Breca Swimrun 2016 – Race Report

This is a long post….I’ll try and keep it fun. If you purely want to know about the race, scroll down and look for the header. If you’re interested in the whole experience, start here….

In case this is the first time you’ve read about a Swimrun, here’s the brief.
Swimrun is a race run in pairs across consecutive running and swimming legs, usually held over rugged terrain and in stunning locations. This is a relatively new sport, especially in the UK, but we now have a handful of races to choose from which all pose their own very different challenges.
The race we were doing was Breca Buttermere in the surroundings of the UK’s Lake District, this would be lake swims, trail runs and a hell of a lot of vertical ascent.

13580555_1738031903106145_4607150488002977484_o

So at 9:30am on Friday morning, I’d done the school run, kissed my wife goodbye and climbed into my teammate Toms car for our romantic weekend break. It took us over 9 hours to drive up to the Lakes, and somehow we hadn’t fallen out with each other yet. We discussed the subtle differences between Bracken, Heather and Ferns. The main difference being we’ve never met anyone called Bracken.
We came off the motorway at Penrith (which I thought was in Scotland) and when we reached Keswick we hit the single track roads for the last 7 or so miles to Buttermere.

IMG-20160703-WA0001

The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, waterfalls, lakes, streams, fells and valleys. Everywhere you looked there was water, you could hear water running at all times, the rocks had water coming out of them, even the grass was crying. Neither of us had brought a coat.

We arrived at the Youth Hostel (YHA Buttermere) and were welcomed by Ben, the race organiser. We checked in to our room and to kill a bit of time had a stroll down to the first Swim transition point. We immediately realised that there were several bottlenecks on the way to the lake, 2 kissing gates and a steep bank to negotiate before entering the water. I dipped my toes in and Tom took the opportunity to work on his stone skimming (lame) – it was chilly to say the least, we re-assured ourselves by imagining how warm it would be the next day.

IMG_20160701_184434 (1)

We strolled back to the YHA and chatted with some of the other teams, Mike and Niels from the Danish Koge Tri Team 2000 and Richard from Athlone Otters shared our table as we filled up on Pasta, Rice & Chilli. They’d done a Swimrun in Denmark and one in Llanberis respectively. We joked about how flat Denmark was and how big Mikes hands were. The hostel was filled with outdoorsy looking types with down-stuffed jackets, trail shoes and pre-race compression wear. I had skinny jeans on and no coat.

IMG_20160701_183915

Next stop was the bio-security checks and registration, this went smoothly, we had all the kit, our shoes were clean, and we were given our race vests and red swimcaps. Very efficient guys – good job.

There was a nervous energy in the hostel already so we decided to stroll down to the pub to watch Wales v Belgium in the Euros and stay relaxed. There were 2 pubs in the village, The Fish Inn and The Bridge. Neither of them were showing the football. In fact, neither of them had a TV. We were told the nearest one would be in Keswick……7 miles away, even if we ran there we’d probably only catch the last 10 minutes, and it was raining, and neither of us had a coat.
So we stayed at The Bridge and sampled the local Beers, Buttermere Blonde, Whistling Pig Pilsner and Mowdy Pale Ale being our favourites.

Here we met Josh and his partner Lottie. Josh would be racing in a mixed team on Saturday and Lottie was there to cheer them on. Me and Josh bonded over our matching Red Bull Steeplechase hoodies whilst Tom looked on enviously despite calling us “Steeplechase Wankers” in his head.

This was a perfect way to keep the pre-race excitement at a manageable level. Its always good to remind yourself that we do this for fun. We’re not professionals, we take well earned holiday from our jobs, never take yourself too seriously.

13585225_1738031459772856_4226711630843797724_o

With this in mind, we headed back to the hostel and sat outside with a can of beer each. It was 11pm and the fells were still silhouetted against the sky. We could hear the waterfalls and streams and as the temperature started to drop we remembered we didn’t have coats and we should probably head inside and get some sleep.

After a terrible night’s sleep due to the creaking bunk beds that Tom was too tall for, we were greeted in the morning by our room-mates Haemish and Fredrik. Turns out they raced the event last year so we were keen to get some tips. Unfortunately, it also turned out they came last so we decided to ignore all their advice anyway. The fact they’d decided to return to face their demons was a sign that this was going to be a good day.

