, the runners at this point were still pretty bunched together. Having not done much research into the route both Lorna and I were surprised at how rocky and technical the terrain was. We followed the river bank for about 2km before running inside the gorge, we found ourselves clambering over massive rocks/boulders. Despite the challenging route we were making good time and knew we’d make the cut off time of 4.5 hours for halfway.

 We passed through a couple of refreshment stations, one at about 7k and another around 11k. The next station was at 17.5km in the Voidomatis springs. This was where the intense uphill for about 10 kilometres started. Papigo was the site for the halfway point and aid station number 4. Lorna and I had made it to halfway in roughly 3 hours. It was a relief to get there in good time and have the opportunity to fuel up; there were crisps, cake and boiled potato etc. Having looked at the elevation profile a fair amount we knew the hard work was ahead of us.

The uphill was pretty brutal, it was still incredibly rocky. In hindsight prior to the race we should have hit the trails more often and prioritised hill sessions, however we were managing. The poles were coming in handy and Lorna felt more stable using them. Every now and then we had to just take some time to look around and enjoy being in the mountains, the scenery was spectacular.

None of the photos really do it justice. We continued climbing up until around 28k where there was a short sharp downhill section. This proved challenging as it was so steep and the ground was sliding away from beneath us, we had to put the brakes on. After the downhill section there was a little more climbing to do before a sustained period of running downhill. With the course profile in mind I knew where the ascending and descending was, the only thing I didn’t know was that not an awful lot of the downhill section were runnable (for us anyway). The 80km and marathon routes overlap so we saw some of the ultra-athletes flying down the side of the mountain. It was awe-inspiring to see them running with such balance and quick feet.

After the 6th refreshment station at around 31k things were pretty slow going, we were tired from all the climbing. We were running for what must’ve been close to two hours before reaching another aid station. Lorna asked one of the photographers on the route how far we had left to run and he replied “6 or 7k” we couldn’t quite believe it. We finally made it to Avgerinos and the 7th aid station; this was 37.7k into the race. Having done the first half marathon in 3 hours we couldn’t believe we were going to be pushing it to finish in the cut off time of 9 hours, especially with so many other runners behind us. We started to question whether we would even get a medal or anyone would be there at the finish. The pace picked up a little but a considerable amount of time had passed and the finish line was still not to be seen. On the horizon we could see a small marquee with a few people outside, we’d been running for ages since the last checkpoint and thought we must be approaching the finish but no it was another aid station. We were both thinking “this has to say 40k+, we haven’t just run only over a kilometre”. To our amazement it said 39k. It goes to show you can’t underestimate the terrain in trail races; kilometres can take a seriously long time. We shot off from the aid station in a bid to make the cut off time.

The first kilometre or so from the aid station was ok; we could hold a decent pace. Then came a section where we had to zig zag down the side of a hill. At this point we could hear and see the crowds at the finish line in the distance; Lorna and I were trying to predict how far away it was and how long it would take to run there. The final kilometre was pretty flat through a town on the road; this gave us chance to pick up the pace. We made it onto the red carpet/finish straight and could muster a sprint finish. Luckily we had made it across the line in 8 hours and 45 minutes. It was such a relief, we received are medals and then grabbed a drink to rehydrate.

It was such a long day running through the mountains but what a day! It was such a brutal but beautiful route, one I hope to tackle again in the future.

After the race Lorna and I had a few days in Aristi and Sivota to relax. We went rafting and chilled with Fred the Flamingo on the beach.


 On a whole the trip was amazing; it was nice to spend time in Athens, explore the mountains and then chill by the sea. A massive thankyou has to go to Michalis for helping me and Lorna get organised and travel around Greece.I’m already thinking about the possibility of doing the marathon again or even the 80k. Athens Marathon will also have to be done at some point soon.

See a lot of you soon

Steve