Nathan Zeal review

Yes, this is a review however, before I begin, let me assure you that I paid for the item myself and have no connection with or sponsorship by Nathan. I wish I did 🙂

If you’ve read my recent blog posts, you’d know that I’m giving trail running more of a try and, in the lead up to the Surf Coast trail half marathon, decided I needed a hydration vest. I didn’t make the final decision particularly early though and ended up buying said hydration vest the night before the run, 10 minutes before picking up my running bib.

I had previously been looking at the wide range of hydration vests and was in a bit of a quandry as to what to get – I didn’t want to spend a fortune on something I wasn’t sure how much I’d use and was also wary buying it so close to an event and not having time to test it.

While browsing through The Happy Runner (amazing running shop in Torquay), I saw the Nathan Zeal and thought it was perfect (especially as they were offering 20% off for Surf Coast trail entrants!). Holding a 2L bladder and still having room for all the other bits and pieces, this seemed to balance being big enough but not too cumbersome.


I got it home and adjusted it to fit – I’d read advice which said to loosen everything to the max then put it on and readjust and that worked perfectly.

The next day, full of all my essentials, I put it on and set off for the 21kms of the Surf Coast trail half marathon. Probably not the best idea to test this on such a long run but I didn’t have much of a choice. I’m pleased to say it passed with flying colours.


My biggest concern had been chafing (which, frankly, I get on every run anyway, usually in new and spectacular places) and I did get a little from the chest strap but I’ve since adjusted where it sits and haven’t had further problems. I had also been worried about it moving around or the water sloshing but I barely felt it once it was on and didn’t have any movement from it. It was very comfortable and so convenient to be able to drink as I went and not rely on aid stations. Having a big enough compartment to stow my long sleeve top once I heated up was also great.

So, my verdict is that I love it. I had only heard great things about this brand of hydration packs and can confirm that I am now a devotee 🙂

I won’t run without….

Today I’m linking up with April from Run the great wide somewhere, Patty from My No-Guilt Life and Erika from MCM Mama Runs for their Tuesdays on the Run link up and the topic is ‘I won’t run without….

So what won’t I run without?

  • my flipbelt. Absolutely love it and feel lost without it. It securely holds any little bits I need to take with me and doesn’t move, rub or get in my way. And, when it regularly gets thrown in the washing machine, it comes out as fresh and sparkling as it first arrived.
  • my phone. I didn’t used to run with my phone but often worried about what I’d do if I rolled my ankle. Or, more likely, had run too far and couldn’t be bothered running home. It fits neatly into my flipbelt and is also frequently popped out for pictures of the gorgeousness where I run.
  • my iPod shuffle, yurbuds headphones & awesome playlist. I need music when I run, mostly to mask the gasps and gulps that pass for breathing when I exert myself. My shuffle is perfect because it’s light and unobtrusive and my yurbuds are the best headphones I’ve found so far – they really don’t fall out.
  • my Garmin. There’s a phrase often quoted in my running group – ‘If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen’ so my Garmin is a necessary item for me to keep track of when/where/how long I’ve run. And I do love a little statistical analysis while recovering on the couch back at home.

If I’m heading out to parkrun on a Saturday morning I also make sure I’ve got my barcode #dfyb

And that’s it. I’ve got it down to a fine art – all the bits are kept in the same spot so I can grab them on my way out the door.

What won’t you run without?

runner’s gift list (aka what I want for christmas)

I’ve been inspired to join the Tuesdays on the run link up, hosted by Patty from My No-Guilt Life, Erika from MCM Mama Runs and April from Run the Great Wide Somewhere. The topic this week is ‘Runner’s gift list’. And what a marvellous chance to put out there in the universe what I’d really like for Christmas. I hope Santa is reading….

A subscription to Runner’s World magazine
I’ve had the trial issues sent to me recently and absolutely loved them, devouring every printed centimetre and re-reading frequently. Definitely at the top of my list.

A sub-30 minute 5km time
I had to put this down as it’s definitely in the top things I’d like, although I’m fairly sure even Santa would be struggling to get me there. I’ve definitely seen improvement this year but this one is still tantalisingly out of reach. For now.

A Garmin vivo-fit
This is clearly an excessive thing to add to the list but it wouldn’t be much of a ‘wishlist’ without big wishes. I already have a Garmin watch which I love and think this would be a hugely fun and motivating way to work towards my fitness goals.

