Raspberry Heaven Smoothie Bowl – packed full of antioxidants!

Raspberry Dream Smoothie Bowl

Raspberry Heaven Smoothie Bowl – Delicious!

By Rachel Grunwell

We tend to reach for oranges when we are after a Vitamin C boost. But if you want to change things up then reach for raspberries and beetroot powder for your smoothie!

Raspberries make for the prettiest smoothie colour, but they are packed with Vitamin C and antioxidants which help us fight off ageing. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation – one of the many factors that can age us. While beetroot powder has antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals and helps detoxify and supports stamina and endurance performance (so great for my love of running!) 

This recipe has some great nutrients, but it’s also packed full of flavour. My smoothies have to taste good too. It’s a sweet-hit and it had my kids smiling and asking for more.

Here’s the recipe:

Raspberry Heaven Smoothie Bowl

Put 1 Cup each of Frozen Raspberries and VitaCocoNZ coconut water, 1 frozen banana, 1 Teaspoon of GoSuperFood Beetroot Powder, 1 Scoop of Lifestream Essential Protein Natural Chai powder into your trusty NutriBullet and blend. You can drink this in a cup or put it into a smoothie bowl and dig it out with a spoon. Or if you want to be all fancy-pants and show off then you can put some toppings on top. I topped mine with dried rose petals and Pure Delish Raspberry & Maple Nut No-Grain-Ola. Enjoy!

Rachel is a wellbeing columnist and healthy recipe creator for two magazines. She’s a mum, marathoner, yoga teacher and the director of the Inspired Health website.

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Nutrition Tips for runners – from 3 experts

mikkiBen Ruthe headshot  sarah sinclair

Elite runner Ben Ruthe & nutritionists Mikki Williden, left, & Sarah Sinclair, right, share top tips for runners.


Nutrition Tips for runners – from 3 experts

By Rachel Grunwell

What can you eat to best fuel your running?
It’s a question a lot of runners ponder. So I chatted with two qualified nutritionists who specialise in this field (who are also runners) – as well as an elite runner from the Bay of Plenty who has won some top titles.
I asked one nutritionist about what to do about the tapering period, and another about what to do on race day. While, the athlete gave his own perspective about what works best for him. He also made a good point that nutrition is an individual thing ultimately. I’ve interviewed many of the top nutritionists throughout NZ and it’s a point that these experts all hammered home too. However, here are some incredible tips and words of wisdom worth noting. I know I’ll be putting some of this great advice into action with my next event – the Rotorua Marathon on April 30 – the next major event on the NZ run calendar. Some of this advice may help you too – for any event. These experts are all awesome and I rate them all highly.


It’s close to tapering time for those participating in the Rotorua Marathon, like me. But use this information for any event you may have in the future. Firstly, tapering means backing off the training miles in the lead up to the race. This also means you shouldn’t be fuelling your body up as much as you might think…
It’s a “common mistake” around this time for runners to keep eating like we do while doing the big training miles.
Nutritionist Mikki Williden says it’s a real issue.
“Some people end up being heavy, lethargic and brain-fogged when they turn up to the start-line,” she says.
She knew of one guy who carb-loaded so much during a taper period that he ended up around 4kg heavier when he turned up at an event start-line.
“People overeat all the time when it comes to running,” says Williden.
So during the taper period – which can be a few weeks or as little as 10 days before an event depending on the individual – here are some of Williden’s tips:
Reduce your food intake over this time. You don’t need as much fuel because you are not using up as much energy.
2. Tap into your hunger cues; Do not eat to schedule.
3. If you suffer from nerves then reduce your vegetable intake a few days out from the event. Williden is usually an advocate of “10 serves of veg a day”, but around this time too much fibre can upset the gut and take up a lot of stomach space “which can make you feel bloated”.
4. Don’t take vast quantities of sports drinks leading up to a race. It can be too much liquid energy. “You’re better off making your own smoothies or having natural electrolytes like coconut water,” she adds.
5. Eat more frequently in the day before the event, but reduce the size of meals. This helps with having “a comfortable stomach”.

ps Williden says her favourite pre-race meals are things like Japanese (think salmon don), or a roast pork meal with kumara.

