Review of the Reebok ONE Cushion (1/3) – “The Official Line” and First Impressions Pre-Run

(You might want to read the preface to this post first to figure out whats going on – )

Some Background First:

My reviews will be about “neutral” running shoes with high, moderate and at times no cushioning. Before I start, some confessions/facts to help you put things in perspective – I am a runner who is moderately overweight (5ft7in; 68kg); completely flat-footed; a mid-foot striker (however the soles of my shoes also show significant wear near the back of the heel).  I run 45-55km per week in non-running season which goes up to 70-90km in the few months before a race (usually September – January). My best race times are 10k-50m31s; HM-1h53m5s and FM-4h19m12s. Almost all my running is on tarmac or concrete roads and sidewalks. Since mid-2010 I have been mostly running in “minimalist footwear” from the Nike Free series (although some would debate whether the Nike Free is truly minimalist). I have also put significant kilometres in the Vibram Bikila (about 600k) and done some mileage barefoot (probably less than 50k a few years ago). I currently use a Nike Free 4.0, a Saucony Kinvara 3, and a Nike Free 3.0 in that order of mileage. So my basis for comparison will be these shoes.

Finally, shoes are a very personal choice therefore in these reviews I have no intention of commenting on what type of shoe you should be wearing (stability, cushion, motion control, rigid, flexible, etc) or if you should be wearing shoes at all !

Here are some pictures of my shoe collection including my dress shoe for some visual comparison.

Shoes Visual Comparison

Photo 1: Shoes Visual Comparison
(click to see a bigger image)

The Official Line:
So what’s the big deal about yet another running shoe ? Below is what Reebok has to say about the Reebok ONE series which has been launched in two versions, the neutral running “Cushion” (being reviewed) and the “Glide” (not being reviewed) meant for mild to moderate overpronators.

“The Reebok One Series is the introduction of a unique running concept based on a function-first design philosophy– featuring technology you can feel.  Built from back to front instead of the standard bottom-up method, the Reebok One Series features ‘Zoned’ technology that mimics the way the foot moves, meeting the demands of the runner through each phase of the Gait Cycle.  The goal of the Reebok One Series is to give the runner the smoothest ride possible.  A new seamless fusion of zones is engineered to ensure the upper and bottom work harmoniously as one system.   

The state-of-the-art technology in the One Series features 3 distinct zones that complement the runner’s needs at each phase of their gait. Zone 1 is the Contact Zone – featuring a soft foam compound that provides shock attenuation with every stride.  Zone 2 is the Midstance Zone – engineered to provide a smooth mid foot transition. Zone 3 is the Propulsive Zone – featuring an ultra-responsive high rebound foam compound to help propel the runner forward during toe-off.”

First Impressions Pre-Run:
Out of the box here were the first impressions and comparisons –

  • First the price, the MRP is Rs. 8,999. Definitely seems more expensive than the minimals (Rs. 6,000 – 7500) but I know for a fact that Nike has running shoes which go north of Rs. 10,000.
  • Visually very appealing. I received the flourescent green and electric blue combination which looks great
  • “CUSHION” is an apt name for this shoe – the sole, the upper, the heel cup all look, feel and are signficantly “cushioned”.
  • Shoe felt bigger then most of my other shoes and I was concerned if this was going to be too large for me. If you look at Photo 1 above, although marginally “longer” versus the minimalist collection, it compared well with the Lunarglide (which incidentally is a half-size smaller). However the real difference was visible in the side profiles (Photos 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 below) – even if one discounts the thicker sole the shoe upper is definitely taller than all the shoes in my collection.
  • The sole too was definitely much thicker then all the minimals (Free 3.0, 4.0 – Photo 5 & 3) but was comparable to the Lunarglide (Photo 2).
  • Although I couldn’t get the official weight of the shoe, I did some research. This weighs in around 283gm v/s the Nike Free 3.0 around 204gm v/s the Nike Free 4.0 around 215gm v/s the Kinvara 3 around 225gm. With a thicker sole and the upper cushioning this is not surprising.
  • The sole of this shoe is significantly more rigid and harder than the other shoes. The Frees are of course highly flexible; the Kinvara 3 less so and the Lunarglide+ almost as hard as the Reebok ONE Cushion.
  • The upper of the shoe is also quite stiff even more stiffer than the Lunarglide+ and I think this “stand-up-ness” contributes to the shoe looking really tall. The Frees, the Kinvara and of course the Vibram have extremely pliable uppers, to an extent that they tend to settle/sag down on themselves. Not the Reebok ONE which stands at attention!
  • Heel-to-toe drop is another thing which I was trying to determine for these shoes. In spite of trying my best I could get the numbers for the Reebok ONE Cushion. I also don’t have the tools which would have allowed me to do the measurement myself. However a very rough measurement puts it in the 15-20mm range which is way higher than 4mm for the Free 3.0 and the Kinvara 3; 6mm for the Free 4.0 and 0mm for the Vibrams !