8:00am: we went downstairs for breakfast, nothing new on raceday is the usual approach isn’t it? Not today, hash browns, sausage, egg and toast please. With a nice steaming hot mug of coffee to wash it down. We still had plenty of time before the 10am race-start and we were going to be out there for a long time, so we thought it best to eat well.

Tom declared “Why stand when you can sit? Why sit when you can lie down?” and with that, we went back to our room for a lie down. People were already milling around in wetsuits with 2 hours to go. Maybe it was like heat acclimatisation?

UYU

9:30am: Time to get our kit on, I stuffed my wetsuit pockets with 6 GU Peanut Butter gels, shoved my sealed bandage up my right sleeve, and pulled my socks up over the cut-off bits of wetsuit legs that I’d saved. Then we sat back on our beds and drank some more electrolyte drinks.

9:50am: Pre-race Gel time. The best gels I’ve ever tasted. If ever there’s a disaster where there’s a food shortage, I’ll happily live on these! We head down the stairs and outside to join the neoprene charged atmosphere outside.

9:55am: Nervous faces all around. Everyone’s cracking jokes. Tom’s psyching the opposition out by doing swim-warm-ups. There’s music playing. Swim hats are making everyone look surprised.

9:59am: We didn’t want to get stuck in the bottlenecks in the first 600m run so we’d lined up at the front. People were eyeing us up. We probably looked serious. Guns’n’Roses came on over the loudspeakers.

10:00am

THE RACE

As Axl Rose’s voice screamed out “Welcome To the Jungle…” Ben opened the gate and we were off, athletes at the back were all a bit bemused as they were busy dancing but the sentiment wasn’t lost on us at the front.

START

We kept up with the other teams along the metalled road before a sharp turn took us through a series of gates and towards the first lake. We jumped a fence next to one gate, adrenaline surging and impatience getting the better of us.
600m down to the first shoreline swim along Buttermere and we were well placed going into the water. Unfortunately, the water was bloody freezing and it completely took my breath away. I splashed water over my face but as I submerged myself I could feel my body going into panic mode. I kept my head up for a few strokes whilst the water got inside my wetsuit and helped to insulate me and I finally got into an uncomfortable rhythm. The field wasn’t well balanced at this point and there were some strong swimmers surging through the water with hand paddles. Tom kept catching the wake of other swimmers and would fly off leaving me in no-mans land, I was having to work really hard to try and get close. We quickly learned that the swim sections were going to be more about keeping me on Toms toes, rather than trying to latch onto teams with hand-paddles.
The water was crystal clear, it was like an underwater scene from a film.

ASD

We climbed out after 600m and started running, I think we picked up a couple of places but we kept ourselves in check, reminding ourselves that this was going to be a long day. The 2nd swim was on us, this time across Crummock Water, the wind had picked up quite strongly and the water was actually quite choppy. Tom sighted us upwind slightly so we could get an easier swim in to the shore. I took a few mouthfuls of water when I got hit by the swells but it was so clean you could swallow it without adverse effects. Halfway across the lake, we found ourselves scrabbling over some rocks with some bemusement, it must have looked like we were walking on water from the waters edge!
This was another 600m swim and by the end of it I was starting to worry that I wasn’t strong enough in the water to complete the course. Enough with the negative thoughts though, they would return later but this was too early in the day. We hauled ourselves up the shore, swimming right up until we were less than knee deep, no point dragging legs through deep water.

13585107_1738028799773122_7052278396388277095_o

Next stage was a 5.7k run with just shy of 200m climb. We were reduced to walking quite quickly, hands pushing off knees, calf muscles on fire. The hill turned into a rocky staircase hewn out of the mountain itself and we dragged ourselves up, pausing only to see the lake we’d just swam in far below us and a steady stream of swimmers still making their way across.
We reached the summit and took a slight wrong turn which meant scrambling over some rocks to get back on track, sheer drops down to our right kept us focussed as we got ourselves back on safer ground. Tom saw someone go head-first over a ridge further ahead, scrabbling on the rocks with terror in her eyes as her hand-paddles slid over the surface. Someone grabbed her by the legs and pulled her back up. A quick lesson there in concentration and course respect, we need to be careful.

