NURVV Run Insoles review

A month or so ago I was sent a pair of NURVV Run Insoles to try out and let me tell you, I was excited.

If you’re anything like me as a runner you’ll love the data you can get from a run – whether that’s recorded by your fitness tracker or app, you can dissect the minute details of your run afterwards. From the elevation, your pace and heart rate, so much data can be recorded nowadays. I mean, did you even run if it’s not on Strava, eh? (Let’s not talk about Garmin being down a few weeks ago tho…).

The NURVV Insoles give you a whole lot more data to look at for each run. Basically you put the insoles into your trainers with tracking devices that are securely fitted to the side of the trainers and then it records SO MUCH DATA about your run. Things like foot strike, stride length, pronation, cadence…it’s all there to see, even as the run progresses.

For example, I can see at the start of the run, when I’m just warming up, my stride length is shorter than towards the end when I’ve sped up a bit more and got into things. The same for my cadence. But likewise, on a long run my form starts to get a bit squiffy as I get more tired.

So to go into a bit more detail… can I feel it on my trainers during a run? No, I cant. Maybe if you’re super sensitive or if you’re really careful about the weight of your shoes. But to be honest, you’re more likely to use these on training runs rather than key races (though I’d love to see my data of a marathon, I’d find that fascinating).

It’s really easy to use – once you get the hang of it. The set-up itself is very easy and once the insoles are in your shoes (which you can’t feel, they’re very thin), you just turn the trackers on and then use the app to start finding satellites for their GPS and then you’re ready to go.

The insoles themselves

It can be a little bit of a faff to wait for the trackers to find GPS but no longer than a Garmin so that doesn’t bother me. Though it IS something else to remember for a run and potentially over-complicate things. I guess that’s the price you pay for wanting more data on a run. In my eyes, it’s totally worth it.

You see a little light flashing on the trackers once you’ve started the run on the app and then you’re off. Handily you can leave your phone at home as well and the trackers will save the data and then upload later (like the Garmin). One thing I will say is that a couple of times I haven’t pressed the start button properly and have gone for my run and got home to realise it hadn’t recorded anything, which is a bit annoying. It’s not overly clear when it’s on, asides from the small flashing light and in sunlight it’s hard to see.

Footstrike data

Aside from that though, I really love geeking out with the data after a run (when I have correctly turned it on!). It’s made me become more aware of my form as I run. For example, I try not to over stride but keep my feet landing beneath my body.

It also lets you know how much you over or under pronate. From most of my runs it appears I over pronate a fair amount on my left side. I vaguely knew this already but it’s really interesting that it’s mainly my left foot – whereas I assumed both were as bad. It also gives you helpful advice on how to improve this. Things like increasing foot strength and improving your arch strength and single leg balance.

I love the NURVV app as it gives you so much information per run (and throughout the run) and it also collates all your runs together to give you overall scores and an overall health rating across the different metrics. I can see where I need to improve on and what I need to keep in my mind as I run. I’m a big believe in running being a skill and to run better doesn’t just mean to run more. There are things you need to do outside of running to keep you strong and injury-free. Things like strength training (and single leg strength – so you can work on individual weaknesses), running drills and mobility.

What’s also good is that the NURVV team are continually improving. Since I’ve started using them there have been some decent updates, such as syncing with Strava and the data being broken down as the run progresses, and upcoming updates include auto-pause (currently you press a button on the tracker to pause), heart rate integration, elevation and manual run entry. Very exciting!

So needless to say, I’m a big fan. I’ll continue to use the trackers and hopefully improve my form and avoid injuries… it’s definitely good motivation to keep up my strength training and mobility work!

Do you like to look at your running data after a run?

Do you do anything outside of running to improve your form?

Do you over/under pronate?

Full Disclaimer: I was sent the NURVV Run Insoles for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.

Things I’m loving lately (January)

I have such a good recap of this weekend that I can’t wait to rave about (which I need to write!), but for now I’ve had a few bits and pieces that I’ve been enjoying recently so I thought I’d share.

I was sent some cans of the new Radnor Infusions Zero Calorie Sparkling Soft Drink. It’s sparkling Welsh spring water from the Radnor Hills in Radnorshire with a gentle flavour of lemon and mint for one of them and raspberry and black cherry for the other. The water is infused with natural flavours and fruit extracts – meaning no sugar, preservative and sweetener free, and zero calories.