Hope you enjoyed the preliminary report. Please do give me your feedback below.

While I was writing this report I also completed two runs in the Reebok ONE Cushion – first on the evening of Friday the 13th Sept (ominous!) – a 13km Aerobic run with 8 x 100m striders at the end; and the second today morning, Sunday the 15th Sept – an 18km Medium Long run. Watch out for the first run report in the next few days.

Till then…

Closer in sole thickness with the Lunarglide+

Photo 2: Closer in sole thickness with the Lunarglide+. Overall height comparable.
(click to see a bigger image)

Significantly thicker than the Free 4.0

Photo 3: Significantly thicker and taller than the Free 4.0.
(click to see a bigger image)

Although the sole near the heel is about the same verus the Kinvara 3 the ONE is way taller.

Photo 4: Although the sole thickness is about the same as the Kinvara 3 the Reebok ONE is way taller.
(click to see a bigger image)

Photo 5: Towers above the Nike 3.0

Photo 5: Towers above the Nike 3.0.
(click to see a bigger image)

Photo 6: The Vibram looks puny in comparison!

Photo 6: The Vibram looks puny in comparison!
(click to see a bigger image)


My first Shoe Review (Reebok ONE Cushion) – Preface

I always knew my running was taking me places (literally !)  and I have enjoyed expressing my views on everything and anything related to running on various facebook groups/page; email groups and here on my running blog  but that was about it, well until a few weeks ago when I got an email first from Reebok India and then another shoe company (which will remain unnamed for the time being) expressing interest in associating with me and my running blog. Sounded interesting but sometimes these things just remain that – interests. Well today I received a pair of Reebok ONE Cushion shoes which have just been launched by Reebok in India with a request to put them through the grind and then review them on my blog.

Will this be a one test wonder? I don’t know but the engineer in me decided to set-up a shoe test protocol just in case. So here is what those that are interested can expect in the next few weeks –

  • First just some stock photos (below) & a video
  • Next will be an initial pre-run review with primarily stock stuff from the company and maybe some comparative photos with my other footwear (Nike Free 3.0, 4.0 & 5.0; Vibram Bikilas; Saucony Kinvara 3 and yes, my dress shoes – a pair of Hush Puppies!)
  • Watch out for the first run impressions from a 13k with 8x100m strides that I have planned for tomorrow
  • I will then start putting the shoes through various type of runs over a few weeks & miles – recovery, aerobic, medium long (18k-24k), long (24k +), tempo/LT and some speed work (VO2 Max runs)
  • Finally will do a wrap up review and hopefully be able to give you some recommendations.

Wish me luck for stepping into the unknown and do have a look at the review as it happens


Disclaimer: I get to keep the shoes after the review. No other monetary gain.

Reebok One Cushion

V47299_02V47297_06V47300_05 Reebok One Cushion

Running in the Heat and Humidity (especially at SCMM Mumbai)

First the great news, humidity on 20th Jan 2013 is forecasted to be around 55% at start and will go down to about 50% around 10-11am. This means that the body’s natural cooling mechanism of sweat evaporating from the skin surface will be functioning well. The other ok news is the lower temperature forecast of around 22C at start but rising to 25C around 10-11am (the lowest being 21C around 8am). To most this temperature may sound really good but as you run you will soon find your body core temperature rising significantly especially if you are pushing your pace.

One of the best strategies for managing heat is to acclimatise to it. For most runners coming from warmer zones (and of course Mumbai runners) this is already taken care of. However for people coming from colder zones (like North India) this is a big issue since most training has been done in brutally cold weather. Although it is a little late, if you go out for runs over the next few days, do them during late morning/noon when the sun is out and temperature is warmer.

