12 pieces of running gear our team loved in August
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12 pieces of running gear our team loved in August

Aug 26, 2023

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From the latest trail shoes to sports nutrition...

While August might be a time of relaxation, holidays and 'OOO's for many, at RW, our team has been ramping up the miles, putting a plethora of new running gear through its paces.

As well as testing for our 2023 Sports Nutrition Awards (results coming soon), we’ve seen some exciting new trail shoes hit the market this month. And even those on the team who aren’t currently running (injuries eh?) have found ways to level up their cross-training on the bike and in the gym.

So, here’s some of the running gear that’s impressed our editors most...

Since I’m running the New York Marathon this November, I’ve been on a mission to overhaul my fuelling and hydration strategy ahead of race day. That started with a sweat test at Precision Hydration earlier this month, which revealed just how much sodium I lose through my sweat. Since then, I’ve been using these multi-strength electrolyte tablets the night before – and the morning of – my long runs. Each tablet contains 1,500mg of sodium (for context, High5 electrolyte tablets contain just 250mg) which helps to make sure I’m well-hydrated before I’ve even started to sweat. A lifesaver for the super-sweaters out there.

Don’t tell the Nike Pegasus Trail, but I might just have a new favourite trail shoe. Okay, so the outsole is a completely different beast to the Peg – in fact, it’s identical to the Thundercross’ sister shoe, the Salomon Speedcross, with aggressive Y-shaped lugs that can handle the trickiest of terrains. But when you move up to the midsole, it’s beautifully soft and springy underfoot thanks to a generous wedge of Energy Foam.

At the same time, a lower 4mm heel-to-toe drop makes the Thundercross feel stable and nimble underfoot. Sure, there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking about it, but if you’re after a durable workhorse of a trail shoe, it won’t disappoint.

This month I’ve been testing a number of recovery drinks to help with refuelling and hydrating after training sessions and races. This Veloforte shake is my number-one pick so far. It’s got a really natural flavour that makes you feel like you’re sipping on a homemade chocolate and banana smoothie, rather than a sickly-sweet milkshake-like drink, and it provides the ideal 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein for optimal recovery. I’ll be packing a few of these sachets when I tackle a multi-stage ultramarathon next year.

There’s a full review up on the site now, but if you’re after the short version about this carbon-plated trail shoe from Nike, well here it is – I’ve got a marathon at the end of September on the South Downs and unless it rains and becomes a slop-fest, these are the probably the shoes I’ll race in. I’ve been doing most of my training in them including the long runs and they’re comfortable, fast-feeling, and grippy (when it’s dry) –they’re almost the complete package for summer trail running package (but do read the full review anyway).

As part of a wider gel test (more on that soon), I’ve been trying out the tart cherry flavour Veloforte Desto gels and I really like them. Yes, they’re not as potent as other gels, but their small size and measured dose of carbs and caffeine (all from natural sources) make them easy on the stomach and ideal for those not-so-long runs or interval sessions where you need something, but not that much. Also, the tart cherry flavour is delicious (if you like tart cherry, which I do).

It’s not a catchy name, but this running belt is a great option for training and race day if you want to carry all your fuel, but don’t want to wear a race vest. There’s room in it for two small or one large soft flask, all the gels you’d want to carry, your phone, keys and whatever else you think you can stuff in it. There are five different sizes and the belt is very stretchy and compressive, so you want to try and get that fit right as too tight could put unnecessary pressure on the stomach and too loose and it’ll bounce around too much. Get it right though and it’s a great option.

I’ve started commuting to the office via bike one day a week and the Stolt Athlete Backpack has quickly become a non-negotiable. Featuring a roll-top design, you can pack loads in it – I managed to squeeze a pair of trainers, a work dress, underwear, make-up bag, wash bag and hairbrush into the main compartment. There’s also a separate compartment for your laptop and stationary – my MacBook Air 13” glided in, but it’s big enough to fit a laptop up to 16”.

