Ultimate Direction AK 3.0 Running Vest

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Isn’t it funny how fate can combine to set up your perfect scenario. I’d been talking with my ultra running friend Mark Greenfield about meeting him part way through his run and my new running vest arrived just in time.

Mark is in training for the South Downs Way 50 miler in two weeks time and I was looking to add a two hour run to the 13 miler I ran on Wednesday.

How excited was I to wear my running vest, well, on a scale of 1 to 10 I’d say 25. I’ve used a variety of packs and waste bags over the years but ultimately it’s all about having the tools for the trade !!

After researching numerous other vests I decided on the Ultimate Direction AK (Anton Krupicka) 3.0, large, red vest. The colours also compliment our Fareham Crusaders running club tops.

Firstly, the design of the pack means the wide side panels and shoulder straps really do make you feel like you’re wearing a waistcoat and that’s what makes it a vest rather than a rucksack. The vest can effectively be split into three categories.

  • Two 500ml soft flasks sit comfortably in their holsters. The holsters have draw strings to tighten the flasks and the bottles sit on your chest for easy access. The clear plastic also shows you how much you’ve drunk.
  • There are “numerous” pockets on the shoulder and side panels sections of the vest. The two main side panel pockets have zips and are vary spacious. The front zip pocket took my valuables and the side panels my gloves, snood and gels. I could have fit numerous other items in but it was only a two hour run.
  • The main storage bag on the rear again has a large capacity and I used it for my rain racket.

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The secure zipped pockets, the lightweight nature, the accessibility and the scope to adjust the fit with straps meant it was very practical and very comfortable. I’d say the storage on your back would be used for items you ought to take but wouldn’t be looking to use for some time. Not needing to struggle for nutrition and liquids takes all the hassle out of a long run. Not needing to stop as well as eating/drinking on the move means your run isn’t interrupted.

The whistle that’s attached to the vest was a great additional thought and I know feel like I’m properly prepared for whatever adventures I choose to take on.

Todays run included muddy trails, shingle and sand. A combination of all theses elements as well as my effort meant the pack had mud and sweat on it. A look warm, water rinse, soon resolved that and it dried out overnight too.

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Todays run started with a fairly uneventful 4.5 miles to get to the coast, however, it did mean I could entertain myself by using the bottles and pockets without necessarily actually eating and drinking each time.

The coastal trail that heads along the Meon shoreline added far more excitement. The map is from my strava account. I’m irunoffroad Roger and here’s the link for Todays Run

The coastal path was muddy and had huge puddles. I find that if you can avoid the deep puddles, that’s going to keep your socks drier but sometimes there’s more risk of slipping if you constantly try to avoid the water. Yes, sometimes its better just to plough on straight through them.

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As I made my way inland I met up with Mark who’d set off earlier and was running more miles. I turned around and ran with him from about mile 6.5 to 10. When I say ran with him, I meant “tried to keep up with”. We bumped into Emma Noyce that I’ve talked to on social media a lot, but never actually met. Well done on your coastal run too Emma.

We decided to run along the shoreline instead of the coastal path for more endurance training on the soft sand and shingle. I took this photo of Mark and even though it came out quite dark I think it shows a man in his element !!

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What the photo doesn’t show is that the sand became very soft in no time at all and we probably got just as wet as if we’d have run the path’s puddles, all of which added to the entertainment value !!

Next was Titchfield Haven, this is a nature reserve and the trails are well known for being muddy. The poor drainage means its a great training run for testing your agility and gaining confidence in running on slippy mud, which is inevitable at this time of the year.

By the time we reached the other side of Titchfield village I had run 10 miles and Mark 20. We shook hands and said we’d meet up soon. He asked me how I liked my vest and to be honest I’d almost forgotten I had it on !!

All that remained was a few more miles on bridle paths and then my last leg on the road down Gudge Heath Lane to home and 12.75 miles.

I did stop for a drink at 11 miles because I’d seen someone watching me approach. Can you spot him, I had to zoom in 🙂 He scampered through the trees and followed me for about 50 metres !!

DSC01192So, all in all it was great to catch up with Mark and I love my new running vest. A real investment for the future.

Happy trail running 🙂

Oh I do like to run beside the seaside !!

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Saturdays run started along the River Hamble and then continued around the coast along the Solent Way. I haven’t run along the river for a while so I thought I’d take in the hundreds of yachts and then treat myself to some coastal shingle with views of the Isle of White.

Warsash is a sleepy location at the head of the Hamble just before it opens out into the Solent. The fact that the long stay car park says maximum stay seven days, sums up this quiet location.

The wind was whistling along the fairly narrow track that you can see at the top of the page and I was glad I had my trusty egloves on.

Today was certainly fresh and dodging the puddles meant some added agility training into the bargain. Bursledon bridge was my initial target at 2.5 miles and making judgments on which puddles I could jump and which to skirt around added to my amusement.

