Aldi Specialbuys Cycle and Triathlon Gear

…is in store now!

I’ve been having some fun trying a few things out this week 🙂 Once again, Aldi comes up with a selection of super-bargain-priced gear to stock your sporty wardrobe, this time with a range of cycling and triathlon gear. On Friday I headed over to the Olympic Park to get my bike spinning around the road track that weaves around the outside of the Velodrome. Before I mounted my trusty steed, I slipped into a base-layer vest and some rather fetching bib-shorts. This was the first time I ventured into the world of the bib-short, so was pleased that they were way more comfortable – and possibly even flattering – than I had imagined. If you’ve never seen bib-shorts before they’re hidden away under a jersey, think Big Daddy and you’ve got the right idea.

70s Stylee

70s Stylee

These are particularly good because they have a little clasp that brings the ‘braces’ together in the mid-chest area, to keep them firmly in place (this a female-specific feature). Well, I’m definitely a convert now! The good thing is, they keep your midriff and lower back warm and there’s no chance of anything riding up and revealing more than you would like. The base-layer, whilst seeming a bit stiff and rustly at first, turned out to be nice and long and also kept me warm and cosy on what turned out to be a windy ride. I also rode in some nice little black gloves which, for me and my *tiny* hands, were perfect in an extra-small.

Next up on my race agenda is the Crystal Palace Triathlon, where I will be showing off my new triathlon suit. At £14.99, this is an incredible bargain, when you consider that you can often end up spending up to and over £100 for other brands – great if you’re embarking on lots of triathlons…and have the cash to throw around, which I don’t so this is a welcome option. There are some nice details such as an internal mesh bra in the women’s model and also leg grips to keep the shorts in place and some handy pockets for gels. I’m always surprised at the detail in the Aldi gear, when you consider what a bargain they are. This current range has items ranging from gloves at £3.49, base layers at £9.99, bib-shorts at £11.99 and even cycle shoes at £24.99. If you like the running gear, then you’ll find the cycling range a useful addition to your kit mountain drawer.

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Aldi Running Specialbuys

It’s that time again, when things get a little ‘milder’ and you have to make the transition from long to short sleeves and legs (or not, if you’ve toughed it out all winter or like to stay wrapped up all year round!). After numerous sweaty runs and the subsequent washes, you might want to refresh your running wardrobe, so get down to your nearest Aldi and snaffle yourself some Specialbuys gear.

Bright!

Bright!

I’ve been trying out a few items from the range (and I’m still happily wearing the gear I tried out last year – it really does wash well). A favourite – again – is the ‘Ultra Bright Running T-Shirt’, it really is super-glowy and you will easily be spotted on those warmer evening runs, the fit is good and I would say is quite generous, so maybe try things on if you can. I also had a look at the ‘Short Sleeved Compression T-shirt), which comes in grey, so far less obvious, and quite flattering with its subtle pattern. I’m not entirely sure how much compressing it did because it isn’t especially tight, but the ‘Mid-Compression Running Socks’ seemed really effective for keeping post-run legs in check. The range covers everything you need, starting with insoles at £1.99, T-shirts from £5.99-£11.99, this light-weight jacket at £15.99:

Pink!

Pink!

and I also had a look at the ‘Wireless Activity Tracker’ which is £39.99 and monitors activity, sleep, distance, calories and allows you to set daily goals. It’s worth keeping an eye on the Aldi website because they bring out sports Specialbuys every few months, often alternating running with cycling.

New Balance New Shoes

I recently had the chance to go along and see the new range of shoes and apparel from New Balance. Having tried out a few of their shoes now, I’m always keen to see what they’re bringing out and any new innovations they have up their (lycra?) sleeve.

Running shoes running track

Running shoes running track

Something that stood out were the new style Fresh Foam shoes, which feature a Fresh Foam midsole and durable blown rubber outsole, which responds to the runner’s footstrike and impact patterns. This has been carried over into the 980v1 trail shoe, to give a more natural feel under foot on varied terrain.

980v1 Trail

980v1 Trail

I was particularly interested in the underside of the shoes (yeah, I know, geek), and like what they’ve done:

Grippy

Grippy

I have found trail shoes that have too deep a groove just pick up sticky mud as you go and you end up clomping around with heavy, solid feet. These grooves are just deep enough to grip and have the teeth running towards the back for the upward climb…and they’re light. Excellent!

I’ve recently been trying out some NB trail running shoes:

Autumnal shoes

Autumnal shoes

The Leadville 1210 has been made especially for ultra runners and has a tough Vibram outsole to cope with different terrains, but has been stripped of any unnecessary extras to lessen the chance of rubbing on longer distances. I haven’t exactly been going that far in them, but have certainly put them through their paces on slippery hills and wet paths.

