Red Wine Runner

A Scottish Running Blog

Category: Life (page 1 of 27)

Active Root | The Natural Ginger Sports Drink

Recently I’ve been testing some samples of a new sports drink called Active Root, which is made right here in my adopted home of Edinburgh. I’d heard about Active Root through various outlets but had never come across a sample, so I was pleased to give it a go. I absolutely LOVE anything ginger, including when I’m out running, so it seemed like the product would be perfect for me. I wasn’t wrong and I’ve really enjoyed drinking it on long and short runs, and even for tackling a hangover. It’s zingy and refreshing without being too sweet, and tastes great even after six hours on the trail.

I was really keen to support this new Scottish business, so I asked the founder of Active Root, George Ashley, if he would answer some questions about his products so that I could say a bit more than “This Tastes Awesome!”. Read on to learn about what makes Active Root special, where you can buy it, and what the next steps are for the team…

active root sports drink

Can you tell us a bit about Active Root – what is it and what does it do? What makes it different from other sports drinks?

Active Root is the first natural, ginger based sports drink. It is designed to help avoid and alleviate stomach discomfort and nausea before, during and after exercise. It also tastes pretty  good! There is a whole host of data from peer reviewed scientific journals to our own  investigations to suggest ginger calms the stomach and decreases nausea. This forms the basis  of what makes Active Root different from other sports drinks.

Where did the idea to make a ginger sports drink come from? Why choose ginger?

My business partner Will and I were sat in a pub in Edinburgh in early 2013. His mother used to give him ginger beer as a child when he had an upset stomach. Both of us had experienced stomach issues before and after long runs and bike rides. After a few more beers and discussion, we realised that this could form the basis of a business.

How did you get from an initial idea to prototype? How much testing did you do?

For the first 9 months we attempted to fuse a sports drink recipe with a ginger beer recipe with little success. Our ‘lab’ was my kitchen using a blender and some simple equipment. I have a background in bench science so that came in handy. We experimented with different ingredients, concentrations and production methods most Saturdays throughout the summer of 2013, and eventually, we came up with something both of us would drink!

In 2014, Huw joined the team via a mutual friend and Active Root formed the basis of his Master’s project at University in Edinburgh. We compared the stomach settling qualities of Active Root against another sports drink (with no ginger) and water. We had 40 volunteers for the study, involving a series of 5k races and a semi-quantitative questionnaire. The results suggested that Active Root decreases gastric issues by 40% compared to the other two drinks. In 2017, we have a further study planned, in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University.

Active Root is now made by a third party manufacturer so all necessary quality and lab checks are conducted in-house. It’s a long way from my old kitchen in Marchmont!

What was the biggest challenge in production?

In 2015, and still pre-trading, we decided to move from a liquid product to a dissoluble powder. This was not only to make Active Root a viable business from a financial perspective, but also to give the consumer more flexibility with Active Root in terms of where they want to use the product. That could be on their bike, in their rucksack or in the cup holder whilst down the gym.

The biggest challenge was converting our recipe into a viable powder form. However, we have a great manufacturing partner in the north of the UK who have been very helpful in the whole process.

What has been your favourite moment of the Active Root journey so far?

There has been a few but probably seeing Active Root on the shelves for the first time in shops such as the Apple Pharmacy and Run and Become in Edinburgh. Seeing that really brought it all home for me.

Is Active Root a full time job now, or do you balance it with other commitments?

Will and myself have other roles, which provide funding for the company, but we have two full time people. It’s an unconventional setup but it currently works for us.

Who else is on the team and what do they do? Are you all runners?

As well as Will and myself, we have Huw who is our main full time person, and backbone of the company, as well as one other who is a little shy! Everyone is critical to the team. We are all runners; I am mainly a XC and road runner, Huw is an orienteer by trade, and Will is our expert triathlete and Ironman.

If you could see any athlete drinking Active Root, who could it be?

