Asics Fujitrabuco Trail Shoe

It seems nowadays that only the lure of a new pair of trainers can encourage me out of the house for a run. Fortunately Millet Sports decided it was time I laced up again as they sent me a jazzy pair of Asics trail shoes to trial. 

Asics Trail ShoesWithin moments of opening the box, to a new pair of Asics Gel Fujitrabuco, I’m a runner again. I was down on Mitcham Common bounding over the hillocks and tufts, putting the day-glo trail shoes through their paces. 

I’ve just about gone full circle with running shoes. I’ve tried some amazing extremes, like mattress sized Hoka and minimal Vibram FiveFingers but recently I’ve been looking back fondly at the relatively normal Asics trainers that I started out with many moons ago.

I still remember the joy of the early runs on new Gel Kayano trainers where I felt at one with my shoe. Body and sole gliding with grace. 

Obviously I’ve lost a few brain cells since I last ran properly as I’m sure I never trogged anywhere with grace and unfortunately nothing much has changed. I huffed and puffed around the common in my usual ungainly style but who cares? I loved it. 

Trail running can be so liberating and I think I will spend a bit more time in my oddly coloured pink and peach Asics trail shoes, trying to rediscover my running alter ego. 

Purition Protein Shakes

Over the last year or so I’ve been shifting my focus from running to weight training and have therefore become much more concerned about the protein content of my foods. Ideally I would aim to have a portion of protein with every meal or snack and that’s where the convenience of a protein shake comes in handy.

There is a massive choice of protein supplements on the market but some are packed with dross.

Here’s a snapshot of the ingredient list from Myoplex Lite, a protein shake that I have actually used in past but obviously haven’t scrutinised the rather unnerving list of oddities that I’ve been consuming as a result.Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 17.10.23

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 17.13.01In contrast, Purition protein shakes claim to offer “real food” shakes and their ingredient list contains only recognisable food products such as nuts and seeds.

One of the downsides of real food shakes is that they don’t mix terribly well, they don’t include fillers or milk powders and so shaking them up with water is not very successful. Instead you need to add to the milk of your choice and blend with a mechanical blender.

Here’s my pistachio purition shake blended with 250 ml of raw milk. The sediment begins to settle pretty quickly so you can either stir as you drink or deal with some grainy stuff at the end.

Strangely enough, the purition shakes taste like whizzed up nuts in milk, fairly bland and a bit grainy. Not unpleasant but not terribly exciting either.

They work fine on a “food is fuel” basis, packing 20 g of protein per sachet.

Purition shakes are recommended as either a breakfast or lunch replacement and cost about £2 per sachet before you factor in the cost of your milk of choice.

I am quite happy to have scrambled egg for breakfast which is the ultimate real food in my mind which only leaves lunch or a post workout snack as potential options.

My lunches are usually the least nutritious meal of the day but as I don’t have a blender at work I will have to experiment with pre-whizzed versions of Purition and make sure I give it a good shake before I drink. I’m sure it will be fine and will certainly be an improvement on a Pret sandwich.

 

Quest Protein Bars on the Settle to Carlisle Way

Settle to Carlisle WayI was recently sent a vast variety of Quest protein bars, enough to consider cancelling my grocery shop for the week. As their arrival coincided with our planned mega hike along the Settle to Carlisle Way, I chose instead to stash them into our rucksacks for emergency sustenance.

That proved to be a good move.

Quest bar on the Settle to Carlisle WayPubs up North seem to keep odd hours and you wouldn’t believe the times we staggered off a Pennine hillside desperately seeking the pub marked on our OS map, only to find it was either shut or we had just missed the food serving window.

Still, I can confirm that when all else fails, a Quest protein bar proves to be a good accompaniment to a pint of Theakstones.

Quest protein barThe Quest bars all have a similar texture; a chewy protein matrix with what appears to be chunks of real cookies running through. Looking at the ingredient list tells me that it hasn’t so much as sniffed a real cookie so I think that’s quite an impressive trick.

