COMPETITION – WIN GOCOCO COMPRESSION SOCKS!

In my quest to find the perfect socks for running I came across a Swedish brand called Gococo.

In particular, I was looking for a compression sock that was quick drying, warm and aided recovery helping me to run long and run often.

GOCOCOSOCKS

After reading the adventures of Rosemary on the awesome blog PlanetByde, I followed a link to the Swedish sock Company, Gococo. I wrote about them here after I’d spent some time trying different brands out – Gococo came top of the tree.

So here I am, about to start training proper for Breca Swimrun and I am proud to say I am now a UK Ambassador for Gococo Socks. What does this mean? Well, it means I’ll be out and about in great socks ALL the time!

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To celebrate this I’ve been given the green light to run a competition to WIN a pair of the Superior Compression Socks (worth €42) In fact – I’ve got TWO pairs to give away!

All you need to do is Follow Me and Retweet the competition tweet on Twitter.

Not got Twitter? Drop a reply below and I’ll put you in the draw.

I’ll pull 2 names out of the hat after 9pm on Sunday 14th February and contact the winners shortly after. In the meantime, have a look over on www.gococo.se and dazzle your eyes with colourful socks!

Compression Superior

Gococos Compression Superior is the ultimate sock for you who want powerful support over the calf when you want to perform at your best! Superior Compression is a graduated compression sock that stabilizes the calf muscle and increases circulation in the calf when you are active.

Gococos compression socks are reinforced to protect your feet during activity, such as running. The 37.5 Technology material in the sole is extremely quick drying, which reduces the risk of chafing and blisters.

• The compression reduces the risk of stiff calves and swollen feet

• Piquet knitting in the shaft and foot provides an even and smooth pressure

• Silicone dots on inside shaft for ideal grip on leg

• Compression socks have a pressure of 15-27 mmHg (ie higher pressure than Gococo Compression)

Size: The size is measured where the calf is at its peak. S (27-32 cm / 10.5-12.9 inch) M (33-39 cm / 13-15.6 inch) L (40-45 cm / 15.7-17.7 inch)

If you already use Gococos Compression socks and are not sure what size you use, look at the color line in the shaft where: Small = Green Medium = Red Large = Blue

Material: 77% Polyamid 15% Elastane 8% 37.5 Technology yarn

 

Small Print:
You’ll need to Follow me @davewilsonmarch and RT the competition tweet to be eligible to win. Only one entry per person will be counted, but feel free to keep sharing!
Winners will be contacted for size, colour and postal address which will be forwarded to Gococo for prizes to be sent out. Entries close at 9pm 14/2/16 – after which I’ll collate all the names and pick 2 out at random. Gococo may or may not have all the sizes/colours in stock so please be prepared to have a 2nd choice on standby!

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Review – SOLE Softec Response Footbeds

At the moment, I’ve got 7 pairs of running trainers. Yep…..7. They’ve all got different profiles, some of them I like more than others and some of them serve completely different purposes.
The only thing they have in common is that none of them give me any injury worries.

With this knowledge, I came to the conclusion that my legs and feet are pretty robust and so when I was offered the chance to try out these SOLE Footbeds, I said yes. I did have concerns at first that I was tempting fate by changing something in my shoes, but the fact that I seem fairly comfortable moving between different stack heights/heel-toe drops/different levels of support etc was enough to satisfy me that a moulded insole would be fine.
SOLE produce orthotic inserts, sandals & socks all designed to improve weight distribution across the foot by providing support where its needed.

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SOLE Softec Response Footbed
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Research showing pressure points whilst wearing orthotic

I understand that some running shops (Sweatshop for one) offer a service in-store where they do a 3D scan of your foot and heat-mould insoles for you if you want them. However, as they are a retail store, like any other, I’d always bear in mind that they are probably set targets on how many of these they need to sell every day and that you, the lucky customer, may not actually need them. Its also useful to know that you can simply buy the insoles yourself and mould them to fit using your oven at home.

