I’m personally a big fan of compression wear and use it a lot in my training. However, it can be pretty pricey – so, is it worth it?

The idea behind compression wear is that compressing the muscles increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles, aiding performance and also recovery, shortening the time needed for warm-up and cool down. I have definitely noticed improvements in my performance and recovery when I wear compression leggings, although more on the recovery side than in performance I think.

Another personal bonus of wearing compression gear is that it is so tight it is (a) insanely flattering and (b) makes you feel like a ninja. I always feel so professional when I go out running in compression tights! Which in turn makes me feel more motivated. I know it sounds silly but I think that the way you feel when you’re wearing something definitely has an impact on your whole approach to training.

I’ve been testing out a couple of pairs for a while now – a pair of 2XU Elite MCS tights* and A200 long tights* from Skins (now on sale!) – and have been pretty impressed with both.

Skins A200

These are full length compression tights from Skins. I wear a size 10 and these are a small, and I’d say they were a good tight fit without being too tight or uncomfortable – definitely tight enough to get compression benefits! I find them really flattering and comfortable, although I do get a wee bit of ankle pudge after a while…(I am so beautiful). In an ideal world I’d go for a plain pair as I’m not too keen on the neon pink, but the pink is quite cute and subtle.

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I appreciate that all my photos look like they’ve been in taken in a warehouse. It’s because they have.

I’ve worn these out running and out to the gym and they’ve been great in both situations. I really like the fact that they have a slightly higher waistband – low rise and tight is not a flattering or comfortable combination! Despite being skin tight they’re really stretchy and you still have a full range of movement.

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They have a small pocket for keys/money/oyster on the inside of the waistband – pockets are good, but a larger back pocket would be better for running. That’s the only real improvement I can think of though – otherwise they’re great!

2XU Elite MCS 

The more expensive of the two, MCS stands for Muscle Containment Stamping – it’s basically special compression technology that is mapped to your muscles. This means that the compression is targeted to your muscles, increasing the compression effects and benefits. The tights have these targeted compression panels on the quads and on the calf – definitely the key areas that get hit when you’re running, so they’re perfect for runners!

This is the mapping on the inside of the leggings

I have these in a medium and I’d say they were a good fit for me, but I do have relatively thick legs. The ankle pudge is definitely less pronounced in these than in the A200s though, which is a bonus. However, they’re quite low rise and so can cause a wee bit of muffin top. I generally have to wear a loose fitting top and I can’t hang out in them for more than a few hours because they can quite uncomfortable. This is annoying, because I really notice the difference in my recovery (huge reduction in muscle soreness) in these, and I wish I could live in them after tough sessions!

Like the A200s, the 2XU tights have a small pocket on the inside waistband which will fit keys or card or cash, but not big enough for a phone. Again, a larger back pocket would be a huge improvement, but I’m not sure how feasible it is given the seam free super slick ninja design.

Gold is always a winner

On balance, I think the 2XU nudges it for me, because I personally feel greater benefits from the mapped MCS technology. They’re pretty expensive, but worth the investment if you’re regularly doing hard sessions and need to recover quickly. However, I personally haven’t seen a huge improvement in my performance in either pair, so if you’re looking for performance benefits I’d probably save your pennies.

What do you think of compression gear? Worth the money, or all hype?

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I’m sure you haven’t managed to escape the hype about the latest shoe release from adidas, the Pure Boost X. This is the first shoe designed for women, by women. The thinking here is that, to date, all women’s running shoes have just been smaller versions of the men’s shoes, without any specific thought going in to any particular needs of women. Thus, the Pure Boost X was born. 

Now, my initial reaction to this launch was, shall we say, cynical. With the recent(ish) upsurge in the popularity of women’s fitness, it’s easy to presume that fitness products targeted at women are jumping on a bandwagon to cash in on an trend. With the success of amazing programmes like This Girl Can and the work of the Women’s Sport Trust, it’s easy (and a bit lazy) for brands to summon up a girl power campaign and use it for commercial gain.

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This isn’t to say that (a) I don’t approve of brands using their power to promote female participation in sport (I do) and (b) I wasn’t excited about the shoes themselves. I love new kit, am a huge adidas shoe fan (especially Boost technology) and was intrigued by the concept of the floating arch (more on that later). I just can’t say I’m immediately sold on female specific versions of products that aren’t gendered (like body glide or bic pens). 

I couldn’t find many specifics in the press materials about what elements of the design were female specific, and what female specific issues they were looking to address. I know that a lot of other runners and bloggers were asking similar questions, including my own readers and followers, and I found it frustrating that I didn’t know and couldn’t give an answer. Having visited adidas HQ, including their incredible innovation lab and bespoke athlete services, I felt like it wasn’t very ‘adidas’ to come up with empty claims, so I did some research!

