I would like to begin by stating that these reviews / recommendations are my true and honest opinion and I have not received any financial reimbursement or any products for these opinions. I am not sponsored or endorsed by any of the companies mentioned in this blogpost (despite sending out some sponsorship enquiries).
Compressport Triathlon Kit - http://www.compressport.uk.com/e-shop/body/pro-racing-triathlon-tshirt.html
I bought this kit on the day before Outlaw. I wanted a two piece to make visiting the toilet during my potential 17 hour day easier. I know in my heart that it was stupid to but new kit before my A race but in my head I knew it was the right thing to do in case I suffered gastrointestinal problems. Only having to remove my bottoms would make this more bearable.
As it turned out my nutrition strategy led to no GI issues but thankfully my kit choice proved fruitful in that the longer sleeved top prevented me suffering sunburn in the 34 degree heat. The compression on my quads was also a lifesaver in the latter stages of the run as it really did prevent muscle oscillation.
I also used this kit at The London Triathlon and again it didn't disappoint. Will this be in my arsenal in 2014. You bet it will.
Smoker2Ironman score - 89%
After completing my two triathlons in 2012 in my hired (but eventually purchased) Foor Classic, I knew a wetsuit upgrade was needed. I decided to #ChooseHUUB as the science behind their products appealed to my analytical brain and I knew there was potential to decrease my swim times while also being more efficient in the water. I knew the 3:5 wetsuits would help eliminate any sinky legs and enable a feeling of swimming downhill.
In my first competitive wear of a 3:5 wetsuit I only just missed out on completing my half iron swim in 30 minutes. Wow.
I followed this up with a 70 minute swim at Outlaw which pleased me as I didn't really settle in to my groove at all that morning.
In London I PB'd the swim by 4 minutes and 27 seconds over my effort in 2012 and I am convinced the swim in 2013 was longer as well.
But the highlights of my season in my HUUB Archimedes was being first out the water in a local aquathlon and then the following day being 5th out the water in an olympic distance triathlon where I completed the swim in 23:46.
Has the Archimedes helped my improve my swimming, you bet it has I am less tired and quicker to boot. It is all to do with the elevated legs that the 3:5 wetsuit gives me. This suit will be in my arsenal until I have to put it in the wetsuit grave and I am thrilled I bought this suit.
S2I score - 92%
Given all the problems I have had with trainers this year, I was pleased when the podiatrist told me my running form was a lot better in my Skechers Go Run Ride. I knew I felt more comfortable.
When I went to the expo at London I had some birthday money from my Grandma so decided to visit the Skechers stand. I knew I wanted to try on some Skechers Go Run 2 due to their stripped down lightweight construction. As soon as I tried them on I knew they were the shoe for me. They were so lightweight but so cushioned and responsive. After a quick sprint up and down Excel I was sold and knew I had found my racing flat.
I saved these trainers for my next short distance triathlon which was Brigg Sprint in September and for once I actually felt fast in these shoes. I managed to maintain a pace of 08:45 for miles 1 and 2 which is quick by my standards. I also went sock less for the first time ever. I just felt at home in these trainers.
I also wore these trainers for my recent 5k PB and wore them when I got photographed for Triathlon Plus.
I really am amazed that something so light can provide ample cushioning for me to be able to run given my 15 stone weight.
Who knows what I would feel like running in their new Go Run Ultra trainers which I think would be ideal for next years foray into iron distance?
It should be noted that these trainers are more suited to mid to forefoot strikers rather than heel strikers. They are a neutral trainer and really suit my running style. I start off forefoot striking but when I tire I switch to mid foot striking.
S2I score - 90%
A friend gave me a bottle of For Goodness Shake earlier in the year for after a long run. Wow. It tastes amazing and is satisfyingly thick. After a long run or ride it is the first thing I consume. Its 3:1 carb to protein ratio really helps replenish those carb levels. Since trying the bottles I bought a tub of powder and now mix it when needed.
It really does taste like chocolate milkshake and is really tasty. When I consume it, I also find I am less likely to crash later in the day which is something I used to do before I started taking this after long rides or runs.
Another thing I like about this product os that fact you can buy it pre made in bottles, as powder in sachets (to take to races) and powder in a big tub to mix as and when you need it.
I do find this product helps my recovery and will continue to use it in my training towards Ironman Austria.
S2I score - 86%
This is made by the same company who make For Goodness Shakes and is their electrolyte tablet. For about £7 you get 20 servings of a really tasty electrolyte drink, I find it does not have that same chemically taste of other electrolyte tablets that are available.
For those not in the know electrolyte drinks contain little or zero calories but do contain essential salts which help stave off cramps during exercise. I use electrolyte in combination with energy drinks to rehydrate my body during longer training rides or runs and use them on their own to rehydrate during swimming sessions (which is when I tend to cramp).
They really are tasty and refreshing. Some people swear by SIS, other by High5 but for me it is Nectar Hydro. Surely they've got to be worth a £7 gamble.