sarah sinclair

Raceday nutrition is different for everyone. So what works well for one person may not work well for another. Probably the most important advice for race day, is that you should practise your own race day nutrition while doing your training runs. And it is wise to experiment with different options as it can be a matter of trial and error to pinpoint what exactly works best for you.
Sarah Sinclair, a nutritionist who specialises in nutrition for runners through her business RUNtrition, recommends eating things on race day that are “nutrient dense, with complex carbs, with healthy fats and ideally a few antioxidants to boost (think whole foods and real foods where you can). And of course drink some fluid.”
Do not eat too much prior to a race – but make sure this meal is at least 2 hours before your race/event.
Lots of people find Oats/Oatmeal or a granola works well for them, whether or not you add milk/or yoghurt is an individual thing. Some things can upset the GI tract. “Bananas are generally always safe, a piece of plain (not too fibrous) toast with banana and nut butter works well too”.

5 top tips from Sinclair:
1. Practise your nutrition strategy well ahead of race day – the before and duringfoods/fuels.
2. Prep it the night before – at 4am you don’t want to be searching around for the last scraping of peanut butter.
3. For your event fuel – always take extra, just in case – or have supporters on the course with extra.
4. Just take a sip or two of water/fluid at each drink station -you do not need to drink the whole cup, over hydration can be as dangerous as dehydration.  And if you are not gunning for a sub 1:45h in a half or 3:20 full, walk the drink stations – I promise you, you will make up the time by not choking on your water.
5. Always eat within 30 minutes of your race/event finishing to help refuel the body and ensure optimum recovery and avoid alcohol however tempting until you have fully hydrated (i.e. at least gone to the bathroom after the race/event).

Ben Ruthe headshotAn Elite Runner’s perspective:

Meanwhile, I spoke with elite runner Ben Ruthe because I knew he would give a unique opinion here – and a fresh perspective too. And he’s worth listening to because he is a gun-runner (so is his gorgeous wife too, by the way). He’s the bloke who won the Auckland Marathon in 2008 and also has six national titles to his name (under various distances), to name just only a few of his incredible accomplishments.
The Bay of Plenty based runner says he honestly eats what he craves, but avoids excessive amounts “of things that aren’t good for you”. So to decode here, he means don’t drink alcohol like you are a party-animal, and don’t consume sugar like you might if you were Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…
Ruthe strongly advises testing out race fuels well before race day so you know if they might upset your stomach.
He recommends to keep eating the foods you usually eat close up to an event too ie don’t change things radically. He says his father-in-law Trevor Wright (who represented England at the Commonwealth Games and could run a marathon in 2:12.28) used to love steak and chips and so he continued to enjoy eating this favourite meal right up to running his events. But it’s an individual thing, he adds.
But generally his approach is quite chilled. He reckons it can affect your performance if you focus too much on everything being precise food-wise around race day. “It can knock your confidence if you get hung up on everything being perfect,” he says.
He reckons rather than focusing too much on food on race day, rather focus on “enjoying” the event…

Meanwhile, you can enter the Rotorua Marathon by clicking here

  • Rachel Grunwell is a wellbeing columnist for 2 magazines, marathoner,  yoga teacher (who specialises in ‘yoga for runners’) and blogs on Inspiredhealth.co.nz .  She’s running the Rotorua Marathon this year (her 12th marathon). Her last run-related story was on TV3 presenter Mike McRoberts set to take part in the Christchurch Marathon, which was published in newspapers nationwide & on her blog. 
  • Follow Inspired Health on Facebook (for wellbeing inspiration + health-inspired giveaways) 
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NZ teacher doing 307th marathon at Rotorua Marathon event

Kiri, Bill and Graeme

Caption: Bill Richardson, pictured left, is on track to run his 307th marathon when he takes part in the Rotorua Marathon on April 30. He is pictured here running the Wanganui Marathon with friends, Kiri Price, centre, and Graeme Tindall.

Go in the draw to win an entry into this year’s Rotorua Marathon (you choose the distance category) via our facebook page by clicking here.

