Skins: wicking and winning

 

Hej! Lycklig Torsdag!

 

In case you’re not fluent in Swedish, that was ‘hello! Happy Thursday!’ in my spiritual language, from my seat at a rooftop bar in my spiritual home of Stockholm. Life is pretty good here in Summer: the whole city seems to live at outdoor bars and restaurants. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve put in some serious work hours this week – but now I have the chance to enjoy moule frites (not Swedish, but still good) and catch up with my favourite blog.

 

Anyway. Last month, #100MileJuly gave me the perfect opportunity to test out some new gear. Skins AU were kind enough to send me a sports bra and some leggings to test out, and believe me, I have been putting them through the ringer for the last four weeks.

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Skins AU specialise in sports compression gear for both men and women. Compression gear is kind of like the socks that I never you’re supposed to wear on long haul flights to prevent DVT. The theory behind compression gear for sports is that the compression increases blood flow, which in turn keep the muscles warm, preventing injury, lactic acid build-up and fatigue. It’s also thought to encourage speedy recovery. By the way – Skins is a global brand, and there’s also a Skins UK.

 

Now, as we all know from my complaining blogging, my biggest issue when marathon training were my feet. But, post-run, my calves and legs would ache with tiredness, but thanks to my angry feet, my legs never got much sympathy. So I was really keen to see how the compression gear could help with muscle ache.

 

The first thing to say about the set is that they fitted like a dream. I’m wearing a small in both, and often I find the length is wayyy to long for my hip width in leggings. I don’t know who these gazelle-women are who have a 26 inch waist, and legs that reach up to the ceiling. But these leggings were a great overall fit.

 

Ah, ok. That's who. Thanks Giselle.

Ah, ok. Giselle: that’s who.

 

When running, they were extremely lightweight: it felt like I wasn’t wearing anything. My regular leggings aren’t exactly made of cement, but the Skins leggings didn’t bunch around my knees or pinch my waist, which are my known pain points. I feel sleek running in them, and that’s a lovely feeling. You might say that I feel like Giselle-the-Gazelle when wearing them.

 

The material is designed to prevent chafing and rashes by wicking the sweat away: the material moves the sweat away from your skin to the surface. Now, England in Summer is hardly Sydney in Summer. I know that. But heck, last week we were enjoying highs of 23 degrees (try not to get too jealous). On those days, the leggings did effectively draw the sweat away from the pain points (especially behind the knees), making for a comfortable run. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with regards to compression. They didn’t feel as tight as DVT socks, but afterwards, my shins in particular didn’t ache as much.

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However, it’s not all Giselle-the-gazelle running. One downside for me with these tights is that there is no pocket. Nowhere to put your house key, let alone your iphone. For me, that’s quite a big issue: for a product that makes you feel so lightweight, it’s a shame to wear a running belt too. And, when considering dark Winter running, I’d probably prefer a few more reflective elements too.

 

Now on to the crop top-sports bra, which was my favourite out of the two. I really liked how it looked: lovely colours, pretty straps at the back, and it’s also padded so you can still feel feminine whilst wearing something that’s basically designed to strap your breasts down to nothing.

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And strap my breasts down it did. When I was fitted for my first sports bra, I was advised to jump up and down and see how much movement there was: the less, the better. This one passed the test with flying colours.

 

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Solid as a rock.

 

It’s pretty enough to wear as a crop top, which made it perfect for pole dancing: my sides were still free to grip the pole, but my boobs were protected from gravity, which as we all know, can be unkind. During marathon training, I fell victim to some nasty chafing around my bra line, but that was never an issue with this top. Again, just one minor design flaw for me: the padding is optional, and you’re able to remove it through a small hole in the side. This might suit some people, but every time I washed the top, the pads came out. And each time I put them back in, I felt like they didn’t fit inside quite as well as before.

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So. All in all, Skins AU have produced a great sports set which definitely reduces chafing, and looks really stylish. In my opinion, the lack of a pocket in the tights would probably turn me off on the shop – but if you’re not into running with your iphone, or you don’t mind wearing an arm band/running belt, then it’s not a problem. Plus, they are very comfortable, so maybe I need to get over my fixation with pockets. I will definitely look to Skins the next time I need a sports bra: I’m happy to put up with stuffing the pads back in if it means no chafing and a bit of (tightly strapped) cleavage. 

 

And you know what is the perfect way to finish off this post? A collage of some of the views that I’ve been enjoying this week.

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#IheartScandinavia

 

 

Ellie B

 

Disclaimer:  I was sent the leggings and crop top by Skins AU to try, but this did not influence my assessment and review of the products. 

Living la Lija Loca: hills and clothes

Yesterday… All my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they’re here to stay…I wonder if Paul McCartney had been in training when he wrote that.

 

Yesterday I felt like a hero, my legs felt like rods of iron, and I was dazzled by endorphins in all their shiny goodness. I thought it a good idea to do something that I like to call ‘Lunch Time Lunges’. It’s pretty self-explanatory: during lunch time, I do some lunges & squats, and then stretching and foam rolling. It all went well, and after work I tackled the set workout: 6 miles, with 8*2 min hill runs.

 

Sensible me shortened the run  to 5 miles with 6*2 min hill runs because of Lunch Time Lunges, and didn’t I feel smug getting two workouts in?!  I am a freak of nature because I actually like hill runs. Mentally it’s easier to throw yourself up a hill as fast as you can than run on flat – I think because you already know the hill will be hard. The satisfaction of reaching the top is great. I honestly urge you to try a couple of hill reps and see if you don’t feel like a champ at the end.

 

But, today. Today, my quads and glutes are quite angry at me. Tonight I’m going for a gentle run with the Striders to loosen everything up a bit. Anyway, now that pity party is done with, let’s move on to the next topic.

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Now that the weather is heating up, and the sun is still about when I run, I have recently been considering a Very Important Topic: running clothes.

 

Hear me out. On the list of decisions to be made when you go running, the sartorial ones often top of the list: is it hot/cold/windy/wet, will you need leggings/three-quater-length pants/sun visor/gloves, is that pair of socks clean, and this is before you try to pick which shoes would be the most appropriate for the task.

 

House of Fraser have launched a collection with a Canadian brand called Lija, and I’ve been sent these images to see what I think. And to share them with you to see what you think.  Generally the collection is for running and yoga, and is available now through HoF.

Lija 1

I’m not ashamed to admit that, as well as functionality, the colour and style of the clothes is important to me too. I’m a sucker for bright clothes, particularly in the dead of Winter, and it makes me feel happy just wearing bright colours. And I know Gilly generally likes to put on as many luminescent clothes as she can too. We’re the double-trouble-colour runners.

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So. Based on the images, I am a fan. I love the colours of the clothes – I find that there’s not such a huge choice of bright colours for running gear here. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong store. But these are colourful and fun, without being too girly and fussy. The material looks lightweight and breathable too.

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I had a look on the HoF website, and the tops/shorts generally start at £40, and the pants sorry, trousers, start at £60. After a quick look on some other label sites, these are competitively priced.

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Overall I’d say they have a lovely, sleek look that gives them an edge on a purely aesthetic level. My favourites are the pink sports bra and the turquoise vest top. They are priced within the more aspirational brand level, so they might be one of the items that I ‘treat myself to because I deserve it’ rather than be my go-to label. However, I’ll definitely be checking out my local House of Fraser to see how they look in the flesh. You can see more of the collection here.

 

 

Ellie B

 

PS – I was sent these images to share, but all opinions are my own.