Re-Launch of the RRUNN System
I have outlined the RRUNN™ journey from inception till date, so you can better understand how our team approached the product line, what we learned along the way, why we decided to make a new version, what we have changed, and how these products can assist you in your journey into endurance sports.
We began our R&D in 2013, launched the first version of Pre-During-Post in 2014, spent 2014-2016 in internalizing your feedback, keeping up with the latest in science, and reformulating the range to make it better. 2016 sees us re-launch Pre-During-Post, an improved version where we have incorporated your feedback as well as enhanced the product efficacy based on advancements in science.
Our approach to this range is the same as our approach to all our products – time & energy invested in original R&D, products formulated with clinically proven ingredients, and incorporation of consumer feedback as well as advancements in science.
2013 is when we first raised the question ‘what role can Nutrition play in endurance sports’. This was written on the drawing board in our 150sqft meeting room. Our core team with an average age of 27 stared at it, before quickly dividing responsibilities and getting on the task.
We began studying physiology and trying to understand what the physiological requirements were for endurance athletes. After a lot of research, it was evident that the physiological requirements were different, before, during, and after the endurance activity. While they are different and independent, they are still interdependent – more on this further down.
A quick survey of the products available in the market showed us a few stand-alone energy drinks which used glucose and/or sucrose as their main carbohydrate. A few of these included electrolytes in the mix as well.
However, a single product can only cater to either one of the physiological requirements, not all three. You cannot use a protein drink as pre-run fuel, and cannot use a carbohydrate only drink for post-run recovery. The requirements are different and the products must be formulated to cater to the requirement.
It was evident that we had to make three products that successfully addressed the three physiological requirements, and also worked in tune with each other.
For the purpose of this post I am going to refer to ‘endurance activity’ as ‘running’ – although, it includes cycling, swimming, football, tennis, hockey, trekking, and various other endurance sports.
As we know, carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for 95% of endurance athletes. The remaining 5% are those who may be on an LCHF diet and have, over time, successfully tuned their system to adopt fat as the choice of fuel. However, even for these seasoned athletes, carbohydrates are crucial as they act as a catalyst in fat-burning. Think of a bonfire, the log of wood that burns well into the early hours of the morning is your fat, and the frequent spray of combustible oil to either re-kindle the fire, or to increase its ferocity, is your carbohydrate.
Before starting an endurance activity that is either high in intensity or long in duration, or both, it is important to ensure that your carbohydrate levels are topped up. If you are someone who relies on carbs, this will help you start strong and sustain longer, and if you are someone who relies on fat or fluctuates between both systems, this will help you be more efficient.
There are different structures of carbohydrates and these rank differently on the Glycemic Index (GI). A high-GI carbohydrate is one that your body will break down instantly, allowing for an immediate surge of fuel ready to be burned. These carbohydrates are typically close to 100 on the GI scale. A low-GI carbohydrate is one that breaks down slowly, allowing for a gradual and sustained release of fuel. Both are important, and a lot depends on intensity & duration. While this is a ‘pre-run’ formulation, it can be repeated every 120 minutes, especially if you are running an ultra-marathon and will be on the road for hours.
Our RRUNN™ Pre is a mix of high-GI and low-GI carbohydrates. This ensures a strong start, and a sustained energy supply well into 90-120 minutes. While this is a ‘pre-run’ formulation, it can be repeated every 120 minutes, especially if you are running an ultra-marathon and will be on the road for hours.
We have also made specific ratios of pre+during for some athletes who have gone to race ultra-marathons and these customized ratios have worked very well, these were customized after considering the athletes attributes and the race on hand. I will not go deeper into this as it is out of the scope of this post.
Maltodextrin is actually a complex carbohydrate but is broken down rapidly just like a simple carbohydrate, and it has a GI of 100. We blended this with Isomaltulose, a low-GI (GI 32) carbohydrate and offered the product in a natural lemon flavor.
2014-2016 – feedback:
• The positive was that Pre gave the much needed surge and long-lasting energy in the start.
• Particularly, it helped with a fast paced 10k, and a very good start to longer distance runs & rides.
• It helped those who couldn’t eat breakfast before heading out, and especially helped new runners who were struggling with long runs.
• The negative was that it came in just one flavor.
2014-2016 – R&D:
• We continued our R&D and kept up with the latest science, discovering that there was a better alternative to Maltodextrin in the form of Dextrose Anhydrous. It is a simple carbohydrate that breaks a bit faster that Maltodextrin. Although, it is more expensive than Maltodextrin.
• We started studying Caffeine and learned a lot about its positive effects.
