• How To Make Your Own Energy Gels & Bars For Endurance Training

    endurance athlete running marathon

    If you're an endurance athlete, you'll know how expensive it can be to buy countless energy gels and bars for long training rides, runs, and races. A great alternative is to make your own, as this is more economically sustainable and also means you know exactly what is going into them.

    Trail Mix

    One of the easiest things to make for an endurance event is trail mix. As is hinted in the name, trail mix was originally developed for long hikes as a source of energy which is easy to make and suitable for carrying long distances. The great thing about trail mix is you can put whatever you like best into it and leave out anything you don't like.

    Trail mix is usually made up on granola, oats, nuts, seeds, and even chocolate. If you want more protein, add more seeds and nuts into your mix. If you feel you need a larger sugar boost, add more chocolate, and if you feel you need lots of carbs to keep you going, bulk out your recipe with more granola and oats.

    There is no right or wrong way to make trail mix, and tasty additions can include dried coconut curls, banana chips and dried fruit.

    trail mix hiking outdoors endurance activity

    Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

    Another easily portable and tasty snack to keep you fuelled on a long endurance trip is a granola bar. Branded bars can set you back quite a lot even though they're easy to make, so why not make you're own? Try our homemade no-bake granola bar recipe for your next run or ride.

    Ingredients

    • 100g oats
    • 30g butter
    • 25g sugar
    • 50g honey or agave nectar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • a pinch of salt
    • 40g flaked almonds
    • 30g raisins
    • 20g chocolate chips

    Method

    • Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4.
    • Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with baking parchment leaving about an inch sticking over the top.
    • Put the oats and almonds on a small baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring them around occasionally. Put to one side.
    • Combine the butter, honey, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.
    • Pour the butter mixture into a bowl and add the toasted oats and almonds. Mix well.
    • Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes then stir in the raisins and half the chocolate chips.
    • Transfer the mixture to the lined pan and press down so it's even. 
    • Scatter the remaining chocolate chips over over the mixture and gently press them into the top.
    • Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.
    • Pull the baking parchment up so that the block of granola comes out of the tin in one piece then slice into bars.
    • Store bars in an airtight container for up to one week. If you prefer soft bars, keep them at room temperature or for slightly harder bars, store them in the fridge.

    homemade granola bars trail mix sugar energy

    Energy Gel Recipe

    If you prefer something less bulky and solid for your training, then energy gels are for you. Making your own is easier than you'd think and can save a lot of money!

    Ingredients

    • 130g brown rice syrup (this can be expensive, but there are cheaper versions available in most supermarkets)
    • 70g barley malt syrup (again, opt for the ones you find in the supermarket)
    • 35g coconut oil
    • 35g smooth peanut butter (make sure it's an organic version with no sugar, salt, or palm oil added)
    • a pinch of salt
    • 60 ml hot water

    Method

    1. Place a glass jar in a saucepan then fill the saucepan with water so the jar is a little more than half immersed.
    2. Mix together all the ingredients except for the hot water and put them in the jar.
    3. Warm the mixture over a medium-low heat, stirring frequently until it’s runny and well combined. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
    4. Add the hot water to the jar, stir, and shake vigorously until well combined and no separation occurs. Allow to cool completely
    5. Fill gel containers as needed for workouts.
    6. Store extra gel in the jar with a lid in a cool, dry place.
    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Skin Care Practices and Products For Pool Swimmers

    Swimming pool chlorine skincare

    Whether you're a swimmer, triathlete, or just enjoy getting in the pool, protecting your skin against the harmful effects of chlorine is important. What are some common practices and products that the swimming community is using to prevent chlorine effects on skin and hair? We take a look.

    Is swimming in a pool bad for your skin?

    Chlorine has drying effects on the skin and hair. The chlorine strips your skin of its natural oils and can make it feel dry and itchy and is also proven to discolour hair. If you have a pre-existing skin condition like eczema, the chlorinated water of a swimming pool can make the symptoms worse. The chlorine in swimming pool water also breaks down Vitamin E and fatty acids in your skin which makes fine lines and the effects of ageing appear worse. If you wear make-up to the swimming pool, it's very important to wash your face straight after as bacteria can sit on the skin.

