Looking for something that’s a little bit different in the energy gel space is difficult. Realistically there’s only so much that can be done and I’m a firm believer in keeping things simple. However after years of using gels as a primary source of fuel I was keen to give something unique a go. And that’s exactly how to best sum Spring Energy Gels up!
They’re all natural, made from real foods and ingredients with minimal processing, free from artificial components. This is key to their selling point, in that the belief is by using ‘real’ ingredients it helps reduce gut irritation and improves absorption. The gels also have a mix of carbs, which means the energy is released more gradually, so there are no spikes. But what I liked about them were two things: the flavours and the texture.
There are several different gels in the range, so you’ve got options to suit not only your taste, but the amount of energy you want, and whether or not you like caffeine (Speednut and Hill Aid options). They’re all very palatable, with a slightly tart taste to most of them, other than the recovery gel which is more like chocolate. I felt I could eat them all day long and never get flavour fatigue or become nauseous from the sickly sweet gels you normally encounter. I liked being able to alternate between them, using the Speednut as every third gel to increase the overall fuel consumption and get a hit of caffeine. The second point I previously mentioned was the texture. They’re quite viscous, a little like a fruit puree or applesauce consistency. It made them easy to consume without the need for liquid. That said, a mouthful of water or Tailwind was good to wash them down. For a more detailed analysis of the nutritional value, it’s best to visit their website.
If you want to give Spring a go, get your hands on a sample pack. That way you can try them all and decide on which flavours suit you best.
In just a few words: I ‘m loving my new La Sportiva Kaptiva shoes! I have to admit though, I am a longtime fan of the La Sportiva range and came into the review with a little bit of bias. However, I’ve put them through a lot of punishment over the recent weeks and there’s little I can fault in them.
When I first received a pair to trial I was pleased to see the pronounced lugs for traction. I was also curious about the sock-like inner and the fact that these looked as though they were made for both comfort & speed. It’s a tough combination to pull off. Usually shoes skew in one direction or the other, and often that makes them more of a lightweight trainer instead of a racing shoe. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the Kaptiva was ideal for the sort of racing I mostly do – shorter events up to a few hours duration, where the trails are technical with plenty of climbing.
Putting them on for the first time was a treat. The sock-like fit is awesome and made the shoe fit snugly around my foot. It makes your feet feel very secure, which is really important for mountain & sky running. The last thing you want is to be sliding around inside your kicks. You need a firmer fit that gives you confidence on the trails.
For the sake of consistency, I test all trail shoes on a marked loop in my local area. It has a bit of everything, from steep climbing and descending, traversing gravelly stuff, rock gardens and on the first day of this trial, some overnight rain added some mud into the mix. The Kaptivas handled it all really well. To me they felt like a road shoe with trail grip. Light and responsive but still possessing excellent stability and comfort. I finished the run with the thought that this is my new “Race” shoe for my 2019 season of mountain running.
I’ll be honest. Books about running aren’t all that exciting to me. It’s not that I think I know everything about it, but I have a penchant for rare and antiquarian titles and that collection on my shelves is about all the reading I have time for. However, when asked if I was interested in reviewing Emelie Forsberg’s publication, I had to say yes, for two reasons. Firstly, I love the sport of Sky Running. The extreme terrain and rawness of the events are awesome. Secondly, I knew that it would be full of epic imagery, which in turns means it wouldn’t be terribly wordy. So as a hardback, ‘Sky Runner’ was going to be a quick and easy read. But while that may have been true, I found myself picking it up several times just to thumb through it again and again, purely for the photos.
