Runderwear - Chafe Free in the Desert

This post is in collaboration with Runderwear.

Runderwear - Chafe Free Running Underwear - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Where do you start telling the story of 60 hours running in the desert? To be honest I’m still processing The Speed Project, it was singly one of the most surreal and epic adventures I’ve ever had and it’s going to take me some time to get my head around it all (and sift through the metric tonne of footage and hundreds of still images we generated). For now I’m sharing the tidbits I can process, and where better to start than my favourite topic, Chafing!

Sometimes I wonder if I should stop saying this is a running blog and rebrand as a chafing hotspot. I seem to be obsessed with clammy nether regions and painful rubbing, so I’m pretty sure I could turn it into a thing, but then maybe it would be awkward to explain at parties…I digress. Even if you’re not weirdly obsessed with chafing (prevention and management) going for a 340 mile jog through Death Valley will put it on your radar as all that sweat can wreak havoc on parts of your body that touch.

Runderwear - Chafe Free Running Underwear - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

One of the areas I chafe the most is my butt. Yep, it’s true, after Royal Parks Half Marathon a couple of years ago I looked like a tiger had mauled my arse and sitting down was really not an option for a few weeks. Broken skin is a regular occurrence for me, whether it’s my butt, thighs, arms, lower back, some part of me is going to come back from a run chapped and rubbed raw. Not Fun. Really not fun if you have a few hundred miles left to run. However, at The National Running Show this year I was lucky enough to run into the guys from Runderwear and they sorted me out with some lovely soft pants that they promised would see me through the race chafe free!

I’d always been a bit curious about Runderwear. Were they a massive gimmick? Were they worth the money (women’s pants retail from £16-20 a pair)? Would they solve all my problems? Well the answers are No. Yes. Yes.

Runderwear - Chafe Free Running Underwear - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

I took two pairs of Runderwear with me to the States and wore each pair for 24 hours (because I am feral like that). Each pair were worn through multiple legs and rest periods, which would be gross in any other scenario but proved to be the perfect test as I could really see if they did wick sweat away and prevent that nasty clamminess that leads to rashes and sore skin. It was a big ask, but Runderwear was up to the job, two days wallowing in my own sweat and I emerged in Vegas tired, sore and hungry but without a single blemish on my skin from rubbing. Win.

The pants I tried during The Speed Project were the Women’s Brief and the Low Rise Hipster. Both were actually pretty high rise - Baby One More Time Britney would have issues - but I liked that because it meant my pants hit the waistline of my shorts, which is really comfy and avoids weird bumps and bulges. What was more awkward for me was that both pairs had pretty high cut legs, which I am really not used to. I found that it meant the pants dug in a little and left me with some pretty pronounced VPL, maybe not an issue in the desert but sometimes you don’t want to draw attention to your undies. Since I’ve come home Runderwear has sent me some Hot Pants and the No VLP Hipster which I am really excited about (and will report back on soon!).

Runderwear - Chafe Free Running Underwear - A Pretty Place to  Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

High cut legs aside I found these pants extremely comfortable and crucially they helped me get through Death Valley in relative comfort and without any chafing to deal with otherwise. Which is just as well given all the other injuries I sustained! I’ll defiantly be keeping them in rotation and packing them for all my running adventures this summer (dodgy leg notwithstanding!).

Have you tried Runderwear? What are your thoughts?

*Runderwear sent me various products to try but all opinions are my own.

** images: Kaye Ford.

Why Does Topical Magnesium Sting!

Why Does Topical Magnesium Sting? - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals when it comes to sport performance. It plays a fundamental role in optimal muscle contraction, skeletal strength and energy production, as well as helping to sustain the high oxygen consumption that we need to perform. A growing number of studies suggest that magnesium is most effectively absorbed when applied to the skin (something called transdermal absorption) in comparison to taking it in pill or capsule form orally. That sounds really nerdy doesn’t it! Well let’s put it this way, applying a magnesium oil or gel to your legs will help you recover more quickly that popping a magnesium supplement each day. But there is one major drawback…IT STINGS LIKE HELL.

Why Does Topical Magnesium Sting? - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

For ages I thought that it was just me who felt like their legs were on fire after applying magnesium, but chatting with other runners (which is pretty much all I do these days) I discovered that a lot of people have had the same experience, and it’s really putting them off doing something that’ll really benefit their bodies. Being someone whose job is essentially to ask ‘why’ a lot I really wanted to understand why topical magnesium stings so much, and whether there was anything I could do to stop the stinging, so I reached out to the team at BetterYou to ask some questions.

Why Does Topical Magnesium Sting? - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

According to NPD Executive and Nutritional Expert, Keeley Berry, high dose magnesium can sting because it’s highly concentrated salt and it’s absorbed super quickly. While this has huge benefits when it comes to helping you recover, it can also mean that you’re left with a bit of residue on your skin which can cause some itching, especially if you’ve got sensitive skin (hands up!). Stinging or burning could also be a sign of magnesium deficiency, and when the skin is exposed to topical magnesium it can cause the blood vessels underneath the skin to dilate very quickly. This is because magnesium is a natural vasodilator and can cause the capillaries to increase in blood flow, also causing a tingling warming effect.

