Sunday, 26 June 2016

Product Review – Injinji compression socks

I’ve liked 5 fingers for a long time, for both running and hiking, but I’ve never really worn socks with them that much. I have a couple of pairs of ankle injinji socks which I wear when the temperature gets below 10° C, or with my ‘normal’ shoes and really like them.

When getting ready for my round themountain hike I really wanted to get some Injinji compression socks to test out. Long story short, I wanted black but the supplier ran out so I accepted purple and white. Also, I did pay for them, this isn’t sponsored, but if injinji want to send me some more socks I’d gladly accept.

So first up, these socks take a full 3-5 minutes I get on, seriously I’ve had a You Tube video playing while I put them on. Once on they feel pretty good, moderate compression of the lower leg, a little bit more in the foot, but not too much. I had no blisters wearing them, but I never get blisters. Now for the good and the bad.


I really enjoyed these while hiking; so much so that I will buy a few more pairs so I can have a fresh pair each day. They were warm enough for walking between 1000m and 1500m above sea level, and the compression helped a lot to keep the pain and swelling down in my lower legs and feet. I’d give these a 10 out of 10 for hiking.


I have worn these on two short runs now, and really disliked them both times. I think they heated my legs up too much and it felt like the compression restricted the movement of my Achilles. It felt like quite a lot of pressure on the tendon, and I couldn’t run as far or as fast as I do without the socks. Obviously this is a personal opinion and a lot of runners really like compression socks. They’re just not for me.

So whether they are good for you or not may depend on what you want them for. I will definitely buy some more for multi day hikes, but I won’t be wearing them running again.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Natural born heroes by Christopher McDougall

At this time I have not yet read McDougall first and better known book ‘Born to run’ so I didn’t quite know what kind of book I was going to be reading. From what I had seen of the book (Natural born heroes) it seemed like this would be a kind of Natural Method, how to manual. I was expecting sections on natural running, strength, parkour, knife throwing etc. Not as in exercises, sets and reps form, but as maybe as a story of how each is part of the natural method, how it is done and how one can integrate it into their training. The book was really nothing like what I was expecting.

Natural born heroes focuses on the story of resistance fighters on the Island of Crete during the Second World War. It follows the story of a band of resistance fighters set up by Churchill and their Cretan allies and focuses in on one particular mission of theirs. The central story is how these Cretan resistance fighters were naturally strong and enduring, and how the foreigners picked up these skills for themselves.

McDougall tells various side stories on ancient Greece and Crete, as well as stories of natural method training. He also tells side stories of his own training in MovNat with Erwan Le Corre, parkour in London, knife throwing and fat running endurance running. These stories were quite interesting, and they were what I was expecting to make up much of the book, with follow up sections as how to guilds and how one might fit these into their own training, but there was little to none of this. This isn’t to say that it was a bad book, just not what I was expecting.

The main story of the book was interesting and engaging and kept me reading. The mix of historical story, with a very personal look at the people involved was a nice mix. The side stories of the past, or McDougall’s own training was a good addition too, but I felt as if they didn’t quite match up as well as they could have to follow from one to another.

In all, it was a good read, an interesting style of story and history and autobiography in parts. Despite expecting something else it was still an interesting book, maybe not quite my style but I enjoyed it anyway.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Between a Rock and a hard place (127 Hours) By Aron Ralston

This is another one of my book reviews which isn’t current, but I still wanted to read and review. I had seen the movie and heard a little bit about the book so I decided to give it a read.
Between a Rock and a hard place is a kind of auto biography by Aron Ralston which focuses on the canyoning trip which his arm is trapped by a bolder with little hope of rescue. He amputates his arm, rappels down 60 feet, and hikes several miles before finding rescue. The book also takes a look at some of the events which lead him to canyoning solo and also interesting and amazing experiences he has had in the outdoors.

It is easy to think that a book about a guy pinned by a boulder for 5 days would be really boring but the book is exceptionally engaging and has a structure which breaks up event of him being trapped. The chapters alternate with one chapter being the events of the canyon and other being some past events (or later, events of the search). The chapters while trapped are interesting and go through exactly how he became trapped, and then though his process of trying to escape, how he survived, kept comfortable, and tried to stay awake. It describes to the reader how he’s feeling, his plan and execution of an idea, what fails, how he tries again and again. It is interesting, in-depth, and keeps you attached to the story. The chapters set in the past are amazing tales of extreme outdoors experiences, stalking bears, avalanches and extreme endurance events. They are great stories in their own rights but help to paint a picture of the man, what he’s capable of, and what drives him.

The chapters of the past show an extremely capable man, who is not particularly risk adverse. He recounts several instances he could have died previously and it goes to show that an event such as what happens in the canyon was just waiting to happen. For me it reinforces the need for safety, but doesn’t put me off soloing. Nor did it put him off. One could be critical of Ralston’s extreme risk taking behaviour, often putting others in harm’s way because of his own need for adventure, however I believe it was more a case of testing his limits and learning from his mistakes (coupled with an extreme personality). I think he pushed the limits for a test and for thrills, which comes with risk. This should serve as a warning to everyone that these things can have consequences, and we must be ready to meet them.

The book also has some photos in the centre; compete with selfies of him trapped, and his severed arm. This speaks volumes to how strong he is that he can be trapped for five days, extremely dehydrated, cut his arm off, but stop to document it.

The writing was very good and extremely descriptive. It took the reader into the situation, on the mountainside with him, or trapped with him. Particularly when he cut is arm off and is finally free is frighteningly well described.

I would strongly recommend reading this book, it is a well written story of adventure and the strength of human will; while also being a cautionary tale of both planning and risk taking behaviour. It should make to stop and think about what you are going to do, and take steps to plan for your safety in the future.