With each run section, any climbing would mean an equal descent to get back to the water. I overcooked it twice on this descent much to Tom’s amusement.  The first time in slow motion, clipping an earth mound with my foot and then my ankle before crashing down into the Bracken. The second time, the trail took a turn and I didn’t, within an instant I was on the floor. Tom was in bits.

13575718_1738035359772466_5954082886860961320_o

Without further incidents we made it down to the first checkpoint and we entered the 3rd swim. This was one of the two longest 1k efforts. Tom made a terrible entry into the water and ended up falling backwards over a submerged rock. This played into our hands though as it meant we latched onto a group. We stayed with them making great progress through the water until the guy Tom was drafting got dropped. In an effort to pull us back to the group I couldn’t handle the pace so we resigned ourselves to finishing this swim on our own. This was my favourite swim section, crystal clear again, several degrees warmer than Lake Buttermere and one of the big ones over before I’d even got chance to think about it too much. We got quite confused at one point as a torrential downpour came out of nowhere. Breathe to the left and it was fine, 3 strokes later, breathe to the right and it was Armageddon. Fortunately, it was over almost as quickly as it had started.

SWIM

Great support getting out of the swim section again, in fact, all around the course there were walkers, hikers, helpers, locals and they all gave encouragement. We must have surprised a few of them running round in wetsuits though! Proper food at the checkpoints too, cake, maltloaf, crisps. I stuck to a routine of water, coke, banana, then leave with a few jelly babies.

The longest run of the course (12.8k) was fairly easy, a bit of up, a bit of down and a couple of tricky navigational patches but we kept it ticking over nicely. We both run lots of trails so it was perfect for us.

By the time we got back down to the next swim, it was pretty rough weather again. There was a bit of chop on Crummock Water and the swim exit 800m away looked a long way off.
This was a tough swim, in my head I thought it was one of the 1k swims which didn’t help. One of the kayakers asked if we were OK at one point, probably because Tom had to keep stopping to let me get back on his feet. I was starting to wonder how bad the weather would have to get before they started thinking about cutting the course short.

13528392_1738033569772645_1721220286392932331_o

Once we got out here we were into a series of short runs and short swims which everyone had been looking forward to.  2.1 run, 0.4 swim, 1.2 run and as we came off the path to enter the 6th swim (0.5k) Tom got trapped hip deep in a bog. This time it was my turn to laugh as a marshall came over to help us get him out with his shoes still on his feet. At least we were still in good spirits!

Out of this swim and it was on to the last big one. The series of short swims/runs had brought my core temp right down. I hit a low point and I mentioned to Tom that I was really starting to feel the cold. He told me I wasn’t, that it was probably just my body crossing over to fat burning after using all its carb stores. He tried to cheer me up by singing “A message to you, Rudy” but changing Rudy to Marchy. It nearly worked. This was almost fun.

As we were about to enter the last big swim the marshalls were asking me if I was OK, they said I looked cold. Tom meanwhile was playing with a dog. We were told to sight off the big white building above the shore. The Daelgarth hotel. This seemed fine to me, it was big so it looked close. Tom realised that I was being tricked by the whole perspective/far away thing but thought it best to let me believe it was quite a short swim.

As we entered the water, one of the dogs came with us, I was tempted to give it my race vest and run round to meet them on the other side. I asked Tom to keep it as slow as he could and that if I wasn’t tapping his feet he was going too quick.

During this swim, I took a breath to the left and I’m convinced that I saw an Osprey swoop down to catch a fish about 50m away from us. It was a fleeting glance, and I was concentrating on staying as close to Tom as possible so I might have imagined it.

We made it to the other side, Toms swimming had been straight as an arrow again, as it had been all day and we walked up the shore. I felt bad for holding us up in the swims. Every time Tom took a stroke, he moved 2 meters ahead, it was unreal.

There was a check point here, the final one before the climb up Dale Head to the infamous Honister Pass. I tried to drink some coke, I tried to eat some cake, I tried to eat some jelly babies and I tried to eat a piece of Kendal mint cake. I say tried a lot here as my body wasn’t working. I was Hypothermic. I started violently shaking and I couldn’t move my jaw properly. Tom saw how bad I was and admits he was pretty concerned at this point. We started walking towards the Dale Head climb and took on another GU gel. Someone passed us at this point and said to their team-mate “‘kin hell, that guy’s blue!!”