Primarily runners, cyclists and anyone into endurance sports. However, Active Root can be used by anyone who likes ginger and wants to balance their system throughout exercise. Gym goers, hill walkers, footballer and even golfers!
If you are asking about one particular individual, it would probably have to be Joe Root (the English cricketer) for obvious reasons! If the customer feels so inclined, it also makes a great mixer and an even better hangover
cure! [Editor’s Note: Can confirm – alleviated most red wine hangover symptoms in our extensive in house trials]

Any plans to sponsor any athletes or events?

Yes, we are the official hydration partner of Spartan Races in the UK for 2017. This is major platform for us to bring Active Root to as many people as possible across the UK. Spartan are a great partner and have been extremely helpful in promoting us and helping us develop.

In March 2017 we have a trade stand at the Scottish Cycling, Running and Outdoor Pursuits Show at the SECC in Glasgow. This is the largest show of its kind in Scotland and provides Active Root with the opportunity to engage with around 10,000 active folk to see what they think of our product. It also gives them an opportunity to buy some!
We are involved with other, more small scale events this year as well and I would recommend anyone to check out www.activeroot.co.uk to find out more regarding where we will be this year.

Any plans for any other ginger products? Please say yes – I would love a ginger gel!

A second flavour is in development and all will be revealed in due course. As for a ginger gel, that is an idea that has been on the white board in the office for a while but we’ve made no putative steps towards it yet.

Where can we buy Active Root?

Active Root is currently available to buy on our site here at http://www.activeroot.co.uk/store and we are also available in store and online at Run and Become Edinburgh (http://www.runandbecome.com/shop-online) and in store at the Apple Pharmacy in Edinburgh (http://www.applepharmacy.co.uk/).

 

 

Ultramarathon Training | January Round Up

We’ve reached the end of the first month of 2017, skidding to a halt in the midst of a changing world which twelve months ago many of us would find unfathomable. Twelve months ago I wasn’t up to much; staggering through a pretty hefty dose of the January blues and trotting around Stonehaven every so often if I could find the motivation. However I’m really pleased to report that this year I’ve had a great start to year in terms of training, and I think the tide is finally beginning to turn on the slump that I’ve been in for months. Here’s what went down!

Lunch Running – #Runch

We’ve been blessed with extraordinarily good weather in Edinburgh this January, making it easier than ever to log off from my computer and head out of the office for an hour or so of running. From my central Edinburgh location I’ve enjoyed tempo jaunts along the Union Canal, speed reps around the Meadows, and adventures on the ‘Inner Tube‘ routes out to the Coast. I’ve been aiming to get out at lunch on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and most weeks managing two of the planned runs and shifting the other to an evening.

A need for speed

I’m getting faster again! I’m seeing my splits on ‘easy paced’ runs get shorter and that pace feeling a lot easier. The sense of relief at running becoming less of a struggle is amazing, and I’m so glad to be enjoying myself again. I’ve lost a little weight and got some of my running form back, and it all seem to be coming together again. It’s remarkable what some commitment and consistency can do.

Long Runs

There were four weekends in January and I smashed a Long Run on each of them. Week 1 was an 11 mile / 11 mile back to back on roads, Week 2 was 18 snowy trail miles in Stonehaven, Week 3 was a 20 mile solo road run, and Week 4 was a 26.3 mile micro-ultra at the West Highland Way Race training weekend at Balmaha. I was really pleased with the 20 miler as I maintained a good steady pace and finished strongly – I wanted to do this to test my road legs and my endurance to benchmark ahead of the D33. I completed it in 3hrs 16 minutes, which is pretty much exactly where I want to be for aiming for a 5 hour D33 finish. The West Highland Way run was tough and took me 6 hours, but it was a great (albeit wet) day out.