So….lets say you’ve been to your running store, and you know you need some support in your shoe. And for whatever reason, there’s not a shoe that will provide it on its own, so you have a pair of insoles to help provide the support you need. Insoles can open up a whole range of neutral shoes to you which may provide better fit overall depending on the brand/style. Insoles could also supply the support in lightweight racing shoes, I can see why there’s a market for these things.

But what happens when you’re buying your shoes online? It can be a bit of a minefield… neutral/cushioned/support/control/racing blah blah blah. If you know your feet require a certain type of support then insoles could well be the way forward for you, giving you a bit more freedom to choose the shoe you like, rather than the shoe they say you need. Safe in the knowledge that when your shoes arrive, you can slip your insoles in and your arches will instantly love them.

And so we come to the product I have in my hand. The SOLE Softec Response Footbed (£38 straight from the manufacturers website). I’ve chosen my shoe, the Inov-8 X-Talons (chosen because on harder terrain, the studs tend to make them quite uncomfortable, I’m hoping that these footbeds might provide a little more protection)

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First things first – I need to mould them to my foot shape. I’m going for the heat method because I like warm feet.

Step 1: Remove the standard insoles from the shoes and cut the SOLE ones to match so they’ll fit inside your shoe. Pretty easy so far.

Step 2: Place SOLE footbeds in the oven at 200 degrees for 3 mins.

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Step 3: Insert into each shoe taking care that they don’t scrunch up.

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Step 4: put feet in shoes and stand in them allowing the footbeds to mould around the foot where it needs support. This takes about 3 minutes and don’t worry, they don’t burn your feet!

And thats it. Ready to go.

Which is exactly what I did next, I took them out for a 14 mile spin on the south downs. The route was made up of thick mud, puddles, hard packed limestone, tarmac, gravel and grass. A thoroughly enjoyable run on almost every terrain possible.

And how do I rate them?

Well, I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know they were there. My shoes felt snug around the ankle and midfoot but with enough space for my toes to move around still. I can only see this as a good sign. I don’t think they altered my foot position at all, I certainly didn’t have any trouble during the run, and no aches, pains or tenderness afterwards.
I’ll be keeping these in my shoes as that little extra arch support could be beneficial during a longer run, and they did indeed help with the feeling of the lugs coming through the underside of the shoe.
I think the fact that these are heat moulded to your feet whilst you stand in the shoes you’ll be wearing them in, means that its hard to go wrong, they’ll only provide as much support as your foot requires.

I don’t know how long these things last, I imagine they have a limited lifespan though, just like the cushioning inside your shoes so you’d probably need to replace them each time you change your trainers.

All of the above is my opinion. Take it with a pinch of salt. I’m the sort of person that finds reading peoples experiences and opinions helpful, even persuasive when it comes to making purchases and I hope that one way or another, these words might help you if you’re weighing it up.

To keep you fully informed, and in case I missed anything this bit comes straight from the manufacturers website:

BENEFITS

  • Custom orthopedic support
  • Equalized pressure distribution
  • Reduced plantar fascia strain
  • Increased balance and feel
  • Improved natural heel cushioning

“Through an ongoing partnership with Dr. Reed Ferber and the Running Injury Clinic, we’ve been able to help fund studies of the effectiveness of insoles on injury prevention and performance.

We found that SOLE Custom Footbeds reduce plantar fascia strain by up to 34% — a one third reduction! Reduced strain not only alleviates current pain but is also effective at preventing future pain.”

WEIGHT(half pair)

  • Men’s 10 – 69.5g (approx.)
  • Women’s 7 – 51.6g (approx.)

DIMENSIONS
Width – Forefoot (approx.)

  • Men’s 10 – 98mm
  • Women’s 7 – 87mm

Length – Heel to toe (approx.)

  • Men’s 10 – 290mm
  • Women’s 7 – 245mm

 

Update: I’ve worn these on several runs now and I’m still comfortable & injury free. Thumbs Up!

 

How I’ve recently become mad about socks….

