Product Review: Kinetica Sports

Recently I was lucky enough to receive 3 samples of Kinetica Sports products from Muscle Supermarket. The samples consisted of;

Whey protein banana flavour

Whey protein strawberry flavour

Recovery orange/mango flavour

First to be used was the banana flavour whey protein. The powder was extremely fine and smelt like most banana flavoured products which I find to be slightly artificial. I mixed the sample in a blender on the smoothie setting with milk. Initial reaction was not as I had expected. I’m not a fan of banana flavoured products because of the artificial taste and smell they seem to give off. With this product I had an instant throwback reaction to my childhood when I used to buy mini milk ice cream lollies from the ice cream  man that came round our way. Not what I was expecting from a protein shake. Possibly not what the manufacturers had in mind when they made the product. But as a non banana shake man this one certainly had my attention. The shake was smooth, light and airy and went down a treat. No stomach bloat or gas over the coming few hours afterwards.

A couple of days later I turned my attention to the strawberry flavoured whey sample. This one I decided to mix with water so I could compare taste, mixability and such like. The powder smelt okay, mixed easy enough with no visual signs of grittiness or clumps. This time I mixed it by hand in a shaker. That’s were the positives seemed to end. I found the taste quite bland, very thin in consistency and whilst I suffered no apparent bloating afterwards a couple of hours later I was plagued with the dreaded protein gas reaction to something not digesting too well. I’m particularly sensitive to protein supplements these days after having used them for a good 20 years or so. So it was quite a shock to use two similar products yet get such dramatic differences between the two. Banana with milk went down great. Strawberry with water came back to haunt me. Normally its the milk type products that cause the issues not ones mixed with water.

Finally we come to the third sample. I went back to mixing this one with milk and in the blender. Visually it mixed beautifully unfortunately it tasted quite powdery and as I got near the end of the serving there was quite a bit of the product that had settled at the bottom of the glass over the course of the 20 minutes it took me to sip the drink after a hard interval sprint training session. Taste wise you couldn’t really tell that there was orange in there, the mango took over the taste buds yet you could smell the orange both in powder form and once mixed. No signs of bloating or gas with this sample.

On reflection if I had to choose between the 3 sample products the hands down winner would be the banana flavoured whey the one sample I wasn’t all that keen to try because of past experiences with other companies version. Kinetica Sports have hit this one right on the money and I will definitely buy again.

I would like to thank Andrew James from Muscle Supermarket for allowing me to sample the products and I look forward to being able to do so again the the future.

Steven A Barlow, Co founder and founder of Spartan Runners “because we don’t just run” © 2013

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Race Review: The Pain Barrier

On a cold, windy, wintry day on December 1st I entered the inaugural  The Pain Barrier 10k race. Held at the Parkwood Off-Road Centre. The setting had stunning views of the surrounding area and was very open and exposed to the elements. It was cold. The wind chill factor driving down the temperature even more. Little did we know it was going to get much colder.

Unlike a number of other off road races I’d done this year this race only had natural obstacles to overcome. No crawling under barb-wire or climbing up walls. Its was simply following the lay of the land. And I can say there wasn’t much that was laid flat. With this being a 4×4 off road centre the ground was churned up really bad in places and this kept you on your toes as you attempted to keep speed up whilst not turning an ankle. I turned both mine.

The start was as usual a mad dash made a little harder because the organisers had created a bit of a funnel. To be honest given that we we shooting down a great big field I think they could have opened up the start much more or even had staggered starts to minimise congestion. From there it was round and down to the trail. This was where things got rather silly and started to spoil it for me. We couldn’t have been more than 5-10 minutes in and there were some dangerous running taking place by people too impatient when it came to overtaking other runners. We know the starts are always fast and furious with some people getting above their capabilities but this was getting stupid. The ground is rutted badly yet you have some people charging right across in front of you causing you to dramatically alter your speed and stride so that you didn’t end up clattering into them whilst they are oblivious to your safety and canter on down the trail as if nothing has happened. At on particularly bad area I had one woman smack into the side of me as she tried to get past whilst her mate ( I’m guessing its her mate with them being so close ) cracked my legs from behind causing me to trip over myself. How the hell I managed to stay upright is anyone’s guess but I’m glad I did because if I’d gone down at that speed it would have been messy. And this type of overtaking seemed to continue throughout the whole of the race by some unfortunately.

