Simply Supplements review

I’ve been working from home the past three days doing an online course in order to acquire more skills for my job and let me tell you, self-motivation is hard-work! Only having a set amount of time to do it though does spark the adrenaline a little, and obviously wanting to pass the exam at the end of it!

Anyway, on to more interesting things.

I was asked if I would review some products from the vitamin supplement online store Simply Supplements. I happily agreed because I don’t take any supplements and with marathon training trucking along I thought I could do with any help I could get!

Their website also has a cool blog which goes into some details about different bits and bobs to do with health, fitness and weight-loss (and marathon training!).

I chose three different supplements to trial:

L-Taurine 600mg 

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I chose this product because it’s apparently very good endurance and supports the maintenance of muscle.

From the website: “L-Taurine is concentrated in muscle tissues and the central nervous system, and is one of the few amino acids that contain sulphur…Through its high vitamin B6 content, L-Taurine is also believed to improve the body’s transportation and metabolism of protein and iron.” Source

Thoughts? It sounded great! I also read the reviews from other customers, which were all positive and along similar lines. Obviously I need to take the supplement for longer than the two weeks I’ve been taking it but no ill effects and my marathon training still continues to go well. My long runs have felt strong as well.

Aloe Vera 6000mg

IMG_0516 Aloe Vera is supposed to be good for digestion, promoting good bacteria in the gut and maintaining a health pH balance.

Thoughts? I actually don’t have any digestion issues, apart from the occasional bloat from too many apples or too many vegetables (I’m looking at you, sprouts). This wasn’t the reason why I chose this supplement. I’ve heard aloe vera is great for many different things (THIS article is good), one of those being inflammation. As a runner doing high mileage (for me!!) I wanted something to help with recovery and reduce injury (though I know a bit of inflammation isn’t bad). Again, so far so good. The tablets are nice and small as well so easy to take.

Omega 3 1000mg Capsules

IMG_0576 Omega 3 is great for the brain, heart and eyes. You’d usually find the omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in oily fish, flaxseeds, nuts, etc. and can be a tricky one to get the recommended daily dose if fish and nuts don’t rock your world (though sprouts have a good dose apparently!).

Omega 3 helps normalise blood pressure, cholesterol levels and can help reduce heart disease. And it can help maintain a good brain and good eyes.

(Fun but gross fact: a common causes of excessive ear wax is a deficiency in omega 3 fatty acids)

Thoughts? If I could eat oily fish (or all fish in general really) on a daily basis I would, but fish is expensive. It’s also harder to put into everyday recipes. I’m a huge fan of taking these supplements because now I’m no longer feeling guilty that I don’t eat a huge amount of fish (or nuts – I like pistachio nuts, but most nuts are a bit of a problem for me as I can’t stop at a small handful!)

I like that fish oils are from clean ocean waters and are subject to stringent environmental measures that protect the surrounding eco-system. However the product isn’t vegetarian as it contains gelatine. The tablet is also quite big but it’s easier to take because it’s smooth and shiny, if that makes sense??

Simply SupplementsTablet sizes 

Simply Supplements is a great online store as it just has so many different things. I had trouble deciding what to go for and judging by the reviews, there are a lot of happy customers.

What supplements do you take (if any)?

What pill do you think they should invent? I think they make a “keep on running” pill which stops all injuries from happening . Or a “I never need to wash my hair again” pill…but I’m sensing I’m edging away from reality now ;-)

Are you able to take large tablets? My dad can take tablets without water. This is amazing.

Netley 10k (2015)

I hate 10ks. I’m sure I’ve said it many times, but I truly do. 5ks are somewhat bearable because they’re short. The pain can only go on for so long, whereas for a 10k it just seems never ending.

Going into a 10k race as part of a training run therefore makes things a whole lot more enjoyable. Well, at least psychologically anyway. My plan was to get 18ish miles done on Sunday as part of my marathon training. A lot of my club were doing the local Netley 10k race and I thought it would be so much nicer to combine the two so I wouldn’t have to run the entire 18 miles on my own. It also meant I could ‘enjoy’ the 10k rather than race it.

The sun that had been beating down on the first solo part of run (12.5 miles) but as we waited for the 10k to begin it suddenly disappeared and it became more overcast: perfect running conditions. I ran this race last year (as a proper race) and I remember how hot it was then, so I think everyone was quite grateful it wouldn’t be so bad this year.