    How do I protect my skin and hair while swimming?

    Before you buy any expensive products, it's important to consider that dry hair absorbs chlorine much faster and easier than wet hair. By wetting your hair in the shower before you get in the pool, you can reduce the harming effects of the chlorine. This is a really simple trick and should fit in with your swimming routine as most people shower before they get in the pool anyway.

    It's also important to wash with soap or natural body wash as soon as you get out of the pool as the chlorine can bond to your skin. Moisturise your skin after your session to prevent your skin drying out too much and wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner to rid it of any lingering chemicals. Finally, purifying your skin from the inside by drinking plenty of water will also reduce the harmful effects.

    Wearing a swim cap is not only practical for keeping your hair out of your face while you swim and keeping you streamlined but it will also protect your hair from the chlorine, especially coloured hair.

    skin care practices products for swimmers pool swim cap swimming

    Which products should I use?

    Try to find natural skin care products that won't do any further damage to your skin and will instead nourish and care for your skin. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Claire Cashmore MBE Paralympic Swimmer

    Claire is a Team GB Paralympic Swimmer, born without a left forearm. She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to swimming. She talks to Sundried about her decision to move into triathlon. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, I have always loved playing sport. Funnily enough when I was young I actually was quite scared of the water although I managed to overcome that fear quite quickly.

    What prompted you to enter the world of competitive swimming?

    I lived in Dubai from 5-10 so would swim (for fun) every day. When we returned to the UK I really missed swimming so joined a club and started competing.

    What’s been your best race to date?

    My first World Championship Gold medal in 2009 (World Short course). I broke the world record and won the gold medal in the 100m individual medley.

    What was going through your mind when competing at the Paralympic Games?

    'Oh my gosh I am going to be sick'. Haha. I knew I had done absolutely everything within my control to be the best I could be so I just needed to go out there and do it. 

    What has been your proudest moment?

    Standing on top of the medal podium wearing the British tracksuit and singing the national anthem is an extremely special moment. 

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    That's a really hard question as it all depends on the circumstance. I am quite an emotional person so rather than getting angry I would normally shed a few tears. After I had got all the emotion out, I would then try and use the setback as motivation to be better. Alternatively you can use it as an opportunity to work on your weaknesses.

    What would you say to someone with a disability who is looking to enter competitive sport for the first time?

    Don't think twice. Sport has 100% shaped me into the person I am today. Don't be afraid to fail and never let anyone tell you that you can't or are not good enough.

    What are your goals for the next year?

    Now I have transferred to triathlon my main aim is to increase my confidence and skill level on the bike, it is definitely my weakest discipline.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • 5 Of The Best Exercises That Don't Involve A Gym

    Stretching Workout Gym Photoshoot Fitness Model

    Not everyone is an athlete or even a serious exerciser, but want to work out in order to improve fitness or health. Gyms can be overwhelming and off-putting.

    You might be surprised to know that some of the best exercises we can do don't require a gym at all! Our list shows just what you can do without a gym, they will help you get fitter, improve your balance and movement range, along with many more health benefits.

    It doesn't matter how old you are or what level your fitness is at, these exercises are aimed at everyone.

    1) Yoga - yoga is brilliant to help reduce stress and improve flexibility. It is made up of movements that flow into each other and classes come in all levels of ability, from beginner to advanced. There are lots of classes commonly available, or some great videos online, if classes aren't your thing. 

    2) Swimming - Has been called the “perfect” workout. The water helps support your body and takes a lot of strain off of your joints. Swimming is brilliant for improving your mood, as well as burning calories. Either go for a few lengths at your own pace or go all out in a water aerobics class.

    3) Walking - As we have written about before, the benefits of walking are massive. It is free for a start, but improves cholesterol levels, makes bones stronger and lifts your mood. Good shoes and a pace you can have a conversation at, are all you need.

    4) Strength training - Basically, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Strength training can be done without bulking up, it is just about improving the muscle you already have and keeping them strong. Be sure to lift properly and start light. You should be able to do around 10 reps easily, so if you feel you are straining, go for lighter weights. After a week or two lift something a little heavier.