• We learned about the positive effects of a pre-run drink on ‘fullness’ as it helped those who couldn’t eat before leaving due to then having to go to the loo mid-run. This prevented their stomach from crying and let them focus on running.
• We learned that people wanted a choice of flavors.
• We had a better option to Maltodextrin.
• We have replaced Maltodextrin with Dextrose Anhydrous, which is a high-GI (GI 100) carbohydrate that is broken down immediately and supplies a surge of energy.
• We have maintained Isomaltulose, a low-GI (GI 32) carbohydrate that is broken down slowly and throughout the intestine, supplying energy in a slower & prolonged manner.
• We have introduced three flavors – Watermelon, Orange, and Green Tea. The flavors are mild-neutral.
• One of the variants, Green Tea, is caffeinated. We use a highly pure form of caffeine anhydrous which is extracted from green tea. Each sachet has 100mg of caffeine. You now have the option to have a caffeinated pre-run drink for an additional boost and also to satisfy any caffeine cravings.
• The serving size is the same.
Our body undergoes a multitude of stress factors while we run, with various systems working to cater to our brains demands. We want to maintain pace, maintain strides, push more, observe form, control heart rate, smile for the photographer, finish strong, and so much more. While we simply ‘think’ these actions out, our brain ‘executes’ them by sending signals to our body.
The body makes its best effort to respond to the brain (health + fitness level = effort/output). This response develops further over time and gets more refined & efficient if we ensure consistency in training & nutrition. Through this effort, the body begins to lose vital salts (electrolytes), and begins to eat into our fuel tank (carbohydrates and/or fat). There are many other things that go on, but I will stick to the scope of the post.
As we continue, our electrolyte and fuel levels start depleting. At some point, we run out of fuel and ‘hit the wall’ – different people experience different things, cramps, no energy, head-aches, nausea, fatigue – these are results of various things involving fitness levels, overall health, nutrition, training, and much more.
A during-run drink can play a very crucial role in ensuring your salt & fuel levels are maintained, which in turn satisfy your brain and also slow down or stop many domino effects that may lead to some of these preventable unpleasantries that are mentioned above.
This drink must be an isotonic drink. This is very important – the carbohydrate solution in water must be between 4-8% with 6-7% being ‘ideal’, not more and not less.
If the carbohydrate solution is below 4% (4g in 100ml water) then the drink is hypotonic, has a lower osmotic pressure than our body fluids, and is absorbed more quickly than water. This mix is a good thirst quencher, but gives no energy.
If the carbohydrate solution is above 8% (8g in 100ml water) then the drink is hypertonic, has a higher osmotic pressure compared to our body fluids, and is absorbed more slowly than water. This mix can give energy and should be consumed about 20 minutes prior to start, but thirst quenching effect is secondary.
A 6% carbohydrate solution (6g per 100ml) is isotonic, has the same osmotic pressure as our body fluids, and is absorbed similarly to water. This ensures quenching thirst as well as providing energy – making it ideal for endurance athletes.
RRUNN™ During is a 6.6% isotonic solution, offering the same osmotic pressure as our body fluids, and playing the crucial role of quenching thirst as well as supplying energy.
We used Maltodextrin as the high-GI carbohydrate, so your body spends no time in breaking it down and you get an instant energy supply while you’re on the go.
We included all the vital electrolytes (Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Sulphate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Citrate) – ensuring rehydration and maintaining salt levels.
These two ingredients are staple for a good during drink. But, through our original research we felt we could make it better by including two more ingredients after considering Indian weather conditions as well as external stress factors during major races, such as heat, humidity and so on.
Sustamine™ (L-Alanyl-L-Glutamine) is a unique dipeptide bond amino acid that facilitates fluid-uptake while also delaying time to exhaustion. This dipeptide is clinically proven to have a significant ergogenic benefit when the body is under hydration stress (endurance activities). It enhances fluid and electrolyte uptake across the intestines by increasing ion transport through an enhanced signalling pathway within the intestinal mucosal cells, thereby making it easier for your body to absorb the other ingredients in the solution.
Betaine – an osmolyte. Betaine is an organic osmolyte found in many foods such as spinach, beets, and whole grains. It plays a big role in the regulation of cellular hydration state and is important for maintenance of cell function. It also regulates our water balance and movement across the intestinal epithelium. Most importantly, this osmotic adaptation to stress helps a variety of cells and organs to continue to function in times of external environmental stress.
We studied the market across the World and discovered that not a single brand was using these ingredients in their ‘during-run’ products. We wondered why?! They are expensive but they are a tremendous help.