Different to last year, the race this year was chip timed which was far better as last year there was so much crowding and pushing at the start with people desperate to start quickly with the gun. Though it was still crowded at the start there was far less panic and desperation to move forward when the gun (whistle I think) went.

I started with a bunch of my Hedgie team mates and felt very relaxed. My legs however felt like lead and suddenly it felt really hard to keep up with them, despite the pace being in my “easier” range. I honestly contemplated letting them go ahead without me as I plodded along but I stuck at it thinking my legs would wake up again soon.

IMG_0627 Starting to get into it with Lauren

I got more into the race and started to enjoy it as the legs warmed up (again). There were two running club members taking photos so we had a bit of a giggle (thank you Richard Townsend and Gary Trendell!).

IMG_0642 Clearly the miles are going to my head here ;-)

The course, like last year, consisted of three large laps around Queen Victoria Country Park, where the Netley Abbey parkrun is held. Therefore in my head it was just a supersized parkrun. This meant that we had to do the dreaded parkrun hill (I say hill, it’s not a hill hill but a sharpish incline) three times and another long incline three times. It’s not an easy course but there’s lots of support most of the way round which helped.

IMG_0631 Matt and I

Eventually the most of the Hedgies disappeared either in front or ahead and I stuck with Matt who was aiming for a PB and running at a pace that I was finding comfortable but tough with the miles already in my legs.

Matt might have regretted me running with him somewhat though as we passed a drinks station and grabbed a drink. They were in cups and I struggled to drink from it without soaking myself and in the process managed to knock Matt’s elbow as he was drinking his. Consequently he was covered with water. I’m pretty sure he was more annoyed than he made out but he’s a gentleman and only remarked “looks like I’ve wet myself now…least it’s cooled me down”. I couldn’t apologise enough (though I was also laughing…).

IMG_0644 As we headed for our final lap I really started to feel tired. Matt was finding it tough too so we started encouraging each other. We figured out some milestones to head towards on our last lap: a Hedgie supporter doing some amazing encouraging shouting from a quieter section of the course, the drinks station, a pack of kids, the homestretch…Then Matt said he was close to his PB – now there’s a motivation!

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The final straight

The last half mile of the race you can see the finish which is a bit soul destroying but there were loads of people shouting and cheering which helped.

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I think my face says it all. This is pretty much my legs personified (does that even make sense??). Matt zoomed off on the last 100 or so metres and I let him go: my legs weren’t up for that kind of sprinting without significantly breaking! I did attempt to speed up though (as my face displays).

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My official time was 47:41 which I’m happy with considering I wasn’t racing full-out and weirdly I managed an average speed of 7.47min/miles which is exactly the same as the previous 12.5 miles I ran. How funny! So overall I ran 18.6 miles at 7.47 min/miles. Not too shabby! And the best part is that Matt got his PB (47:36 – he wanted sub 48!) He was over the moon and so was I. He helped me as much as I helped him. There’s no medal for Netley 10k but we got another towel. Last year it was red, this year it was blue. Just need a white one now for our running club colours!

Happily I felt all in one piece afterwards (and the days after). I did feel exceptionally tired though. When I stopped I was just shattered and my legs felt exhausted. I was so happy to stop running! Then I found a queue forming for free massages. Now seriously that is a fantastic way to finish a long run!IMG_0626 

So good but so bad. My calves, oh my calves! I also noticed that my right foot had bled a bit to the outside of my trainers.

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Top right of side of my trainer

Nothing says a tough long run than a bit of blood, eh? Turns out one of my toes’ nail pushed against its neighbour so nothing serious thankfully.

After the race I headed home and wolfed down porridge as quickly as possible. It was now midday and I hadn’t eaten a thing, though I had a good amount of water during and afterwards. I also made sure to have a coffee as well. I’m happy to run all my long runs in a fasted state as I honestly think this will help me when I race non-fasted. But who knows?

Then off I dashed to my friend’s house for the birthday party of their one year old son, Jacob. A whole year has passed, this is crazy! My friend, Louise, is an exceptionally good baker so I was fully expecting some good cake. And cake there was!