In terms of taste, I’d say things like “not too bad”, “reasonably pleasant” but then you can’t get overly effusive about a protein bar. People don’t buy protein bars because they think they taste better than chocolate bars, they buy them because they are avoiding carbs, trying to eat protein with every meal and need something more convenient than a chicken breast. It’s only when you stack protein bars of different brands against each other that you start to feel more positively about Quest bars.

I have tried some fairly horrendous protein bars in my time, so by comparison these Quest bars are pretty darn good. I still came back with handful though, so they weren’t quite good enough to dissuade me from carrying them one end of Yorkshire t’other.

Huel complete Food for Humans

I’ve always been a bit sniffy about meal replacement shakes but when I first heard about Huel in a recent Times article I felt more intrigued than judgemental. It seemed to be selling itself as an ethical, low allergenic alternative to real food and not as a quick fix diet shake. So when I was offered a week’s supply of Huel to try out, I obviously jumped at the chance.

Huel is vegan, dairy free, soy free, gluten-free food replacement product and claims to be nutritionally complete providing at least 100% of the UK Governments Reference Nutrient Intakes. Personally I’d rather not trust the Government with decisions about my health but at least they’ve opted to follow the UK model rather than the US Government’s view of a healthy diet.

If I were to claim affinity to any particular nutritional bandwagon it would have to be Weston A Price with its focus on traditional foodstuffs, well reared meat and fermented products so Huel doesn’t fit in so well with that – it’s hardly traditional to live off mail order powder and there isn’t even a sniff of an animal product, well reared or not. The ingredient list is pretty tame, there isn’t a single product that I could complain about with the bulk comprised oats, pea protein coconut, flaxseed and sunflower seed.

When I took delivery of my weeks supply of Huel, I planned to trial a 100% Huel day based on 1500 cals. Here’s my day’s supply weighed out and combined ready for use. By the time I had made it through the first 8 hours or so of my day and consumed my breakfast and lunch Huel, I was getting pretty desperate and I decided to change the experiment and adopt a more sustainable approach of 2 on and 1 off.

Quite a lot of people choose to substitute Huel for breakfast and lunch and then opt for their typical evening meal with the family. This seems eminently sensible to me. Breakfast is usually the most nutritionally lacking meal in most people’s diets. Unless I can bothered to cook up an egg meal I rarely get a satisfactory level of protein in the first meal of the day. Huel at least ensures that I get a good kick-start with a so-called balance of carbs, protein and fat. Lunch is a bit easier to control but if I haven’t bothered to make myself a pack up chicken salad I find myself spending a fortune on organic produce near work and I’m happy to swap a £7 salad for a 96p bottle of Huel (300 cals worth), safe in the knowledge that my nutritional needs are accounted for.

I admit, it is poor to design an experiment and then change the goalposts half way through implementation but if you want to read about someone who has jumped on the 100% bandwagon and has so far stuck at it for 3 unhappy days, check out Ed Wiseman who is in the midst of 7 day Huel experiment.

I’ve now been using Huel for 12 days and I’m really happy with it. I weigh out the powder in the morning and mix to about a 1:5 ratio of powder to water (you can amend to your desired consistency). I do find that Huel is quite resistant to mixing and it takes a fairly hefty blast with handheld blender. I haven’t tried the shaker approach but can only imagine that it would result in major lumps.

Huel is not particularly tasty but neither is it vile. I’d describe it as a strangely sweet, runny porridge. Its bland really, but I’ve always found that bland works pretty well for me, it seems to turn off all my high alert, food-neediness sensors.

On a normal, non Huel day, I typically have breakfast, arrive at work and start wondering if its ok to have my morning snack of cashew nuts, then an hour or so later I start clock watching til 12 noon when I think I can reasonably start on my lunch. With Huel, I start the day with a pint of the whizzed up concoction and although I do feel hungry in the morning, I know that the Huel is sitting there waiting for me and I can eat it (or drink it) whenever I like. I just don’t seem to “like” that much. On Huel days I regularly make it through til 2-ish before I finally crack the lunchtime supply open.