Trail Running

Two of my Long Runs have been in two of my favourite places to run this January. Here are some shots which I’ve shared on Instagram; are we following each other over there? If not, then head on over to @rhinomittens.

stonehaven fetteresso snow

stonehaven fetteresso snow

stonehaven fetteresso snow

18 sunrise miles on snowy trails in Fetteresso Forest

loch lomond

milarrochy tree

loch lomond

26.3 miles on the West Highland Way by Loch Lomond

So the running has been good so far – a total of 156 miles ran, which is my highest monthly total since FEBRUARY 2015. My highest monthly mileage in 2016 was 104 in July, and whilst I ran 175 miles in February 2015, in the rest of that year my highest monthly total was only 135. This represents some serious change, and I am delighted to finally share this with you.

Other Things

It was the Stonehaven Running Club prizegiving ceilidh and I (somehow) achieved a bronze standard award for my running achievements in 2016. This means I completed 4 formal events of which 1 must be a minimum of 10k, and two of which must be over 55% WAVA. I completed 5 events and my two over 55% were a 25:03 parkrun in January which scored 59.03% WAVA, and the Stonehaven Half Marathon in 1hr 56m 28s, which netted a 56.59% WAVA.

stonehaven running club ceilidh 2017

I would like to aspire to achieve a Silver standard like I did in 2014, but rather controversially the standards have been made far more strict since then, which makes a Silver standard a bit more out of reach for your moderately average Senior runner. Ironically my best chance of a Silver is to stick to short events – 1 Mile, 3k, and 5k; so perhaps this summer I will do the Sri Chinmoy short races in the Meadows. And try not to throw up afterwards.

Mikeller Running Club

In my last post I mentioned that I went along to a new running group. but then I failed to follow up on the promised details. Apologies; I moved house recently and these things rarely go smoothly alongside normal life, and I also had some major PHP database issues with my website hosting recently, but that’s not very interesting to read about. Anyway; I went along to the Edinburgh branch of the Mikeller Running Club in January and really enjoyed meeting some new people. They are sponsored by the Danish brewery, meet once a month, go for a run, and then finish at their ‘Clubhouse’ (local craft beer bar) for a few drinks. Sounds perfect, yes? They also have Chapters all over the world where you will always be welcomed to join in if you’re visiting. The next run in Edinburgh is this Saturday, and you can find out more here.

So what’s next?

Other than my first 11/11 back to back, I haven’t completed any proper ultramarathon training back-to-back runs. This has been because I’ve noticed that lately I’ve taken a little longer to recover from Long Runs than I used to – this is hardly surprising as I’ve taken more than a year off from tough training. I’m not an idiot, and as much as I love seeing the miles clock up, I’m aware I need to be wise as I re-introduce training to my routine which my body has temporarily forgotten about. I’ve been feeling a lot more fatigued after Long Runs, and my legs have been stiff – which is quite normal for most people, so I’m not concerned!

In February I’m going to reintroduce back-to-back weekend runs and see how it feels. I’ve got another 11/11 easy planned this weekend, then three more weekends of 26, 28 and 20 mile Long Runs before a two week taper for the D33. The 26 is actually 26.2 and a trial of a trail marathon event Stonehaven Running Club is hoping to launch next year, and the 28 will be the traditional Stonehaven – Balmakewan road run, ending with lots of cake.

This will all be supported by lots of yoga, foam rolling, and sensible food and drink choices (I’m remembering how much better treats taste when you know you’ve solidly earned them, and I like it!). I’ve done a lot of work in the last month, so if I can do it all again this month then I’ll be skidding to a halt at the start of the D33 in great shape.

How is your training going?

When is your first 2017 race?

What is your favorite treat after a big effort? I love a big breakfast the morning after a Long Run

Ultramarathon Training | Week One: Complete!