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I stress that the every (edible) thing you see on that table is home-made. EVERYTHING. Coffee and walnut cake, lemon drizzle, flapjacks, banana muffins, chocolate cupcakes, a chocolate cake on the far left I didn’t manage to get in the photo and the birthday cake itself. There were mini meringues and cream made by her mum as well (by popular demand because, seriously, they’re amazing). And it was dinosaur themed. I was in heaven.

IMG_0629I had a slice of chocolate cake, a meringue and a cupcake. Then followed that by a banana muffin. And later birthday cake. Top notch baking. I was sat in the sun, a plate full of cake, kids running all over the place and was so chilled. I also made sure I’d brought my 750ml bottle of water with my nuun tablet in. What a dork I looked like with my massive bottle but seriously I wanted to avoid the post-long run headache at all costs. Oh and looking cool in a party hat – yep.

IMG_0636 Awkward birthday party hat selfie

The birthday cake itself was incredible. Louise had made it all, even the dinosaur on top. How cool!

IMG_0634 There was a little debate though as to why there were four candles on it…apparently Lou decided that one looked a bit lonely. It’s a good job Jacob can’t count ;-)

IMG_0638 Blurry birthday cake

Simply divine!

At one point I was chatting to a two-time Irornman (Louise’s brother) and I mentioned I was training for marathon in June. His response: “Oh just a marathon?” That stumped me! Yes just a marathon – none of that swimming and cycling malarkey but still tough in its own right! He did backtrack a little when he realised what he’d said but the damage was already done ;-)

Now as you might know I’m not a particularly child-friendly person (I’m clueless and blind with terror around them) but I knew what I was in for. Louise’s family is quite big so there just seemed to be babies, toddlers and teenagers everywhere! But it was a lovely afternoon despite the small children ;-) Cake helped dull the pain somewhat ;-) ;-)

I headed home to finish the chores that needed doing, walk Alfie and then relax. I was really hungry again (apparently cake isn’t the most filling of foods…) so decided to have dinner. Sadly a headache decided to make an appearance – damn I thought I’d escaped! I’m pretty sure this is down to nutrition as I hydrated really well the day before, during and afterwards. Clearly a lunch of sugary cakes it’s not conducive to a good recovery….hmm who’d have thought? I regret nothing though. In the end I went to bed at 8.30pm as I was so tired and the headache just wouldn’t go. Hey hum! But another 18 miler in the bag!

Children’s birthday parties – hell on earth or a delightful way to spend some time? I enjoyed the party, even with the sheer number of small people! ;-)

Do you have any top tips for post-run nutrition?

What would you have had from the Cake Table?

A parkrun “almost” and a doggie day trip

The mood of a Monday morning couldn’t be more perfectly demonstrated than the current weather of where I am in the South of England: rain and wind. Well, at least the weekend was nice and sunny. It’s not like I could enjoy the weather anyway as I’m at work!

Saturday morning I went to parkrun as normal.

IMG_0606 Setting up in the morning

It was lovely and sunny! I tried my best, though my legs were a little heavy from intervals on Thursday and the gym on Friday. I ran quite consistent miles (just under 7min/miles) and as I crossed the line I saw my watch said 20:58. I was really hoping I’d finally broken 21 minutes for that course, but the later results confirmed that I got exactly 21:00. Ahh damn!

Then I rushed back to get a bit of housework done before meeting my lovely friend, Bhuvana, for a walk and lunch in Winchester.

IMG_0619 Winchester Cathedral

We decided to bring our dogs along for the outing too as we weren’t planning on going shopping but rather just chatting and walking. She has an adorable bichon frise called Rain.

IMG_0608 The weather was lovely, so sunny and bright. As we walked along the river I let Alfie off his lead. He seemed to be looking longingly at the water but after a few stern words avoided it…until I wasn’t looking and he launched straight in! He clearly regretted it immediately as he swum to the edge and scampered out quickly. His legs looked so skinny with his fur flat against them, bless him.

For lunch we stopped in the same place we did the last time we went to Winchester, Cafe Monde.

IMG_0611We sat outside because of the dogs and I ordered the same as last time, Caesar Salad, as it was so tasty. I think it was a little smaller this time though with less toppings. I was a little disappointed.

IMG_0612 We also made sure we had some treats for the dogs so they would settle down. It was a lovely lunch, despite the portion size.

