Red Wine Runner

Reading, writing, and running in the rain.

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My Ultramarathon Kit List

If you have a spare day, you could sit around a table with a bunch of ultramarathoners to talk about the best kit to use and you would still never reach any conclusions. The debate around shoes, hydration packs and jackets rages on in the forums and Facebook groups of the running world and won’t ever conclude, but it has been a while since I’ve talked about the ultramarathon kit that I’m using these days so I thought it was time to talk about my current favourites. I use a lot of the same stuff as I have for years, as it just WORKS, so here’s a top-to-bottom audit of what I like to wear when I’m going long.

Early disclaimer: all of this kit has been bought off my own dime and chosen on its own merit. No affiliate links or brand partnerships here, as per usual.


buff headwear


I’m not a fan of caps or hats as I find they keep too much heat in, and peaked caps make me feel claustrophobic. I stick with what I’ve used for years and make a selection from my collection of Buffs. If the weather is dreadful I wear one folded around my ears and one around my neck as well – they really are excellent for plugging up gaps where cold air or rain can get in. I also have a polar buff which has a thick fleece section for sub-zero runs. You can get these at all outdoor shops and plenty of races give them away in goody bags


I don’t wear anything special on my upper body, and reply on my ever expanding collection of race t-shirts and vests to see my through my training weeks freshly. In winter, I usually layer up with a combination of vest, t-shirt, and long-sleeve top, with my favourite Pearl Izumi Aurora Thermal Top on top. This is a thick pullover with thermal fleece on the inside and a high neck to keep the wind out.

Pearl Izumi Thermal Top


I have two jackets to choose from; a basic Ronhill showerproof thing which stuffs into a zipped elasticated pocket which can be worn around the waist or clipped onto a rucksack, or my more heavy duty Montane Minimus. This compacts down to a tiny pouch but offers much more resistance against the rain. These vary in price online up to £160 but I got mine for a deep discount at the ever reliable It was this item that kept me mostly dry at the washout Glenmore 24 12 hour race, until it eventually gave up after hours of rain (unlike me!).

Glenmore 12 hour race



My preference is always to run in shorts or a skirt whenever I can, even if the weather is horrid. My favourite shorts for training in are Nike Rival 4″ shorts. I love the wide waist band and the fabric is really light so dries easily.

nike 10cm rival shorts

I had my reservations about running skirts at first as they seemed rather too stereotypically girly for how I usually like to look and feel whilst running, but when all things are considered they are supremely comfortable and you just cannot argue with that logic. I have two – I usually race in my my black Nike Set Point Tennis Skirt (seen above) as it goes with my club kit, but I also have a fushia/purple Nike Rival Stretch Woven Skirt which is very, very short and more suited to summer running.

Nike Set Point tennis skirtNike rival womens running skirt

nike rival fushia running skirt

In the worst of weather though, I will be persuaded to cover up and stick some running tights on. This winter I have been loving my latest purchase, a pair of Nike Legend 2.0 tights. I’m sorry that this is starting to sound like a Nike commercial, but they make really great products which not only survive ultras themselves, but the 100s of miles of training which go into getting to the start, which says a lot.

nike legend tight tiger

You may have noticed my rather ostentatious leg wear in a picture in last week’s training round-up. They may look a little ridiculous to some, but I love them. They are so comfortable and grip the leg lightly from top to bottom – no falling down whilst running and no baggy backside area. They have a high waist which grips well without the need for a drawstring, and the fabric is thick and soft. I’ve never really been a running tight fan, but these have me totally converted.

compressport calf guards

I’ve long been a fan of calf guards, especially Compressport. I switched to these from 2XU after trying them on at the Paris Marathon Expo and being impressed by their seamless comfort. I make no claims to any belief in the validity of the science claimed behind them, but my legs feel good in them during and after a run. I wear them inside out though, to avoid the big branding.


injinji toe socks

I started wearing Injinji toe socks last year after more horror between-toe blisters at the D33. I’ve not had any blisters like that since I started wearing them, so I will anxiously tread the start line this year in a pair and hope for the best. These are now the only socks I will run in.

hoka one one stinson evo

Shoes….the big one! Since my return from Texas I have been doing my long runs in my new Hoka One One Stinson Evos. You all know about my ongoing foot issues, especially in longer ultras, so going down the Hoka route was pretty much my last resort. I was reluctant to get on the bandwagon without trying other things first – minimal trail shoes, Altras etc. but since these were on sale and I had room in my suitcase, they were purchased. I’m very happy with them! I’ve ran on road and trail and found the comfort underfoot to be supreme. 28 miles on Sunday was pain-free in my feet which is remarkable, so maybe I’ve found the answer to my problems. Time will tell of course; if the same thing happens at the Highland Fling then I will be buying shares in the company. I really like the colours of mine as they are a lot more subtle than some of the other designs. It helps that none of the women’s shoes fit me so I am wearing a men’s UK10.5.


