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Wednesday 24 February 2016

Karma. You DO work fast.

6am spin class.

Row of 3 chaps in front of me. One in front with expensive padded cycling shorts patterned with brand names and slogans, the next one in a cycling shirt with a pocket at the back for snacks. For his 45 minute spin class. And the one at the end. The one wearing cycling gloves. Obviously to protect his hands in case of a high speed crash. On his stationary bike.

Look at that line of plonkers.

I sat there all smug. Doing my spin class. Until near the end when I caught sight of something white in my reflection in the full length mirror opposite.

What WAS that?

Looked a bit closer. It was my label. The label on the OUTSIDE of my top. Which should have been on the inside. And when I looked at myself a bit closer I realised I could also see the label on the outside of my shorts. Which should have been on the inside of my shorts.


Having got dressed in the dark that morning and being so busy laughing at the three chaps in front of me that I’d completely failed to notice that ALL of my kit was inside out.

Karma. You DO work fast. 

Friday 19 February 2016

GripLock Socks: Toe-tally Honest Review

I thought I'd kick off by telling you that SockMine sent me these socks free and I agreed to review them but said I'd be toe-tally honest about what I thought about them.

Ooh new socks!

The GripLock socks are designed to grip your feet and reduce friction and therefore blisters. I liked the idea of no blisters but was dubious about whether these actually worked. Surely there is always going to be some friction between foot and sock? When they arrived I was even less sure. The usual no-blister socks have 2 layers to allow for the movement of fabric and to take the friction away from the skin whereas these socks use rubber to keep the sock in place which you can feel with your fingers. I was positive these couldn't feel nice on and even less positive that they'd stop blisters. 

Any excuse for a foot pic' ...

However, I was pleasantly surprised. You can't feel the rubber at all when the socks are on your feet, in fact they feel soft and fluffy and they have a padded heel and toe to make them even more comfortable. They even look nice. Now looks aren’t really at the top of my list when I’m buying sports socks (Have you SEEN my pink compression socks?) but these look nice. I was a bit concerned about the low rise profile as I typically lose socks whenever I wear boots (and find them bunched up around my toes) but they didn’t shift at all.

Inside out - can you see the rubber rings?

Even more importantly, they were great when I used them for running – no blisters,no chafing, no problems. In fact they were SO good, I decided to give them an acid test ...

An aquathlon. Straight from the lake, out of the wetsuit, socks onto wet feet and off. They were perfect. No blisters, no bunching, no problems. They take slightly more time to get on than a normal sock as they’re closer fitting but for me it was worth the extra couple of seconds (and it really is no more than that).  In fact, I found them so good I used them for my A race of the year (Vitruvian Middle Distance triathlon) and for Bala Triathlon. No problems either of those times and I used the same pair for the bike and for the run.

Sock preference is very personal to the individual but I can wholeheartedly recommend these, especially if you suffer with blisters. And even if you don’t. They’re comfy, have been hardwearing and for £12 they’re a mid price for a decent running sock. 


  • Very comfortable. They feel soft and fluffy and you can't feel the rubber grip when they're on - you only notice they don't shift.
  • They look nice. I don’t tend to buy my socks because of how they look, it’s all about how they perform, but they aren't eyeball offending. They’d also be fine unisex.
  • These have a low rise profile (there is a longer version available) but this wasn't a problem as they didn't fall down. 
  • Even with wet feet they don't shift around. Good after triathlon transitions.
  • Absolutely no blisters or marks on my feet at all after using these.
  • Washed and worn 8 or 9 times. Still feel fluffy and the washing doesn't appear to have affected the grip (although it's recommended you wash them at 30 degrees without fabric conditioner.
  • They appear to dry out quickly which is good. The rubber really is just rings around the interior of the sock so no concerns about breathability. 


  • They take slightly onger to put on than a normal sock which might be an issue in transition if you're using them for triathlon (but I found a couple of extra seconds for no blisters worth the compromise).
  • Low rise (although there is a longer version available but I didn’t try these)
  • Probably wouldn’t stop impact blisters (for instance in an ultra where your toe would hit the end of the shoe) or for problems caused by poorly fitting shoes. But that isn’t a sock issue.

I'll be stocking up on these. If you'd like your own pair you can get them here on the SockMine website.

Thursday 18 February 2016

Losing at Training: Must Tri Harder

My triathlon training seems to be going ok at the moment ... but it wasn’t the case with the first two sessions. I had a brand new coach and a brand new training plan and I was DETERMINED to do everything properly. 

Doing things properly NEVER works for me. It seems to go even worse if I’m concentrating. Avoid me if I’m concentrating. It’s like a disaster magnet.

Note: DEFINITELY avoid me if I’m concentrating in open water ...

The frustrating part was that the sessions sounded SO easy on the plan.

Session one:
Tempo run, 15 minute w/u, 5x2mins at your 5k pace with 1 minute jog recovery, 10m cool down

Really easy right? No. Actually no. Not when you have a stomach that HATES you. And which waits until you’re halfway through your speed session before giving you a Code Brown warning. Thanks then. Luckily I’d wimped out of doing this session in the ice and was at the gym. So toilets and warm loo seats rather than a hedge and big leaves. Winning while NOT winning. 

Session two:
400m warm up, 400m TT RECORD TIME, 4X25Mm kick only record fastest time, 600m steady think good technique, smooth swimming, count strokes

I was looking forward to this one. A short session with a focus on technique with a sneaky fast bit in the middle. Perfect. Unless you do it at 6:30am. I can’t run in the morning. My legs get confused. It appears the same thing happens with swimming but with my arms as well. All fours limbs moving independently and in different directions. It was like I was trying to do a dance off with different parts of my body. My legs were doing tap dancing & cha-cha-cha and my arms were going for The Robot and YMCA. All at the same time. 

It was an actual miracle I was moving forwards. Can only assume it was the rush of people leaving the pool in fear that was dragging me to the other end. 

I did 50m of the time trial and discovered I was actually moving slower than ANY of the 400m reps I did last Friday. Not ideal for a timed session. It would make my improvement next time look good but it wasn’t really in the spirit of time trials. It was more slo-mo than go-go. I gave it up as a bad job with the idea of adding it onto the next session. I did the kick, forgetting to record each individual time but I did remember the 600m. But forgot to count the strokes. At least I tried. I’d failed. But at least I’d tried. 

I’d come 2nd in a race of 1.

Must tri harder.