Then we looked around some of the castle ruins.IMG_0618

We even attempted a dog selfie, which believe me was no easy feat!!

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We had a hunt around for some cake as well – obviously! We stopped into a cafe called Ginger Two. We tagged-teamed with the dogs so we could both pop in a buy some cake to take-away. My Freezer Cake Stock was running low so I wanted to top it up…

IMG_0617The choice was amazing. And they all looked so good! I restrained myself (somewhat) by buying just two slices: a raspberry Victoria sponge on a brownie base (yes there is such a thing apparently!) and a slice of red velvet. Heaven! I’m sure I’ll be back here for a roper afternoon tea soon as the scones were like the size of my head!! It was a very pleasant and peaceful cafe so it definitely has my seal of approval.

In our quest for cake I also found myself a slice of lemon and blueberry in another tea room (I can’t remember the name though) just because…well…I have no rationale! I just love cake – don’t judge me! It was a lovely day out walking and chatting, and Alfie and Rain both got on very well. It was nice to know Alfie was with me rather than waiting at home, not enjoying the sunshine. It also meant we could just get home and chill rather than me then having to go out and walk him as soon as I got back.

I ate a quite random dinner of butter beans, pumpkin puree with cream cheese and loads of random veg (courgette, kale, etc.).

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Hmm doesn’t look that appealing but it was delicious!

If you like pumpkin and you’ve never mixed pumpkin puree with cream cheese, it is a SO good. Gives a really thick creamy sauce. I pretty much was limited on what I had in my fridge, hence the randomness!

The next morning was my planned 18 miles. After having such a good run last weekend and enjoying running with the guys at Southampton half I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the idea of running 18 miles on my own. I can do it but it’s just mentally a harder slog (which I know is good training in itself I suppose).

Many of my club mates were running the Netley 10k race on the Sunday, so earlier in the week I decided to sign up to it and combine it with my own long run. I planned to drive to the race area (it’s the same place as parkrun so very close by), park and then run 12 miles out and back. Then I’d quickly change into my HERC running vest, grab my bag and water and run to the start area where my friend, Karen, would already have kindly picked up my bib (as you had to pick them up on the day).

I wasn’t going to race Netley but I hoped to pick up a bit of speed. I’ll do a recap on the race in another post as this one is getting lengthy and it was a fun (albeit hard) race.

In the end I did 12.5 miles on my own and it went well. Mentally I broke it up into two 6 mile chunks, knowing when I hit the second 6 miles I was on my way back.

image As you can see there was one gradual incline that went on for a fair way which I obviously had to do twice. My pace is all over the place despite trying to remain consistent and not go too fast.

(Average 7.47min/miles)

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Not sure how a 7.20min/mile snuck in there but I’m pretty sure a downhill was involved!

I did panic a little thinking I wouldn’t I get back in time or I’d be too early. I had planned to arrive 15 minutes before the race began as it was quite a relaxed and small race. I arrived about 10 past but was able to pop to the loo and chat to the guys at my running club.

Netley 10k (1)Thanks Gary Trendell for the photo! 

My legs did start to get a little stiff and I was worried they were settling down thinking the running was over now. I drank lots of fluids beforehand as well which was good because it was quite a warm day. I didn’t feel nervous, like I’d normally do before a 10k, as I wasn’t racing. But I did feel tired and mentally had to perk myself up. Then we started heading over…

Sorry another ‘cliff hanger’!

What’s your preference: running with friends or running on your own with music/podcast/nothing? I love running with other people but you’re less in control of pace and distance which I find tough sometimes.

Do you combine races and training?

What’s your favourite breed of dog?

Running and music

Ahh running and music, a slightly contentious issue for some. Some people look at runners who wear headphones as ‘fake runners’ or being too self-absorbed, especially in races. I fully disagree.

I love listening to music and podcasts when I run. I listen to MarathonTalk and love Tony’s Trials but I always cringe when he calls runners “headphone dicks” for listening to music in races. I also hate it when races ban headphones (but I do understand the safety element if the road’s aren’t closed). I don’t think you’re any less of a runner if you listen to something when you run – even in a race. For me it heightens my experience and can take my mind off the pain of a hard run or the boredom of a long run.

