Friday, April 29, 2016

Tommie Copper: Recovery Compression Tights Review

Compression garments have been in the sports industry for a long time now and we’ve seen those worn by athletes from all different types of sports. Compression garments can be worn during training, races and most especially on the days that you need most…recovery. The perceived benefit here is that it compresses the veins, arteries and muscles making the circulatory channels smaller pushing the blood to travel faster back to the heart, thus supplying our muscles more oxygen.

Tommie Copper was founded in 2010 by Tom Kallish with the simple goal of helping people live healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives. Tommie Copper is one of the many companies that specializes in compression. They have different compression garments to choose from, shirts to calves to socks…Tommie Copper got you covered.

I had the chance to test Tommie Copper’s recovery compression tights and I got to say that this is one amazing garment you should try.

Image Credit: Tommie Copper
·         It’s made of fabric infused with copper and zinc.
·         Have the CopperZnergy™ that helps eliminate odors caused by microbes.
·         It offers a UPF 50+ that can protect you from sun’s harmful UV rays.
·         It has a COOL COPPER™ fabric technology that provides moisture wicking and breathability to keep you cool and dry.

Fit and Functionality
Let me begin that not all compression garments are created equal. I’ve tried few different compression bottoms for training and recovery and each has their own good and bad. I’ve been wearing this recovery compression tights for the past few weeks now and I have to say that it really helps me get back on track and be fresh the following day. My workout mainly consists of cycling and running, it’s obvious that my legs are the one taking most of the punishment. There were days that I would train for six straight days and only a day of rest, this compression tights gave life to my sore legs and muscles. I began my long distance running back in 2013 when I did my first half marathon. I don’t know anything much about the benefits of compression back then and I just basically rely on my body to heal naturally and if that doesn’t work…well, super M (motrin) will be there to the rescue. I guess it’s just fair for me to say that I learned more about how to take care of myself as I progress on these sports.

The recovery compression tights doesn’t have a string and it sits a bit high on my waist…way past my navel to be exact. It has a small pocket on the waist but I’m not really sure why they put it since this compression is worn under the pants anyhow. The compression delivered on my legs and calves is not too constricting but it still gave me the support I needed. The one thing I noticed was the thickness of the material the company used. Initially I thought that this will be warm once I start wearing it under my pants, but that was not even the case, it feels natural and as if the compression tights wasn’t even there. It’s comfortable, supportive, it stays in place and it doesn’t bunch up.

I normally do my work out during lunch time and I have to say that wearing the compression tights after those hard runs make a big difference. The fact that I also have a standing work station helps my legs to feel not jelly at all. This recovery compression tights reduces the discomfort of my tight muscles when worn and it does speed up the recovery times. I read some articles that they don’t recommend sleeping with the compression tights but I’ve done the opposite many times and it didn’t affect me at all. This might be different with others, so try to figure out what works best for you. Having fresh legs when I get up in the morning is a good thing besides having my first cup of coffee.

My Verdict
Image Credit: Tommie Copper
Tommie Copper’s compression tights are designed to be comfortably worn all day long. The compression aids in muscle recovery and offers relief from everyday aches and pains. Their compression garments are made with CopperZnergy™ proprietary fabric infused with copper and zinc. CopperZnergy eliminates odors caused by microbes on the fabric and it offers UPF 50+ protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays for skin health benefits.

I’m very well pleased with the recovery compression tights and this shouldn’t be a surprise from a brand like Tommie Copper. The compression tights help me get back on track and speed up my recovery time, it’s comfortable and supportive. Give yourself some TLC and notice the difference the next morning when you wake up.

You can purchase the recovery compression tights directly on their website for $79.50. Its money well spent for a brand this good and the benefits it can give you.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hoka One One: Clayton Review

What goes on your mind when you hear the word Hoka? Massive sole and MAXIMUM CUSHION, right? Well, that’s the whole premise when Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard built this company back in 2009. They revolutionized the shoe industry by embracing the idea that maximum cushion offers less stress and impact to the body.

While some runners like the idea, there are some against it. I’ve read a lot of articles on this topic and it can be debated all day. Is this really an issue? I personally don’t think so. It’s just a matter of personal choice. My training partner loves the less cushioned shoe while I personally run most miles on cushioned shoes and I found that it works best for me. That said, Hoka is one of my favorite shoes to date and if you want to find out some of their shoes, I did an in-depth review of the Hoka Infinite just last month and you can read my review here.