Here are some steps you can take to help manage the heat irrespective of how acclimatised (or not) you are –


  1. Although coffee is a good stimulant but it will also cause an increase in body temperature. So if you don’t really need your morning boost, avoid it.
  2. Try to wear the minimum possible clothing and make sure it is breathable (dri-fit/coolmax/play-dri etc). Running singlets are strongly advised. The same goes with lowers, shorts are good. The logic is to expose as much skin to allow a larger area for evaporative cooling. If you are worried about “losing your fairness” then probably you have chosen the wrong sport 🙂
  3. Avoid any sort of compressive clothing or form fitted clothing. Slightly loose clothing is recommended. This will prevent sweat from getting trapped between the skin and cloth. The looser clothing allows air to circulate between the skin and clothes.
  4. Also ensure that the upper is white or of a lighter colour so that it reflects heat. Avoid black, it’s a heat magnet !
  5. The body tends to lose a lot of heat through the head. Even a very efficient dri-fit running cap will interfere with this. However some eye/face protection may be required – either use running sunglasses or use a visor only cap (which leaves the head exposed).
  6. If you have been having anti-inflammatory medicines (crocin/brufen etc) or plan to use them before or during the race – please be advised that they can interfere with the body’s ability to retain sodium. My advice is to refrain from such medicine at least 3-4 days before the event. DO CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE DISCONTINUING ANY MEDICINES.
  7. Start building on your hydration reserves at least 2 days before the event. Either use a ready-made drink like gatorade/enerzal on the 18th and 19th (about 1.5 litres each day + plain water) or make your own drink (50:50 diluted sugar-free juice with a pinch of salt added).
  8. Continue hydration (gatorade or homemade mix) on race morning till about 1 hour before start. Let the excess fluid drain through the system and then start hydrating again about 10min before start.


  1. Consume about 600-700ml fluid for each hour of running. Either a gel/water combo or a gatorade/enerzal mix.
  2. Pour water over your head and down your back at water stations. This year there will be water sponges also available, use them over your head, face, legs, etc.
  3. Look for shade and try to run under it as much as possible along the route.
  4. If you find the heat really unbearable make adjustments to your pace, since the faster you try to run the faster the heat will build up.


Those short of training for a Marathon

The genesis of this post is in a question asked by a friend about running the Mumbai (SCMM) Full Marathon when his long runs were limited to 24-26km in the 5-6 weeks before the race. Here is what I told him.

It would be difficult to comment without getting into details of your training plan. However here are a few things to consider –

  1. Most “run only” training plans have 2, 32-35k runs 3 and 6 weeks before the race. If you were doing a “run-walk” training program this distance would be 2 runs of 40-45k in the same weeks.
  2. Since your body has not had the training input to run beyond 30k you need to do a few things –
    1. If you had a time goal then you may want to revise it downward by about 30-40secs per km. In fact I would suggest a goal which is 10-15sec/km slower than your last long run in the last 4 weeks.
    2. Start off even slower, about 20-30secs slower than your last long run pace and then only start accelerating when you have crossed 32km mark, if at all.
    3. You will definitely discover “the wall” around 30-32k. To try to push this back. Take a walk break of about 45-60secs after every 4 minutes of running or at least at every km marker. Don’t let “other people” determine your speed !!
    4. Eat some refined “fast” carbs between 1-2hrs before the race start (banana, white bread with jam, biscuits, etc) to help add some additional fuel. The fuel shortage is what primarily causes you to hit the wall (your long run training adapts the body to burn more fat, so the less longer, the long run, the less the body is adapted to do this).
    5. I hope you have had some experience fueling & hydrating while running long. Use the same gels/electrolytes during the race. If you had no fueling practice then stick to a slightly diluted gatorade/enerzal mix (add 600ml water to a sachet instead of just 500ml). You could also look at some natural fuel like raisins (carry about 300gm in a belt pouch).
    6. Start fueling 10min before the race and continue at a rate of about 600ml gatorade/enerzal per 45-60min or so. This should also suffice for hydration.
  3. Your (and for most marathoners at SCMM) biggest challenge will be 7km from the finish when you hit the Peddar Road climb. Just remember things will be a tiny bit easier once you are beyond Kemps corner.

Finally – The pain and torture would have all been worth it when you cross the finish line, irrespective of in what time 🙂

…Will see you after you have collected your medal…

RunIndiaRun !