I’m well aware of the competitive nature of these events but having run earlier in the year in an off road night race through similar terrain were people, because of the terrain, only overtook when it was safe to do so it was a major downer for me to have some runners like we did on The Pain Barrier.

The nature of the area threw up some very challenging features. When they said we would have to crawl up some hills they were right. The severity of the inclines was fantastic. I was left clawing at the ground in an effort to get up them. At one particularly bad hill I grabbed hold of a broken branch and was driving that into the ground to get some purchase so I could get to the top. At the top it was all the way back down again on your backside’s with heels biting into the ground so that you didn’t go down too fast.

As for the water obstacles. Oh dear they quite literary took your breath away they were that cold. I’d noticed with some of the less deep water that I’d started to suffer with calf’s tightening up because of the cold. When we hit the deeper water your whole body starts to shut down. The cold you feel in the ice pits at the Spartan Race Series is minimal compared to what we went through at The Pain Barrier. It was just something else wading through chest deep water that had only just had the inch thick ice covering its surface cracked. The ice was an issue itself because as you pulled yourself along with the climbing rope through the water there were large plates of it banging into your legs and when you hit one you felt it. The water features were made much more hazardous not only because of the cold but because of the deep mud under your feet which just sucked you down. At one section I ended up having to swim because walking was near on impossible and the sides were full of people clinging onto them for stability and dear life. Some even hauled themselves out of the water midway through because they couldn’t move any further in the water. This brings me onto to another point. Safety. I wasn’t aware of there being marshals at all of the deep water sections or any means of getting anyone out who went into difficulty because of the cold or mud. During my own struggle through the ice filled water it became a joke that, yet again, certain individuals seemed to throw other people’s safety to one side in their own need   to knock a few seconds off their own time. We had people so impatient to get ahead that they were going round other runners who were holding onto the rope provided which put the safety of both parties into question. Your holding onto a rope then suddenly you have someone banging into or grabbing hold of you as they try to get past. Not a bright idea. I know its cold, its hurting and its frustrating when someone else is in front of you. We are all stuck in the same boat and staying in the water longer because right at the front someone is slower than you want them to be. As was the case when I was in the water and we had numerous shouts from behind for people to get a move on. Don’t be a numpty and put other peoples safety at risk. There was an issue recently at the Spartan Race in Cambridge were the water section got shut down because someone got into trouble and a fellow racer I know went to help, then started to get pulled down themselves. That was not freezing water covered in ice like we had at The Pain Barrier with deep mud which would have made rescue a lot more difficult.

As you may have already noticed I have had an issue with how other people conducted themselves at Saturday’s race. To be honest I’ve very few issues with the race itself. It was extremely challenging. In a great location. It wasn’t overly crowded as can get at other events. It was its inaugural event and there are bound to be some teething problems and I came away with a sense of achievement once I’d had chance to rest, eat and sleep on it. The actions of others though have left me pondering whether I’ll be doing another obstacle type race again. I have to think of the long term and if Saturday is anything to go by the risk of injury dramatically increased because of other peoples actions and the last thing I need is to be laid up injured because of someone else when I

I’ll be very interested to hear other peoples views and to see whether this was just something isolated to the front groups of runners.

Things for the organisers to consider would be a greater number of marshals along the course. Any one seen to be running/acting dangerously to be removed from the race. Staggered starts. A better PA system, so hard to understand what was being said at the start. And what I’m seeing from other areas is better course marking as a number of people getting lost. I didn’t have any issues myself but bad course marking does not seem to be confined to just this race I’ve run into it before at the Spartan races. From my own perspective its so easy to solve. Apart from more markers out there just simply using two different colours in an alternating fashion would show people that they go from a white marker to a red marker and so on through the course .