For those runners who may still be on the fence about cushioned shoes, maybe we can find some common grounds here. Hoka just released a new member of their family. A shoe that is made for speed with lightweight cushion…the CLAYTON. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Clayton shoe was launched at the beginning of April and is the hybrid of Clifton 1 and Huaka. Not super soft as the Clifton but not as firm as the Huaka. The Clayton offers both worlds that most runners will surely appreciate. It’s a line drawn between earth and sky.

Clayton is a neutral shoe designed for runners with medium to high arch. The shoe weighs in at 7.30 ounces for men size 9 and 6.30 ounces for women size 7. The heel to toe drop is 4mm for men (Heel height: 24mm, Forefoot height: 20mm) and 4mm for women (Heel height: 23mm, Forefoot height: 19mm). I tested a size 10 and it really feels true to the size.

The upper is made of a no- sew TPU lattice (woven material) while the support structure is made of bonded overlays and with a massive Hoka logo at the back end. The material offers a decent amount of air to flow thru. Quite similar with the Clifton 1, the Clayton has a minimum padding on the tongue area and stretchable lace that locks my foot nice and comfy. One of the things I like most is the wide platform on the upper and additional width on the forefoot, making this shoe very stable. The upper is a bit restrictive on the flex but it still offers a nice ride. Unlike other shoes, the Clayton has no heel counter or support cup but this is very unnoticeable and my heel was locked in place throughout the run.

The entire outsole of the shoe is made of full RMAT material that creates a high rebound cushioning and traction. While the midsole is made of PRO2LITE material that offers a unique balance of propulsion and protection. HOKA didn’t put a lot of rubber on the outsole, there are no crash pads…yup, you read it right. The benefit is the reduction in weight, making this shoe amazingly light.

The Ride
Ok, here’s the fun part…well, it was actually painful. My first test run was the 7.5-mile interval. At around mile 4, I stopped for a moment, thought that there might be something that got into it that makes that irritating feel. I took it off (nothing fell) and adjusted my ankle compression sock. I put it back on and continue with my run but the rubbing was still there. At the end of the run, there was a blister on my left foot on the medial side, just below the ball of my foot. I’ve been wearing different kinds of shoes for a while now and this is the first time that I experience this. Yes, I had blisters before but not on this area.

I don’t want to jump on any conclusion yet, so after three days, I gave the shoe another try and did 10 miles of tempo run. However, I experienced the same issue and it is still on the same spot…now the blister was even worse.

My training partner has the same shoe but he didn’t experience anything like mine. I read some reviews that other runners experienced the same thing. So at least I’m not the only one (or maybe it’s just an isolated case?). I’m guessing that it might be the inside material just below the midsole that is so dense that causes that irritation. With this, I have no choice but to abandon the remaining test runs I normally do (i.e. easy and tempo). This past few days, I ended up riding my bike instead…waiting for the blister to heal.

Regarding the outsole, I normally see crash pads or at least additional rubber for durability purposes, but Hoka opted to use the RMAT compound instead. I was a bit skeptic about how long will the shoe last since there was nothing to protect the soft RMAT. But I was surprised that there was little to no sign of wear after running this for 17+ miles. I guess only time will tell exactly how long the shoe can last. So depending on your running style and your body structure will probably dictate the life of the outsole.

My Verdict
Hoka took a gamble on this shoe by getting out from their comfort zone and I applaud them for taking that risk. It’s amazing how they were able to produce a shoe this light without sacrificing the quality and the ride. I know Clayton will pave the way for the next shoe and this is just Hoka’s benchmark.

Yes, I might have the issue of blister during my test runs but that’s just the reality on this sport. Do I blame the shoe? Absolutely not. Just like a computer software on version 1.0, that there will be bugs that we’ll encounter along the way. So hopefully, this issue that I had will be address on version 2.0 and I’m really hoping for that, since this is the kind of shoe that has the potential to be an all-around shoe…from training to races, you can bet on this.

Is there other negative? Yeah, the price. It comes with a hefty price tag of $150 which I think is above the average price that normally comes at $120 - $130 range. The life of the shoe is still unknown but I hope that it will last long to live up with that price.