Broke the 4:30hr Marathon mark at Hyderabad “Flyover” Marathon

This is just a quick and dirty post ! I will write a detailed race report on my Hyderabad “Flyover” Marathon experience shortly. First, arguably this is the toughest city marathon in India and definitely the toughest full marathon I have ever run. Pleased to report that I recorded a personal best time of 4hr19min12sec at this event. This is a 20min improvement on my time set at Mumbai earlier this year of 4hr38min31sec.  I placed 5th in my age category, 37th in the gender category and 40th overall. My first “result page 1” finish 🙂

In February 2012 I started a new marathon training program with the objective of doing a 4hr marathon by February 2013 the fact that I have reached the mid-point is greatly satisfying. Also watch-out for my post on my marathon training. Maybe you can pick-up some tips from it.

Ok, enough chest thumping !


The bane of Black Toenails and how to deal with them

For those who did not read the title carefully, this is not a post about how to cure black-toenails but rather this is a post about how to deal and manage black toenails once you start having this problem. You will feel nice to know that black toenails are a fairly common problem for long distance runners.

There are two types of black toenails, the first is when you get toenails which turn black and fall off after a while (sometimes they don’t turn black completely) and the second when the black toenails are accompanied with pain and swelling and at times oozing.  If you have the first type of toenail problems you are lucky, just ignore the nails and learn to accept the issue. Maybe you should buy some black nail polish and paint all the nails black so that your feet look pretty 🙂

If you have the second problem though, that is, black toenails with pain then you will have to start dealing with the problem.

First why does this condition happen – well primarily because the toes are banging the front of the shoe when you run (the foot slips in the shoes and also expands) OR they are rubbing against the top of the shoe because you flex your toes up while running OR they are banging the bottom of the shoe as you bend your toes down while running (you may also have “hammer” toes). Over a period of time the banging causes blood to accumulate under the toenail, which clots and turns the nail black (actually the black is below the nail). The trauma also causes the nail bed to separate and eventually the nail falls off on its own or can be cut off since it is all dead anyway. You will then grow a new nail and the cycle will repeat. The accumulated blood pressure under the nail and at times surrounding tissue causes the pain.

Which toe nail turns black or how many would depend on the structure of your foot. For most people it is the large toe since that is the longest, however for about 25% of the population the largest toe may be the second or third one and they will find the black toenails there.  I personally have a non-painful first toenail issue and a very painful second toenail issue in both feet.

After a very long run or a marathon if you have painful black toenails and want immediate relief you will need to release the blood from under the nail and surrounding tissue. That either means a visit to the doctor to drill a hole in the nail or if you are the non-queasy kind you could heat up the pointy end of a pin (a safety-pin works well) and simply use it to make a hole in the nail and release the pressure of the blood below. If you have inflamed tissue then heat up a knife and create some cuts to release the pressure. Make sure that you sanitize your hands before this and that you apply an antiseptic ointment to the toes afterwards (Betadine works well). Avoid wearing shoes/socks for a few days and stroll around in open sandals or flip-flops instead.

Ok now that we have the “first-aid” done lets look at the long-term management of the condition. There are several things that you may need to try before you may or may not reach a “solution” –

  1. Buying a shoe which is 1/2 or 1 size bigger than your current shoe would help by creating more space for the toes to expand when the foot strikes the ground and/or when the foot “grows” by a few centimetres when you run long. The bigger shoe will give it space to grow. Most people have nail issues only on runs longer than 18-20kms
  2. Since you may have already bought a nice new shoe, one way to create more space inside it is to simply remove the insoles. This will reduce cushioning slightly but will improve space dramatically. Make sure you run with socks otherwise the seams may cause chaffing.
  3. Also buy slightly bigger socks to go with bigger shoes. Avoid cotton socks buy synthetic, moisture wicking running socks. The Injinji toe socks definitely help.
  4. One issue with bigger shoes (and also in general) is foot slippage which causes the front to rub against the shoe. To keep your heel and foot from slipping forward in the shoe use this lacing technique and make sure you pull the laces tight. When tying laces place your shoe at a 45 deg angle so that the foot is firmly at the back of the shoe. This will help a lot.
  5. Give your toe some added protection – use some 3M doctors tape to wrap the toe and nail or better still use J&J Dynaplast tape (cut a strip) and also put a gel toe cover (I am not sure if you will find this in India). However these will only help a little bit. You can put an egg in a whole lot of protection but one hammer blow will still break it !
  6. While running we tend to either curl down or flex up our toes. Both will cause constant banging/rubbing on the toes. Try to run with the feet open and relaxed (easier said than done!).
  7. Applying some Vaseline/Petroleum jelly to the toes helps. Although I am not sure why. Maybe it helps prevents friction between toe and shoe upper.
  8. If you reduce your running volume that will definitely help. The less trauma the less problems !