After considering the various stresses that our body undertakes during endurance activities as well as the environmental conditions within which we train & run, we felt both ingredients, Sustamine™ & Betaine, were crucial in a during-run drink.
We decided to believe in our work and go ahead with these ingredients. In doing so, we became the first brand in the World to include both Sustamine™ & Betaine in a during-run drink, and later the first in the World to include them in our endurance gels.
The product was formulated with Maltodextrin, Electrolytes, Sustamine™, and Betaine, and presented in a lemon flavor. We calibrated 1 sachet to mix in 125ml water, considering that science had confirmed 125ml to be the optimal amount of water to be consumed every 25 minutes, so we felt this math would make sense.
2014-2016 – feedback:
We received more criticism than praise for this product – it was not lack of efficacy, but flavor and the hydroscopic nature of the product that turned many off.
• The flavor was not appealing to many.
• The product formed clumps and hence was difficult to mix in water.
• Sachet size was too small as needed a few sachets to make a 500ml mix.
• Efficacy was great. Helped many maintain pace.
• Gave a surge of energy when consumed.
• Helped many full-marathon runners escape the frightful 30-36km section – kept cramps away and for many it simply destroyed the wall.
• Became a staple during LSD training for many.
• Many wrote to us that the effect was very different and better than other ‘during-run’ products – but yet they were unhappy with the taste.
2014-2016 – R&D:
- We continued our research on Sustamine™ & Betaine and discovered further benefits of the ingredients, this confirmed our bet on using these.
- We spent a ‘lot’ of time on the taste profile of this product. We must have made over 2000 sachets, sent them to people across India, and consumed copious amounts ourselves – to a point where one day we were so wired we had to run circles around the office building to calm down.
- We studied ‘taste-fatigue’ and understood how our saliva, taste buds, and mouth feel changes over hours as we get further into our run.
- We learned about the effect that an increase in body heat has on our ability to consume certain taste profiles.
We studied Caffeine and its effect during endurance activities.
• We realised that the flavor profile needed to change.
• We knew that the product was clumping – but could not understand why this was happening to some while not to others. We started storing it in different conditions and taking detailed notes.
• We had made 1 sachet for 125ml water, as this is the perfect amount to consume every 25 minutes – but realized that a mathematical solution is not always correct when behavioural patterns are in play – people carried 500ml bottles!
• We wanted to completely remove white processed sugar from the formulation.
• We have replaced Maltodextrin with Non-GMO Dextrose Anhydrous for the same reasons as above.
• We have increased the sachet size to where now 1 sachet mixes in 473ml, when earlier you may have needed 4 sachets for 500ml.
• We have introduced three flavors, Watermelon, Orange, and Green Tea. The flavor profile is mild-neutral so there is no taste fatigue, especially when you are at it for over 4 hours and your mouth is dry.
• The Green Tea flavor is caffeinated to 100mg caffeine per sachet (473ml). We use a highly pure form of caffeine anhydrous which is extracted from green tea. Caffeine lovers now have a good option.
• The product is free of white processed sugar – we have used Stevia.
• We have maintained all the other ingredients.
Post run nutrition is perhaps the most neglected part, and is yet the most crucial in your nutrition regimen.
At the end of an endurance activity, our glycogen levels are depleted, our muscles are exhausted, our electrolyte levels are dry, and there is overall fatigue. We are in a state of stress and we need to now enter a state of recovery, so that we are ready to enter stress again. If we do not completely recover, then our next stressful phase will begin to eat into reserves and as the pattern continues our system will revolt with either tremendous fatigue, an injury, a reduction in performance, a decrease in progressive improvement, and so on. This can be a domino effect and as such we can never unearth our true potential.
A 4:1 carbohydrate:protein ratio is scientifically proven to be the most optimal ratio for recovery from endurance sports and to replenish lost glycogen levels. This must form the basis of any scientifically formulated recovery product. There are many brands that opt for a 3:1 or 2:1 ratio, and many that skip this all together, but these products do not work. Along with this, it is important to include electrolytes and antioxidants.
A post run product should always be a ‘drink’ and not a ‘solid’ food, as in that crucial 20 minute window when your system is under stress, if you eat food you are recruiting a lot of energy & blood to process digestion when you should let the blood remain free for your muscles to recover – a liquid is much easier to digest and absorb.
We formulated the product to a 4:1 Carbohydrate:Protein base with Maltodextrin & Pea Protein playing the role. We added all the Electrolytes, and included Sustamine™, and Vitamin C. The product was presented in a chocolate flavor and each sachet mixed in 150ml water – we kept the serving size small as for shorter distances people could use 1-2 sachets and for longer distances people could use 3-4 sachets.