I contacted adidas and they put me in touch with the VP of Design for adidas running, Ben Herath. From his explanation, it appears to me that the “women specific” angle is much broader than just physiological requirements, and also relates to female preferences for design, feel and performance. On the physical side, adidas’ research has found that women’s foot shapes vary wildly, as compared to men’s but also from woman to woman. Building in inherent flexibility (primarily evidenced by the new floating arch) allows the shoe to adapt to these varied female foot shapes, providing a snug “personalised fit”.

Further, adidas worked with hundreds of female athletes to listen to their preferences for design and feel of a shoe. They found that most female athletes undertake a varied fitness routine with running at the core (familiar!) and so versatility was important. The flexibility of the Pure Boost X allows it to be worn in a variety of different situations, and to provide a comfortable fit in all of them. Design wise, adidas found in their research that women like their trainers to look streamlined and preferred trainers that made their feet look petite (so, the opposite of ‘traditional’ support trainers!), so this was the focus with the aesthetic. I personally have very wide feet, and I like the way the floating arch wraps around the arch of my foot and makes them look a bit less like cuboids. Vain maybe, but I can’t deny that I like it!   

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Also, I was very kindly invited by adidas to appear on a panel at their Oxford Circus flagship store to talk about ‘Positive Energy’ in celebration of the Pure Boost X launch. Also on this panel was Jo Knight (editor of Women’s Fitness magazine and also We Heart Living), who mentioned some research that had come across her desk that showed that the length of a woman’s plantar fascia changed according to her monthly cycle. This prompted me to do some further digging, and I did find (for example, here, here, here) that there seems to be a link between increased oestrogen levels and the risk of ligament injuries. I am in no way professing to be an expert (and would love to talk to someone who does actually know something – drop me a line if that’s you!), but if the ligaments in your foot are changing on a weekly basis, a super adaptive flexible shoe might make sense? 

Anyway – do I actually like them?

In short, yes. They look nice and they’re ridiculously comfortable, genuinely like walking on clouds. I know that some others have had issues with the high back rubbing their heels, but I haven’t had any issues like this. 

The floating arch is weird at first, but I really like the snug fit. When I say “floating arch”, the arch of the shoes is actually suspended – it isn’t attached to the sole – and instead it’s like a cradle. When you put your foot on the ground the gap closes up under your foot, which means that the fit adapts to your foot shape. Weirdly, I have actually had cramp in the sole of my foot when wearing them for a particularly intense workout (the Zanna van Dijk bootcamp at The X being one of those times!), which I’ve put down to having to get used to the floating arch. 

Floating arch

I’d personally say the Pure Boost X were more suited to workouts rather than running. adidas say they’re for running up to 10km in, and you need to work up to that, so the Pure Boost X are probably better suited to workouts involving running rather than being purely running trainers. I actually wear them a lot for walking too! So, if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s worth giving the Pure Boost X a go.

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Thanks to adidas for giving me a sample of the Pure Boost X for review. All views and dodgy research my own!

I love leggings, and I love supporting local businesses, so finding an awesome local business that makes rad leggings is a pretty dreamy discovery. Ginger Orange are a brand born and raised right here in East London and they make some pretty ace leggings.

When I first perused the Ginger Orange shop I instantly fell in love with the Dreamboat Duchess leggings. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a sucker for anything nautical, and the duchess is a dream!

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They arrived in a beautiful package and I was super excited when they arrived! In real life they’re absolutely gorgeous – the colours are amazing. The top blue is more of a purple blue, and the blue at the bottom is a vibrant sky blue.

The leggings are a good snug fit and have a lovely thick waistband (all leggings should have thick waistbands!), with a pocket tucked in to the front. They’re soft and comfortable to wear, especially for yoga or gym work. For running I prefer a tie waistband which these don’t have, so I think they’re better suited to studio work.

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The leggings are a little long in the leg for me, but I do have really short legs (26 inch inside leg!) so that isn’t really a surprise. My one major complaint is that they’re cold wash only – the recommended washing temperature is 30 degrees, which isn’t hot enough for truly sweaty gear – another reason I would say they’re more for yoga or pilates! (You could also use a sports specific wash, like Halo).

On the whole I really like these leggings. They’re clearly really high quality, beautifully made and totally different from anything else on the (increasingly crowded) sportswear market!