So that’s the science explaining why topical magnesium can sting, but what can you do about it? Here’s a few suggestions:

  • it’s always better to apply little and often to a larger surface area, especially if you’re just starting out with a magnesium oil.

  • the best way to avoid itchy residue to to apply gel or oil onto wet skin straight out of the shower. Warm water (not too hot!) helps open up the pores and allows the product to be absorbed more efficiently, especially when massaged into the skin. After a few minutes towel off any residual oil, which should help minimise any itching.

  • Noushii (the bad ass manager at City Athletic) suggests starting with the sensitive oil from BetterYou, it’s just a bit kinder if you have sensitive skin.

  • Try adding magnesium flakes to your bath, I’ve never experienced stinging, and who doesn’t like a good soak?! I like to add a couple of drops of essential oils too, just to make things a bit more lux.

Do you use topical magnesium? Do you find it stings? Any tips I’ve missed to stop the sting?!

* I reached out to BetterYou for comment, I have not received payment and the products features I purchased myself. My shoes were a gift from 361 Europe.

** images: Anna Rachel Photography


Training for the Speed Project - week seven

In collaboration with 361 Europe.

Shit is getting real. In less than six weeks time we’ll be in LA getting ourselves sorted before running out into the desert. Just typing that gives me feelings. My heart swells whenever I think about being out on the road, running towards Las Vegas on what I can only begin to describe as an epic journey. Yes it will be really hard. No I probably won’t sleep much, and it will push me to my physical and emotional limits, but that’s when the magic happens and you go beyond your expectations.

Training for the Speed Project week seven - A Pretty Place to Play, London running and fitness blog

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot is the idea of perfect training. So often I see people expressing guilt at a missed session, imperfect fuelling, not hitting a particular pace, or any number of other perceived flaws. When we set out on a training journey we start with a fresh plan. We think long and hard about how best to train for an event. We program workouts that we think will make us stronger. We give up parts of our lives to focus on the goal and the journey towards it. The emotional investment is huge, so when we fail to meet our perception of perfection, whether it’s a missed session or a day when frankly you felt like shit, we can be quick to beat ourselves up and to doubt our worth.

My training is far (FAR) from perfect. Last week I spent a whole day in bed because I’d been so crap at fuelling and was basically exhausted, and that’s before we mention the long run that I cut short (before getting lost and having to get an Uber). I could tell you so many stories about times I’ve ‘messed up’ my training, and I used to feel really bad about it. I worried that a failure in training meant I’d fail in my race, and that by association I was a failure. That is until I reframed my thinking. I took my perceived failures and turned them into learning experiences. I was crap at fuelling, ok well what do I need to fuel better? Some quick maths and I worked out my calorie shortfall and chatted to Mike (who looks after all the food prep in our house) about how I could make sure I ate enough moving forward. Since then I’ve had noticeably more energy and in turn that’s helping me become a stronger runner. Likewise, I cut my run short because I could feel my legs were really tight. Reflecting on everything I know about good form this tells me that I need to work a bit more on by glutes and lower back so that I can hold good form for longer and run strong. If I didn’t have these ‘failures’ in training then I might not have spotted these weaknesses, and they might have held me back on the road.

Training is your practice run. It’s an opportunity to learn what your weaknesses are and then to address them. You shouldn’t expect your training to be perfect, in fact I reckon you should hope that it isn’t. You need those tough miles, those days where you’ve really not had enough to eat or that moment where you disappoint yourself to learn and develop as a runner. Training is about more than getting miles in your legs, it’s about learning about yourself.

Training for the Speed Project week seven - A Pretty Place to Play, London running and fitness blog

With all that in mind, here’s what I got up to last week:

Monday - 50 minute restorative yoga class at Chroma Yoga

Tuesday - 15 minutes easy, 12 x 30s hard efforts on/2 minutes off, 15 minutes easy on a treadmill

Wednesday - got 20 minutes into a run before sacking it in. I was exhausted and my legs just didn’t want to move.

Thursday - skipped my run, but did make it to a yin yoga class

Friday - REST DAY

Saturday - SUCH A GOOD RUN DAY - 3 fast miles in lieu of Park Run (I was at work), and then 30 minutes recovery with Mike.

Sunday - 8.5 miles where I got lost, got sore and ended up getting an Uber. My legs were super heavy, but I felt pretty excellent in myself.

A truly imperfect week, but a week that taught me a hell of a lot. Not least that I need to eat a lot more.

Are you curious about how I’m training for the Speed Project? Is there anything you’d like to know? Let me know in the comments and I will see what I can do! In the meantime, you can read all my posts about this adventure here.

* images: Anna Rachel Photography

** my shoes were a gift from 361 Europe, who I am ambassador for.