Well that’s it folks. Hope some of this helps in relieving your pain. I used to have really bad nail issues but a combination of all the above has helped me manage it so that the pain remains bearable.

Singapore Marathon December 2011 – Experience Report

Yes, yes, yes I am lazy and that’s why I am writing about this marathon almost 7 months after it happened.

This is from the perspective of a foreign runner, running in Singapore for the first time.

Reached Singapore on Friday evening for the race on Sunday. Settled down and then in the evening decided to head for the Expo.

SUPER PRE AND POST ORGANISATION (WITH SOME GLITCHES):  I was really apprehensive when I went for the bib collection because I saw a really really long line….was pleasantly surprised to be out with the bib in less than 15 minutes.

THE GOODY BAG & EXPO: This was a huge disappointment; in fact it should not be called a GOODY bag at all, only full of pamphlets. The expo area had lot of  companies/products but the space for the crowd to move through and around was really small, several stalls had people moving shoulder to shoulder. Not a great experience, when you have 20,000 people registered (FM plus another 30,000 for the HM) please have a bigger space for the Expo!

Feeling a lot of nervous energy on Saturday morning, hot and sultry in the but still decide to go out for a short run to open up the legs and acclimatize a bit. End up running 6kms feeling really hot towards the end.

PRE-RUN BAGGAGE COLLECTION: There were long long queues of people once again, very apprehensive but managed to snake through in less than 30 minutes. However there should have been pre-race warnings to runners to come-in for baggage drop at least 1:30hrs before start time.

Loo facilities were a bit tight! Literally hundreds of runners stood in the bushes just metres from Orchard Road (behind the Hilton) and peed away to glory! Home sweet home J

REACHING THE START POINT:  Again was huge issue. Thousands of people squeezing through very little space. Reached the start point 10min late, a lot of people were up to 30min late.

THE RACE: Race start till F1 pits – HUMAN TRAFFIC JAM.  This is something which I am just amazed and quite annoyed with!! Most roads were cordoned off for runners but the space left to run was just about 10-12feet with 20,000 runners there was absolutely no space to move any which way. What were the organisers thinking allowing 20,000 people to register?! GREED?!

I am running on the sidewalk and in the corridors under the building. Stumble over some stairs and go down. Fortunately just some minor bruises on the hand. Up and running immediately.

Post the F1 pits things are much better although water points were very crowded. Suggest having point on both sides of the road to make sure the crowd parts two ways. Volunteers were superb trying to keep up with the thousands who were descending on them. Glad I am using my Nathan Endurance vest otherwise would have wasted a lot of time.

Pass 100s of runners on heartbreak flyover (about 36kms into the run).

LOVED the race itself. I manage a 4hr57min finish. Was tough, humid and hot and really tested the grit and determination of runners.

RUNNING ETIQUETTE: Sorely missing, was this really Singapore I was running in ?! People were walking in groups of 3 & 4 (and sometimes 5 & 6) together through narrow areas blocking the entire running path; “outstanding citizens” were tying shoes right in the middle of the narrow paths (very dangerous and of course stupid);  people were throwing water cups in the middle of the road instead of to the sides. Surprised at all this given the very high civic standards of Singaporeans in general.

POST RACE: Superbly organised. In and out with medal and t-shirt in next to no time. There could have been something more substantial to eat like a banana post race but otherwise happy with the arrangements. Huge area for the runners to relax. Loved the cold water towels handed out by PayPal. Baggage collection too was a breeze although a bit of a walk.

Had a huge McDonald’s breakfast (the whole 9 yards!) before heading back to the hotel.

Will I race at Singapore again, highly unlikely. Should you run this race? Not unless you love heat, extreme humidity and very tight running spaces. Did I enjoy my Singapore Marathon experience – definitely!

Super thanks and kudos to all the volunteers who always had a smile on their faces!!

Mawana Sugar Marathon 19th Feb 2012 – Race Report

First and foremost, I did a PR of 1:55:09 for a Half Marathon today at the event, coming in at the 25th position in the Veterans category. This is a 10min improvement over my earlier best. Also makes me a sub-2hr Half Marathoner!