You can purchase the Clayton directly on their website or at retail stores near you. Let me know what you think so feel free to comment on the section below.

Thanks again for reading and as always have fun and be safe out there.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cotopaxi: Tikal Active Shell Review

Ever heard of Cotopaxi? If not, that’s OK. Cotopaxi is a relatively brand new company that specializes in outdoor gears and apparels. Based in Salt Lake City Utah and founded by Davis Smith in 2013. The name Cotopaxi is taken after a volcano in Ecuador and represented by a tiny llama logo.

Cotopaxi is not just a company like most companies you know. They are the first company in the US to be incorporated as a benefit corporation. So what is Benefit Corporation? It is a type of for-profit corporate entity authorized by 30 U.S states and the District of Columbia. Their purpose is to create a general public benefit that includes positive impact on society, workers, community and the environment. In other words, their purpose is to help those less fortunate and the poorest regions of the world. Hoping to make the world a better place.

The name of each product explains where the money from each purchase will go. Like the Luzon Del Dia, Luzon is one of the three main islands in the Philippines, so that’s where portion of the profit will go if you purchase this product. So you get the idea…it’s all about giving back and help those in need.

Image Credit: Cotopaxi
I’m fortunate enough that Cotopaxi let me test one of their products, the Tikal Active Shell. The name Tikal came from an ancient city found in a rainforest in Guatemala. So if you decide to purchase this, not only did you help the company but the people of Guatemala as well. So let’s get started with my review.

·   Fully taped, 2.5-layer waterproof shell fabric with four-way stretch.
·   Three-way adjustable hood with laminated visor.
·   YKK Vislon® center front zipper.
·   Perforated underarm panels vent heat with less bulk than pit zips.
·   Two zippered hand pockets with Framis trim detail.
·   Weight: 283 g (10 oz).

Fit and Functionality
I received the jacket in the mail last week, and I was a bit worried that I may not be able to test it since it’s April and the temperature is starting to get warm. Luckily, the sun decided to get some break and the rain poured down last Friday morning and I was able to test this gear for 5 plus mile run.

The Tikal Active Shell is one of the lightest full waterproof and breathable shell in the market today that weighs 238 grams only. It was about 50owith 22 mph wind when I headed out the door. I zipped up and donned the hood. I stood under the heavy rain for a moment and watched the water just slid thru the jacket. True to what they advertised, the jacket handled the water perfectly with their 2.5-layer waterproof shell fabric. One of the features that I like about the jacket is the hood with laminated visor that extends far enough to shield and protect my eyes from the pouring rain. Unlike other hooded jackets, there’s no need to wear a hat under the hood, the visor of the Tikal is perfect enough. Additionally, the pull strings on the side and back of the hood kept it in place, regardless of how strong the wind that was blowing straight to my face. The waterproofness of the jacket was pretty impressive and there’s no doubt that this jacket can keep me dry to whatever mother nature throws at me.

Perforated holes under the arm and Pull strings at the back and side of the hood
Image Credit: Cotopaxi
Other key features of the jacket were: instead of using a zipper to get the ventilation under the arms, Cotopaxi used the perforated holes instead. The bottom of the jacket has a double string lock nut that I can pull to prevent the cold air from coming in. The cuff utilized a Velco system that can be adjusted easily and has a reflective striping for safety during low light conditions. It has two zippered pockets to carry some of my running essentials.

Going back to my run, the jacket was able to block the wind. Initially, I thought that ability of the jacket to block the wind would create an issue of breathability. Wind blocking and breathability are the two factors of a material that some companies failed to address. It’s hard to achieve that perfect blend. I had this problem from the previous jackets and vests that I tested that could block the wind. Yes, it blocked the wind but it didn’t let my body to breath. I was basically overheating and was soaking wet from my own sweat within few minutes of my run. This was definitely not the case when I tested the Tikal Active Shell. The material was breathable and my body didn’t overheat even though I was pushing a hard pace then.

My Verdict
After 5+ miles of running in the rain
Looking at the Tikal Active Shell’s features, I thought it was mainly designed for climbing, hiking, back packing and other outdoor adventures. I stand corrected, this is an awesome jacket for running as well. I was really impressed with how it performed and handled the elements mother nature threw at it.