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope your 2017 has been going well so far and that you are easing out of the festive season without too much resistance. I saw in the New Year bundled up marshaling at the Stonehaven Fireballs ceremony, which saw us have a relatively quiet celebratory night. In fact; it was well after 1.30am when I even had my first beer, which was well-earned after the hard work which the Fireballs team put in to clean up the event straight after it ends. We headed to a party afterwards and had a chilled couple of hours with friends, meaning I woke up feeling fresh and ready to start my 2017 with a bang!

dunnottar castle

I actually can’t remember the last time I woke up without a crippling hangover, never mind even waking up before midday on New Year’s Day. However; with the winter sun shining down on me, I had a wonderful head-clearing trot around Dunnottar Castle and Dunnottar Woods before lunch which really got my head in the right kind of positive place to get excited about my ultramarathon training in 2017.

Here’s what I did this week:

Monday: 4 mile road run around Stonehaven, followed by a 3 mile walk with friends
Tuesday: No training – packing and returning to Edinburgh
Wednesday: 10k canal run at lunchtime – breaking up my first day back at work nicely, then Hot Yoga at 7:45pm
Thursday: 10k run around Stockbridge and Dean Gardens at lunchtime
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 11.5 miles total, including a run with Mikeller Run Club Edinburgh (more on that later this week)
Sunday: 11.2 mile Long Slow Run on road.

This follows my usual ultramarathon training plan pattern of running Tue/Wed/Thur and then a Sat/Sun back to back. I will have another couple of weeks of running a 4/6/6 or 6/6/6 pattern in the middle before shifting up to higher midweek mileage; 6/6/8, 6/8/8, and eventually some midweek 10s as well – although that will be hard to fit in at lunchtime at my current pace!

Cross-training

I really enjoyed my first Hot Yoga class in a few months at Meadowlark, and next week I will also be heading back to the gym to re-incorporate more cross-training into my routine. In the last two months before Christmas, I re-joined Pure Gym and spent a lot of evenings doing classes in an attempt to shake up my fitness and re-gain some strength, as well as attempting to shift a bit of lard in the most efficient way possible. I equally hate and love HIIT training, but it pulls me out of my comfort zone and kicks my arse in to shape like nothing else does. I’ll be going back tomorrow…

It was around the same time I joined the gym that I received an email from Millet Sports asking if they could send me a pair of trainers from their running shoe range in exchange for my thoughts on them. I thought about it quite a bit before saying yes; I wasn’t sure I really needed more shoes and I didn’t want to be reviewing free stuff just for the sake of it, however after a few sessions at the gym, I realised I really needed some more gym-appropriate trainers and I had no idea where to start looking for the right kind of shoe.

On roads, I’m still running in my favourite On Running CloudSurfer shoe (I’m now on pair #5!), and on trails I switch between various Salomon trail shoes, or my Hoka ATR Challengers if it’s more than 20 miles. None of these shoes are suitable for doing gym work, especially if they’re clarted with mud from the weekend’s off road adventures. I was pleased to have a look through the huge selection of shoes which Millet Sports have, and to pick a shoe which I thought would do the right job for crosstraining. I wanted something light yet durable, with a pretty low heel-toe drop, and something which would be suitable for running on a treadmill as well.

nike free run distance

I selected a pair of Nike Free Run Distance shoes, in a rather sharp looking black and white colourway. Despite being one of the biggest sports brands in the world, I have never been particularly drawn to trying Nike trainers for running, so I was keen to see how they would perform. I own several items of Nike running clothing and continue to be impressed by their durability after literally thousands of miles of usage, but I’ve always elected for more niche running shoes which target very specific runner requirements.

According to Nike, the Free Run Distance shoes were created after they learned that Stanford University track and field athletes had been training barefoot on the university’s golf course. Nike decided to develop a shoe that felt natural and weightless, with an overall goal of feeling similar to bare feet. The team then spent eight years studying the biomechanics of runners’ feet in motion, with the results yielding a profound understanding of the foot’s natural landing angle, pressure and toe position, allowing Nike designers to build an unconventional and flexible running shoe from the inside out. I’m not sure about unconventional – they seem pretty straight forward to me – but I always find it interesting to hear about why shoes are made to the specifications that they are.