By Rachel Grunwell

When South Island school teacher Bill Richardson runs the Rotorua Marathon on April 30 it will be his 307th marathon.
The 64-year-old Invercargill resident has quietly clocked up this amazing feat with his feet and barely told a soul! He prefers to keep his marathon tally on the down-low. It’s just what he loves to do. He thrives on the 42km challenge.
He did celebrate his 300th marathon with close run friends though, with a cake – this was after the Buller Gorge Marathon in February.
His Rotorua Marathon run this year will be a bit of cause for celebration too. It will be his 15th time lapping Lake Rotorua, which means he will enter the ‘Rotorua Marathon Survivors Club’. You have to have completed this event 15 times, or more, to be a club member. There are 514 members in this club at last count in the history of the 52-year-long event.
“It will be as good as gold to be in the club,” he says, chuckling “but I don’t get too carried away by these things.”
Richardson says he loves the Rotorua Marathon event “because it has a bit of town, hills and country”. He also loves the history of the event and the big turn out it attracts. Elite athletes, international runners to everyday runners love it. He’s looking forward to seeing lots of run friends there too. But, of course, he’s honest and admits that the last 10km of the event is always tough! The stretch by the airport is always a challenge. His top tip for running this event is not to run out too fast too soon by the way.

Richardson was born in Owaka, South Otago, and raised in the tiny Central Otago settlement of Omakau. He used to run 4km to school and was always horse-riding, duck-shooting, river swimming, building rafts or fishing. So he has always been an active bloke.
Richardson has two children, Matt and Kate, and five grandchildren. He lives solo. He retired as a social studies and geography teacher at Southland Boys’ High School a few years ago, but still is a relief teacher here.
Richardson started running marathons in 1980. His first was in Invercargill. He has since run most major marathons of the world and repeatedly run a lot of domestic events nationwide.
Some favourite events include Boston (“the premiere marathon in the world” which he has completed nine times – he loves that you have to qualify to enter), the Riverton to Invercargill run (“one of the best” and something he has run more than 30 times) and the Buller Gorge race (“amazing scenery and people”).
He has loved conquering each marathon for “the amazing adventure” and among these incredible adventures includes: the Midnight Sun Marathon above the Arctic Circle in Norway, the Niagara Falls run in Canada and an American run during which competitors cross a border.
He estimates he has spent a cool $150,000 on his passion and he jokes “the rest of my other earnings were wasted”. He has a room full of medals and t-shirts dubbed “the running room”. He reckons one day he will make a duvet out of them all… “one day when I buy a sewing machine chuckle chuckle”…
I quip he could likely make a string of duvets, actually…
His fastest marathon time was 2hr 50mins at Christchurch Marathon in 1997. And yes,’ he will be there again to run this event this year. He can run marathons these days in 3 hours 40 minutes but it’s more about being out on each course for the enjoyment now.
Meanwhile he swears by starting every marathon with porridge including: oats, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, banana and topped with walnuts and almonds.
Besides eating a great breakfast, his biggest advice to any runners out there is “enjoy every race. It’s a lot of fun”.

Good luck on race day! Meanwhile if you see Richardson out there, cheer him on loudly. He’s a bit of a run legend!

His friend Kiri Price, a run coach,  says Richardson is only the second person in NZ to achieve the status of running 300 marathons.  He is also a proud member of the 100 Marathon Club, of which there are just 44 members. “And he’s the humblest, nicest gentleman out there as well,” says Price.

  • To enter the Rotorua Marathon (there are four distances from a 5.5km fun run to the full marathon) click here to link through to the Rotorua Marathon website.
  • Rachel Grunwell is wellbeing columnist for two magazine titles and a string of newspapers throughout NZ. She’s a professional blogger and the director of Inspired Health too. She’ll be running the Rotorua Marathon (her 12th marathon).

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14,000 runners tackle Cigna Round the Bays

lance, tamati, rachel, corin


Pictured at the Cigna Round the Bays in Wellington from left: Cigna CEO Lance Walker, Achilles charity blind runner Tamati Pearse and his guides wellness columnist Rachel Grunwell and TVNZ political editor Corin Dann


By Rachel Grunwell

Over 14,000 Kiwis ran in Cigna Round the Bays in Wellington on February 21 including 60 Achilles charity members in fluorescent yellow shirts.

Achilles helps Kiwis with any disability to participate in mainstream run events.

Some of the Achilles participants don’t have legs, others are without sight, some have survived car crashes or underground explosions, or battled debilitating illnesses. Some used wheelchairs or racing bikes on the day, while a one-legged athlete used crutches.