A water bottle
Ok, this one is a little ‘out there’ as well. This isn’t something I intend to take running with me – I have a tendency to not drink enough during the day and need something inviting to drink from to give me an incentive. I currently have a dodgy bright orange plastic bottle on my desk at school which I don’t love and tend to fill and ignore. This one looks much more appealing.

Additions to my running book library
I think this deserves a blog post of it’s own. I’ve bought a few fabulous running books to inspire me through my injury woes but there are so many more on my list:

Brooks shoes
I’m an absolute sucker for Brooks shoes. Maybe it’s because they were my first pair of ‘serious’ shoes. And they felt sooooo good every time I put them on. Either way, I always try on others but end up with Brooks again. I’m running in Trance 12s at the moment and would really love to try the Transcend. Shall definitely be saving up my pennies in the New Year 🙂

A massage stick
Yep, I get that this one’s a bit weird but I keep hearing how good they are. And I do love my foam roller, especially on my pesky calves that are always tight. This one looks good 🙂

So there’s my wishlist (the short version!). Perhaps there is something on there to inspire other runners in your life this Christmas?

postscript – my flipbelt is awesome!

For those of you who saw my earlier post, I have just got a flipbelt and was waiting for the weather to cooperate (and cool down) so I could go out for a run and test it out. I got my wish this afternoon and took a 7km run around the neighbourhood.

Not only was my run fantastic, the flipbelt did exactly what it was supposed to – it held stuff in place and kept it safe. I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was – I barely felt that it was there and it didn’t move, jiggle or get in my way (the same can’t be said of other random body parts – I swear I look like a tub of jelly when I run!). Most importantly, my phone was secure and didn’t move at all during my run.

So, to sum up, I’m hugely happy with my purchase and will definitely be adding it to my list of favourite running things. To those who are thinking about it, definitely do it – a great accessory 🙂

my new running toy. on a hot day.

I got a new toy in the post today and was so excited, I simply had to go out for a run to try it out. I had wanted a flipbelt for ages and treated myself to one in the lead up to 2 long runs I’ve got coming up later in the year.


A flipbelt is basically a tube of stretchy, non-abrasive fabric with slots at regular intervals to allow you to carry with you whatever you need on a run. The ‘non-abrasive’ bit is the key for me – I’ve tried running with all sorts of other accessories but always end up with sore bits somewhere as a result. Hence why I was so keen to test this out.

So, time to run. Except it was 33C here this afternoon and I was feeling hot and disgusting after a day of general chaos at school – my energy was also in very short supply. So I walked instead. Although I did break into a sprint when I got to a swarm of midges around the back of the lake.

wpid-20141107_193425.jpgThis is the view I have on one of my running routes and it always makes me smile. I feel really lucky to live where I do and have such beautiful places to run. As the sun was setting, the temperature dropped enough for me to no longer feel hot and disgusting – instead I felt happy and contented. Very zen 🙂

So I may have only walked with the flipbelt but, so far, it’s a definite winner. Didn’t even notice I was wearing it and it easily fitted my phone which is the biggest plus. I prefer to carry my phone when running but haven’t found an easy solution for that before now. Once the temperature drops today, I’ll be out for a run and will continue to my testing – will let you know how it goes!

What’s your favourite new running accessory? How do you carry ‘stuff’ when you run? 

brown paper packages tied up with string

I know lots of people say that running is so good because it requires very little special equipment. But that’s not how I run. I do love a good gadget and my husband steers me away from running shops for fear of losing me for hours amidst the colourful shoe collections. Here are 3 things I absolutely, positively can’t run without…

my shoes – currently Brooks Trance 12: Love them. I leave them near the front door because just looking at them makes me want to go running, just so I can wear them.

That would be my shoes….underneath my cat 🙂 He’s quite fond of them too

my watch – Garmin forerunner 405: This was an expensive piece of kit when I bought it but has been such a good motivational tool to get me out the door. And I love lining up at the start line to a race and joining in with the synchronised ‘beep’ of gps watches. Its battery life isn’t great and time seems to go in slow motion while I wait for it to acquire satellites but it’s worth it for the quick and easy data on the run (literally!) that I get. And I have been known to run past my house several times in quick succession, just to get the extra metres required to hit a round km figure.


my tunes – iPod shuffle: It’s little and I barely know I’m wearing it but is invaluable. The eclectic mix of music I have on there means that, just when I need it, I can guarantee I’ll be rewarded with a quirky tune to keep me smiling. And my latest find, my beloved yurbuds, are the perfect headphones for running. They do just what it says on the box – never falling out, regardless of how much I sweat and wriggle or how far I run.

What are your running essentials?