Box fresh

Box fresh

They’re a lovely looking shoe (not that this means a thing once they’re caked in mud) and feel light enough to be responsive. I always find NB shoes to be a bit tight, so tend to go up half a size, but this pair are one whole size bigger, which makes them a little loose for my narrow feet – I think they are roomy to allow for the inevitable swelling that happens over longer distances. I would definitely recommend trying them on and giving them a test to make sure you get the right size, so important when you’re taking on epic distances.

Aldi Winter Running Gear in Store October 9th!

Yes, it’s that time of year again: the new Aldi Specialbuys Running Range is in store from October 9th. Earlier this year I tried out the Aldi Spring/Summer range and have worn it to death. I must say it’s really kept its shape and fit, even after hundreds of hot washes, and I still get complimented on the *bold* colours 😉 This week I’ve been trying out some of the Autumn/Winter range and have found it to be just as good, and with some really lovely details that you just wouldn’t expect from a budget range.

Thumb-holes

Thumb-holes

I’m a big fan of the thumb-hole. Being small of stature, I have trouble finding long-sleeve tops that don’t swamp me, so it seems like tops with little thumb-holes were made just for me. So comforting on a cold morning run. Ah. This top has some other nice details such as well-positioned mesh and reflective strips…and all for just £9.99. If you like compression clothing, there is also a compression base layer set, at £9.99. You can also add to your winter kit with some long tights and cover up in hi-viz with a jacket for £19.99.

I’m quite particular about my running socks, preferring something thin that stops at the ankle, and the three-pack of trainer socks at £3.99 fit the bill perfectly – they’re a little bit padded, but not too much. Other handy bits and bobs that will make winter running that bit more cosy are the neck-warmer (in a very bright hi-viz, also great for cycling), and a headband that fits neatly over the ears (could also be worn under a cycle helmet). With regards to size, I would try on the headband if you can – I found it a bit big – and the clothing I find to be pretty much true to size (I go for a small, which it states on the label is 8-10).

There are other items in the range, including shoes, insoles, zip tops and a really nice hoodie, all from between £2.49 and £19.99. You can’t go wrong really can you? But get to your local store fast because they do go quickly!

Pink Jersey

Did you see those cyclists heading through Northern Ireland at the start of the Giro D’Italia? Their sensitive European limbs protected against the harsh wind and rain blowing in from the Atlantic, heads down, breathing heavy. The jersey awarded to the leader of the race is pink, and the people of Northern Ireland went a bit bonkers, decorating anything that stayed still long enough with pink bunting, balloons and candy stripes. Even if you didn’t stay still, you were in danger of being pinked…

Baaaarmy!

Baaaarmy!

In homage to these intrepid riders, I have been riding around South East London in my own pink jersey, courtesy of the Aldi cycling range. I’ve also been getting my knees out (no pictures, you’ll be relieved to know) in a rather neat pair of cycling shorts. I really love the shorts, perfect fit, nice grip around the thigh, but not too tight, and just enough padding for a fairly long ride. I did feel a bit too ‘obvious’ in the top though, with pink not being my colour of choice (though I was very visible…not a bad thing), and the fit was slightly baggy, so I would suggest going a size smaller than you might normally. I also tried the gloves and, after my fellow cyclist Sally said they were good for small hands, I expected them to be a nice fit, but alas, I must have the tiniest hands ever, because they felt a bit loose on me.

If you’re really quick, you might still find some gear in your local store, and keep an eye out because there will be some more coming out in the next few weeks.

 

 

To the Spitfire

School holidays are always tricky for someone who likes a bit of consistency in their training, but I seem to have managed to keep up my training over Easter (although the swimming took a bit of a back seat). I was starting to get a bit anxious about the lack of cycling going on, as the triathlon gets ever closer ( just over three weeks to go now!), so Edward suggested getting out on my bike on Easter Monday. I was a bit excited about this prospect and lay awake, twitching at the thought of whizzing along the roads on my lovely bike. My main worry has been getting lost…I know, I know, so Edward suggested using Google Maps, which can be set to give directions, so I got that going and, after way too much faffing, I set off on my merry way.

My solo ride gave me the opportunity to try out my new cycling shirt from Tribesports. I have found it hard to find a cycle top that is long enough, doesn’t ride up around my middle but is nice and close around the arms and shoulders, but this one does the trick and also looks rather lovely too.

Selfie with cheeky imposter

Selfie with cheeky imposter

The stay-in-place ability of the top is helped by these neat little rubber grippy nobbles on the seam around the bottom. Another nice detail is the little zip pocket in addition to some larger pockets, allowing you to secure a bit of money, or your phone (though I found the bigger pockets more easily accessible and deep enough to keep a phone safe).

