The Jimmycase

 

After a recent incident where my iPhone fell out of my belt while running, and smashed into a lot of expensive pieces on the road, I decided that it might be a good idea to use a protective case with the new one. Although I don’t usually carry my phone when running, I sometimes need to if I have to be reachable, and I will be carry it more often now when I am using the Kinematix TUNE.

To this end, I have tried the Jimmycase, an American-made protective phone case that is made from the slightly unusual combination of silicon rubber and mahogany.

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Despite the inclusion of the bulky-sounding mahogany, the case is quite compact, and incorporates an elasticated cardholder on the back. It looks great, and, having dropped my phone a few times since I’ve gotten it, I can confirm it protects well too!

I discovered an advantage to the silicon rubber casing that I doubt was part of the design brief – I accidently left my phone on my car roof one day after a run, and drove the 4 miles home, at speeds of up to 60 mph, and when I got out of the car at home, there was my phone still on the roof……I don’t recommend you try this yourself though!

All in all, I’m very happy with the Jimmycase, and would be happy to recommend it to runners, or anyone else who needs a case that can take a few knocks and protect your phone – the card holder is also handy for those long runs where you forgot to bring water and need to buy some.

Karkoa Tepee Sports Bag Review

I was sent a Karkoa Tepee sports bag recently, with a view to trying it out as a triathlon bag.

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My first impression was that the bag was a really interesting and innovative design – a lot of thought has obviously gone into it. It is a “duffle bag” style, and has lots of neat little design features.

It is laid out in several distinct and separate compartments, each of which has a specific purpose. These include a shoe compartment, an insulated bottle compartment, and various small pockets for holding all your gear. It also comes with a nifty little toiletries bag, and a waterproof bag for dirty clothes.

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I found the bag to be an ideal triathlon bag, as it is large enough to hold all the necessary gear, but small enough to carry into transition. The main compartment can easily carry the  wetsuit, tri suit, spare clothes, towel, helmet, etc. while the shoe compartment is big enough to take both my running shoes and my cycling shoes. There is separate compartments that I can use for goggles, number belt etc. so everything has a place – very important to reduce stress on triathlon day!

Although not designed specifically for triathlon, the Karkoa Tepee fills the requirements for a good tri bag very well. I’ve also used it for my marathons, and it is more than up to that job.

The quality looks great, with strong handles, and the interior material can be wiped clean.

Overall, I am impressed with this bag, and would recommend it – my hardest job is keeping it as my wife has taken a fancy to it!

Ribble Bikes

I am delighted to welcome Ribble Bikes aboard as my bike sponsor, as I start out on my journey to completing an Ironman.

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I am already a Ribble customer – I’ve been cycling a Ribble Evo Carbon Pro for the past 2 years, and I am really excited to try out other Ribble bikes, as I (hopefully!) build up my cycling strength and endurance.

Ribble have a fantastic heritage, having started in business in 1897, and are a British Cycling institution. They offer excellent value against other brands, by using a direct consumer model, selling straight to the customer. They also have showrooms in Preston, where you can go to have a look at their range of bikes and accessories.

I will be riding the amazing Ribble Aero 883 this season, and like all Ribble customers, I was able to spec the bike to exactly how I wanted it, on the Ribble Bike Builder. This is a unique service from Ribble that allows you to customise your bike exactly as you want it.
I will also be trying out other Ribble models for specific events.

Follow me for the next year or so as I go from sprint triathlons to the biggest triathlon challenge of them all, the Ironman!

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Kinematix TUNE

I came across a very interesting little device this week, called the Kinematic TUNE. The device consists of a pair of electronic insoles that go in your running shoes, and connect with senders that clip onto your shoe. These then send information on pressure points, land time, dwell time etc. to an app on your smartphone.

This information is then used, via special software, to build a personalised running plan for you. It also claims to detect asymmetries in your running form, and can advise on specific improvements, and exercises to improve your form.

I have been asked to trial this device, and I will report back on how I find it, and whether it helps to improve my running or not. I am certainly keen to try it, given the work I did on my running form in recent times.

This video explains the concept:

 

Salomon XR Shift Trail Runners Gear Review

I recently purchased a pair of Salomon XR Shift as my first trail runners. I picked them on the basis that a) They were cheap and b) I liked the look of them – so how good (or bad) can a pair of trail runners that cost €30 (£24 or $34) be?

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Since I rarely do trail running (thus why I wanted cheap runners!), I had these for a few weeks before they got to see any actual trails. They are not the most aggressive looking trail runners, so I wore them for casual wear, and on a few short runs (3-4 miles) on tarmac to break them in. I found them comfortable, if a little more of a snug fit than I am used to. They are described as “Hybrid” runners, designed for a mix of trail types, including road, and I found that was certainly true. I had no problems running on tarmac with them, and they felt comfortable on my feet. The only issue I had was that I found my feet got much hotter in them than in my road runners, probably due to the fact that they have a lot more padding in the uppers. This isn’t a problem on short runs, but might be for me on longer runs – time will tell. I was surprised at how light they are despite their chunky appearance.

On Saturday I got to give them their first real test, as I was running the Tralee Tri Club Trail Race. This race could have been tailor made for these shoes, as it consisted of a mixture of tarmac road, gravel forest trails, muddy farm tracks, and just about everything else in between. I found the Salomon XR Shift ideal for this race – the thread pattern is aggressive enough to give confidence on muddy tracks, while it isn’t too extreme for the road, allowing me to run the road section as if I was wearing regular road shoes.