For those who don’t know who Emelie Forsberg is, in a nutshell I’d say she’s the most well known female name in trail running today. The only person in the sport of any gender that’s more widely recognized is her partner, Killian Jornet. They’re the power couple of mountain running! Emelie was the original flower behind the ear, yoga posing, healthy eating and always positive, social media phenomena in the sport of trail running. Such is her influence, you can see parodies of her all over Instagram today. But to suggest that’s all there is to her, would be an insult. Emelie is a phenomenal athlete. Her exploits in the sport are incredible and include the 2014 Skyrunning World Championship, 2015 Skyrunning World Cup, countless victories in many of the most competitive mountain races on the planet, and FKT’s on Mont Blanc, The Matterhorn and Grand Teton. So we’re talking about one of the most accomplished mountain athletes in the world.
Now to the book. The cover sets the scene for what’s to follow. It’s a visual feast, where the imagery sometimes distracts you from the words. I often found myself skipping the text in certain chapters and being content just to look at the photos! But beyond the illustrations, the content itself is pretty darn good. It’s written in a very basic, user-friendly style, so is quite consumable. The chapters are broken up between stories of her running life, which despite her youth is rather extensive, and training advice. From tales of epic races to personal reflection on life and motivation, Sky Runner provides an insight into how Emelie thinks, feels and achieves the remarkable fetes she has. The training tips are a great addition that those new to trail running can benefit from.
The latter chapters include a guide to some basic yoga as well as recipes. As much as I wanted to say “I buy cook books for recipes, and yoga is for hippies!” I actually think what’s in Sky Runner are great additions. These are important parts of her life, so it only makes sense they’re part of the story. Plus, the recipes are bloody good! So if you’re looking for a book to take on holidays or a gift for a trail running friend, I’ll gladly recommend this title. It’s easy to read, has plenty of inspirational imagery, and has some good advice for newcomers to the sport.
When it comes to optimum recovery and performance, proper hydration is paramount. Just like eating the right food, you have to drink the best fluids. What started with Gatorade has now become a massive industry, with loads of options ranging from pre-mixed drinks to powders and soluble tablets. Every brand has its point of difference or specific application, as well as an assertion to be superior to the others out there. It can be tough to know what’s best for you and which claims on the packaging are actually true.
In the case of PREPD, there’s been over 20 years of research in the development of this product, with the background work initially being done for medical applications. So there’s plenty of robust investigation that has gone into it. The key point of difference that PREPD has from its competitors is that it’s all about boosting your hydration via increasing your ability to absorb fluid. This is achieved via the use of resistant starch…what that is I’m not going into detail about. That’s for the nutritionists to explain. Lets just say that it means you can retain more fluid in your body!
PREPD has a two-step system, with PRIME being consumed 6-18 hours before exercise, and RECOVER being the post workout beverage. The pre-exercise drink gets your gut in order so you can absorb fluid more effectively, while the after exertion drink is hypotonic (low in sugar) and contains a mix of electrolytes to replenish what’s been lost. It too contains some resistant starch to boost rehydration in the day following. First things first, the flavours. There’s mango & passion fruit, or strawberry & kiwi, both of which are delicious. The thing you’ll notice though, is that the texture is far from the viscosity of the likes of Powerade or your traditional pre-mixed sports drink. PREPD is thick, more like a smoothie. It’s really nice and makes you feel as thought there’s a lot more to this than what’s in the aforementioned products. The bottles are 350mL, so are easily consumed, and I personally found that the colder you have them the better.
As for the benefits, it’s quite hard to know if they’re doing what they claim to. However, I think they make a difference. If not from the fact I felt less thirsty during my runs, then from the point of them making me more aware of my pre and post training hydration. I found myself having greater discipline in this regard, and drinking my PRIME the evening before, followed by some water, then immediately after my run I would have the RECOVER, once again, followed by plenty of water to wash it down. Typically, I’m lazy about these things, but by having such tasty drinks in the fridge ready to go, I would just reach in and grab one.