With detachable waist straps and a strap across the sternum (which are placed high enough so that even women can wear it comfortably without digging into your breasts), once you’re strapped in, it doesn’t budge. And while it’s heavy, it was surprisingly comfy, thanks to the padded back mesh panel. It’s also water repellent – I got caught in about 40 minutes of rain on my cycle home, and everything in the bag remained completely dry. My only gripe? While the black colour is ideal (since it goes with everything), it’s not the easiest to be seen on the road, so perhaps a reflective panel on the back wouldn’t have gone amiss in the design process.

So this isn’t technically run-specific, but hear me out. I’ve been suffering from a niggling Achilles so I’ve been spending more time on two wheels (physio’s orders) and let me tell you, this bike is a total dream (and quite the upgrade from the previous road bikes I’ve owned or tested). Weighing just 7.14 kg, the Canyon Ultimate is so incredibly lightweight thanks to its carbon frame, and the gears (yes, they’re electric and need to be charged) are a total game-changer. At the click of a button, the gears quickly and accurately shift and make such a difference when tackling hills.

There’s no denying that this is a pretty-looking bike, too. Featuring fancy DT Swiss wheels that fly, the frame is also aerodynamic but, importantly, fast-feeling without being uncomfortable. So if you’re currently injured and need to take a break from running, or you want to up your cross-training, then this bike comes highly recommended.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, portable massage gun to up your recovery routine, then I really rate this powerful, easy-to-use gun from Lola. Was I swayed by the fact that it comes in a cute baby pink colour that matches my manicure? Potentially. But in comparison to some of the other well-known massage gun brands, it’s way less bulky – and considerably cheaper. Featuring four interchangeable heads to help you target narrower parts of the body, the Lola massage gun also has four different massage speeds to let you adjust the intensity of the massage. Easy to hold, easy to use, it targets any tense, sore or stressed muscles in seconds.

The bright pink shoe currently lighting up the World Champs was given a more pedestrian outing on the feet our yours truly. With its carbon fibre plate and ZoomX foam, it’s essentially the track equivalent of the Nike Vaporfly. There’s a real sense of propulsion when you push the pace in the Dragonfly, and also a surprising (and welcome) amount of cushioning, given it weighs a mere 125g. Its price point is likely to deter all but the most dedicated PB hunters, but if you are in the market for a super-spike, the Dragonfly will not disappoint.

Danish brand Saysky is best known for its loud-and-proud tees and shorts, many of which are visible from outer space, but I’m a fan of its more muted designs. And it doesn’t get much more classic than this black Clean Combat T-shirt, which you can pair with pretty much anything and feels absolutely great on the run. That’s thanks to its moisture-wicking, quick-drying material, which creates great breathability and airflow. It’s extremely lightweight, too, making it a good tee to reach for quicker sessions and perhaps even race day itself.

Running backpacks and race vests are great, but for the vast majority of your runs, I’d argue you’re better off with a small race belt. This one from Nathan is excellent: just big enough to house a mobile phone or, alternatively, a 250ml soft flask. It’s the perfect, unintrusive addition to your next long run. Pro tip: to minimise the bounce of any small race belt, tuck the pouch into the back of your shorts.

Ali is Runner’s World's ecommerce editor, specialising in reviewing the latest running shoes, gear and tech. She speaks to some of the world’s top experts across footwear, gym wear, fitness equipment and nutrition to help readers make smart decisions when shopping online. Before joining RW, Ali worked as health editor at Future Plc across brands including Coach, Fit&Well, T3, TechRadar and Live Science. A Boston qualifying runner, she’s completed seven marathons and plans to tick off every World Major. Just don't make her race a 10k...

Rick Pearson is the senior editor at Runner’s World UK. He’s been with the brand since 2017 and loves testing PB-friendly shoes for on and off road. Rick once raced a steam train over 14 miles (he won, narrowly) and a horse over a marathon (he lost, comfortably).

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Ali Ball, e-commerce editorPrecision Hydration Multi-Strength Electrolyte Tablets (1,500mg)Salomon ThundercrossVeloforte Nova Recovery Protein Shake