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New year, new gear

Kindly sponsored by

Killian Byrne

Now, more than ever, we appreciate this passion we call running. It is certainly making the seemingly never-ending pandemic that little bit more tolerable. Killian Byrne is back to share his gear and gadget essentials in 2021. In this issue, a running shoe, a rowing machine and a nifty night light are up for review, while Bernie Commins adds a few of her favourite items for those chilly days

Brooks Glycerine GTS 19

The Brooks Glycerin GTS 19 is a super-soft, highly cushioned shoe designed to be the preferred daily trainer for the every day runner. We loved the previous version here at Irish Runner and, with the latest iteration, Brooks seems to have improved on something that we already thought was pretty good. Brooks has brought their ‘Guiderail’ system into the Glycerin for the first time and it gives the user something never seen before in this popular range from one of the world’s biggest running-shoe manufacturers. Guiderails were developed by Brooks 10 years ago to allow runners to run the way they want, so instead of the shoe working to change the way we run, the technology now supports us to run the way we want to. 

I’m going to assume everybody has heard of the word ‘pronation’. It’s the way our foot rolls inwards or outwards when we make contact with the ground. In previous years, shoes would be designed to correct this ‘imbalance’ and we would be sold stable shoes or neutral shoes, etc. all of which were designed to ‘correct’ the natural body mechanics and fix the way we run. Nowadays though, many shoes are designed to support these natural mechanics and, as a result, they work towards protecting us from injury. The Guiderail system supports and stabilises from the heel through to the arch of the foot, helping to reduce inward or outward rotation.

Choosing a shoe based on comfort is a big box-ticker for me, and these Glycerin GTS 19s fit the bill. The stiff heel-cup remains from the last design and, in fact, it is noticeably reinforced with extra detailing and reflective trim, meaning you’ll need to ensure a good fit in the shop before you head out on the road. The patented Brooks DNA Loft soles provide a familiar mix of foam, rubber and air to make each step soft and cushioned and the double mesh upper provides enough support to be firm but not constricting. There is lots of breathing in these shoes, so your feet feel fresh as well as comfortable. 

Available: Intersport Elverys (nationwide)
www.elverys.ie RRP: €170

Concept 2 – Model D indoor rower

The Concept 2 rower is the best-selling rower in the world. It is in your gym, it is in your school’s gym and it is used by Olympians, rugby players, runners and fitness professionals. It is the best of the best and right now it is one of the most sought-after items of fitness equipment in the world. As a result of its popularity and the limiting Covid-19 restrictions, the current wait time in its manufacturing base is about 12 weeks. So, now is the time to consider buying one – after all, home workouts are part of our lives now, and that is not going to change for many of us. 

But what benefits to a runner does a rower facilitate? A rowing session can be the quintessential ‘full-body work out’. Each part of the stroke, both back and forward, works different muscle groups. Rowing increases your heart rate, and the machine helps you to train at your desired intensity (easy or hard) depending on your personal requirements. Rowing is a calorie-burning exercise that will tone the body and it is a super stressbuster! As part of a cross-training programme, this is a winner.

The brains of the Concept 2 are in the PM5 console. This is the unit that connects to your smartphone, computer, or tablet; it records your sessions and has a bank of plans built in for those who don’t want to just get up and row. Whether you’re doing interval sets, long rows, sharp sessions or sweat busters, the PM5 will record, detail, analyse and even help you post them to Strava if you are inclined. It is easy to use and we were able to start rowing just 10 minutes after opening the box. The unit does take up some considerable space – it is longer but not as wide as a treadmill. However it does break into two sections for some more compact, upright storage.

This is not a cheap purchase, I know! And having bought one for our family, I can tell you it was not a decision easily made. But, after a lot of research, we felt assured of the Concept 2’s ability to provide such benefit for all the family that we have cancelled our gym membership to help cover the cost. I am very wary about reviewing home fitness equipment knowing that there are thousands of bikes, treadmills and ab-rollers buried under washing or gathering dust in bedrooms around the country; if this is what becomes of your rower, then rest assured there’s someone on a waiting list who will take it off your hands at a stroke.

Available: www.concept2.com
RRP: €1,300

Bodylite Night Runner

There is always space on the Gear & Gadgets pages to showcase Irish products and talent – it is a privilege, and it is our duty, especially right now! So, when the Bodylite ‘Night Runner’ light-belt caught our attention we were delighted and eager to give it a try. Carlowman, Padraic George saw a gap in the market for a good quality light-belt while exercising and used his considerable running and engineering knowledge to fill that gap.

Initially, the first impression straight out of the box is that the Night Runner is a little clunky but looks were deceiving. Hidden inside this perfectly balanced unit is a two-strength adjustable 210 lumen LED light, two flashing red LED lights to the rear, a rechargeable battery with its own USB cable providing a massive 16 hours of brightness and a rear pouch big enough to hold a mobile, your keys and the all-important emergency money. It is IPX4 water resistant, which means it protects from splashing water from any direction, and it is sweat resistant too.

Most people running at night use headlamps; personally, I’ve always found they’re either not strong enough or the accompanying battery pack is too noticeable. With the Night Runner, the hard case to the front sits comfortably around your hips, perfectly supported, and the soft plastic belt allows no give that would traditionally have an elastic belt bouncing around with every step. The rear pouch is well-cushioned and detailed in a bright yellow trim and logo allowing even more visibility on top of the small but bright flashing red lights.

I didn’t feel I was overly conspicuous wearing this in the dark. I did feel I was safe and visible to any traffic approaching from the front or rear and, most importantly, I didn’t feel that the belt was impeding my run at all. There was no chafing, no movement and, after the first few yards, you forget you’re wearing it at all.

No product is ever perfect and I have one minor quibble, and I do mean minor. The cable connecting the front battery pack to the rear LED lights is exposed. I can see why - it allows for size adjustment around different body sizes but an exposed cable could get stuck in something, or maybe frayed or broken. I’d like to see any future design modifications examine this but apart from that, this is a good, solid Irish designed and made product that does exactly what it is designed to do. The Bodylite Night Runner comes with a full 30-day, money-back guarantee. If you’re not happy, they’ll refund you 100 per cent of your money, no questions asked – now you can’t ask for better than that.

Available: www.bodylitegear.com 
RRP: €80


Bernie’s Kit Hits

So, like most, once I start moving and get warmed up, the cold isn’t really an issue. However, there are a few things that I do like to wear on a cold morning or evening to keep the chills at bay. These items are as easy to doff as they are to don, so if I get a bit too hot under the collar, I can cool off with ease.

First up, the humble beanie. My reversible Icebreaker Pocket Beanie (two colours, one hat) is a gear staple and is an ideal head and ear insulator. Its shape and fit make it cosy and secure on the head, but it is so thin that it rolls up nice and small, fitting into the littlest of pockets. Mine is the breathable, moisture-wicking, merino version. Available from the Great Outdoors currently for €26.09.

Next up, the cold-proof rockstar that is the neck gaiter. This is one of the most versatile garments for anyone who spends time in the outdoors. On a run, it keeps the neck warm, and the lower face sheltered from the wind or a chin-numbing frost! If you do want to remove it, it can be wrapped around the wrist or turned into a headband. And like the beanie, it can fit into a teeny pocket.

Go for lightweight rather than heavy — even on wintry evenings. The Buff Speed Pink – Reflective is made from recycled materials, is super lightweight, seamless and is designed to wick away moisture. Its reflective design makes it ideal for late evening and early morning runs. Also available from the Great Outdoors, €23.50.


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