  • Weight: 207 grams
  • Heel drop: 4mm
  • Cushioning: Soft foam
  • Sole: Hexagonal ‘flex grooves’

I was instantly pretty impressed with these shoes from the first moment I put them on. They are SO LIGHT! When they are on you can feel that they are a low drop shoe, but the soft foam sole adapts to your weight distribution so it never feels like the low drop is harsh on your calves. I chose a Ladies size EU42 which was mostly true to size, but if I was going to be doing a lot of long distance running in them I would either size up or choose the male version, just for a little extra swelling accommodation.

nike free run distance

I have ran about 50 miles in the shoes and done several types of gym class in them. One of my favourite things is how sticky the sole is on a gym floor if you’re doing a plymetric or circuits class. For moves like box jumps or mountain climbers, the sole grips the floor solidly which gave me a lot more confidence in landing and executing my movements.

In terms of running, they feel good both on a treadmill and outside, but the grippy sole loses all control on wet leaves or icy pavements! I have ran in them when it was frosty or wet outside and had to really slow down; the hexagonal soles provide flexibility of movement but very little grip, so these are definitely a summer running or dry road choice. I wouldn’t contemplate going anywhere near a trail in them either, especially as to not ruin the lovely black/white leopard print detail on the sides…

nike free run distance

I’m going to continue to wear them for my shorter mid-week running sessions, especially for any speed work which I do. The lightness of the shoes on my feet is really noticeable compared to my other road shoes, and it feels like I run lighter in them as well. At some point in the near future I will be doing a little parkrun time trial, so I will wear them for that kind of lung-bursting, 5k sprint effort, and see how they (and I) perform.

Thank you to Millet Sports (not Millets – confusingly, this is a completely separate company from Millets the High Street outdoor specialists) for providing me with my choice of shoes, and for their in-kind support of the costs of maintaining this blog.

***disclosure: I received the shoes of my choice in exchange for an honest review of the product. I received no additional compensation for this post, and as always, all opinions are my own***

2016 – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It’s the last day of the year, so traditionally a time when one casts a retrospective eye over the year and deems it either worth celebrating, or writing off as a total loss. 2016 has been a complete dumpster fire for many people for a variety of reasons, and I am certainly no exception. Personal issues aside, in terms of running, I am truly struggling to pull together the usual show-reel of highlights; winter training with friends, running up and down hills for fun, smiley summer trail running pictures, a smorgasbord of medals and race keepsakes… well, there’s not much of that to share this year.

Glen Lyon UltraHave a nice picture of Glen Lyon instead.

2015 went quite radically downhill for me after I completed the Triple Crown, an achievement which I was rightly proud of.  After that, I basically stopped regular training. Deep in long term unemployment, unable to plan ahead and enter races which sell out months in advance, I had nothing to focus on other than getting fatter and slower. Of course I could have continued to train in a useful manner anyway, but I just didn’t. My mental health and well-being is very closely tied to how much exercise I do; if I don’t run, I get in to a bad place, and when I’m in a bad place, I don’t run. It’s like a big fun snowball careering down a hill, which then crashes and burns in a mess at the bottom. Best year ever!

So what did I actually do in 2016?

Miles Ran: 823 (very poor; 200 less than last year and 500 less than 2014 and 2013)
Races Ran: 5 (Meh)
Longest Run: 37 miles (Speyside Way Ultra)

Glen Lyon UltraFinishing Glen Lyon Ultra in May

It’s an odd juxtaposition to follow on from some moaning about how shit a running year I’ve had, to then go on and say I completed five races 2016 including a marathon and two ultras. But when you find yourself in a bubble where running an ultra a month is now not just usual but almost expected, it’s quite easy to feel that by ‘only’ doing two you’ve somehow fallen short of expectations.

I am also personally aware of how little effort I put in to training for them, and I turned up and consequently struggled a lot more than I should have done. Relying on muscle memory and tenacity in order to get to a finish line is not cool, and certainly not commendable. Do not take inspiration from this method, I do not recommend it at all. In my experience, the rewards are a lot more enjoyable when you have earned them.