2014-2016 – feedback:
• Many did not like the taste.
• Many wanted it sweeter.
• A lot of positive feedback on the effect of the product. Many have reported that on days when they would otherwise feel drained and exhausted, with RRUNN™ Post they feel absolutely fine and can work through the day.
• Many swear by it today and it is a staple post long runs and races.
2014-2016 – R&D:
• A long internal debate gave birth to a theory that adopting a dual-carbohydrate base for the 4:1 formulation may result in improved recovery.
• We began studying the effects of phytochemicals on recovery and learned more about Curcumin (Turmeric extract) as well as Ashwagandha.
• We learned that Sustamine™ may have a reduced role to play when there is a high consumption of protein.
• In these two years we saw more evidence based research being released on a 4:1 carbohydrate:protein ratio and how it is ideal for endurance athletes.
• We realised that we needed to rework on the flavor
• We needed to consider including Curcumin and Ashwagandha
• We needed to consider making the serving size larger
• We wanted to stick to our gut feeling on the dual-carbohydrate approach
• We wanted to remove white processed sugar
• We have maintained a dual-carbohydrate approach by using both Maltodextrin & Non-GMO Dextrose Anhydrous in the 4:1 ratio.
• The serving size has increased and each sachet now offers 40 grams of carbs and 10 grams of Pea Protein.
• The product is free of white processed sugar – we have formulated it with Stevia.
• We have removed Sustamine™, considering 10 grams of Pea Protein.
• We have included a standardized extract of Ashwagandha, the patented KSM-66™ in a dose that has been clinically proven to accelerate recovery.
• We have included a standardized extract of Curcumin, a clinically proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant,
with many other health benefits as well as 250mg of vitamin C for its antioxidant activity.
We were not happy with our packaging. We have made a few changes, listed below.
We have become the first company in India to ever introduce a half-tear technology in a sachet. This has not been done in this country for any sachet product sold across industries.
Half-tear means when you want to open the sachet and decide to rip it across the tear mark, the entire top tears off end-to-end, but only half the mouth is opened leaving half the mouth to be closed. This facilitates an easy pour of the powder, making it easier to fill into bottles that have smaller mouths.
As our products are often used during races and during long adventures in the mountains, this takes away a lot of your troubles and lets you marvel at your ability to transfer all the powder into your bottle without spilling a single molecule.
It was not easy for us to achieve this. When we discussed this with our sachet maker, his words were, and I quote, “I have spent nearly two decades in this industry, I make sachets in millions for the big boys, no one has ever come to me with such an absurd requirement. I’m excited to see if it can be achieved.”
We faced a lot of set-backs in this process, we lost a lot of time, we lost some money, but in the process we learned a lot about sachet making, made a few friends, and together successfully achieved a new play in Indian sachet making technology. Yes, it has been done abroad – and now it’s been achieved in India as well.
I believe the effort and time has been well worth it – as it is going to save users crucial minutes or seconds during races, and also the trouble of cleaning up a mess.
We have also engineered a way in which you can consume exactly half the amount per sachet, across each of Pre-During-Post. This is another achievement after a lot of trial & error – but the process was not as exhaustive as the half-tear.
You will notice a bar on the back of the sachet, simply sandwich that bar between two fingers, shake the sachet around a bit, and voilà – you get half the serving on either side of your finger. Open, pour, mix, drink, save the rest for later if you wish.
This can come handy in many situations:
• Pre: you are going on a shorter run and you want half a serving, or you want to share half with a friend.
• During: you have calibrated your intake based on calories and want a specific amount, or you want to split servings.
• Post: another shorter workout for half the serving, or you want to save half as a snack post an hour.
This is a complete scientific range of nutrition meant to enhance performance as well as recovery for endurance athletes. The products have been formulated by us through our own in-house research. We have used therapeutic dosages of clinically proven ingredients in our formulations.
The products are independent, but also interdependent. While you do not have to take each of Pre-During-Post and can take either of them based on your requirement, taking all three ensures optimal results. Pre helps you set the pace, During helps you maintain that pace and keeps you going – without the Pre, During may have a reduced effect as your fuel will be more depleted than it would had you taken Pre. If you have taken During consistently then Post will work faster on your recovery, as your salts and fluid uptake would be higher than if you had not taken During. And, so on..
During our re-formulation phase, we conducted a lot of trials and used the products in different terrains, different environments, and across different intensities and distances.
The products have been used by our Team RRUNN members and many other friends across India in training & races and their feedback has been instrumental.
Samples have also travelled to the USA, UK, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and have been tried & tested by some of the World’s elite athletes who have been very transparent with their feedback.
