Gear Review: Lucozade Sport Body Fuel Energy Gel

lucozade body fuel energy gelThe trouble with writing a meaningful review of energy gels and the like is that you’re always going to be testing their properties under far from scientific conditions.

Sure, I could use these things on my standard 12 mile course and rave about them if I set a PB or slam them if I didn’t perform particularly well. But then, of course, I’d have to try to factor in lots of other variables, such as the ambient temperature on the day in question, and even how tight my muscles were feeling at the time…

Obviously, that isn’t going to happen. Though having committed myself to writing at least one post over the bank holiday weekend, and having acquired an assortment of gels to test against each other, I felt duty-bound to give these a go. Yet as is so often the way when I make rash promises to myself, the fates conspired to ensure that the Lucozade Energy Gels got a really serious workout.

How Not To Prepare For A Run In Hot weather

Despite the four-day weekend, I really only had Saturday morning available when I could go for a long run. So it was a tad unfortunate that, what with Friday offering such glorious weather, we set out for a walk between pubs along the canal-side with some friends, seeking frequent refreshment as we went.

And with the sun still shining, how could we possibly have refused their kind invitation to continue the afternoon with a barbie at their house?

Thus it was that when Saturday morning dawned, as bright and hot as the day before, I was feeling far from awesome, having imbibed significantly more units of alcohol than the recommended maximum and having had just four hours sleep. Breakfast, therefore, was completely out of the question, and it was all I could do to force down a Lucozade gel with half a pint of water before setting out: though that wasn’t too bad an option, as having tried a few of these things now, the orange taste isn’t half bad.

Yet despite all this, I felt reasonably OK by the time I’d loaded my Camelbak with iced water and set out to face a slow 10 miles in 25 degrees of windless hell.

They recommend that you take one of these every 30 minutes of exercise, so while running desperately slowly through the dunes and back along the beach, I took another one after 30 and 60 minutes respectively, together with a decent glug of water, and arrived home in a PW time, albeit in much better shape than I had any right to.

They tasted far better than I expected and weren’t at all harsh on my stomach; and as they were absolutely the only source of energy in my body (unless 8-hour-old Tesco Finest Chablis sloshing around in one’s bloodstream has life-giving properties that have so far gone unnoticed), they certainly delivered every single bit of the massive 68g per 100g of carbs promised on the label, getting me home and hosed despite the fragility of my condition.

The Not Even Remotely Smug Conclusion

I’m not usually a fan of gels, as I’ve found them hard on my stomach in more than one road race, and prefer to drink little and often, rather than having to take a big hit of water in order to wash down and activate a gel. However, having tested these things under the worst possible conditions, I may possibly have to reconsider my position.

They worked at least as well as the Lucozade Sport Jelly Beans I’m currently carrying in my back pocket on race days, and while they don’t taste quite as delicious, at least you can’t spill gels all over the trail like you can with the Jelly Beans.

And frankly, if they can help to keep me going when I’m as hot, sweaty and sleep-deprived as I was on Saturday (albeit that I arrived home looking like an old nag that had been ridden hard and put away wet),  I may have to consider these for some of the trail races I’ve got planned for the summer months.

While I prefer the taste of Jelly Babies, and even the Lucozade Jelly Beans, these things taste pretty good as energy gels go and also offer a serious carbohydrate hit, making them pretty good value for their 4.5 Jelly Baby Rating.

Ingredients:

Glucose Syrup (89%), Water, Citric Acid, Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrate), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Stabiliser (Acacia Gum), Flavouring, Colour (Beta-carotene).

Nutrition:

Typical values per 100g: Energy 1164kJ (274kcal), Protein – Trace, Carbohydrate 68.1g (of which sugars 8.9g), Fat – Nil (of which saturates – Nil), Fibre – Nil, Sodium – Trace.

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Gear Review: Polaroid Habanero Sunglasses for Runners

polaroid habanerosWith Summer just around the corner,  it seems that it’s time to put my running tights away for another year and start planning for getting sweaty again.

All the signs are there. Blue tits darting hither and yon around the garden, Good Lady Wife spending fortunes at the local garden centre, and best of all, the latest in sunglasses for runners rocking up at Jelly Baby Towers, courtesy of those lovely people at Polaroid.

As regular readers of these pages may recall, In past years I’ve reviewed the darkly handsome Polaroid Medals and the slinky but somewhat bling Polaroid Vectors, falling in love with both of them for their outstanding performance.

So which way would Polaroid’s designers go this year I wondered? Understated elegance or all-out sportiness? And then I opened the very stylish hard case to find out that they’ve embraced the world’s current love affair with being orange, and created the Polaroid Habaneros.

First Impressions Out of the Box

Well, I knew there had to be some reason for all that oranginess, and a little research revealed that a Habanero is actually an orange chili, once regarded as being the world’s hottest (580,000 on the Scoville Scale, if any of you chili nerds are interested). So, not a tribute to David Dickinson then?

In fact, while the design of the Habaneros isn’t as obviously sporty as the Vectors, or even the Medals, these are pretty good-looking shades, at least once the orange legs have disappeared into the hair beyond one’s greying temples and increasingly hairy ears.

More importantly, they’re much, much lighter than they look, with the soft, orangey legs and adjustable nose pad giving a close but comfortable fit; and the high quality ‘polarized copper’ (or orange, as it’s more commonly known) lenses providing absolutely incredible vision in everything from bright sunlight to near-dusk.

Hitting the open road

As I’m prone to telling the GLW, and anyone else who’ll listen: looks aren’t everything. So to find out if these things are as hot as their name suggests, I waited for the sun to put his hat on, loaded my iPhone with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Greatest Hits, and headed out for a sweaty 10-miler along the beach.

While it isn’t exactly high summer out there, it’s certainly warm enough to work up a bit of a sweat. So I was pleased to note that while these are wraparounds, there’s enough width on the high optical quality lenses to let the breeze in at the sides and keep the hydrophobic lenses from steaming up. So not only do you get full UV protection, you also get to enjoy the best vision I’ve ever had through sunglasses: meaning that I’m probably going to be using these things for skiing as well as running.

Even after the full 10 miles, there was no condensation inside the lenses, no rubbing or discomfort anywhere, and I was enjoying the loveliest orange sunset over the Irish sea I’d ever seen. Then I took the Habaneros off and realised that it was just coming up to time for elevenses…

Apart from some mild reservations about the colour scheme, I reckon that the Habaneros are just about as good as it gets for running sunglasses, and even at a not insubstantial £79 a pair, they’re fully deserving of their 5 Jelly Baby Rating.

Technical Specification

Adjustable nose pads

• Wraparound style

• Brown frames with polarized copper lenses

• Filter category 3

• Polaroid UltraSight™ premium polarized lenses

• 100% UV400 protection

• Hard Polaroid case

• Inside frame width 132mm, lens height 39mm