As someone who constantly struggles with my weight and any form of dietary restriction, I find this behaviour to be a revelation and one that I want to hang on to.

So 12 days in I feel good, healthy, lighter, slimmer and I’ve saved money on my grocery bill. That’s a bit of an obvious thing to say given that my first bag of Huel was a freebie but I did buy the second bag. A weeks supply of Huel (based on 2000 Huel calories per day) costs £45 and at the moment comes with a free t-shirt (I like mine), a shaker and a metal drinks bottle.

Hacking the Huel

They have a fairly active customer forum at Huel and there seems to be an acceptance of altering the mix or spicing it a bit. Here are my suggestions for hacking the Huel.

Changing the Flavour

I’ve already said that the bland flavour works for me so I don’t want to dabble with the flavouring and make this a moreish product, having said that I did try adding the dregs of my black Americano one morning and it was surprisingly good. Other users have tried an assortment of flavour enhancers including syrups, coffee powders and cinnamon.

Altering the MacroNutrient mix

I don’t buy into the Governments view of what constitutes a healthy diet and would prefer to have some more control based around my personal requirements. So while Huel is currently constructed around a 30 30 40 split (fat, protein, carbs), I would prefer to increase the protein and fat at the expense of the carbohydrate. When I’ve been weight training I add some additional grass fed whey powder and/or collagen to the mix. Obviously it adds to the calories but it also shifts the macronutrient mix in favour of protein.

Making it Live

I’m also a big fan of fermented products and kombucha, yoghurt, kefir and sauerkraut are a regular addition to my diet. Since opting for two Huel meals a day I’ve reduced my opportunity to sneak in my home-made Bulgarian heritage yoghurt, and that’s a bit of a tragedy as I have to maintain the lactobacillus line. I’ve started to sneak a bit into my morning Huel to ‘live’en it up a bit which also has the benefit of taking the edge off the sweetness. As with all additions though, it affects the nutrient mix and the calorie content.

Final View

I don’t see why anybody without complex health needs or a psychological aversion to food, would choose to use Huel as a complete food replacement. It’s quite possible to do and might well be more nutritious than most people’s dietary alternatives, but food means so much more than just nutrition and I don’t ever want to lose the joy of sitting down to a good meal with friends and family.

I do think that there could be a longterm role for Huel in my life though. I’ve already ordered my next weeks supply and will continue to adopt a breakfast and lunch replacement for the forseeable future. I’m impressed with the level of food control I seem to have developed while using Huel and the result is that I’ve been losing weight but I also feel good, my energy levels are up and my mood is steady. If I were to try to restrict my consumption in a similar way using “normal” foods, I’d be going up the wall within a day.

Running with Light

I’ve had a few weekends away in the sticks and at this time of year I always wonder how I could keep up my running habit if I moved to the countryside where pavements tend to be optional, as does the street lighting, and where running either side of work means running in pitch darkness.

Nathan Zephyr 100Running through London, my requirements are more about being seen than lighting up my way. Street lighting is sufficient in most areas to prevent me from running blindly into a wall or fellow runner but I do feel more comfortable knowing that drivers have spotted me and are less likely to turn up side streets without indication and so on.

I was sent the Nathan Zephyr 100 running torch to review and was immediately impressed. It has an ingenious strap design that makes it so easy to hold without gripping. I’d use this on my next overnight walk as it would be such a relief not to have to focus on holding a torch for hours on end. It’s ideal for running too, you can set it to a bright solid beam or switch to flash mode which I think is the best option for being seen. This video clip demonstrates the flash mode – sorry it wasn’t really dark enough to warrant torchlight.

Nathan Zephyr Fire 100

A post shared by 💪 @warriorwoman (@warriorwoman) on

Bluefingers Labs Wearable Audio

Bluefingers Labs BeanieBluefingers Labs got in touch a while back and offered me a seriously cool beanie hat with integral headphones. Unfortunately I do not ooze the right level of urban cool to pass it off and so opted for the far more sedate baseball cap.