What else did I do in 2016?

Months unemployed: 5
Jobs gained: 1
Countries visited: 3 (Germany, Japan, Ibiza)

edinburgh castleThe view from my new office

I moved to Edinburgh to start a new job at the start of June. Unfortunately I had to do this by myself, leave my husband working in Aberdeen, and begin a heinous routine of Monday to Friday in Edinburgh, Friday night to Monday morning in Stonehaven. I’ve seen Stonehaven train station before 6am on a Monday more times than anyone should, and at the last count, I’ve spent over £600 in train fares. Living in Edinburgh is nice, but I am yet to settle in and make new friends, join a running club, or embark on any meaningful training routine. This transitional, peripatetic life is utterly exhausting and after seven months, I am sick to the back teeth of it. I’d love to say there is an end in sight, but the geographic nature of Kynon’s work means that finding similar work in Edinburgh has so far proved impossible, so this is our life now.

My favourite memories from 2016 are from our trip to Japan at the start of April, which is Sakura (cherry blossom) season. I was enchanted by the country and its culture; we visited Tokyo, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kyoto, and Kamakura, and travelled between the cities on the famous bullet trains. We also found a race to do, and really enjoyed the scenic and hilly Miyajima 15k.

miyajima marathon

miyajima marathon

miyajima marathonBeautiful Miyajima

How are we going to make 2017 better?

Races entered: 7
Weight to lose: 1 tonne (approx)
Flats to move into: 1

As mentioned in this post, I’ve jumped in with two feet and registered myself for a tonne of races. Being a typically tight Aberdonian, there’s no way I am going to pay for entries and then not use them, so 2017 is looking a lot busier than 2016 was. The other great news is that I have received a ballot place in the Chicago Marathon! I am so excited to do this race and am going to train my backside off (literally) for it to do the best I can. I am going to dedicate the summer to train specifically for this marathon, and I hope that in 12 months time I’m signing off next year’s post with how delighted I am with my massive PB, and to also finally have got a Good For Age time for London.

Kynon and I are planning on making the trip to Chicago together, and taking the opportunity to explore some of America’s Midwest. I’m investigating potential road trip destinations, and hopefully we’ll be able to attend an NFL game too. This trip will be a beacon to look forward to, as well as hopefully a trip to somewhere sunnier closer to home in the summer.  Another good thing is that I am moving into my own flat in Edinburgh at the end of January, and I am looking forward to finally getting more of a sense of home in my ‘new’ city.

I can only hope that the combination of these good things will pull my spirits up a bit, and that next year I can produce some great, positive, blog content for you all.

New Year’s Resolutions

  •  Do more yoga
  • Take more weekend trips
  • Make more of an effort to make new friends

Yoga – For some reason, now I’m in Edinburgh with a variety of yoga choices, I have stopped taking classes. This makes as much sense as the rest of this clusterfart of a year, so I won’t even try and explain it. I love to practice yoga; it clears my mind, restores my heart, and makes my body feel better. Why am I not doing more of this?!

Travel – Edinburgh Airport has a great selection of flight options to travel cheaply within Europe for a weekend. I need to take more advantage of this, and I’d rather spend my money on this than more bloody train tickets!

Friends – I am going to join a running club in the New Year, and I am going to try and be better at interacting with the fitness scene in Edinburgh. As a massive introvert this does not come naturally, but I know that if I surround myself with people whose goals align with mine, I will train happier and more effectively. There’s no way I would have dragged myself out of bed for all the pre-7am Saturday long runs without my Stonehaven running chums, so I need to find a similar squad to train with in Edinburgh.


I think that’s enough navel-gazing for now. I’m sorry this post has not been the happy review it usually is, but there’s no point in trying to gild a turd. 2017 will be better for us all – it has to be.

Thank you all for sticking with me through both the highs and the lows, and I wish you and your loved ones all the best for 2017.

~Rwr

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