One thing for everyone. The Mawana Full Marathon is intended for “Elite & Fast Runners Only” since the course closes after 4hrs. A lot of people crib about this without understanding this fact. On the other hand, the Mawana Half Marathon is for “Amateur & Slower Runners” since it uses the same route as the full (2 loops v/s 4 loops) and is effectively open for 4 hrs.  Having put that to rest on to the race report –

  1. The event website – Very bare information just elementary stuff like registration, prize money and a bit on course open timing. Nothing on the actual course or rules and regulations. UPDATE: I have now discovered that the link from the Mawana Sugars website which I was referring to for the above comment was landing on a wrong page. The actual link is which is quite informative and has all the relevant information.
  2. Online Registration Process – Very smooth. Basically a simple straight forward form. Once filled it would automatically generate a bib number and confirmation which needs to be printed out and carried to the bib collection one day prior to the event. No payment required while registering online.
  3. Bib Pickup – I was expecting chaos but suprisingly a smooth process. First step for online registrations was to pay the registration fee of Rs. 50 (this has to be the cheapest marathon in the world!!) and then go to well marked counter to colect your running bib. Upside was a standard “marathon sling bag” and surprise surprise a very nice white dri-fit T-shirt with a nice event logo on front and back. Also this time they had a D-Tag disposable timing strip for everyone. Ample instructions and rules and regulations also in the bag alongwith a route map. Route map did not have distances or facilities marked.
  4. Pre-Run – Reached around 6.25am. Again was surprised that things seemed fairly well organised. Lot of counters to keep your bag. Completely cordoned off area at India Gate (the start and finish point). Large holding areas. Ample, and mostly clean, mobile toilet facilities although I think the ladies may disagree on this one.
  5. General Atmosphere – A lot of rowdies and college/school crowd who made a lot of noise during pre-run and at the start point. But overall not too bad once they had been left loose. Since this is an AFI event the timings are used as qualification for “sports quotas” (more on this later). And so a lot of young testerone loaded “boys” turn up!
  6. Facilities during run – Water was available throughout the run at almost every 2.5km or so. At one point I saw Electral. At several points there was also salt and lemons. No other energy drinks. No mobile toilets on the route however post CWG games there are very clean public toilets available almost every 3-4 kms on this route. (On a personal note – this was the first time I didn’t take a pee break)
  7. Problems during run – 2 loops for the Half was great since it allowed you to judge your finish in the second loop very well. However the problem was there were NO distance markers at all!! You were only sure that one loop was 10.55km and that around the U-turn (on Parliament Street) was the 5.2km ish mark. In hind sight I am glad about this since it meant I was doing less tracking and more running!
  8. Problem number Two (not relevant for honest runners) – The cheats had a field day at the end of Rajpath! There was a u-turn at Vijay Chowk, a loop back of around 200m and then a left turn. There was no timing mat at Vijay Chowk ! Several of the people (read as cheats) who were looking at “sports quotas” or just wanting a good timing certificate merely jumped over to the otherside and skipped about 800m in total (there friends shouted out to them – “Aage mat nahin hai, Aaja”.
  9. Weather & Course – Fantastic. Couldn’t have asked for better conditions. Was cool for the entire half that I did. Course was flat except for the slight climb from India Gate to Vijay Chowk (but then you get the downhill benefit later).
  10. Post Race – No medal except for position holders. No refreshments (come-on they charged Rs. 50). However vendors selling all sorts of stuff were present and another Rs.50 would get you a hearty meal if you wanted it ! Several runners later headed towards Andhra Bhawan (500m away) for an all you can eat meal !

In short an excellent run. Full paisa vasool. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to run a PB Half Marathon or a sub-4 hour PB Full Marathon.

Maybe a sub-4hr Full Marathon beckons next year !

Run India Run.

Gatorade v/s Electral (ORS) v/s Enerzal – which one should I drink?

Please be careful about the usage of the two. Gatorade/energy drink is for NORMAL recovery of body fluids & salts, like when spent doing sports. ELECTRAL (ORS) on the other hand is when extreme DEHYDRATION HAS ALREADY SET-IN, that is why it is called ORS – Oral Re-Hydration Salts. ELECTRAL is given if the person is still able to hydrate orally otherwise one has to administer a saline drip for recovery from dehydration. Usually this means after a severe & prolonged bout of diarrhea and/or vomiting.