S2I score - 75%
As I have blogged about a lot this year I have had a lot of issues with blisters. It turns out that despite me trying 4 different brands of socks, part of my solution lied in these superb socks from Karrimor. These socks can be purchased form Sports Direct and are anatomically fitted to your feet. They come in numerous sizes and are available for men and women.
And the best bit they are available for £5.00 for two pairs. I have paid up to £15 a pair for socks to try and cure my blister problem but the solution lied in a pair of £2.50 socks from Sports Direct. Who knew?
S2I score - 91%
During a trip to Ashford to see friends, we called into MacArthur Glen and I visited the Asics shop where I purchased a convertible jacket for running. This has revolutionised my autumn and winter running in the fact it is convertible.
I set off running with the sleeves on and then when I warm up I remove the sleeves which leaves me running in a gilet. I would be unable to set off in a gilet as I would be too cold but when I am up to temperature I love being able to remove my sleeves. It saves me overheating. I also love the fact that I can take the sleeves off on the fly. It opens up so many options for running in autumn and winter.
S2I score - 80%
Following my 7 hour marathon at Outlaw where very step after 13 miles hurt my feet, I decided the problem was to do with lack of cushioning. 15 stone bouncing from one foot to the other repeatedly is bound to have an effect.
I did some research and came across Hoka One One who are company who have developed a neutral low drop running trainer with extra cushioning for people who run ultra marathons. Hang on extra cushioning. Could this be the answer to my marathon problems? I thought so.
I even made a special trip to Kendal to Pete Bland Sports to try some trainers on. They fit like a glove and I hope to use these in my iron distance marathons next year unless I fall in love with some Skechers Go Run Ultra in the meantime. The only downside to these trainers is the fact they are quite weighty when compared to trainers with normal cushioning. And yes I am aware the trainers look like something from an early Spice Girls video.
S2I score - 83%
I bought these wheels because they were a bargain. At under £500, when I bought them they were a steal. The 60mm section is amazingly aerodynamic and they are really lightweight. Have they contributed to my 6mph increase in average bike speed. You bet they have as they slice through the air.
Was weight a consideration when buying the wheels. Not really. I'm 15 stone. If I wanted something extremely lightweight, it would be cheaper to lose weight but their aerodynamic properties appealed to my scientific brain. they spin up really quickly and seem to hold speed more than my standard wheels. I save these predominantly for racing and am relived by the 11-28 cassette I had fitted to them as it helps with my climbing.
S2I score - 87%
I purchased a rear hydration system for my road bike to enable me to keep myself hydrated on longer rides. Quite simply it works, it allows me easy access to numerous bottles when on the bike. It means I can go for longer rides without having to worry about running out of liquid. My bike can hold 4 bottles which is 3l. This was essential for Outlaw where the heat was ridiculous.
S2I score - 84%
I bought this product after suffering with saddle chafage to my undercarriage during some longer training rides. After a period of adjustment (in which there is mild discomfort) I didn't look back. The dual noses are much more comfortable on longer rides and there is now no discomfort on rides of over 50 miles. This was a godsend on my longer training rides. I can't recommend this saddle enough if you are in any discomfort on your longer rides. It changed my outlook on comfort. Plus how can the current IM world champion be wrong?
S2I score - 88%
Following my trip to Mallorca with RG Active where one of the coaches had one of these. I was dumbfounded that something so simple could be so effective. Have you ever wondered how you can get the benefits of a foam roller when on your travels? If so this is the product for you. It is a wonderful product and can help eliminate those aches and pains. Mine lives by my bed in case I wake up with any niggles on the next day. A quick roll on the area and the knots or aches tend to disappear. The ends of the massager can be used to work any persistent knots.
S2I score - 85%Product of the Year
Its a bit controversial but my product of the year is……….
Paceline Products Chamois Buttr - http://www.wiggle.co.uk/paceline-products-chamois-butt-r-eurostyle-cream/
Hang on I hear you cry. Where is #Rinnie? (my Planet X Exocet). Well I haven't actually ridden Rinnie outside so she hasn't been used properly and is therefore not valid for the 2013 award.
But how can you pick a chamois butter as you product of the year?
Simple it is my award and this product has allowed me to reach all my goals this year. It has allowed me to run blister free since I came up with the idea of putting it on my feet in an act of pure desperation with the Outlaw looming 13 days away. Now for 90% of my runs I put this on my feet and apart form the very occasional rub I have mostly been blister free since the start of July.
My blister problem had reduced me to tears so to be able to run blister free is an amazing feeling.
I also use this product to moisten my chamois' on longer rides as well and can confirm it has resulted in no chafing there either.
S2I score - 95%
There is also no mention for Jack Oat Bar despite recently becoming an ambassador of theirs and subsequently haven't really used their products before or during racing and as such have been unable to comment on their effectiveness.
If you have any comments, please get in touch.
Thanks for reading,