camelbak octane xct

I  still use the same Camelbak Octane XCT which I got 3 years ago. It’s now been discontinued, but a similar model is HERE. It serves all my needs and I especially like the side pockets which have very easy access. I know the style these days is for race vests with removable bottles on the front, but I am yet to find a designer which has made one designed for women with a larger chest. I know there are female-specific designs out there, but when anything is designed for women, it is automatically assumed that everyone is the same petite size, both in height and girth. Spoiler alert: we’re not. This one is totally adjustable and has never caused me any problems, so I will use it until it falls apart.

I think that’s just about it – that is my ultra kit from top to toe and what I’ll be wearing out on the trails this Spring. Did I miss anything? What do you think? I’m happy to answer any and all questions – except for suggestions for what you should wear! I got this list together by trial and error and figuring it out for myself, and you should do the same. If anything, it gives you a cracking excuse to buy lots of kit… :)


West Highland Way Race Training Week 4

West Highland Way Race Training, Week 4
Week Beginning 16th February

west highland way race red wine runner

Tempo-ish run – 6 miles
Power Yoga – 1 hour
I came home with a real need to go for a run, so decided to run 3 hard miles out, take two minutes recovery and then try to run the 3 miles back quicker. The two times were 25:41 and 24:18 which I was pleased with.

I had to attend a meeting which took all evening and prevented me from attending running club.

8 miles – Around Aberdeen
I was visiting a friend in hospital so decided to take advantage of being in a different place. I enjoyed running around my old favourite trails near Hazelhead and on the roads around the West End before coming home and going straight to BodyPump. 

8.8 miles – Club run including 5k tempo

Unplanned rest – I had a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in. A planned short run had to be sacraficed!

Rest day
1.5 hours standing in the cold by the side of a rugby pitch and then 3 hours standing at a gig was not the perfect rest before a long run, but as they say, it’s all about ‘time on feet’…

28.2 mile long run
My training friends and I rescheduled our usual Saturday long run to Sunday due to a Beer Festival on the Friday night which we were all keen to attend.This was a great idea in theory, however the beautiful weather we saw on Saturday morning was replaced by a forecast on Sunday for, well, locusts. A yellow snow warning, 100% chance of rain and 20-30mph winds from the South. There wasn’t much choice but to get on with it so we wrapped up well and headed out. I ran with Mike for the most part and we didn’t need to put our rain jackets on until 20 miles, when the precipitation and wind got really harsh. The last 8 miles were horrible, with us battling face first into sideways icy rain on the exposed back roads. Unfortunately not all of our group made it to the finish with two having to be picked up on the way by kindly drivers and the rest taking somewhat of an accidental scenic route. The cup of tea and bowl of soup at Balmakewan Cafe after 28.2 miles were the best I’ve ever had.

Total: 50.8 miles


red wine runner 28 mile runPicture: Vikki Shanks

So in theory this is my training for the D33 ‘done’ and it is time for taper. My plan between now and the race is to do one more 20 mile run and a 15 mile run, and take it easy the week of the race. My decision whether to race or run the race is not yet made, but I’ve been encouraged by my training so far so unless anything goes wrong I will be going out for a new personal best at the D33.

This weekend I’m in Edinburgh for the rugby so will be doing my 20 miles solo on Friday morning and am hoping to fit in a Bikram or Hot Yoga session at some point over the weekend, as well as a run around Arthur’s Seat. I also have some coursework due in at University so am juggling the important things in life like mad as usual…

West Highland Way Race: Training Week 3

West Highland Way Race Training, Week 3
Week Beginning 9th February

west highland way race red wine runnerApologies for the tardiness of getting last weeks training posted. I’m afraid I’ve not got a great deal to say about it, but I’m keen to keep this training diary complete for the entire journey so here are my notes on week 3!

Power Yoga – 1 hour
I really enjoyed this session – I am feeling my flexibility begin to return and for the first time since coming back to a regular class I really felt things ‘flow’ again!

Club run – 6 miles – Short hill reps
I had intended on making this up to an 8 mile run but there just wasn’t much in my legs that night, and after running up and down a hill hard, one of my ITBs was a feeling a little tight so I went straight home.

2.6 miles – Shuffling
I had planned a 10 mile run for Wednesday but I just had nothing in the tank left to give! My last day of total rest had been 12 days prior, so when after 2 miles I was still struggling to get into a rhythm (whilst running on an easy flat path!) I had no concerns about nixing the run and turning back. I also didn’t go to Body Pump that night, and enjoyed catching up on some TV.