The sun came out a little bit which I was hugely grateful for, and the trail was getting steeper by the second. My core temperature started coming up and I was feeling much better, we gel’d up again and used the fence posts to pull ourselves up the climb.

13

The view back down to Lake Buttermere was stunning, and as the climb started to level out a bit we could see that we were only half way up. The winds started picking up as we got closer to the ridge, it was a struggle to stay on your feet at times and as we got closer to the top the sky started to fall on us.

We’d formed a little group with some teams from in front and behind us at this point and it was reassuring to know there were other people around. Visibility had dropped to less than 10m and we were being whipped with hailstones. It must have been at least 10° colder up here. We’d already put our swim hats back on for warmth and we were really concentrating on locating the arrow markers. The briefing had said that if we were likely to get lost on course, it would be here.

After a couple of false summits, we reached the Cairn that had been mentioned in the safety briefing and we knew we had to head south from there down to the quarry. A steep descent followed, sometimes runnable, sometimes not. Technical in places and at other times, just easier to rest your quads and walk.

We spotted a tent at the bottom and the marshals were waving madly at us, this was the final checkpoint I think. Tom was ready to power through, he’d had enough calories and just needed some water. I grabbed a banana and we left at a run as a French team arrived.

We had made good ground on this section, it was hard work, and scary in places. The weather had thrown everything at us but we knew that it was all downhill to the end now. The next 4 or 5k were along a Tarmac road,  the Honister Pass. Amazing on a bike I’d imagine, but hard on the quads at this moment in time.

VBV

Cars along here were all waving and cheering, even rattling cowbells for us. We were sure that the French team were going to come past us any minute now but they never did. This was a 10k section and it must have taken us 90 minutes at least. I was actually looking forward to getting back in the water!

We hit the final swim, 400m. Tom sighting it perfectly, me struggling on behind. I wasn’t able to even kick slightly any more. Relying on my feeble arms and shoulders to produce all my power. As I approached the final landing bay my body had nothing left. Tom waded back into the water and we showed the marshals and spectators exactly what the Swimrun team ethic is all about.

1.8km left to run. And that would be it. All over. I felt sad! I can’t remember if it was raining. We didn’t have coats. We were grinning like idiots. The final trail run alongside Buttemere was beautiful. It felt like we were flying, In fact, Tom was. He tried to style it out with a commando roll and he still thinks it looked cool.

The path entered a rocky tunnel, it was pitch black and we were shouting and whooping. There was a troll in there, facing the wall and swaying. I was terrified. It was like that bit in that Will Smith film, I Am Legend. (Turns out it was just an old man with his wife and we must have scared the shit out of him as we steamed through shouting our heads off)

A moment later we were rounding the final corner, the Youth hostel was in sight. The Breca flags that marked the finish line were flapping in the wind and cheers went up as we came into the driveway. We gave each other Bro-hugs and Ben came over with beers for us!

Seven hours and eight minutes it had taken us. And we finished in 15th place.

NMB

Post race

We hung around outside to cheer in the next couple of teams before heading in to get warm and dry. We still didn’t have coats.

I was shaking again and desperately needed some proper clothes on. We hung up our wetsuits and shoes in the drying room and hit the showers and free massage tables.

We swapped stories with other teams as we waited for dinner, still cheering finishers in from the dining room. Everyone was buzzing about how much fun they’d had, no one asked about times, it wasn’t important. We cracked on with the beers and devoured the Sausage and mash when it came out. The crumble and custard for pudding was most welcome too.

The biggest cheer of the day came when the final team crossed the line almost 11 hours after the start. That’s a long time to be out on that course and I know I couldn’t have kept up that effort for that long. Chapeau! The kitchen had kept back some plates of food for them when they arrived too, nice touch and desperately needed, they didn’t even remove their wetsuits!

After dinner we went to the pub again to reflect on an amazing event. Spectacular scenery. Great encouragement and support. Well organised and really looked after in the water. Without a doubt, the best event I’ve ever done.

The thing that really made it special, was that you had a teammate all the way through it. Someone to encourage you when you felt low. Someone to help you up when you fall. An extra pair of eyes to make sure we both took everything in from the experience. And someone to distract the marshals whilst their teammate tries to stop looking so dead.