    5) Kegel exercises - Ok, so these won’t help you look better, but they will strengthen your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor muscles support your bladder. Many women become aware of these during pregnancy and make the habit of exercising them. Men, not so much, but the benefits are equal. Simply squeeze the muscles you squeeze when you are needing the toilet, hold for 10 seconds and then release. Work up to 3 sets of 10 a day. 

    If you do any of these activities and have an aerobic workout for at least 30 minutes a day, you can call yourself an active person. It doesn't have to involve a gym, it just has to involve you.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Susie Rodgers MBE Paralympic Swimmer

    Susie Rodgers Gold Medal Winner Paralympics

    Photo courtesy of the IPC

    Susie is a gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer and had an amazing performance at the games in Rio in 2016. She talks to Sundried about being a competitive athlete and what's next on the horizon for her.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, I have always enjoyed swimming and practising various sports since I was young. My family were always pretty active and I was always fairly competitive so I guess it was no surprise that I would go into sport in the future in a competitive way!

    What prompted you to enter the world of competitive swimming?

    I entered a couple of national level competitions at University and realised that I had a talent for swimming. Previously I had only raced able-bodied competitors and so I was surprised when I went to competitions and seemed to be competing well against other competitors. I didn't pick up sport until I had worked a few years though, so I had a gap and then came back to it with the aim of heading to London 2012 if I could make the team.

    What’s been your best race to date?

    I would say without a doubt winning my Gold in the S7 50m butterfly in Rio in 2016. There is no feeling in the world like winning a medal for your country at a Paralympic Games and hearing the national anthem. I looked at my mum and dad in the audience from where I was standing and just felt so grateful that they could share the experience with me. They knew the absolute darker moments of illness and injury that I went through and they supported me all the way, so my win was for them as well as for me!

    What was going through your mind when competing at the Paralympic Games?

    I was excited when I first arrived in Rio. For London, my first games, I was absolutely terrified! I felt the pressure and it scared me! For Rio, I was prepared, I was relaxed. I was observing everything and being "present". That helped me hugely to achieve what I did. When I walked out for my 50m butterfly race in Rio I just thought, "this is my stage and I am a performer and I am going to give the crowd something to enjoy!"

    What has been your proudest moment?

    Every time I have had the fortune to stand on the podium has been an absolute pleasure, but winning Gold in my individual race has been one of the happiest and proudest moments of my life.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Focus on the small things you can do daily to get yourself back to where you need to be. I often get lost in the bigger picture, but I try to bring myself back to where I am now. Being "present" helped me immensely in Rio - taking in my environment, helping others, talking to others... It is all a strategy to distract your mind. I practice meditation regularly. I suffer sometimes with anxiety - ever since my final year at Uni - and I now know you can bring calm immediately with yoga for the mind.

    What would you say to someone with a disability who is looking to enter competitive sport for the first time?

    Absolutely go for it! Try things out, make mistakes, learn from them and have a goal but keep shifting it and moving it forwards. Once you reach your goal, set another one or try something different! Competitive sport gave me so much, so I can only recommend it!

    What are your goals for the next year?

    Finding my new path! I have left competitive sport now and have officially retired. That chapter has closed, but there is now a whole world of opportunity out there and I am extremely excited but nervous too! I am studying again and doing lots of different things, so hopefully the next path will become clear as I move forwards onto my next goal! I also am developing a bit of a passion for open water swimming and am returning to scuba diving. I love the sea, so I am happy to move from indoor to outdoor swimming!

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    My family. They are my rocks and I owe them a huge amount for all their support. I am inspired by people who achieve great things in whatever their field may be, but who do so in a humble way, without expectation.

    What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

    It is such a great idea to develop ethically sourced clothing. To recycle ingredients and to produce such high-quality items of clothing is brilliant! I am extremely environmentally conscious, the earth is such an incredible place both on land and in the sea. If I can support any organisation that is actively trying to make the planet better for future generations, I will get involved 100%. I love the features of the quick-drying properties of the fabrics - and the fact that the clothes are stylish too!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren