And here’s part two. If you haven’t read part one yet, it’s over here.
6. Saucony Kinvara 3
Although they don’t quite match the Nike 4.0 Flyknit for comfort (although they’re a close second), these shoes win hands down for versatility. Despite their lightweight design and low heel drop, these shoes took whatever I threw at them, from a speedy (well, by my standards at least) 5k race or a nice slow 18 miler. I skipped the Kinvara 4 after reading some awful reviews by fellow 3 wearers, but it looks like they’ve redeemed themselves with the 5 (although I was gutted not to get a chance to try out the limited edition design). I’ve just ordered a pair of the Kinvara 5, so watch this space for a review.
7. Natural Hero hot ginger muscle rub
When I first saw their slogan “tested on athletes, not on animals”, it took me quite a while to stop imagining skinny blokes in vests being crammed into cages and having hot ginger dripped into their eyes while being studied by clipboard-welding boffins. I’m reliably informed that this doesn’t happen, and that in fact the athletes are allowed to roam free in a lovely field while having hot ginger dripped into their eyes by clipboard-wielding boffins. I might have dreamed that whole thing, now that I come to think of it. What is true is the fact that this stuff is amazing. I love blasting out a quick 5 miler before work on an icy winter’s morning, and then massaging some of this stuff into my cold stiff thighs after a shower1. Not only does it soothe aching muscles but also, as the morning progresses, the warm feeling and distinctive smell serve as a nice reminder that I’ve done my miles for the day.
IMPORTANT NOTE: (particularly important for men) after applying anything with the words “hot ginger” in the name, remember to wash your hands before going to the toilet.
If my nipples could talk (and they can’t, I’ve checked) they’d join my inner thighs in singing praise to this stuff. Less gloopy than Vaseline and in a handy little container similar to a stick deodorant. A few swipes of this stuff has kept me safely chafe-free on even the longest run. If I’m running in little shorts on a hot day1(again) then I’d rather go without shoes than Bodyglide.
9. Chocolate milk
Nothing fancy. No particular brand. No added protein or nutri-ceramides, no CLA or B&Q. Just bog standard chocolate milk. The thought of this reward is sometimes all that keeps me going through the last few miles of a long hard run.
10. ANY top with thumb-holes
Ask any scientist, and they’ll all agree that putting little thumb-holes in a long-sleeved top is guaranteed to make you run at least 50% faster. Okay, possibly not. But I just bloody love these for reasons I can’t explain. They just feel so much more runny. It’s just occurred to me that you never seem to find these thumb-holes in short-sleeved tops; surely sportswear manufacturers are missing a trick here.1 It’s probably best if you don’t try to picture the scene if you’re at work or operating heavy machinery – it’s a powerful image 😉
Damn it, I just thought of another favourite thing…
11. Alpkit Gamma
Every now and then, somebody will pipe up on an online running forum and ask for head torch recommendations, and I always fall over myself to shout about the joys of the Alpkit Gamma. Seriously, I get a bit evangelical about it. I’ve always loved a plucky underdog, and the Gamma serious punches above its weight. At £15, it’s ridiculously cheap compared with some of the bigger brands, but the performance, battery life and build quality are nothing short of outstanding. To this day, I’ve never seen a second-hand one for sale on eBay, and I think the reason is that their owners just don’t want to part with them.