My sock drawer is overflowing. 2 reasons for this:

  1. My sock drawer is actually quite small
  2. I’ve gone a bit mad with new socks

You see, I’m a runner and if I’m going to be so particular about which trainers best suit my foot, and then which trainers best suit the terrain I’ll be on. I might as well be particular about not getting blisters.

So I’ve been testing out a few different brands and I’ve come up with some favourites. I thought I’d share these on here, particularly in the context of SwimRun.

3rd Place: Bridgedale
Who Are they? British company making socks for hiking, running, cycling, ski-ing, mountaineering etc etc. Outdoorsy type stuff.

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What are they like?  I’ve got pairs of the Speed Demons & the Speed Trail and they are WARM! Probably down to the Merino Wool content. Perfect winter socks for when the tarmac or trail is freezing cold.  They hold the water a bit when they get wet but they stay warm. These have quickly become my favourite sock for the bike.

As a sidenote – Bridgedale also make this great reversible hat which is perfect for going under a helmet and its been stuck on my head all winter so far.

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2nd Place: Feetures!
Who Are They? A family run company from Charlotte, North Carolina. Designed for Runners by Runners.

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Feetures! Elite Merino+

What are they like? Fantastic. I’ve got a pair of the Elite Merino+ and two pairs of the Elite Ultra Light. The Merino ones are super warm, and the Ultra Lights really are Ultra Light. The edge these have got over any of the others I’ve tried is the compression around the foot. They feel like your foot is getting a gentle hug from the moment you put them on. They’re not touted as compression socks but that’s one of the reasons why they’ve almost hit top spot.

1st place: Gococo (Swimrunners take note!)
Who Are They? Award winning Swedish sports & compression socks, quickly becoming synonymous with SwimRun. Scandinavian functional design.

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Gococo Compression Superior

What are they like? Perfect. I’ve got almost the full Gococo range here. The sport socks do everything you want them to, they’re light, blister-free, no seams, and pretty cool making them suitable for races and hard efforts. Those are the sort of sessions where you don’t want your foot to feel heavy and warm inside your shoe.
But where they really excel is in the long compression socks.
These offer stabilization through the calf, and if you believe the compression hype they allow increased circulation throughout the muscle whilst active. Now, I don’t know about that, but I’ve raced in these up tough hills and done hard track sessions in them and my recovery has been almost instant. If that’s down to the socks then my sincerest thanks go to the brains behind the design!
They also work with “37.5 Technology” to help maintain optimum body temperature, this is something I’m sure we might see spread to more winter apparel here in the UK.

In a Nutshell
These socks dry quickly, keep your legs at optimum temperature and provide support for your calf muscles. They don’t rub and they look good. For a Swim-runner, they are like the Holy Grail in sock form. Thoroughly recommended.
What socks do you run in?
Any Swimrun sock tips?

 

 

Night Running with a little help from Nathan – #FireUpYourRun

I’ve been struggling with motivation to get out and train recently. Residual fitness from the Autumn has carried me through the weekly track sessions until now but I’m becoming more aware that my overall fitness is dropping.
Hard efforts are becoming more difficult to sustain, my legs are getting tired towards the end of a 6 mile run. I’ve gone from 50 miles a week down to single figures. This would be fine but its been about 6 weeks of laziness now and I need to start developing my base fitness again.

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First week of December – 6.2 miles.

The problem I’ve got is Continue reading “Night Running with a little help from Nathan – #FireUpYourRun”

New Balance MT110AK : Review

A few years ago I fell in love with trail running. Within 15 minutes of stepping out my front door I could be slogging it up Cissbury Ring or chasing deer through Angmering Park Estate. I started getting out onto the South Downs, exploring the paths and hills…..I was hooked.

Unfortunately, I was also ill-equipped. You see, I was in my road shoes. A pair of Asics GT1000’s. These were my marathon training, cushioned, chunky, well-stacked concrete creepers. Designed to take the impact out of running, reducing the effect of poor technique on the knees. NOT designed for mud, stones, uneven surfaces, tree roots, or even grass.