On arriving at the bridge I could see small wispy snow flakes in the air and call me childish but considering I was only a quarter of the way through my run the prospect of snow was very exciting.

Since joining Instagram I’ve noticed how people take slightly abstract pictures so here’s my shot looking at the yachts through the open sections of the bridge. I can’t make up my mind if it looks arty or “farty” (as in it doesn’t work !!) I’ll leave that up to you, the reader.DSC01143

Returning back along the riverbank the chilly wind was behind me and that made a huge difference. One thought I did have was the amount of water and the gusty wind could well result in an “early bath”, as it were, so I was reassured to see this lifebuoy !!

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With different water channels and mud banks around the river this wooden bridge not only helped me on my way but it was also another Instagram contender.

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Upto this point I was at about 3.5 miles and that annoying “low battery” sign appeared on my garmin. OK, schoolboy error, I should have checked before I came out but then I thought to myself, actually, I know the shingle will slow me down so what the hell, I’m not that bothered about my average pace.

Arriving back at Warsash the Rising Sun pub looked very tempting but it was noticeable that the faces looking out at me had those, “my god what’s he doing out there”, expressions. It’s funny but whenever someone says why would you want to do that, I know I’m in the right place and it spurs me on to run further.

I ran past the school of navigation, had a short tightrope walk along a concrete sea defence to avoid a particularly large puddle and then, there it was …. the open sea and the stretch of shingle I’d been anticipating.

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Thousands of small shells, pebbles, stones and occasional seaweed lay ahead of me almost like a red carpet that had been specially rolled out. Apparently sand and shingle takes 30% more effort to run and when combined with an onshore coastal breeze this was epic endurance training and exactly what I’d come down for.

The crunching sound of my trainers and the smile on my face made the numbing of my mouth and lips quite bearable. This enjoyment continued for a full mile until the path headed inland briefly before a second shorter spell.

After skirting around the Solent Breezes caravan park I was conscious that time was getting on so I turned around and retraced my steps. The Solent looked busy with tankers, pleasure craft and ferries all passing by. The constant lapping of the water up against the shore also combined with the occasional seagulls cry’s, along with my crunch, crunch on the shingle. Ahh, the sounds of the seaside !!

DSC01164 As I arrived back at the car the flakes of snow were still just occasional glimmers but the eleven miles or so had been a complete pleasure.

It was time to head off home for a warm bowl of soup !!

Suffice to say, “I’ll be back” ……………

 

Looking forward …. it’s a state of mind

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It’s unusual for me to be sitting here contemplating a blog that explains my current state of mind. I don’t want to sound pretentious and expect people to be interested in my specific thoughts but at the same time I hope this resonates with other runners and you find it worthwhile reading on !!

I ran every day from January 1st to the 24th totalling 98 miles then on day 25 I caught a virus that gave me dizzy spells and meant I had to settle for short walks on the remaining days up to the 31st.

As every runner will tell you their biggest frustrations is not being able to run. OK that’s the self indulgent part over. Yes I walked for a few days instead of running so I did achieve the Run Every Day, in spirit, even if not technically 100% to the letter.

After visiting the doctor to find my blood pressure was normal for someone of my age and giving a blood sample the following week that had no adverse results then you’d have thought it would be all systems go. However, I think you know within yourself whether you are ready to commit to a long run in the middle of know where or stick with shorter local runs.

Yesterdays relatively tame 6 & 1/2 miles with 8 hill reps was one of those workman like runs that’s worthwhile without being overly exciting. However, the first of those 8 hills brought it home to me that I’m ready to push on with my training and get back to the distances and enjoyment that I get from being out in the countryside running with friends for a few hours at a time.

Yes, North Hill, I owe you. My plan was a mile and a half warm up and then “attack” North Hills strava segment which is a regular running club gauge of hill strength. My previous position of 79th out of 486 over this short sharp 0.9 of a mile had taken 41 seconds. So, to find I took 43 seconds today was very rewarding and a real trigger to the rest of this year.

In short, this one hill has change my state of mind from a ship without a rudder to one of purpose and excitement 🙂 Running is much more than a hobby to me so that sense of purpose rather than just going through the motions means a great deal.

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We all have our triggers, I guess we just need to find them. Thanks for reading, I promise my next blog will be all about the running and not my state of mind 🙂

 

Stay safe in the snow !!

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To all my running and blogging friends, if you are running in the snow, take care. I dabbled yesterday on my five mile trip back home from work but after slipping on a curb that I didn’t see …… I quickly reverted back to walking !!

I can’t imagine our Hampshire snow will stick around for too long so I’ve decided to hold out until it clears. This last month has seen a few interruptions to my training so, what the hell, another couple of days wont make a difference.

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I saw this sign when I got closer to home and it was almost like it was telling me something 🙂 Enjoy the snow and happy running.