The price will put many folks off. At $6.50 per unit in an 8 pack, it’s a tad costly. A Gatorade from the service station on the way home from training will set you back $4, however it doesn’t have all the benefits packed into PREPD. If you want to give it a go, which I recommend, then visit: https://prepdhydration.com.au/shop/
When I heard Mark Webber had created an outdoor apparel brand I have to admit I was a bit sceptical. While he does have a passion for adventure sport, it doesn’t necessarily mean he can produce the goods that trail runners are after. Well, clearly he assembled the right people for the job, because the Aussie Grit range is fantastic.
Aesthetically they’ve combined a simple, no fuss style with function. The gear all looks great, without the need for big logos, gimmicks or crazy patterns to command attention. I like to think of it as being gear for those that want to have some style on the trails and avoid being walking billboards. But while looks are pretty much the first thing we consider when buying apparel, it’s comfort that’s the clincher.
Firstly, lets talk about the shorts. In both the men’s and women’s Flint shorts there’s an inner tight that has a pocket to hold your mobile. A phone on our thigh was a bit uncomfortable but the pocket did prove ideal for a gel and some cash for a post run coffee. The inner is good for those that like the feeling of light compression and reduce chaffing, however on longer runs in the rain, there was some rubbing on the seams, which can be expected. Also, the inner means they’re warm, which is great for winter, but not ideal in the heat of summer.
The outer is made from a water resistant, durable and stretchy material. It oozes quality and being well fitted moves freely and doesn’t catch or rub anywhere. The wide waistband adds to the comfort.
The tops are similar to the bottoms, in that they look stylish and are made to a very high standard. A highlight of the women’s range is the AirFlow long sleeve top. The perforated arms make this a good option for variable conditions or Spring/Autumn days where it might be crisp to start with. The material is a merino blend, so it wicks nicely and breaths well. Also, the design is fitted, so there’s no excess material or flapping in the wind. This adds to comfort, reduces weight and also thanks to a combination of the fitting and soft materials, there’s no chaffing. The zips and finishings are all high quality, with an attention to detail that you don’t get from cheaper products.
This is the sort of gear that will last a lot of miles and keep you looking good and comfortable the whole time. Yes, it costs a little more than some other brands out there, but the quality justifies the extra dollers. What’s more it’s an Australian start-up with good brand values, so why not get behind it?!
After seeing SunGod adverts regularly in my Facebook feed, and being somewhat an accumulator of eyewear, I thought it was about time I got my hands on a pair to see how they compared to others in my collection. Logging onto the SunGod site it’s quick and easy to select and design your own custom pair of sunnies. There are several styles available so I opted for something that was more skewed towards fashion than sport. The reason being I like to have just the one pair and not fuss about with separate running and casual pairs. That said, in trail running it seems style is as important as function, particularly if you want those all-important ‘likes’ on social media.
You choose the frame colour/style, the lens type and the hue of the icons on the side. The options are varied and I went for a mildly conservative matte tortoise frame, polarised smoke lenses and brushed gold icons. Including shipping it came to $131.95, which is cheaper than most glasses. Less than a week later they arrived at my door. Pretty quick service! Immediately I was impressed. Having had a few hassles with online purchases in the past it was nice to find an operator that was so quick to service a sale.
Next step was judging the all-important aesthetics. On first glance they look quite stylish. The colour was as expected and as a whole they were pretty cool. Looking closely I did feel they were not as refined or as nicely finished as the more expensive alternatives in the marketplace, but you get what you pay for. Regardless, they look good and can double as both a daily, fashionable pair or something for running in.
Most importantly, it’s comfort and effective sun protection we’re after. They could be the best looking sunnies on the planet, but if you’re squinting and they bounce around your face while jogging, then they’re no good for runners. So, here’s the verdict. The lenses shielded my eyes really well. They weren’t so dark that it made it tricky to see the details on technical trails, but provided just enough protection so I didn’t squint my way through my training. The polarising was effective and while not really necessary for runners, it did help with my other hobby – fishing!