The youngest Achilles member, who was born with spina bifida, is at intermediate school while others are grandparents like the charity’s founder Peter Loft who was there too on the day running with his young grandson. It’s truly a diverse bunch.

Achilles athletes always run with support guides.

I’m an Achilles volunteer guide and an ambassador who was at the event alongside fellow ambassadors: former All Black Frank Bunce, TVNZ’s political editor Corin Dann, Breakfast presenter Nadine Chalmers-Ross, Fair Go journalist Garth Bray and Newstalk ZB newsreader Niva Retimanu.

It was a stunning day and main sponsor Cigna NZ had several amazing cheer stations. The Achilles runners seemed to get the loudest cheers – behind the lead elite winning runners though, of course!

Corin Dann and I had the pleasure of co-guiding blind Auckland runner Tamati Pearse, 21, who smashed his best half-marathon time. It was his third half-marathon and he’s also conquered the New York Marathon.

He was thrilled at his time, but mostly he had lots of fun. We had a group hug when we got our medals.

A highlight that day was seeing Tamati smiling broadly throughout the course as he soaked up every cheer – and then he beamed even brighter over his PB at the finish-line. Even elite runners took time to cheer on Tamati that day on the course. It made them smile too.

I think anyone who saw Tamati couldn’t help but be inspired by his goal-crushing and can-do mind-set…



Tamati almost near the finish-line with Corin Dann guiding and Rachel capturing the action. We talked politics, running about family, friends and fun while on-the-run. Corin even took a call from a producer mid-run. The bloke works way too hard!


Achilles Athletes also at the event Ian Walker, left and Ian Winson, right. Ian Walker sped back first on his wheelchair at the event. Check out their smiles too. Truly awesome.


Another Achilles pic. From left, Tamati Pearse, former All Black Frank Bunce, Rachel Grunwell, Fair Go’s Garth Bray and Newstalk ZB newsreader Niva Retimanu. If you wear a yellow shirt then it’s compulsory you have to group hug lol. I think these guys are as huggable as my yogi mates 😉


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TV3’s Mike McRoberts laces up for Christchurch Marathon

Mike McRoberts

TV presenter Mike McRoberts is running the Christchurch Marathon this year. He is pictured here while running the Queenstown Marathon in November, 2015. That’s  Newstalk ZB’s talkshow queen Kerre McIvor to his left.

By Rachel Grunwell

Every weekend lots of fitness events take place nationwide and it’s amazing who turns up.

Elite athletes, every day Kiwis wishing to keep fit and celebrities too.

TV3 presenter Mike McRoberts is as known for reporting on danger zones and bringing us the night-time news as he is for running these days.

To keep fit, Mike loves training for, and running, marathons. He has already conquered the 42km distance at New York, Taupo and Queenstown. His next marathon challenge will be the Christchurch Airport Marathon on June 5

For Mike, running this event is dear to his heart. He explains why:

“Having grown up in Christchurch and still a staunch Cantab I’ve always had a desire to run the Christchurch Marathon. All of my family still live in Christchurch so I’m hoping I’ll have a fair amount of support out on the course”.

Mike says the fact the course now takes in the Christchurch CBD is a major attraction too.

“I’ll never forget reporting on the earthquakes six years ago and the crushing loss I felt for my hometown. I think being able to run through there for an iconic event like this is just another step in Christchurch’s recovery ….well quite a few steps actually!

“This will be my fourth marathon and my first as a 50 year old, so I can’t wait”.

Meanwhile, I’ll be joining Mike too to run this event – my 14th marathon. Running is also a way I love to keep fit, healthy – and happy.

The Christchurch course will be flat, cool, there are several distance options to enter and it’s a great way to support this earthquake-ravaged city.


  • This article was published in The Christchurch Star,  the Northern Advocate, the Bay of Plenty Times, Rotorua Daily PostHawkes Bay Today, Wanganui Chronicle and the Wairarapa Times Age.

Further reading: Read the article about Mike McRoberts facing his fears over the Taupo Marathon by clicking here. He also did a bungy-jump, jet-boat ride and skydive during that mad mission! This piece was also penned by Rachel Grunwell.