Ginger Orange do other gorgeous designs (especially these La Reina Mora ones!) as well as some plain leggings in the same high quality materials. If you fancy trying them for yourself (and supporting a cool local business) then you can use this discount code, exclusively for my readers! Use code ‘BPF10OFF’ for 10% off!

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As I’ve said before, I love a Nike race. They know how to do an event and, I think, they’re the best in the game at the moment. I’ve been training with my best bitches (Ride or Die crew) to take on the race and I was so excited to be joined by some of our mums and aunties too! I love that this is a race that everyone wants to run, regardless of experience, ability, size, shape and size, and so it was great to have some of the amazing women in our life sign up to join us.

Nike surprised us with our very own crew sign on the course - best thing ever! Wish I could have taken it home with me.

Nike surprised us with our very own crew sign on the course – best thing ever! Wish I could have taken it home with me.

Unfortunately, a week before race day I managed to break my toe (!) so I knew that it wasn’t going to be a speedy one for me. My best friend told me that she was running with her mum to keep her company at her first ever race, so I thought it would be nice to cruise along with them (/crash their mother/daughter experience).

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I raced in my new Nike Zoom Elite – a proper post on these awesome shoes soon!

I live about 5 minutes from Victoria Park and loved rolling out of bed an hour or so before the race and strolling round the corner. No early start for once! Everything at the race village was seamlessly organised; no queue to get in, 60 seconds queue at the bag check, no queue at the loos. Organising an event for 10,000 people (and 10,000 guests!) is no mean feat, so I was impressed by how hassle free everything was.

This year we were funnelled in to our corrals before doing the warm-up. We were positioned in the orange/yellow pen (the last one) and we were in there for 45 minutes before getting to cross the start line. I appreciate that this included the warm-up time, but it also included a whole lot of waiting around, which was a shame.

Tatum, Lisa and I. Waiting but still smiling,

Tatum, Lisa and I. Waiting but still smiling,

When we (finally) got over the start line we got off to a good start. We settled in to a solid, steady pace and Tatum and I were concerned that her mum (Lisa) may not be able to keep it up. Luckily for us, she completely proved us wrong.

Without sharing too much about Lisa, she has had quite the time of it over the past year or so (and longer, but particularly the last year) and she wanted to run the race to do something for her, to signify the end of a bad era and start moving onwards and upwards. She did absolutely brilliantly. The furthest she had run in training was 5km but you’d never have known. She didn’t stop once, and we were so proud to see her passing people who were walking. When she was struggling we reminded her that she’d had five children so she could pretty much withstand anything, and when that didn’t work we reminded her of the bloody marys she’d have at the post-race brunch we’d booked (!) which seemed to work best. Our last km was our fastest and she still had enough left in the tank for sprint finish. Crossing the line was a seriously proud (and emotional) moment.

Lisa after the race! Hugging her sister, Gail.

Lisa after the race! Hugging her sister, Gail.

This race experience sums up everything I love about Nike women’s races. It’s all about getting women of all ages, sizes and abilities together to achieve something. There’s no winners, no podium, no public results. With this race achievement is all relative, whether that’s achieving a top 5 place, a new PB or simply finishing the course without stopping, as Lisa proved. The Alex Monroe necklaces are such a gorgeous keepsake too!

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Thank you Nike for having me and my crew! I received my race place for free, but was not asked to blog about the race. All opinions and soppy stories are my own. 

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We all love PE kit. That’s a given. I have exciting news for you all, fellow lycra fans. Fat Face have launched a new activewear line, Activ88, and I have had the pleasure of testing some pieces out over the past couple of weeks! I chose the Moonshadow running leggings and the Overhead hoody to try out and was genuinely really impressed with the quality of the materials used and the fit. Here are my pros and cons of both…

Moonshadow Running Leggings 

image2Pros:

Good, heavy quality lycra
Flattering fit – high waisted
Stay up on the run
Patterned but not too lairy – easy to wear
Very comfortable

Cute floral pattern

Cute floral pattern

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Cons:

No drawstring in the waist, although they did stay up pretty well without
No pockets, despite being advertised as having pockets
A little long (but I do have little legs)

Overhead Hoody

DSCF2184Pros: 

Nice and long
Thumbholes!
Flattering fit – good stretch
Lightweight but still warm
Soft

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Cons: 

Pull tie to tighten the hood is probably superfluous (small point)
Hood up makes you look like a pea head (personal opinion)
No pockets

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Overall I thought the kit was really good quality and, although not as funky or colourful as some running gear out there, I am a big fan of the more muted colours and patterns used.

Thanks to Dayve for taking the photos for me!

Brought to you in partnership with Fat Face. All opinions are my own.

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