A while ago I was invited to an event held by Currys discussing the impact music has on running. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the event but they did kindly send me some information that was discussed so I could still share it.

_w8a8161_579x386 Source

The main speaker was Dr Costas Karageorghis, a reader in sport psychology with an international reputation for his research into the psychological, psychophysical and ergogenic effects of music (ooh err!). His music research has been featured in newspapers around the world; most recently in the Times, Independent, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Sydney Morning Herald.

Dr Karageorghis made some excellent points:

  • “Sometimes during a run, your body will be screaming ‘STOP’ but some well-chosen tunes can help you to temporarily ignore that stop sign.”
  • “When synching your stride rate to the beat of the music, you can increase the intensity of your run by raising the music tempo by one or two BPMs beyond your ‘comfort zone’. This will increase your stride rate with the notable additional benefit that the difference in effort will be almost imperceptible.”
  • “A motivational running playlist can help to ‘colour’ the symptoms of running-related fatigue, like burning lungs and a beating heart, so that such symptoms are interpreted in a more positive manner. This is why your choice of music may have a strong bearing on how long you adhere to a running programme.”

I highly agree with these points. I use a fast-paced playlist during parkrun when I want to run fast to keep me motivated and pushing hard.

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I find it quite hard to push myself as hard without the use of a good soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong I can do it but certainly when I’m running intervals on my own my motivation and speed are far lower.

Yes music can take you away from the atmosphere of a race or you can lose touch of what’s happening around you, but I think on the whole music is a positive thing. According to research, music can elevate mood by some “10-15%, even at high running intensities and to me that is a huge benefit.

My marathon strategy has, and will be, that I have nothing for the first 10 miles to absorb the atmosphere and enjoy the race, then listen to a podcast for the next 10 miles to stop the tedium and keep my mind from thinking about how far I have left, and then for the last 10k put the music on and get those legs going. So far it’s worked perfectly.

I don’t mind being part of the “running with music” camp at all and I see it as running snobbery for those who look down on us. I think whatever makes things (legally!) easier, you should embrace.

THIS is an interesting article from RunnersWorld with some cool facts and THIS is a good link to some research.

**Full disclosure: Post in association with Curry’s and Joe Blogs**

Yoga, food and a buff review

The day after the Hackney Half Marathon my legs felt surprisingly OK. I had a strong sense of tiredness and runger which followed me through the day but it was no different really than how I’ve felt any Monday morning after doing a long run on the Sunday.

This is good news! I still took Monday off as a complete rest day though. Let’s not risk anything. I gave Alfie a lovely walk in our local field in the morning before work and in the evening too.

IMG_0360 It’s lovely to see him racing around while I can just walk around the field and listen to the radio (I feel old because I now listen to BBC5 Live in the morning – I like keeping up to date with the news and opinions). There’re always the regular dog walkers which is nice as well.

That evening I had a really tasty Hello Fresh meal of quinoa, lentils, feta and chorizo. It did take a while to make (about 30 mins) and created a lot of washing up but the results were fantastic.

Quinoa, feta and chorizo

Basically it involved cooking the quinoa separately in vegetable stock while frying onions, chorizo and diced peppers and tomatoes. Add pre-cooked lentils (from a tin) and the quinoa with chopped coriander and crumbled feta. Done! It’s the prep that’s the laborious part really.

The next morning I got up at 5am for my usual strength training at the gym. All, except the press-ups, I use weights for these moves:

I go twice a week now and it’s far more manageable (my second session is more plyometric-based – box jumps, lunge jumps, etc.). I still think it’s important I keep maintaining my strength. To be honest I find it so hard to motivate myself to go (it’s not running is it!) but the fear of injury gets me up in the morning. And strength I’ve found is like most things, you have to consistently do otherwise you’ll lose it.

Tuesday evening I went for an easy run with the running club. I haven’t been to training in ages and it felt good to be back. Though I’m still cautious about it as I want to stick to my (vague) training plan. Otherwise I know I’d happily run silly miles at a silly pace if I went every week and I need to be sensible. After the marathon I’ll be back regularly!

I ran with Mike and Mark and a few others who didn’t want to do the planned hill session that the other guys were doing (hills were not going to happen for me!) and it was lovely. We chatted the whole time and just took things slow – though probably not as slow as we should have but my HR was low and the effort was easy so I was happy. In the end we got 5.5 miles in and I barely felt out of breath.

