Good: Inov-08 are a proper hard North of England company. This shoe is the peak of trail ultra comfort. Great spread for the wide foot. Good sizing with the +0.5 addition for trail/ long distance being compatible. Fantastic grip and mud loss, minimizing retention. Number relates to weight in grams: feel amazingly light yet solid. Good ankle support with flexibility. Minimal blistering. Last a good 12-18mths of hard use. Latest models have much improved lacing systems, and most of the half-arsed GTX (Goretex) attempts have been ditched.
Bad: Toe/ foot joint material cracking complaints have been made on some sites. Returns are good though.
Price from: £80/$122
Differences to 2012 model:
- Revised Weight – 30g lighter
- minor changes to zippered pocket positioning
- Front bottle holders revised – it now fits more bottles
- Sizing now includes an XL option
Good: XL makes it even more like a cropped waistcoat than a pack, the high ride and front strapping (twin link) system make it feel part of your body so you forget it’s there even when fully-loaded. The front strapping system (which replaces chest and waist straps and buckles) expand as you breath, without losing pack positioning – now seems more solid. Underarm routing of liquid makes access easier and insulation cover now improves cold condition running. Internal zipper compartments extended, with the same clever flexing for wet/ dry kit. Handles compulsory gear on runs like UTMB – comes with fitted emergency blanket and whistle. Multiple compression points to maintain fit. Things like the spare velcro gel pocket for switching at aid stations are genius in a small way.
Bad: Because it’s more like an item of clothing, you need to factor its ‘warming impact’ as an extra layer. Extension of the size has avoided some of the lower-back chafing problems suffered by taller runners. Although you can work out what most things do/ are for, features like pole carrier are still poorly explained. As with all packs, a certain degree of double-jointedness required to access bottom rear pockets on the run. Slightly small 1.5l bladder, but extended front access bottle holders help compensate. Hydration piping lightly too short. High-end pricing.
Price from: £134.99/$200
Two teaspoons of these seeds daily in water to make you superhuman. Well, that’s what the reviews seem to say. Again, experiment on yourself. I’ve been taking them for about 10wks now and feel stronger and able to go further and faster for longer.
What is it?
The seeds of a desert plant native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. Now grown commercially, it was a staple of 16th century Aztecs apparently.
How to take daily:
- Two teaspoons in a small amount of water: 6-8oz glass or container. The quantity of water doesn’t really matter: just not sure you’d want to prolong the experience
- I take first thing in morning
- Soak overnight or minimum 15 mins, it goes like frog spawn and smells/ tastes like cold tea
- I then take another glass after my morning run
- Other people take with other juice/ squash etc.
How to take during trail ultras:
- I prepare FuelBelt 7oz bottles made up with the same quantities described above and either take one per 90mins on a training run, or roughly 1 per aid station in drop bags/ with crew
- On a long run the slightly lumpy cold tea is strangely refreshing, and great to give long burn food that’s easy to swallow and digest: however rough you feel. You end up wanting them like water.
The spec. in terms of % of recommended daily intake at 2,000 calories per day (for one ounce/ 4.8 tea spoons a day:)
- 9% of protein
- 13% fat: omega-3 fatty acids, over half of which is alpha-Linolenic acid
- 42% dietary fibre
- Essential minerals of phosphorous, manganese, calcium, potassium & sodium
You can also take in salads, sandwiches, soups etc.
Popularity increased due to Chris McDougall’s book, Born to Run
Good: Not ‘famous’ as specialist running socks, but an undiscovered gem. Totally waterproof, rendering redundant the useless Goretex trail shoes which retain water. Merino wool is warm – different thicknesses available. The layering of the wool and waterproof also seems to provide a good blister barrier as users report few injuries even over long ultras. Can tumble dry. Average life 2yrs with fairly heavy weekly use. Go for 2/3 pairs to rotate summer and winter.
Bad: Sizing is slightly odd. Go larger than expected – especially for tumble-dry shrinkage. Ankles seem to go baggy on the longer socks fairly quickly.
Price from: £21/$32
Review of 2013 Advanced Skin S-lab 12 Set
Good: More like a cropped waistcoat than a pack, the high ride and front strapping (twin link) system make it feel part of your body so you forget it’s there even when fully-loaded. The front strapping system (which replaces chest and waist straps and buckles) expand as you breath, without losing pack positioning. Underarm routing of liquid makes access easier. Attention to detail on storage, with internal zippable compartments: handles compulsory gear on runs like UTMB – comes with fitted emergency blanket and whistle. Multiple compression points to maintain fit.
Bad: Because it’s more like an item of clothing, you need to factor its ‘warming impact’ as an extra layer. Although you can work out what most things do/ are for, features like pole carrier are poorly explained; things like the spare velcro gel pocket for switching at aid stations are genius in a small way. As with all packs, a certain degree of double-jointedness required to access bottom rear pockets on the run. Slightly small 1.5l bladder, but substantial front access bottle holders compensate. High-end pricing.
Price from: £150/$180
Through his competition over the years at Badwater and other ultra distance events, Dean (Karnazes) has adopted an almond butter sandwich with bananas and honey as his ‘go to’ food. Another? Soy sauce on bread. As for fluids, he relies on Pedialyte (an electrolyte replacement drink for children suffering from diarrhea and vomiting) – A Few Degrees from Hell: The 2003 Badwater Ultramarathon by Scott Ludwig
Good: No straps or buckles, so easy to take on and off after practice while standing. Minimal adjustment required. Spikes sit where your weight is. Perfect for thick ice, snow or frozen ground. Effectively mini crampons you wear over your training shoes. Lightweight and within minutes you don’t know you’re wearing them. Small and compact so you can carry them when not in use.
Bad: 9mm spikes means pressure points if thin soles and snow & ice is not thick enough
Price from £41.99