Bluefingers Labs produce a small bluetooth gizmo that they have stitched into assorted head garments. This enables you to have a fairly discrete and hands free audio experience.

Bluefingers Labs Baseball Cap

I’ve tried out a number successful ways to carry my iPhone securely while running but I still suffer with the flappy cable annoyance. This cap enabled me to run, cable free, while listening to my favourite tunes and allowed me to take calls while still on the move. I didn’t spot the integral microphone but it seemed to work well enough and apparently picked up my huffing and puffing very well.

I run hot and therefore struggle with hats. I like them to keep off the rain and the worst of the suns rays but I also like to avoid heat stroke. I therefore choose very lightweight breathable caps and this is not one of them.

The Bluefingers Labs baseball cap is a standard baseball cap and it isn’t really designed for the rigours of sport. The genius of the design is in the Bluetooth audio attachment and I’d love to see them build one into a running specific cap.

In the meantime I’ll be using mine for the daily walk into work but I’ll probably take the cap off before my work colleagues spot me, I don’t want them to think I’m down with the kids.

Benefits

  • Handsfree bluetooth
  • No irritating cables
  • Secure earbuds
  • Receive telephone calls
  • 60 remarkable hours of standby time

Disadvantages

  • Not running specific so quickly feels hot and damp

Check @BluefingersLabs out on Twitter and you might be able to pick up a discount code.

Invalid Displayed Gallery

Infinitely Hard Eggs

Soft Boiled EggI am a big fan of eggs. They are nutritional power houses and are one my staple foods at the moment. I’m in the middle of a paleo-style detox (Whole 30) and so my current diet consists pretty much of eggs, meat, fish and vegetables.

In order to keep up with my voracious egg consumption I’ve been trying out the Severin Titanium Electronic Egg Boiler. I am not particularly adept at the perfect egg boil, so I thought an electronic gizmo might save the day. I was a little concerned when I read the instructions, which had been translated into an impressive array of languages, and informed me that I could achieve an infinite level of hardness with my egg, just by turning a dial.

I have problems with infinite hardness, not least because I want a dippy egg but mainly because I am sure the egg would self-combust before it approached anything near infinite hardness. After trying the gadget on umpteen occasions and having failed to soft boil more than 24 eggs I would now concede that this is a device that is focussed on it’s goal of achieving at least brick-like hardness.

This morning, in a bit of a strop, I turned the device down to its lower setting and tried again with a rather special Organic Burford Brown Hen egg, complete with the Red Lion stamp of quality and Britishness. The gadget beeped after a mere 30 seconds (or so), the water had not boiled and the egg had not even warmed through. I picked it up, shook it to reveal a fluid centre and then cracked it on the side of my frying pan and went back to the good old fashioned way of cooking a breakfast egg.

The British Lion Eggs website is a really useful resource for eggy related info and detail on egg nutrition. This page on eggs and cholesterol, although voluntarily restricted to health professionals provides some research backed evidence to explain how the cholesterol raising misconception arose.

Loxley Suspension Trainer

I’m a big fan of suspension training and was delighted to be offered a Loxley Sports Suspension Trainer to try out. If you are not familiar with the concept of suspension training, it’s a highly adjustable form of bodyweight resistance training.

You attach extremely strong webbing to something sturdy and high, such as a tree, a goal post or even a door and then while you are holding onto it you perform functional movements which focus on strength, balance and coordination. By adjusting the length of the straps you can adjust the resistance so you feel more of your bodyweight.
Loxley Suspension Trainer vs TRX
The original suspension trainer was the TRX designed by a former Navy Seal for Total Resistance eXercise. I already have a TRX strapped to a pull up bar across the bedroom door. It cost me an absolute fortune (£190) but at the time I thought I was buying the original and therefore the best. Now that I have the Loxley Suspension Trainer and the TRX side by side I don’t think I was correct, they are almost indistinguishable and I certainly can’t discern any quality differences between the two brands.