US

I experienced amazing highs during the race, and at other times felt terrible, but never once wanted to pull out. I’ve never run that far before, and never swam that far either. I verged on cramps in every muscle from the hips downwards at some point in the race but somehow pulled through it.

And now, sitting in my living room 3 nights later writing this, my legs still feel battered but I’m still buzzing. In fact, I’m still wearing my Breca finishers T shirt. I’m already hoping we can do it again next year, and that we can take a crew of club mates with us.

Thank you Breca Swimrun for this race, it’s a truly wonderful thing.

if you’ve read this far, thanks, I urge you to sign up next year, it’s incredible. Let me know if you’re tempted.

If you have any questions, fire away and I’ll do my best to help.

Thanks go to:

Ben de Rivaz for setting up this event.

Bens family and friends for their involvement in making it work.

All the marshals, water safety kayaks, aid stations and list-tickers and everyone who kept us safe.

All the supporters, and hikers who gave us encouragement. Special mention to our new friend Lottie from the pub here!

Everyone at YHA Buttermere who made our stay simple and comfortable.

Linnea at Gococo socks for the best socks in the world

Want to read more reviews from Breca Swimrun?

https://glenntait.co.uk
http://thetriathletesguidetothegalaxy.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.jonathanalbon.com
http://www.greenlightpt.co.uk

 

XZC

13613561_1738032473106088_52671988574835871_o

13603278_1738029909773011_2177061404564312556_o

13603303_1738035349772467_2132331659291895624_o

TRE

 

Advertisements

#Swimrun Training Weeks 11 and 12 – Taper time

So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been pretty much resting up. I’ve logged about 30 miles of running and on top of that I’ve finally managed to get some race specific training done.

Me and Tom have been able to get up to Southwater lake and train in full kit. Swimming up and down the lake, jumping out and running around it before repeating.

The first time I tried this I found it really tough. I very quickly learnt how difficult it is to swim in your shoes. Its like dragging a lead weight behind you, and attempting to kick is murder on your leg muscles (which you’re trying to save for the run anyway.)

Talking points from the first attempt:

  • My goggles don’t work (cheapo emergency Zoggs from Tesco)
  • I don’t have the strength needed for paddles
  • I will not need a pull bouy
  • I don’t get on with swim hats

But on a more positive note

  • My wetsuit felt good, even on the run.
  • No Chafing
  • Running and swimming go together very well for me
  • The water was sooo warm!
  • My Inov8 X-Talons feel fine, if a little heavy in the water.

So before our next training session together I bought some new goggles, some base layers and some Bodyglide to help avoid chafing over longer distances.
Our next attempt was in the sea and there was quite a lot of chop. I’ve mentioned before that Tom is a great swimmer and this really showed in the sea. I struggled against the current in whichever direction and the salt water made me want to throw up everytime I downed a mouthful.
But we managed a decent distance out to a shipping bouy and back, we estimated it at about a mile. It looked much closer but when we finally got there I realised that its just fucking big! I’m glad we’re not swimming against strong currents at Buttermere, and praying for the lake to look like a mirror come Saturday morning.
My new goggles felt really comfortable, although I couldn’t see further than my hand as the water was too stirred up.

Last night we got up to Southwater again for our final Swimrun specific training session. This time I’d cut the legs off my wetsuit and donned my Gococo Compression socks too.

This session went perfectly, we dialled into a nice pace in the water with me swimming right on Toms toes. We’ve agreed that if I tap him on the foot then he’s just to ignore it, in fact, it means he can avoid checking to see if I’m still on his toes. If I pull his foot, it means I need to ease off the pace a bit.

We won’t be using a tether to keep us together as its just another bit of kit that we have to worry about, we’re going very minimal: no paddles, no buoys, no tether.

Visibility seemed much better this time round, Tom assured me it was just my goggles. I was actually able to see his feet. I’m anticipating this to be even better on the day up in the crystal waters of Buttermere.

Once again, climbing out and getting into our running stride felt good, we’re both pretty strong runners and fairly equal ability so we should both feel similar levels of comfort/discomfort on the day and know when we can push or ease off.