I loved the sound of the drinks before I’d even tried them – I’m a big fan of Wales (having gone to university there and also having relatives there) and this just sounded delightful. It’s not like a diet soft drink though – if you’re expecting Fanta levels of flavours this is not it. Instead it’s quite subtle and delightfully refreshing.

I think I preferred the lime one a bit more and could even imagine adding a little bit of gin in there for a cheeky jazzy G&T. It’s a shame it’s not summer because these are fantastic BBQ drinks – especially for those who don’t want to drink.

I was also sent some leggings to test out from Constantly Varied Gear. Now obviously I am a huge leggings fan and have had my fair share so I was keen to try them out.

The first pair are a kind of cosmic design which I think is so funky. Having worn so many leggings in my time I’m quite a harsh judge. The fit is alright but it definitely isn’t as good as Lululemon or Nike.

They’re a bit more restrictive. Also when testing doing squats in them, they didn’t pass the “no see-through” test. It’s not terrible but especially on the cosmic design the design gets stretched and the material becomes quite thin.

The green leggings were cool looking but not my favourite kind of design.

It was tricky to know where the mesh detail was supposed to go – on your knees? On your shin?

And the waist band and the bottom bits were tight without my give. You’d need to get your sizing spot on to feel optimum comfort.

So all in all, not bad leggings but don’t expect Lululemon or near that quality. They’re nice for a jazzy design.

I was also sent a running belt to test out.

This is so handy because I’ve somehow managed to mislay the two running belts I had previously. I was sent the Premium Running Waist Belt from runnershighstore.com (black, extra small) and it is fantastic.

It fits perfectly above my hips and sticks in place. It fits my iPhone 7 in it and doesn’t bounce.

I barely know I’m wearing it. It comes in different colours like bright green, yellow, pink, blue etc. and it’s very cheap compared to other brands.

And a bit of non-related running stuff… I ADORE my giant Harry Potter mug. I drink a hot chocolate every night (I know, I’m so old before my time).

I hate small drinks – if I have a tea or coffee, it’s in a big mug. And my hot chocolate is no exception! This mug Kyle got me for Christmas after a dropped my other big mug (sad face) is PERFECT 🙂

And that’s all for now folks!

Do you have certain criteria that gymwear needs to be? For me it’s got to be comfortable and look nice – I mean, fairly simple I guess!

What’s your favourite hot drink?

What’s your favourite soft drink?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent a number of these products for free to test out for my blog and social media. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Bournemouth Half Marathon

I’ve done the Bournemouth Marathon twice before, but never the Bournemouth Half Marathon. And it seemed like a great race to do the week before the Chicago Marathon. A last long run. A catered long run with a medal!

Considering how my training hadn’t been exactly how I would have liked it, a sharp build-up and not as many long runs as I wanted, I decided to do three miles before we headed off the half in the morning. Sadly this meant a very early alarm as the race was to begin at 8am and it would take us an hour to drive there. Ooof.

Happily (?) I woke up before my 5.40am alarm at 5.30am and decided to just get up and give myself a bit more of a buffer. It was warm outside (15 degrees) but dark so I grabbed my hand torch. The torch (from Nathan Sports) is fantastic. It has a front and back light, a rape alarm and attaches to your hand so you actually don’t have to hold it.

The run went well. As it was so quiet I ran mostly on the road (it’s a very quiet route in general) and saw several cats and a fox, who just stood and watched me run past. It was all very peaceful.

Then I got back, quickly swapped into some new running gear and my parents, Kyle and I headed off to Bournemouth. Kyle’s brother, Zack, was also going to be running the half as his first ever half marathon (and first actual race I believe) and him and his family were already down there staying in a hotel And happily my friend Emma was running as well. So lots going on and lots of friendly faces!

My parents dropped Kyle and I off and we headed to the portaloos where we met Zack, his mum, his sister, Lucy, and his other brother, Adam. The queues for the loos were huge and seemingly not moving. With only about 15 minutes before the start I was getting nervous. Eventually I gave up and found a well concealed bush nearby. Whew!

Then we headed to the start. We heard over the speakers though that the race had been delayed until 8.15am (we later found out due to the grim police investigation of a dead body).

We spotted Emma and wished each other well which was nice. Then it was off to our respective waves and then the start.

Kyle was planning on seeing what he could do, so I let him run off while I kept to my own more gentle speed. I remembered the course well from the other Bournemouth races I’ve done (the half follows a lot of the similar marathon route, but of course less of it). I had music going and just zoned out.