So as I was triumphantly returning from the top of Cissbury Ring, I turned my ankle on the chalky downhill path. I wasn’t running slowly either and I ended up sprawled out on the floor another 5 or 10 meters further down. I managed to get myself home almost delirious with pain, and after a trip to the hospital it turned out I’d broken my ankle (I’d also been chased by a badger and got myself lost down streets I knew like the back of my hand)

So after a full recovery, I eventually turned to getting back out on the trails again, but this time, I knew I wanted a proper trail shoe, something responsive, low to the ground, tough yet still cheap.

And that’s when I struck gold with these bad boys! New Balance MT110AK‘s. For any fans of Christopher McDougalls Born To Run, I believe the MT stands for Micah True, and to add further pedigree, they were designed for Anton Krupicka, the legendary ultra trail runner. He don’t wear much but he wears these shoes!

New Balance MT110AK
New Balance MT110AK

I’ve put about 300 miles on these so far and they’re still going strong, so I thought it was about time I put a few words up about them in case it helps anyone.

If you’re reading this then there’s a fair chance you’re in the market for some new shoes so I’m going to give you an idea of what I’ve put these through, and a few reasons why you should buy them. As well as a few reasons that might put you off.

Where I Run

I run on the South Downs, which means a lot of slippery chalky paths, very uneven where the water cuts into it on its way downhill. The paths are often littered with loose stones, big ones, small ones, sharp ones, smooth ones. I also run a lot in the forest at Angmering, the ground here during wet months is VERY muddy. We’re talking shin deep puddles that you can’t go round, and mud in places where you didn’t know you had places. Its the kind of place mountain bikers love. When its dry here, the ground hardens up and becomes quite uneven.

I deal with steep uphill & downhill sections and the occasional tarmac path or road. Although I try and stay off these as much as I can, sometimes I have to run along roads to get to my desired trail.

What are they good at?

On the trail they feel like an extension of my own foot. I’m confident and surefooted when I wear them, the rockplate underneath keeps the sharp stones and roots at bay whilst the little nobbles grip the hard surfaces brilliantly. The minimalist design also ensures your proprioceptors are firing (which in English means: the muscles around your ankle and foot are getting messages from the floor quickly) and I’ve never felt unstable or unbalanced in these.

I’m a firm believer that minimal shoes on the trails are the key to being a more robust runner. The less support in the shoe, the stronger your leg becomes, the stronger a runner you become. Its as simple as that. These shoes have got a 4mm heel to toe drop which keep you in touch with the trail, when it tries to jump up and bite you the shoes are responsive enough to let you know in an instant so you can readjust your position.

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I run sockless in the MT110’s and I’ve never suffered for it. The synthetic mesh upper feels soft on the inside, and the water that gets in drains out through holes in the sole. The mesh is also easy to clean and pretty tough.

So what aren’t they good at?

Mud. Specifically wet mud. The lugs aren’t big enough to bite into it and I found my whole foot sliding along at times. Its the price you pay for having a lower profile shoe though, a trade off.
Personally I’m happy with this as they feel so responsive on harder ground and on soft mud that I’ll happily slide about a bit on the wet stuff.

They’re also uncomfortable on tarmac. They’re a minimal trail shoe so as soon as you hit the road your legs know about it. I’m a forefoot striker and I can get away with it for short distances but heel strikers wouldn’t last 10 meters. You’ll also find the lugs wear down extremely quickly running on roads so you’ll want to avoid this.

I’ve also seen it mentioned elsewhere about a slight curve in the last of the shoe, this pushes the outside toes up, causing your arch to fall in a bit. This is not a problem as soon as your on the trails and your foot feels like its in the perfect position. But when you first slip them on and wander about on a hard surface you can really feel it.

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I’ve gone up a full size in these and they feel perfect, there’s loads of room in the toebox for your feet to spread out whilst the upper hugs the midfoot and heel quite snugly .

So it comes down to the one question that makes or breaks the review:

Would I buy the New Balance MT110AK again?

Yes.

I’ll do most of my trail running over the summer in these but I’m not sure yet if these will be the shoe for the Red Bull Steeplechase, I’m not convinced they’ll have the grip for it.