2014-04-24 14.26.18

So, bedecked in lycra, I took to the roads of South East London, and was soon heading into unknown territory on a quiet Bank Holiday morning. In my state of general nervousness, I had to stop every time I came to a new junction and check my map…numerous cyclists passed me by, doing the nod and probably muttering ‘Amateur’ under their breath. Whenever I reached a quieter stretch of road, I went for it, picking up speed and noticing just how smiley cycling makes me…I can’t be the only person (adult person that is) who goes ‘Weeeeeeee’ as they cycle down hill.

Magnificent

Magnificent

In what seemed like no time at all, I was seeing signs for Biggin Hill and was soon speeding along the road that takes you to the Spitfire. Of course, I had to pull over and take a photo, I was pretty chuffed to have reached this point. As I looked at my map, I could see that I could keep on going towards Westerham, but decided I should turn here and head for home. The return leg was less consumed with map-studying – it always seems much easier to navigate home. My competitive streak kicked in as I tailed some fancy-schmancy riders and I felt fresh, with enough fuel in my limbs to go further. Next time.

So that’s 40k of solo riding.

New Aldi Running Range Put to the Test

As I am in the depths of training for my first triathlon, I was delighted to be invited along to Crystal Palace Stadium to meet triathlete Daniel Bingham and to try out the new range of running apparel being released on April 3rd at Aldi stores around the country. Poor Daniel probably didn’t know what had hit him when I walked in and started grilling him on all things tri. He was very obliging though, and answered all my questions, giving me some top tips on how to structure my training and how to deal with the baffling issue of transition, something I already frown with anxiousness over. Some solid points I came away with were trying to fit in two sessions in each discipline each week: I currently run four times, swim at least three and try to get out for one longer ride, so I think I’ve got it covered quite well. He did say you can then allow for an extra session in your weaker area if need be, I’d say I need to build my confidence in my cycling, so will try and get out a bit more. With regards to that whole-new-world-of-transition, he suggested some ‘brick sessions’ nearer the time, this is where you do a shorter session of, say, cycling then get straight out and run to get used to the jelly-legged feeling. When I asked him about swimming, wondering if I should work my legs less to save them for the bike, he said to just swim normally and not worry too much about that, but to engage my legs more in the final couple of lengths to gear them up for running to transition, then riding. With regards to the transition area itself, apparently you have time to ‘rehearse’ this beforehand, so it’s good to really familiarise yourself with the position of your bike, walk through how you will approach from the swim and also how you will exit to the ride. My idea of flags and balloons to help you spot your gear isn’t allowed it seems.

We were then shown the new range of clothing and invited to try things on so we could go out to the track and really put them to the test. This brightly coloured top really caught my eye – I am pretty much exclusively a black-head-to-toe runner and have been admiring fellow parkrunners’ jolly attire of late, so I grabbed one of these, which I debuted yesterday. Oh, how my friends laughed as I gave the course a glow: ‘Adele, I need my sunglasses!’, ‘You’re a bit conspicuous!’ and so on…I did feel a bit obvious, but I think it will look great with a tan rather than freezing cold, goosebumpy March arms.

Lovely colourful gear

Lovely colourful gear

As you can see, the women’s range is mostly purple and *bright* pink and the men’s is green and blue. The quality and feel of the clothing is great, with nice details such as zip-pockets on leggings and a deep inside pocket on the jacket. For the session, I put on some black capri tights and a compression t-shirt and, as it was pretty blustery, I also opted to wear a jacket. We then went out to the track where Daniel set us off to warm up (cue little moment of joy as I ran on the track that super athletic stars such as Mo Farah have strode around during championship games). We did an interval session with some interesting drills to try and replicate the various transition sections of a tri. To get that heavy-legged post-ride feel, we were asked to do a set of squat-thrusts then run hard for 200m, and repeated this a few times, until we were really feeling the lactic acid building up. We then got all serious and tried to get a sense of the disorientation felt when you climb out of the pool, when your blood finds its way back around your body. This involved squat thrusts then, er, spinning around five times before attempting to run in a straight line. Told you it was serious stuff. Considering I had put the clothes on straight from the packet and really put them through their paces, they felt good. I did find the leggings were bunching up around my knees, but this is something I am used to since running tights are seemingly designed for tall people (I checked out the knees of a fellow runner with longer legs and there was no wrinkling going on there). There’s nothing can be done about my short legs, so maybe sports-wear companies can have a think about us little-uns…

I would definitely recommend the Aldi Specialbuy Running Range, the quality is good, the colours are lovely and they are so cheap! Prices range from £2.99 for running socks, with tops and trousers at £9.99 and some shorts for £5.99 (think yourself lucky I didn’t go ahead with the knee-exposing selfies I attempted to take to share the shorts!). I would say the jackets are an excellent bargain at just £15.99 and you can even get yourself some bluetooth earphones for £29.99. Also coming up in May and June are some cycling bits and bobs, which I will tell you all about nearer the time. In the meantime I will be brightening up my little corner of South East London 😉