The first three or so miles went by nicely and I saw Kyle on the switch-back going the other way. I also saw Zack looking relaxed just behind me. He was aiming for a sub-2 hour half, but with a bit of sketchy training and a problematic toenail it was going to be a push.

As we got to around six miles I started to feel like things were harder than I wanted. My pace felt less relaxed and I suddenly felt overwhelmingly tired. As soon as I recognised that feeling I couldn’t get it out of my head. Like a niggle in my brain, all I kept thinking off was “I’m so tired. This is so hard”.

The temperature was increasing but not crazily so. It was a lovely clear day and the crowds were out in force. Annoyingly there was a head wind directly against us as we headed down the promenade. I felt this chip away at my good vibes and the demons set up camp in my head. What if Chicago felt like this? I felt a deep dread in my stomach.

To be honest, I ran this race badly. I wasn’t racing it but my strategy was appalling. It was meant to be an easy run and I (wrongly) associated pace with effort. My watch was saying 8-8.20 and I found it bizarre that this felt hard, but I didn’t slow down. I realise I should have just backed off and actually reduced my pace to the real easy pace for that day.

Easiness can change – the weather, the course, how you feel, how you’ve slept etc. etc. can massively impact what pace is easy for you. But like a newbie I ignored it and pushed through. I knew my parents, and Kyle’s family, would be mile eight and I got a horrible déjà vu from when I ran the marathon the first time and ignored my dad at this point saying I should stop because I felt a lot of pain in my knee. I wasn’t in pain, I wasn’t suffering any niggles, but I was feeling so drained. Should I stop?

As I got to my dad I did stop. He looked very worried – I don’t normally do this during a race. I said how I felt and how hard I was finding it. He suggested maybe I drop out? Or walk a bit? But I was resolved to finish. I had a little cry, a big hug and then headed off. This hugely helped. I felt like I’d had an emotional pick-me-up gel. A hug in a gel if you like.

Then I was hit with the hill that I was very familiar with during the marathon. Thankfully not the 18 miler hill which is horrific, but a shorter and less sharp hill, but tough nonetheless. I felt a new lease of life and pushed on up, smiling as much as I could remembering reading an article that smiling triggered happy feelings in your body. What a loon I must have looked like.

Then it was a lovely downhill which I fully embraced and a long slog to the Boscombe Pier. The sand underfoot that had blown over from the beach made for an annoying running path… the wind dead against us… the sun in my eyes… it all felt so very hard. But I spotted Kyle’s dad and he gave me a big cheer as I headed onto the pier, then back down the other way to the Bournemouth Pier. Now the wind behind us and I felt strong and picked it up a gear. I was almost done!

I finally managed to overtake people (having spent most of the race being overtaken) and whizzed along the pier and to the finish. Done!

I was so glad to stop. I felt exhausted. 1:45:58.

I collected my medal and saw Kyle. He’d finished in 1 hour 40 mins and 12 seconds, sadly about 20 seconds off his PB. He had had a hard run too. But still, a fantastic time. Zack finished in just over 2 hours 1 minute and 18 seconds – oh so close!! He was happy though, as well he should for his first half marathon.

I also saw Emma. She’d had a tough race too but, like me (or like I’d planned anyway) had used it as a last long run before Chicago.

For my race, in retrospect I should definitely have slowed down. My ego got in the way and I paid for it by having a miserable run. I was pleased to have gotten 16 miles for the day though – my last long run before Chicago. And I will definitely relax the pace if it starts to feel like that. Lesson well and truly learnt! Chicago is about getting to the finish uninjured without issue. No heroics or pushing through anything crazy.

We had a few photos, celebrated finishing and then headed home. Whew! I was tired, hungry and mentally drained.

Next stop now, Chicago.

Have you ever run a mentally tiring race?

Have you ever done the Bournemouth Half or Marathon?

Legging loving – SKINS DNAmic Ultimate Compression review

Leggings… oh leggings, how I do love you.

I’d say 80% of the time at the gym I’m wearing leggings. I feel less “exposed”. The harsh bright lights of the gym and the fact that you’re not really flying past people, but rather hanging out with them in the same space. And doing squats in shorts isn’t my favourite thing it must be said. So leggings at the gym = BIG tick.