Also be aware that one packet of Electral is to be dissolved in 1 litre of water for it to remain ISOTONIC and Gatorade in 500ml. Electral is basically an isotonic drink and NOT AN ENERGY drink. It has only about 25kcal energy (as sugars) compared to 126kcal in Gatorade.

I had both Electral (ORS) and Gatorade Sports Mix with me so here is a quick comparison. Also picked up values for Enerzal from the FDC website (the manufacturers of both Electral & Enerzal) You will see what I mean, when you realise the salts in Electral are almost 5 times that in Gatorade (taking a 500ml serving of each). Enerzal and Gatorade on the other hand are pretty comparable.

Gatorade Electral(ORS) Enerzal
Sodium Chloride 215mg 1300mg 450mg
Potassium Chloride NIL/??? 800mg 350mg
Sodium Citrate NIL 1450mg 650mg
Dextrose (Sugar) 32,400mg 6,750mg 32,050mg
Energy 126kcal ~ 26kcal 130kcal
Osmolarity 280-300 245 ??
Price/500ml Rs. 15 Rs. 7.50 ??

Imagine drinking 2-3 litres of Electral with that much sodium/salt during your marathon !! The total daily requirement for a normal adult person is only 2300-2500mg, if you drink 1 litre of Electral you would have already crossed your daily normal dose and you’re not done yet !

Bottom line, Enerzal may be a more suitable “desi” substitute and definitely the reason why FDC has launched it. It also has other trace minerals which Gatorade does not seem to have (or at least doesn’t put it on the label).

RunIndiaRun !

Running: Hydration and Energy – a bit of the science behind it

I had posted this to a question on a running forum in reference to a discussion on what to use during the Mumbai Marathon this year – Gatorade or Gel or both – and running hydration in general. The issue came up after it was announced that Gatorade was the new official energy drink partner for SCMM 2012. Hope this helps in understanding the issue a little better.

Yes, the key is not to take both Gatorade and an Energy Gel/Bar together during a marathon. Here is, “hopefully”, a simplified explanation –

Most nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine. The small intestine absorbs nutrients best when they are in an isotonic state (that is the concentration of water to dissolved nutrients is similar to that in the body). If they are in hypertonic state (more concentrated than your body fluids) the body will need to dilute them and therefore it will draw water from the body/cells to get the food/drink into isotonic state. A hypotonic liquid (something like plain water) will also be absorbed quickly but mostly in the large intestine. For those of you who remember your elementary school science this is nothing but the principle of osmosis in action (the lining of different parts of the intestine being of varying permeability will play different roles in the digestive process).

For short duration exercise where you don’t lose a lot of salt and water just using a hypotonic solution (plain water) is enough. For long endurance events where you deplete salts, water and stored glycogen you need an isotonic “energy” solution from which nutrients can be extracted early in the digestive process.

Gatorade is an isotonic energy drink and therefore already in the right concentration to be absorbed in the small intestine. If you have a gel (nothing but an energy drink with the water taken out) and then also drink Gatorade with it, the resulting solution is hypertonic and will start drawing water from your body before the nutrients can be absorbed. Therefore if you are going to use both then alternate between the two (with at least a 30-45 minute gap) and with each gel/bar drink at least 200-300ml of plain water (if not at one go then in a span of 10-15 minutes post gel ingestion). If you don’t drink water with the gel/bar the body is going to draw that water from you leading to eventual dehydration.

Personally I would recommend using just one (Gel/Bar or Gatorade) during a run so that it is easy to keep track of what you are doing. Gatorade would be ideal (already isotonic) but it would be really cumbersome to carry enough of it for your entire long run compared to pouches of gel.

A lot of marathons (including Mumbai earlier with Lucozade) only serve up isotonic “calorie free” drinks which are great for replenishing salts & water but will do nothing to replenish glycogen levels. So watch the label of what you are drinking if you also want energy.

BTW a very simple near isotonic energy drink would be a standard unsweetened juice (Real Active, 100% Tropicana, etc), a pinch of salt with water added to it in a 1:1 ratio. A good and cheap gel could be as simple as a tube of jam (Kissan sells tubes of jam) with maybe some salt (some jams have salts other don’t).

Hope this clarifies.

Very best for the final two weeks of training before SCMM 2012.

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