Overall if you want a challenge then this course is extremely challenging, from its hills, dips, ponds and rocky climbing up through the stream. You will hit the pain barrier. I did. Not only from the freezing cold and shaking so much I couldn’t hold my coffee at the finishing line but also from nearly hurling chunks at some points because of the physical effort I’d given trying to navigate the course and terrain at speed. Some have said that the course was far tougher than the Tough Mudder races. Can’t compare  myself having not done a TM race but it is food for thought.

The Pain Barrier is definitely a race series well worth watching to see how it develops from its inaugural event.

Don’t forget to load up on all your pre race caffeine products at Candy Hero and use our reusable 5% discount code SPARTAN-F3HA at the checkout.

Steven A Barlow, Co founder and founder of Spartan Runners “because we don’t just run” © 2012

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Race Report: Spen Greenway 10k 2012

A little over 12 months later and I’m once again running in the Spen Greenway 10k road race held once again at the Princess Mary Athletics Stadium and hosted by the Spenborough & Distric Athletics Club.

After the disappointment of finishing 2 minutes outside of my target time in the Paras’10 P Coy Challenge I was determined to meet today’s sub 40 minute goal. It was a clear and fresh day and as I warmed up on the nearby athletics track I felt confident. Still a little tight in the ankle I sprained a number of weeks back doing the Ripon Spartan Sprint but fitter and more motivated after suffering so much physical and mental pain at the P Coy Challenge.

The start of the race was a bit of a crowded affair with being run on a public greenway and for the first 500-1000 metres it was a struggle to make any decent headway but I found my stride and was comfortable. As the race progressed I continued to check my time and current heart rate. The goal was not to race people but the clock. The sub 40 minute time was the order of the day and nothing else so I became extremely ticked off when at around 3km I was continually blocked by two individuals who would not let me pass even though they were having to increase their own pace quite considerably. When I eventually did manage to pass these people I was rewarded with a couple of kicks to the soles of my trainers. Accident? Deliberate? At the time I was convinced it was deliberate and very tempted to turn around and give them a piece of my mind.

At the turn around point at 5km I was still on target with a time of just over 19 minutes but I was starting to feel the effort I’d already put in and knew I would have to hang on and grind out the next 5km sticking to the race plan. No getting phased by anyone who passed me. As things turned out I wasn’t aware of anyone passing me till the 8km mark and by that point I was too far into my own little cave with the ever present chimp chattering away urging me on. It was around this point that the pain was starting to set in physically and a little mentally. The mental side was more of the battle between pushing too hard too soon and not pushing enough. Both possibly leading to not getting sub 40 minutes. Oh and the now present feeling of an acid feeling rising from my stomach and wanting to hurl my guts because of the large amounts of lactic acid I could feel coursing through my body.

It would all soon be over as I spotted the bridge near the finish line. One more surge and we we crossed the finishing line. A quick click and glance of the stop watch and it showed 39.28 minutes. I’d done it, finally after 3 years of road racing and coming down from a time of just over 46 minutes in my first ever 10k race. Overall I would finish in 23Rd place a considerable improvement on last years race.

Overall thoughts of the race are that its well run. Not overly priced like you find with some of the city runs which can charge upwards of £26+ compared to the £10 I paid for today’s race. Its an ideal race for beginners or those looking to get in a new personal best, coming back from injury or are trying out race tactics simply because its a nice and flat out and back course. And most importantly of all your supporting a local athletics club.

Don’t forget to load up on all your pre race caffeine products at Candy Hero and use our reusable 5% discount code SPARTAN-F3HA at the checkout.

Steven A Barlow, Co founder and founder of Spartan Runners “because we don’t just run” © 2012

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