10.1 miles – Easy run
My decision to rest on Wednesday was confirmed by this run. My legs were light and I really enjoyed myself!

Total rest

15 mile – Long run
This was supposed to be 15 miles with my club long run buddies and a bit added on at the start/finish to make 20 for me. Our route was totally foiled by dreadful ice though and we had to change our plans. I ended up doing 15 miles door-to-door but didn’t sweat the lack of miles as this was rapidly turning into a recovery week.

12 planned… 0 ran
See previous comments about a recovery week. Kynon was ill and I was feeling a little under the weather – no point in doing too much too soon for the sake of another big week so we just went for a walk instead.



So not the perfect week by any stretch of the imagination, but probably just what I needed. I was always chancing my luck by planning on 4 big weeks before a cut back week at the start of my training, which is why I was (and remain) open to flexibility. I arrived at Monday rested up and am having a stormer of a week so far, with a 28 mile road run with my long run buddies at the weekend to look forward to.

No nice pictures this week, so pleas accept this image of a bi-ped beaver walking on the moon having a conversation with a unicorn, whilst a keen winged observer passes overhead:


Illustration – John Ueland
Source – Mental Floss

Have a great week!

West Highland Way Race: Training Week 2

West Highland Way Race Training, Week 2 – Week Beginning 2nd February

west highland way race red wine runner

Last week was an excellent week of training with five runs and two cross-training sessions, to make a total of 56.6 miles and twelve hours of training. I finished the week with that brilliant feeling of total physical exhaustion mixed with elation, and really pleased that I had achieved everything I set out to do. Here’s the break-down of the week’s sessions:

Power Yoga – 1 hour

Club Run – 10.3 miles in total.
Our monthly off-road ‘moonlight run’ took place this week in Swanley Forest in ankle deep, virgin snow. I found running uphill through the snow pretty tough and was bringing up the rear of the group for most of it. The run was also longer than I expected – I had guessed 8.

Body Pump – 1 hour.
Due to the longer, tougher run on Tuesday night, I decided to move Wednesday’s run to Friday as my legs were pretty tired.

Club Run – 8 miles in total, including 3 miles of intervals.

Easy run – 3 miles
Wednesday’s run, shortened a little just to shake out the legs. It was also a lovely day and I didn’t want to stay inside!

Long run – 25.6 miles
On the Deeside Way, north of Banchory and back. Hilly and icy in places, but a good effort with a gang of about 15 runners training for the D33.

Recovery run – 9.5 miles

Total – 56.6 miles


d33 ultra training run

Picture: Claire MacAskill

It was fun to run with a big group on Saturday morning and explore a new-to-me route. If the D33 team ever decide to have a D66 or D99 race, then this part of the Deeside Way will be part of the route! For me, my long training runs for ultras are all about a consistent effort throughout the whole of the run. I pay attention to my heart rate and if I’m working too hard then I slow down, or walk a bit. This is why I (and many others) will power-walk up hills on our long runs rather than run up them and burn off too much energy too quickly. Some of our group took off at a great pace at the start, but beyond 20 miles this started to fade, and those who were previously pushing the pace at the start had moved to the back of the group. I’ll be aiming to run the D33 at around a 9 minute mile pace, so my training pace on my long runs should be around 10:30ish. My average pace on Saturday clocked in at 10:58 after I started at the back and kept a steady effort throughout, ending up being first back home at the car park. There’s always a risk when running with a group to go off too fast, or feel like you need to stick around with people who are faster/slower than you. Always be mindful of how hard you’re working and keep your own goals as a priority when deciding how you will pace your longer runs.

In other news, I was pleased to see that a little interview article I wrote for the Scottish Running Guide magazine was published this week in their Spring issue. I wrote about my favourite race, which I decided for a lot of reasons, is the D33. I haven’t managed to pick up a copy of the magazine yet, but Lucja on Twitter sent me a snap:

Red Wine Runner Scottish Running Guide

Finally; I’ve been enjoying using MyFitnessPal to track my calories over the last couple of weeks. At the end of January I was a stone heavier than I was at that time last year, which is less than ideal but not an insurmountable challenge to shed once I cut back on booze, cheese and treats. MyFitnessPal has been really useful at keeping myself accountable for all the extra snacks that sneak in here and there and giving me a better insight into my nutritional breakdown. I’ve lost 4lbs so far which is a good start and I’m actually looking forward to weighing myself tomorrow to see what else has come off in the last week after all that hard work!

Who else uses MyFitnessPal? Is anyone else still hanging on to a New Year Diet?

- Rwr