It is sometimes a challenge to find apparels that I can use not only during my run but on normal occasions as well. The design of the jacket was well beyond what I expected from Cotopaxi. The design and the quality of materials used in this jacket was very subtle and stylish that I wouldn't mind wearing this to work.

I highly recommend that you give Cotopaxi Tikal Active Shell a try and I can assure you that it will not disappoint. You can purchase the Tikal Active Shell directly on their website. While you're on it, check out their other items as well and extend your helping hand to other people who are in need. Their company is built under that purpose and that is truly remarkable.

Thanks again for reading and let me know how it works for you.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The "Run Less Run Faster" Training Program

Speed interval: 2 x 2mi @ 7:45 min/mi
w/ 9:05 min/mi rest in between
My training partner and I have been using the "Run Less Run Faster" training program for almost a month now in preparation for the our next race, the Capital City Classic this May 15 at Sacramento, California. This training program requires 3 days of running / week with 2 days of cross training in between runs. Ideal for runners who don't have time to crunch 5 days of running / week and for those runners trying to break from the monotony of just running. Add some flavor to your runs and give this program a try.

I'm not affiliated with nor getting paid, I just want to share the program which I think could benefit some of you. If you have any program that works best for you, I’ll be more than happy to hear about it, so we can share it to the rest.

Thanks for reading and see you on the fast lane:-)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Swiftwick: Maxus Socks Review

Swiftwick is a company based in Brentwood, Tennessee and known for their socks…not just socks, but THE BEST socks out there! I’ve been wearing Swiftwick socks when I started riding a road bike back in 2005 and I can attest to their claim “the BEST SOCKS you will EVER wear, GUARANTEED is absolutely true. I did a review of the Aspire Four Socks last month and I was really impressed with the quality and materials they used. You can read my in-depth review of the Aspire Four socks here.

Image Credit: Swiftwick
Swiftwick just recently released a brand new line of socks called the “Maxus”. I received a pair of Maxus zero last week to test out. If you’re wondering what the zero stands for, it’s basically the number that references the height of the cuff. It ranges from zero (below the ankle)) up to Twelve (which is over the calf). The Maxus comes in two cuff heights only, the zero and one.
Swiftwick claims that the Maxus is their MAX cushion, MAX cooling and MAX wicking socks ever, so I’m happy to put it to the test.

-          Breathable Upper
·         Constructed with Swiftwick signature Olefin fibers and open knit pattern for maximum comfort.
-          Cushioned Toe Guard
·         Creates a second skin fit to virtually eliminate the risk of blisters.
-          Maximum Cushion
·         Made with unique structure and materials to provide maximum cushion and moisture wicking.
-          Managed Compression
·         Proven to reduce swelling, improved circulation and increase endurance.

Fit and Functionality
It was muggy that day when I got out the door to test the Maxus zero on my 11 mi long run last Sunday. They were serious when they said “maximum cushion”. My feet were so comfortable and well supported the entire run. It offered the right amount of cushion and compression without the feel of being constricted. The fact the temperature was high enough that day, I’m a little bit concerned on things like hot spots, blisters, and the ability of the socks to disperse the sweat away from my feet. I was surprised that none of the above hampered my run, my feet stayed cool and dry during and after the run.

My other concern was that it sits below my ankle. I thought that it would just bunched down inside my shoe. Totally not the case, the Maxus stayed where it needs to be. It’s amazing that I didn’t think about it during the run and I was able to focus more on running…it does make a big difference.

My Verdict
As a runner, we are so particular on shoes but no so much when it comes to socks. Sock is one of the gears that we should not overlook, simply because it protects the part of our body that helps us move from one point to the other. I have different varieties of socks, depending on the weather condition and the type of activities I’m doing, I make sure I pick the right socks for that. Maxus is one of those socks that I can rely on whatever the condition is. I truly believe what they put on their package “The best socks you will ever wear”. Without a doubt, this is one of the best athletic socks I have ever worn and highly suggest that you give it a try.

You can purchase the Maxus socks directly on their website for $12.99 or at retail stores near you. Swiftwick guarantees that their product will perform to your satisfaction or they will replace it – even with a competitor’s product. Best of all, it’s proudly MADE IN THE U.S.A!

Thanks again for reading and let me know what you think.