Last month a project I worked on won an award which resulted in a lot of vouchers. Last weekend, clutching a carefully-crafted list, I had a shopping spree and it was AMAZING. Basically, I spent three hours in Westfield Stratford going “Yep. Yep. Nope. Oh God, so many people.”
Top of my list – rather tragically, given the proximity to many, many lovely goods – was a running jacket for winter. Finding decent kit that fits properly was, I thought, a bit much of an ask. I am 6’1 and have the arms and legs of someone made up entirely of boa constrictors. However! It was actually completely fine, so given that it can still be a bit of a slog to shop if you’re tall, I thought I’d put together what works for me.
God knows how everything in my wardrobe ended up being pink and black – other colours are available.
Nike Women’s Vapor 5 Max Jacket
This is a model from AW12, and I got this in the sale at Sweatshop, where there is the most wonderful sales assistant I’ve ever met. She has enormous hair and similar amounts of enthusiasm, and gave me lots of extremely sensible advice about jackets and clothing in general.
Anyway – this jacket is BRILLIANT. It has incredibly long sleeves and those little hand warmer bits with a hole you pop your thumb into so your hands don’t fall off and rain/snow/misery doesn’t leak down your arms. There was no straining on the length, and as I have your typical enormously long tall woman arms, it’s rare to find something that fits this well.
Thankfully I haven’t had to test it in the rain/snow/misery yet, but according to the blurb it’s pretty much bombproof. I took it out on my 13 mile run on Sunday and on realising it was actually a lovely day, immediately tied it round my waist. When I’ve done that with my other waterproof jacket, I’ve felt like I’m wearing a small child. This jacket is almost weightless: I carried a Fudge (nutrition! I practise it!) and my phone in the pockets along with some tissues and couldn’t feel a thing.
Gore Women’s Sunlight 3.0 Singlet
Yeah, this doesn’t look very promising actually, does it. More like a big blancmange disguised as a vest. But no! Wait! This is a great length, has reflective bits, and also skims everything nicely rather than clinging to you like a disapproving personal trainer. My friend Ian, who has run far more marathons than any man rightfully should, extolled the virtues of Gore over dinner one night when I was picking his brains about “You know Ian, how to do stuff.” while wistfully explaining that it costs a bloody fortune. This top was only barely south of £40 originally, but is £23.99 in the sale at Runners Need. Whenever I go running in it, I feel like I have The Hand Of Gore reassuringly on my shoulder telling me that I’m doing really well.
Kalenji Stretch 3/4 Tights
Pretty much all my running basics came from the Surrey Quays branch of Decathlon, as did this spectacularly pink and black pair of runners. It’s the only sports place I can get to in my lunch break, it’s cheap, and you can always get a changing room. Job done! These are perfectly fine, wick well and have the necessary pocket for keys etc. They’re £24.99.
Nike Women’s Twisted Tempo Running Short(s)
Before we went off on a hearty 10 mile walk along the South Downs on Monday, Helen and I gigglingly admitted to going “Jesus, you look so SPORTY” at our reflections before leaving the house. There is something about doing exercise in shorts that makes you feel accomplished. Maybe it’s the flashbacks to school, when you had no choice but to battle through it twice a week, and even then in a skirt. Clearly, it makes no difference how long shorts are because shorts are shorts, even if some marketing dick head has declared them to be “a short”.
Once I got over the appalling realisation that these have knickers built-in – say no to in-built briefs – I bought these because they were pretty. And I felt good in them. These are a vanity item. They are also amazing for running when it’s hot, because surprise! Running in knee-length tights feels like slowly boiling yourself. The new season ones are £25.99, but look as though someone’s had a terrible accident; if you’re a 14 you can pick them up for £13.99 at Runners Need, or a bunch of other less pink ones (some with what looks like an entire sky at night on) in various sizes at Sweatshop.
UPDATE: These ripped the third time I wore them. Probs don’t bother.
UPDATE: I loved them, so I bought another pair AND I DON’T EVEN CARE
Helly Hansen Merino Warm Pro-Life Magical Pink Top Thinger
God, who knows what this thing is actually called – I still associated Helly Hansen with the giant oilskins my dad used to wear sailing in the 90s. Anyway, the lovely Sweatshop assistant recommended I try this when I was looking for a merino layer for the winter. Merino is apparently The Shit. My friend Lizzie, who cycles Tour de France routes as a hobby and considers cycling from London Bridge to Richmond and back “a light workout”, is a great fan of merino and recommended it for winter because it wicks, it’s warm, it never smells of sweat and you can bung it in the washing machine. Job done.
This top has fantastically long sleeves but is also massively tight. The lady at Sweatshop says you should wear it as a base layer, and bung your next top over it, but even so I would probably size up, if only because I don’t need to be that acquainted with my ribs and stomach. Last year’s version is £48, otherwise it’s about £56.
Nike Women’s filament tights
I don’t own these either – yet. I’m going to get a pair once it starts getting too cold to go out in my ever so attractive under-knee tights, because these are perfectly long and fit really well. Another recommendation from magical Sweatshop assistant. They should only ever cost £32 no matter what season, unless they’re in a sale, and you can get them from everywhere. Brilliant.
Pair all this with the shoes of your choice, some decent socks and a bum bag/fanny pack/arse pocket if you need some extra space and you are set to run off into the wind like the tall queen you are.
Other kit I like:
M&S sports bras
I started using these because the Shock Absorber ones were extremely expensive. I’ve had two of them now, and they’ve been excellent. See what works for you.
UPDATE: I did end up getting a Shock Absorber and it’s fantastic. I bought the Gym bra, simply because I couldn’t get into the Running one without help, and I ran the Marathon in it. Boobs didn’t move once.
Nike Daybreak running cap (white)
I realise I am running a large risk of coming across like a total Nike twerp, but this was the only wicked (not wickèd) cap I managed to find in six sports stores. My former colleague Dan, who ran his first marathon this year, recommended white for reflecting heat, and I’ve found mine a complete godsend this summer.
Claire’s Accessories sunglasses
The best Ray Ban rip-offs you’ll ever find, comfortable, available in a ridiculous range of colours, and only a fiver. Never budge from your nose. I’ve written about them at length here.
Decathlon running socks
They’re £6.99 and I have them in a rainbow of colours. They’ll probably turn out to be terrible for my feet, but so far they’ve done miles and miles and been fine.
UPDATE: I needed something more hardcore when I started running longer distances, and am now wedded to my Hilly Twin Skins, which is unfortunate as I only have one pair. I should probably buy another pair.
A tip from The Running Bible, and one that I’ve regretted hugely when I’ve gone on a really long run and forgotten about it. Slather it on your feet. Put it on that bit of your chest in between your tits that always chafes under your sports bra. Put it wherever. ALWAYS USE IT.
This completely awesome app is a brilliant way to spur you on to do some running. Who doesn’t want to earn tools in order to power up your base? Margaret Attwood even guests at one point. She’s a terrible actress, but she is MARGARET ATTWOOD.