My running club have started running-focused yoga and Pilates sessions so a few weeks ago I booked myself in for a yoga session after the run as I thought after Hackney it would be ideal. I quickly changed into leggings and got my mat and was good to go. I’ve done yoga before so it was very familiar to me and I felt (for once!) one of the most experience yogis in the room as the majority were all beginners.

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In my other yoga classes I’ve been to I was always one of the newbies so this was a nice change for the books! It felt blissful after running as well.

But it did mean that it was past 9pm when I got home and I hadn’t had dinner yet – no chance of that before running when I get home at 6pm, have to walk Alfie and be ready to run at 6.45pm. I inhaled my dinner and wasn’t in bed until 11pm. This is a seriously late night for me considering I’m normally asleep by 10pm!! Luckily dinner was already cooked as I had made two portions of the quinoa meal the day before. It was just a case of reheating and shovelling in.

I must say that as good as I felt after yoga and my run on Tuesday night, I woke up Wednesday with really aching glutes and hamstrings. I’m pretty certain this is from my gym session and not the run! But luckily I’d planned another rest day and some foam rolling in the evening. Then intervals in the morning (which were tough I must say!).

On to a little review…I was kindly sent two buffs from the kind people at Kitshack.com. One buff for me and one buff for Alfie, my dog. Alfie felt very chuffed to be included in a review for once ;-)

High UV Protection BUFF® (find HERE)

KitShack UV BuffMy buff was from the High UV Protection range that they have. It’s interesting because my first thoughts about wearing buffs are that they are just for winter and to keep you warm. But these buffs are more to protect you from the sun, which is fantastic.

It’s made with a wicking fabric which helps suck the moisture away from your skin quickly. It can be worn as a neckerchief, headband, wristband, mask, hair-band, balaclava, scarf, scrunchie, saharaine, pirate cap, beanie or bandana…personally I like the sound of the pirate cap ;-) It’s also treated with Polygiene so will remain fresh as the silver ions prevent the build up of bacteria in the fabric. There are also no seams or hems to irritate your skin. And it has the UV protection obviously.

KitShack Buff

Thoughts? I love the colour! They have a whole range of different patterns and colours which is great if you like matching things, like me. Initially I was confused what to do with it and how to wear it but it was fun to experiment. The video HERE’s is definitely worth a watch as honestly I wouldn’t have had a clue otherwise and there are so many different ways to wear it – it’s very multi-functional. For example…

  • Cycling – use over your mouth if it’s cold or there’s lots of pollution, or under your helmet.
  • Running – use it like a scarf it’s cold or as a sweat band.
  • Long walks – protects my scalp from burning.

It’s very soft and comfy to wear and I quite like wearing it as a headband to keep my hair out of my eyes. I’d probably wear it more often in the winter for running and more as a headband when walking or going to the gym.

IMG_0601Terrible photo but it was the best angle I could do I’m afraid! 

Don’t wear it like this though unless you’re hiding from someone:

IMG_0602 Having fun while trying the different ways to wear it

Dog BUFF® (find HERE)

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I’m sorry but this just tickled me that Alfie could wear one of these too – how cute. They have a range of coloured patterns and are available in two sizes: standard (which fits most medium to larger breeds) and small (for terriers and smaller dogs like Alfie).

Dog buffIt has a handy Scotchlight reflective strip which offers retro-reflective visibility from a distance of 150 metres and is made from the same stretchy material as the, er, human buffs.

Dog Buff As happy as Alfie was to be part of this review, he’s not very good at staying still for a photo!!

Thoughts? Alfie thought he looked cool in it ;-) I quite like that it has the reflective bit so in dark evenings or mornings he’d be easier to spot – and to be honest the colour makes him easier to spot as well when he’s off his lead. I’m not sure how comfortable he’d be with it over his head though like in the picture below.

Dog Buff (2)

All in all I am a fan of the buffs! They look cool, they’re multi-functional and Alfie and me can match ;-)

Have you ever worn a buff to run/walk/cycle in?

Do you do yoga or Pilates?

How much effort do you spend on your evening meal? 

**Full Disclosure: I was sent the buffs for free to review. All opinions are Alfie’s and my own.**