Monthly Archives: August 2015

Gear Review: Skins A400 Long Sleeve Compression Top and Power Shorts

When I was given some of the new Skins A400 Compression range to test for @UKRunchat I was intrigued on how good it really was.

As a compression gear user and believer I was really interested in seeing if the hype behind Skins gear was just that or backed up.  I chose a long-sleeved A400 Compression top (£85) and a pair of the A400 power shorts (£75) as I’m not a tights wearer.

When they first arrived I wasn’t too impressed by the packaging.  They come in a large cardboard box which looks good and is well presented but personally I like less packaging as this is better for the planet and makes it product costs a little cheaper.

Once you get over the excess packaging and get to look at the kit you notice that it is very well made and you can see the quality in the material.  Sizing is a little tough and when I first tried them on the top and shorts felt VERY tight but of course they need to be to have the desired effect.  I soon felt comfortable and forgot about them as I headed out on my first run in them.

I used them for the first time on a 10 mile run, the longest I had run in 2 months, even though I was slower due to fitness my legs felt fresher than I expected at the end and also I was surprised with the fact I had very little DOMs in the days after.  My first run in my Skins was on a warm evening, I was a little concerned on wearing a long sleeved top as I overheat but it was fine as the material is designed to keep you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.  The panels under the arms and back help to keep you cool.  My only issue with the top was that I have short arms for my chest size (Large) so I had material gathered at my wrists.  I liked the gripper at the bottom which stopped it from riding up.

I chose the power shorts as I have short legs (5ft 6in) so I find normal compression shorts too long.  The shorts fit me really well and stopped about mid-thigh.  The material felt stiff and did not look or feel thin.  There is no waist draw string but I had no issues with riding up or slipping down with these shorts as I do with some other brands the design and fit mean there is no need.  They were really comfortable and will now become my short of choice for speed and hill sessions as this particular short has been designed to help with power, power and speed.

So far I have done a mix of long, hill, speed and gym sessions in them and so far they have washed really well.  I have friends who swear by their skins gear and say it lasts really well, even within contact sports like rugby.

In summation, I would like to see Skins use less packaging as this was my only grip but the quality and performance of the garments is better than the other brands I own.  I know can see why they are so popular and so many people spend the extra money to buy them.  Until now I was never convinced that they were worth the extra money but I now can see they are.  I would suggest trying it on before buying to get the right fit but remember it needs to be tight!

Happy Running 😉

Hyponatremia – An idiots experience and guide!

Now lying on the floor buy the baggage collection at the end of the Brighton Marathon 2015 trying to tell the volunteer that I was not feeling well and needed first aid support was not how I expected my Marathon to end but this defining moment opened my eyes to something I had never heard of before but know I’m fully aware of!

More about what happened later but lets get scientific, well a little anyway…….

Hyponatremia is a water and sodium (Salt) imbalance either through medical issues or through endurance sport.  Obviously i’m talking about the latter.  Until I read more about it after the event I didn’t realist how common it was and how deadly it can be so i’m writing this to share the signs and symptoms and how to prevent/cure.

Symptoms

Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia (EAH) is due to low salt levels in the blood stream due over hydrating or losing too much salt.  It can cause death in severe cases but the main symptoms are hand and feet swelling, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion and seizures/spasms (from Wikipedia) and it has been sighted as the main illness brought on by endurance events.

Cure

I learnt the hard way that once you reach a certain point you need medical assistance.  For me this involved a saline drip but if I knew better prevention would have been far better.  In lesser cases people talk of taking on electrolyte drinks and salty crisps/pretzels to combat the onset of EAH.

Prevention

As i have now learnt prevention is far easier than cure and much safer too!! Here are the points i have picked up from online reports/blogs and papers:

  1. Increase salt intake in the few days prior to racing (Only if this is OK medically (if you have high blood pressure it’s not advisable)), I added a few grains of rock salt to my water and add salt to my food (Normally I don’t)
  2. Make sure you top up your salts pre race – sports drinks are a good option rather than water.  I know swear by Science in Sport – Go Electrolyte
  3. Only drink when you are thirsty and not at every drinks station even if it’s hot!
  4. Have an electrolyte drink or salty snack as part of your race fuel/hydration especially in the latter stages.
  5. Replenish salts at the end of the race with a sports drink and have a salty meal.

Key Points

Like most things in running it’s about knowing the symptoms and recognising it in yourself.  For me the early stages are numbness & ‘buzzing’ in my hands and fingers! then you need to act on this rather than waiting until you end up like me, on the floor.  If you or a friend/fellow racer show signs of EAH DO NOT give them plain water as this will just make it worst!

My Story

I embarked on my first ever marathon this year at Brighton.  Training had gone well but I had noticed on my long runs that i had a ‘buzzing’ feeling in my fingers and diaphragm towards the end.  After drinking my Chocolate milk and having some food it would go.  I just took it as over exertion.

Brighton was hot with a sea breeze and i was really worried about dehydration so had a plan to take on fluids at every drinks station but as I had never had the electrolyte drinks they had on offer I decided this was too risky.  Race strategy planned the first 18 miles were going well I was going faster than i planned but it felt good and then I began to slow.  The final miles were agony I began to ‘buzz’ and get terrible golf ball (localised) cramps in my calf’s but the finish line was in sight.

I crossed the line and staggered to the baggage reclaim, drinking a bottle of water and one of the supplied sports drinks.  By the time I reached the baggage reclaim I felt sick, had a banging head and the ‘buzzing’ had got worst.  As I spoke to the volunteer I could hear I was slurring my words. I noticed my hands had begun to claw up and spasm too.  I decided i needed to lay down and asked for help.

So there I lay next to the railings on my side my hands and arms in spasm, feeling sick, sounding drunk and shaking from head to toe.  The first aid team arrived quickly, scooped me up and took me to the medical tent.  On arrival I was taken past the blisters and sunburn and put straight on a bed where the Lead consultant from the Brighton A & E was on hand to help me.  A minute later I was on Oxygen and a saline drip.  The process from finishing to this point was only about 10 minutes but it felt like hours and was pretty scary!

As the saline drip filled my veins it was amazing on how my symptoms reversed.  I think it only took 5 minutes and my body felt normal again! (Well apart from the aches and tiredness)  they filled me with chocolate and a banana and left me to recover.

With 30 minutes I was up and hobbling off to shower and get ready to go home.  If it wasn’t for the medical team I don’t think the outcome would have been the same!!

Learn and move on…..

So has it put me off running? NO WAY!! I still love running and have booked to do another marathon next year and did my second in June.

Have I changed my approach? YES, I now prep for races better, think about hydration and salt what works best for me.  I now know the warning signs and know what to do if I begin to ‘buzz’.

I did the Classic Quarter 2 months after the marathon and was able to recognise the symptoms early and prevented it by just taking on the right fluid/snacks.

I hope that you never experience this but if you do i hope you are in a place where the Volunteer medical team are as great as I had as a stressful situation was dealt with quickly and effectively and with a happy ending!

Happy Running