I am extremely impressed by the quality of the Loxley Trainer, for £45 you have got an absolute bargain and an impressive tool for increasing your strength and power.

Loxley Suspension Trainer

The suspension trainer comes neatly folded into a small mesh bag which makes it convenient for travelling with or taking out to the park. As with the TRX, it comes with a cord attachment in case you need to wrap around something very large such as a tree trunk, and a door wedge that allows you to trap the cable at the top of a suitable door frame. This makes it the perfect bundle for taking away on holidays or work trips as you convert your hotel room into an accomplished gym.

Where the Loxley Suspension Trainer may be missing a trick is in the enclosed instruction booklet where it identifies only 5 of the myriad of possible exercise options.

I strongly recommend this bargain suspension trainer and I also suggest you pair it with this excellent iPhone app Virtual Trainer Suspension – Virtual Trainer that shows the exercises in HD video for only £1.49

Loxley Sports are a new sports brand and currently sell this suspension trainer, kinesiology tape and a set of barbell collars that I’m really tempted to buy. All 3 products seem to be offered at a really great price.

The Power of the Playlist

running playlist

We got a swanky new treadmill recently, so despite the horrendously hot weather conditions I am choosing to do most of my running indoors, without air con and without a fan.

Within 5 minutes I have wilted terribly and my chances of staying on to complete my usual target of 5k are slim.

It is in these conditions that I need to unleash the power of the running playlist – the power to sweat and endure.

The Vision treadmill comes complete with an iPod adaptor so I can link up the iPod nano that I got from Argos and blast out my Top 5 motivational running tunes:

  1. Roar – Katy Perry. I have to play this first as I need to yell “Hear me Roar!” along to the chorus and I lose my puff very quickly.
  2. On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons. For some reason I try to dance with my arms thrust into the air when this plays. Very dodgy on a moving treadmill.
  3. Pompeii – Bastille. We’ve just come back from a trip to Pompeii so this has to be on my current list, even though I can’t forgive him for his pronunciation of “close”. Weirdo.
  4. I Kissed a Girl – Katy Perry. Not that I have a thing about Katy Perry but frankly, no other song has the power to make me bounce.
  5. Breathe – Melissa Etheridge. Because by song 5, it does “only hurt when I breathe”

 

The RooSport Running Pocket Review

I regularly run loops of the neighbourhood, alone and under cover of darkness. At these times I am acutely aware of the hugely expensive iPhone strapped to my arm, often lit up by the latest status update from my running app.

So I often run late at night and often feel vulnerable.

Last night I ditched the armband in favour of a RooSport running pocket that I’d recently been sent to review. It is a small pouch designed to replace the pocket that was no doubt omitted from your running tights.

Its a soft fabrich pouch with integral zip pocket and a small flap with a killer magnetic closure.

You stick the pouch inside your waistband and take the flap up and over. The magnet holds everything extremely securely and if you don’t get your fingers out of the way quick it will secure those to your trousers too!

RooSport

I didn’t expect to like the RooSport, I thought it would flap around my midriff and cause an unsightly bulge on my already unsightly bulge.

How wrong can you be? I loved it.

I was wearing it with reasonably tight running leggings and after I’d secreted my pouch and pulled my t-shirt over the top there was no bulge and more importantly, no fancy hardware on display.

The RooSport is super discrete and I was able to run without worrying that I was about to be accosted.

I’ve taken to using the RooSport everyday now. I walk into work and because I use a rucksack rather than a shoulder bag I tend to carry my iPhone in my hand. I now put it in the pouch and snap it to the inside of my work trousers.

I’ve become so accustomed to having one hand tied up with my phone that I stopped dead in my tracks this morning, panicking that I’d misplaced my phone, despite being in the middle of listening to an audiobook.

RooSport have currently got a Kickstarter campaign on the go, crowd sourcing for version 2.0 of the RooSport pouch. I don’t really feel that it needs much improvement but I’ve got one order anyway – I rather foolishly promised this one to Lynn before I became so attached to it.