I had no problems with loss of grip at any stage, despite some fairly severe climbs, fast descents on loose gravel, and lots of surface changes. The rubber toe guard works well to prevent stubbed toes on the rocky sections too.

The ankle support feels good, and this, combined with the excellent grip, gave confidence on the trails.

Overall I am very happy with these – they are a quality product, that work well, at a very reasonable price point. I will update once I’ve put some serious mileage on them, but for now, they look like they will hold up well.

Salomon XR Shift Stats:

Weight: 11.5 Ounces (Mens) 8.5 Ounces (Womens)
Drop: 10mm

 

eGlove Touch-screen Sports Glove Review

eGlove recently sent me a pair of their touch-screen sport gloves for evaluation.

The eGlove website described them thus:

The eGlove SPORT enables you to operate touch screen devices such as your iPhone, iPod, iPad, HTC, Samsung or any other touch screen equipment without removing your gloves! Use your favourite fitness App, GPS tracking, or just answer the phone in gloved warmth!
This is a high tech sports glove with breathable performance lycra and sweat removal strip.

I hadn’t come across eGloves in any running stores here in Ireland, but I had noticed that they were fellow finalists in the 2016 Running Awards.

The timing was great for receiving these gloves – we’ve been going through a bit of a cold spell here, and I had some really chilly evening runs over the past couple of weeks.

For my first experience with them, I wore the eGloves on a very wet and chilly evening 4 mile run with my running group. I tried them out on my iPhone and found there was no problem operating the touchscreen, using the conductive pads on the index finger and thumb of each glove. I also found, most importantly, that they are breathable, and so kept my hands warm and dry, without making me too hot while running.
I also liked the embossed rubbery material on the palm and fingers, which meant that the gloves give a great grip – very important (as I found out recently) when trying to hold an expensive piece of electronic equipment while running! Incidentally, I found they make a pretty good driving glove too.

I have run several more times with the eGloves since, and I am happy to recommend them – they work well, and should be especially useful if you use a smartphone app, or touchscreen GPS watch to measure your run, or if you use an iPod or similar to listen to music when running.

They are available from the eGlove website for £24.99

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Mizuno Wave Inspire 12 Review

A few weeks ago, Mizuno sent me a pair of the latest version of the Wave Inspire range to test out.

I’ve been wearing Wave Inspires since I got my first pair of “proper” running shoes a few years ago, and they have served me well. In fact, I’ve run every one of my 14 marathons and 5 ultras in Mizunos. I find them comfortable, hard-wearing, and they don’t cause me any foot issues. I have one pair of Wave Inspire 9’s that have clocked up well over 1,000 miles without problems.

There was one fly in the ointment however – I was not a big fan of the Wave Inspire 10. I found they were not as comfortable or hard-wearing as the 9’s, and in fact, I held off buying any 11’s as I had heard the 12’s were going to be a return to form. The biggest problem I had with the Wave Inspire 10 was the feeling that they didn’t hold my foot as securely as they should, which resulted in a slightly disconcerting feeling of movement within the shoe until they were well worn in. This seemed to be exacerbated by an inner sole material that had a “slippery” feel.

Back to the 12’s! I was keen to see if Mizuno had sorted the issues I’d had with the 10’s and when I opened the box, I was pleased to note that the 12 had the same chunky, solid look as the 9’s. The pair Mizuno sent me were a fetching shade of electric blue, which I felt was a big improvement over the white/multicolour of the 10. They also turned out to have the sexiest laces I’ve encountered on any pair of shoes I’ve owned – they have a soft, almost rubbery quality that I like a lot.

The Wave Inspire 12 feel great – nice and snug, with a confidence-inspiring hold on the foot. I couldn’t wait to hit the road.

I took them for a test run on a hilly 10k route near my home, on rough tarmac. As soon as I got on the road, I felt a sense of relief – the Wave Inspire 12 are definitely a big improvement on the 10. They feel a lot like the 9’s, but lighter, and perhaps a little more padded. Despite the solid look, they feel very light on the road, with excellent support, and good rebound. Mizuno have hit all the right notes with these, and they look as good as they feel.

Over the next week or two, I went for a few short runs in the 12’s, and they confirmed my first impressions. I also noticed that, as a (reconstructed) forefoot lander, these shoes had plenty of cushioning in the sole to avoid any pain on landing.

The first big test for my new Mizuno Wave Inspire 12’s came in the form of the Sixmilebridge Ultra – and what a test it was! We started off in pouring rain, with loads of standing water on the roads, and myself and my new runners were quickly soaked through. They still managed to impress me even soaking wet, as I found they didn’t seem to gain a lot of weight when wet, something I’ve found to be a problem with other runners. I ended up going through 4 different pairs of Wave Inspires during this ultra!

Dried out, the Wave Inspire 12 were back to their best a few days later, and now, having clocked up over 100 miles in them, I can say I am very happy indeed with them. A definite return to their best form by Mizuno, and the Wave Inspire 12 will be my runner of choice for 2016.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 12 Stats:
Weight: 10.6 Ounces (Mens) 8.9 Ounces (Womens)
Drop: 12mm