The fit was snug, extremely lightweight and comfortable. They bounced around a little while running, but in all honesty, the style I chose aren’t designed for runners. They’re made as all-round, stylish glasses that are perfect for those leading an active lifestyle. So in essence, I’d recommend them for runners after a second pair of sunnies that they might run in on occasion, but predominantly want something they can chuck in their backpack while on the go.
Before I get too far into this write-up, I have to confess to something. Apart from being supported by Chief Bars, I’m also not a nutritionist. So you might think I’m not qualified or will be biased in my thoughts. But, I’m a straight shooter, and if I think something is crap I’d say so. Now to the task at hand – The Chief Collagen Protein Bars. To describe them in a single word, I’d use ‘Yummy’. These things are really nice! Both the cashew shortbread and chocolate brownie flavours are awesome. If I had to pick one, I would opt for the chocolate. For the most part the texture is great. A mix of soft and chewy with a few light, crunchy bits in the mix. However, they’re a tad sticky in your mouth, so my advice is to eat the bar with a side of water, or in my case, I have one with my morning cup of tea. The Chief website (https://eatlikeachief.com/) has all the scientific and nutritional details, which is summated with the following bit of info I copied from it: ‘Collagen has been shown to be great for strengthening joints, muscle recovery and repair. And just like bone broth, collagen also aids digestion and improves gut health.’ So if the science is on point, then these tings are going to be great for your recovery and general health. To be honest, like when taking other nutritional products or supplements, I often don’t overtly feel the benefits. I just assume there’s something good going on. In this instance, I trust what the packaging says, as I personally know the people making them put a lot of time and energy into creating products that are results driven and thoroughly researched. Plus I know that I need plenty of protein in my diet, which these bars help add to.
At the end of the day, we put so much time and money into our training, apparel, physios etc, that I’m happy to suggest investing a bit of coin into additional help people can get from the fuel they consume. Regardless, they taste great and I’d still eat them simply as a snack!
When you run a lot of miles or are a heavier athlete, you want a comfy shoe. You’re not necessarily going to opt for the lightest weight, flattest and ‘fastest’ pair of kicks available. Save those for race day!
Shoe technology is constantly evolving. Every manufacturer is looking for ways to make their footwear better, or at a minimum, come up with a gimmick that gives them a new marketing campaign. In the case of the Ride ISO, I was immediately a tad sceptical. The reason being, I’d wear-tested a few pairs of the same brand over the years and never really got overly excited by what was on offer. Particularly when I compared them to other brands. I asked myself, what makes these any better than other runners in the market? Does the ‘ISOFIT’ lacing system really make a difference? And is the $200 RRP worth it? Well, after racking up plenty of miles in them, on varying terrain, here’s my verdict.
In terms of aesthetics, they look pretty cool. Mind you, there’s a bit of a Hoka appearance to them, thanks to the seemingly thick midsole. You sit ‘into’ the sole, which adds to the very comfy fit. Lacing them up I immediately noticed the snug feel and hugging nature of the upper. This is reassuring for someone like me that does a bit of off road training and also has a history of Achilles pain. I always look for a shoe that feels firm. When running, the neutral fit and 8mm drop make for a safe shoe, and thanks to the POWERFOAM they feel plush and cushy. But surprisingly, despite their slightly heavier weight and cushioned feel, they are also quite responsive. This makes them ideal as a daily runner and also for longer tempo sessions where you want something that gives back a little, but also some comfort and support so you don’t bash your legs up too much.
I’ve worn them for about 250km of running so far. This varied between long slow road miles, short, fast reps and long temps. There was even a bit of trail running thrown into the mix. Across all of these training runs, they performed really well. On trails they have enough grip and underfoot protection for shorter runs, on the road they were responsive and comfortable, however when it came to the really short stuff they were not ideal – that said, speed work is not what they were designed for. Essentially, if you want a very comfortable, neutral runner that’s made to last, then give these a try. I’ve long been a believer in sticking with what works for you, but in this instance, next time you visit the shoe shop it might be worth putting a pair of these on. The Ride ISO just might surprise you!