So thats training done, kit finalised, disclaimers signed. What’s next? Well, a 7 hour drive, 7+ hours of racing together, and 7 hours in the car coming home….we’re not even sure if we like each other that much! Tom’s already mentioned wearing a Belgium shirt for the Wales vs Belgium match in the Euro’s on Friday night – I’m Welsh by the way!

Final Kitlist:

  • Goggles: Speedo Futura Biofuse (Black)
  • Base Layer: Nike Pro Core Short Sleeve T – Maru Swim Jammers
  • Wetsuit: HEAD Swimrun Rough (Legs trimmed above the knee)
  • Socks: Gococo Compression Superior
  • Shoes: Inov8 X-Talon 212

If you’re going to be there at the weekend, I look forward to meeting you. Please make yourself known, especially if you’re staying in the YHA.

We’ll see you there!

received_10153667908023233

February training

So how did February look for you? For me it went quite well. Despite not racing at all I’ve managed to get in some quality training.

Mileage for the month – 123.5 miles
Biggest week – 48 miles
Longest run14 miles

That’s starting to pick up nicely, with my biggest week coming in the final week of Feb. And in fact, that’s my biggest week since the same time last year.

biggestweek

My little boy is also training for his first race, the Sport Relief Mile and its been great fun encouraging him to start running. He’s managed a 16:13 mile so far which involved a lot of jumping over drains, walking to cross roads and stopping to point at his school.

me&sonny

I’m hoping to carry through some consistency into March, keeping my mileage at a minimum of 40 per week and adding a 90-120min long run in each week. My track sessions are strong at the moment, sub-6:00min/mile pace in big sessions. We’ve just moved into 1200 reps (5 of them this week) and I’d like to see my splits closer to 5:45min/mile if I can manage it. Although I’m not going to break myself trying.

My limiting training factor is time.  My other half works several evenings a week, often not getting home until 9:30 and that’s not a good time to go out running. So I’m trying to squeeze runs in where I can. For instance, my trip to the launderette gave me £2’s worth of time – which I’ve now learnt translates to a fast 4 miles. I’m running on my lunchbreaks too. In fact, my biggest training week in 12  months came without running further than 8.5 miles in a single session.

My swimming is improving, I’ve managed to get to one session a week which at the moment is focussed on strength. That means lots of climbing in and out the pool to do press-ups, squats, tricep dips and planks, and swimming in T-shirts with pull-buoy and paddles. This is a great session for me as it really addresses my weaknesses. I’m hoping to start doing a weekly distance/endurance session soon, to really work on my pull. I want to be able to use paddles comfortably by the time Breca Swimrun comes around in July as it will make a huge difference in the swim times.

Other training,  I’ve been doing a press-up challenge since the beginning of Feb, starting at one and adding one each day. So today it will be 30 press-ups. A month ago I couldn’t have done 10 without stopping so I’m pleased with my progress here. I don’t think its been an increase in strength, but more a neurological thing. Engaging the right muscles to achieve the goal. Whichever it is, it should help my swimming, and I might even develop a chest that comes out further than my abs.

I think the biggest plus I can take from February is that I’ve come out of it without any niggles. I’ve increased my mileage and I’m injury free. I have to thank Gococo Sportswear for helping me out here, my compression socks are awesome.

 

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!

gococo

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!

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.

bridgedale

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.

hat2

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

merino-lc-quarter-matrix2b
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.

gococo
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?

 

 

The Hangover 5

The second year running that I’ve done this race and it’s the perfect way to start the new year, embracing the cold, the mud and the puddles together with 500 other runners nursing hangovers or still actually pissed from last nights parties.
No such thing holding me back this year though. (Unlike last year when I was still struggling with walking when the gun went off man shouted go.) Its’s the first race in the West Sussex Fun Run League and so attracts a nice mix of competitive and funrunners.

Tuff Fitty Team pic – From Left to Right in order of most pissed.

I arrived just in time for a team photo but not quite in time for a decent warm up. In fact, by the time I arrived, the unprecedentedly large turnout meant they’d run out of numbers, mine, 535,  was handwritten on torn off notepaper! I took my jacket off and stashed it at the last possible minute and lined up on the front row. Confident? Me?  Not really, but I know how congested the climb gets and I wanted good position. If you get caught too far back it’s impossible to pass and it slows to a walk on the steepest section. Continue reading “The Hangover 5”