But for running I do prefer to be a bit more “free”. In general my legs don’t get that cold. It’s more my upper body that feels the chills. However, I was recently sent some SKINS leggings to test out from their new DNAmic Ultimate Compression range. Though I was keen to just keep them for the gym, the Biblical rain and wind the other night pushed me to be a bit of a wuss and pop the leggings on.It was dark, miserable, cold and wet and I frankly didn’t want to go outside. But the idea of being a bit more covered up made the experience feel a bit more appealing. So on they went. Yes I realise actual skin is waterproof but these aren’t just regular leggings, they’re compression leggings. As a big fan of compression socks I was quite keen to give them a try.Compression gear enhances your natural blood flow, which can increase the oxygen supply to your muscles and remove lactic acid quicker. The compression is design in a way that it’s strategically placed on the areas where you’d need it the most, helping to keep you going and reduce injuries. For every single marathon I’ve run (and all my long runs) I always wear compression socks. I find they give my calves a bit of extra support and keep cramp at bay.The material of the leggings, as you can imagine, is quite tight but not overly so. I mean, let’s be honest, over the Christmas period I don’t think anyone is feeling their leanest but once you’ve got them on you don’t feel overly restricted (a big concern I had, even after all the Christmas chocolate I’ve been scoffing ;-)).

The design is high-waisted (apparently helping with core-support) – which I love. Anything high-waisted I’m totally on board with. And there’s a back pocket (always handy) and reflective details to keep you seen during those dark runs.

I personally really like these leggings. Though I’ll probably use them more for the gym and super cold runs, they do stick to you like a second skin but they’re not restrictive. I felt very much “at one” with the leggings, not fighting them – even though they had a compression feel to them. And happily they’re squat proof! No nasty see-through issues.They’re launching officially in February 2019, but have pre-launched just last week (18th December), replacing their existing A400 range.

Do you wear leggings or shorts for running?

Is that the same for going to the gym?

Do you wear compression gear?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the leggings for free in return for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Environmentally sustainable sportswear – SueMe review

I think we all know we need to be more environmentally conscious and eco-friendly.

Unless you’ve been living under a box, you’ll be well aware that plastic is our nemesis and we should all be trying to reduce how much we use. Though it’s ridiculously difficult as it’s permeated our lives so deeply. You cannot escape it. It wraps our food, our cosmetics, packaging, it’s in anything we buy really. It’s almost impossible to avoid it.

What else I’ve noticed is the trend of “fast fashion”. Clothes that are almost disposable. You wear them for a short period of time – because they’re on trend – and then you’re done with them as the next trend emerges. And because the clothes are so cheap, it’s easy to do. Personally I don’t follow the majority of trends. I’m not that into fashion and I like buying clothes that will last me and I won’t look stupid wearing next year.

I’m the first to admit don’t do enough to be environmentally sustainable but I do try and make a conscious effort in small ways throughout my day. Like using my reusable coffee mug, my metal straw, buying less bottles of fizzy drinks, recycling, re-using, composting… And not buying stupid stuff that won’t last.

This is why I was keen to get involved with SueMe. The company manufactures responsibly sourced sportswear while still being comfortable and performance-related. I was able to try two pairs of their underwear and a t-shirt. Firstly, I thought it was very cool that they send SEEDS (as in, for plants) with their items. I love this!Their underwear is made from 95% beech tree pulp and is manufactured to be CO2 neutral. Not only this but the fibres require less amount of land and a lower water consumption. The t-shirts are 70%  bamboo viscose as well as 30% organic cotton.The underwear is SO comfortable. They’re boy short style – so female boxers, if that’s the best terminology! And they fit so nicely and are super flattering. The material is very soft. You could wear these to run a marathon in and not suffer from the dreaded chafe, 100%. They are wickable, breathable and naturally antimicrobial, which is ideal for sports. Interesting the pants (knickers? Shorts?) were designed by the same guy who made Iain Thorpes’ swimsuit (the swimsuit he wore to win the Gold medal). So you know they’re decent!I love the t-shirt as well. They have some very cool designs (a lot of cycling themes) but I just loved the thunder storm one.

The t-shirts are made in line with Global Organic Textile Standard and Global Recycle Standard and as such are manufactured in a way to meet certain standards (e.g. the water is recycled in a closed-loop system). Obviously all of this would be kind of wasted if the clothes didn’t feel or look good – my verdict? I really like them. The t-shirt is nice and casual and perfect with jeans.These days I think we just need to take a bit more time and conscious thought to decide where we’re buying things from, whether we actually need them and what impact we’re having on the environment. I don’t think we can just float through life willy nilly and not be responsible for our actions anymore. And supporting more companies like SueMe is a good step in the right direction I think!

Do you follow fashion trends?

What do you do to be more environmentally conscious?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent these items from SueMe for free in exchange for a review post. All opinions are my own honest ones.**