We are thankful to all for the un-biased and crisp feedback, as it has been crucial in our re-formulation.
The ugly side of this re-formulation, is that we are left with a lot of packaging material from the first version. Of course, we do not wish to throw these away. After a long debate, we have decided to reserve part of the sachets to be used as packaging for R&D on on-going projects, and to use the rest of the sachets to distribute Pre-During-Post for free to less privileged and deserving athletes. We hope to tie up with an NGO to ensure that these reach the right hands.
From 2013 to 2016 – we have spent 3 years behind this range. Many requested us to come out with gels, which we did. Many requested us to come out with chews and effervescent tablets as well. Below is my take our this.
While we do understand that it is more convenient to carry – convenience should never overtake efficacy.
Chews are bite sized jellies loaded with sugar, carbohydrates and electrolytes. While it is possible to make these sugar free and vegan, it is a lengthy process. We have done some R&D on this and made a few batches, but we are not satisfied. The process, too, is quite messy.
One issue is the limit of filling due to the size & weight. These can work well as a secondary source of fuel during long runs or rides, but not a primary source. We are working on a slightly different solution here and we hope to have something ready by next year.
The greatest flaw in an effervescent tablet is the fact that it weighs just 2 grams, like the chew. In that amount, there are ingredients as binders to make it a tablet, there are fizzing agents, and flavors that occupy space. This leaves very little space in the tablet for the active ingredients that are required for endurance athletes.
Let’s take a few simple examples to get a better understanding.
Pre, you need a sufficient amount of carbohydrates before you start. In a 2 gram tablet, after deducting the weight of the binders & fizzing agents, how much space is left for your carbohydrates? If we were to fit our 41 grams of carbohydrates that RRUNN™ Pre contains, we would need about 20-25 tablets. How can anyone consume so many tablets just before heading out for a run?
During, again, the same issue. How much can you fit in? An average runner consumes two gels per hour – each gel has 25 grams of carbohydrates. That is 50 grams of carbohydrates per hour, which translates into roughly 25 effervescent tablets an hour.
Post, it is impossible to include a 4:1 ratio in this format. There is no point going further.
We feel that the effervescent tablet format is alright if it is used for an electrolyte only product. But it will fail miserably for a pre or post product – or even for a during if one is seeking fuel from it. It cannot be used as a source of fuel, as there is a limit to the amount of fuel you can add in a tablet due to its size.
We have come a long way since 2013 in formulating and offering nutrition products for endurance athletes.
We have set many firsts for India, by becoming the first company to offer a scientifically calibrated Pre-During-Post in 2014, the first Salt Capsules, Endurance Gels, and Plant-based Protein in 2015, Gel’s free of added white processed sugar along with Gel-flasks and Soft-flasks in 2016, and, we have now re-formulated & improved the Pre-During-Post in 2016 (which has been an exhaustive process).
We have also been working on a few other products, some of which will come out in 2016 and some in 2017, and few of which will be first-timers in our country.
No single person is responsible for this – it has been a team effort at Unived, and there are many of you who have tested our products in the development phase & offered your suggestions & feedback, which has been crucial, so thank you for adding further strength to our team.
We have observed that endurance sports have grown, considering the number of participants and number of events. Training and nutrition are both crucial in your journey towards understanding your true potential as an endurance athlete. We do not plan to get into coaching, but we hope to continue raising the bar on nutrition.
Although the endurance space has grown in numbers, the number of people who are tuned into scientific nutrition is still quite small. We hope that changes and hope people understand that nutrition has a greater role to play than they thought. We will play our part in ensuring this education, and we hope to have your support in spreading our work to your friends, because our advertising ability may be limited as our first responsibility is to re-invest in R&D.
We will continue our up-keep with science and should we feel that there is a possibility of a better formulation that can offer a convincing and clear improvement in efficacy over ours, then we will adapt and change. We want to ensure that we make products to the best of our ability and don’t ever wish to compromise on our quality.
If you’ve made it all the way down to this part of the note, then thank you for your patience and for your time in understanding a bit about what has gone on behind closed doors at Unived.
All of us look forward to hearing your thoughts on the new range, and as always we will be keenly noting down your feedback and incorporating it in our efforts to bring you better products.
Stay healthy and enjoy your sport.
RRUNN Pre: https://unived.in/rrunn-pre-instant-sustained-energy-config.htmlRRUNN During: https://unived.in/shop/rrunn-during-hydration-endurance-config-127.htmlRRUNN Post: https://unived.in/shop/rrunn-post-complete-system-recovery-config.html