About the author: Rachel Grunwell is a wellbeing columnist and healthy recipe creator for Good Magazine and Juno Investing Magazine. She writes regularly for newspaper titles nationwide.

Rachel is the director of inspiredhealth.co.nz/ , a yoga teacher, marathoner and an award-winning writer. Follow Inspired Health on Facebook Instagram 

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Want to be the best you? Well, try this lifestyle approach…

[1610] Yianni - full day

Want to be the best you? Well, try this lifestyle approach…

By Rachel Grunwell

Want to become the best version of you?

I’m not talking about enrolling in some American-style ‘biggest transformation’ style program. That stuff freaks me out!  It’s not sustainable either.

How to become the best version of you requires you wanting be a better you, firstly. Then you need to tell yourself you are going to change your lifestyle. Next, adopt “a positive mind-set” and repeat after me: “I believe in myself”.

Think about something that drives you to want to look and feel better. For me, I remember hating the feeling of my legs swishing together when I walked. This was a while back, when I put on 30kg when I was pregnant with my first child. But I’ll never forget that feeling. I hated it. So wanting to escape the “leg-swish-walking” was one driver for me! It may be that there’s a dress you’d love to wear for your wedding or a big event. Or you may just want to simply get back to looking like “you” again. Focus on this and how you will feel when you get to your goal.

Then I want you to think about a reward when you get to your goal. Something you long for and want. Promise yourself you will buy it for yourself when you reach your goal and look forward to that, (obviously you have to be able to afford it! No Ferrari-wishing okay – except if you are a partner in a law firm or something… then you can wish for a Ferrari).

But seriously, next I want you to start drinking 2L of water daily. Put it in the fridge in a jug and so you can see if you are getting through this amount each day.

Next up, look at how much movement you do. Try and walk/do some kind of exercise class/swim – whatever you want really – and commit to doing it thrice weekly. You can build on doing more later. Just starting is the main thing right now.

Also, walk whenever you get the opportunity – early in the morning or at lunch time with a friend can be great times to try and fit it in. Walk the kids to school, don’t drive them. Walk to get that coffee or meet with a mate. If it’s a close distance than get on your feet. Any chance you can move, do it. Even standing burns more calories than sitting. So every bit counts i.e. don’t sit while you fold the washing – stand!

A tough thing to do next will be to “cut the not-so-good-for-you-stuff” from your pantry. Avoid sugar, fizzy drinks, alcohol and then don’t drink more than one coffee a day. If you are drinking or eating a lot of any one of these things then mindfully cut back – ease off it slowly. Be kind on yourself.

Next eat greens whenever you can at each meal. Not just dinner time! Greens like broccoli and salads are great. Then fill your pantry/fridge with healthy foods. Now all you need to do is eat more healthy stuff, less crap, drink more water and avoid all those sugar-laden or alcoholic things trying to drag you down. They’re not doing you any favours.

Now, do all these things consistently and see how you go. Remember, you can do this! You got this!

believe you can

Remember weight-loss takes time too. So keep going and don’t give into old unhealthy habits. Good things take time and if you are doing these things then you should be feeling even better over time.

However, if you don’t think you can do this weight loss and fitness journey on your own, or find it confusing, or think that you could benefit from some support and education in this area then consider something like Weight Watchers.


Weight Watchers has recently overhauled their program and it is even better than when I used it years ago. It now focuses on a new way of living, not a diet. It’s more of a holistic approach that looks at food, fitness and feeling good “your own way”. So there are lots of options to choose from to help you on your journey. It’s awesome.

Weight Watchers says research shows about a third of Kiwis aged 15-years and over are overweight. And Weight Watchers believes women can find it tougher than men to kick the kilos. Add to that more fast foods, less sleep and a lack of motivation in general in society… It’s tough to break the weight-gain cycle. So don’t feel reluctant about reaching out to something like Weight Watchers if you need help achieving your goal.

Weight Watchers Director of Program and Content for Australasia, Martha Lourey-Bird, says “We have the tools to reverse this trend.”

“The new Weight Watchers Program goes beyond kilojoule counting and allows you to personalise your approach to weight management and healthy living. Backed by the latest scientific learnings, the  Your Way Program  nudges members towards healthier eating, including more lean protein and less saturated fat and sugar.”

She says Weight Watchers also makes it easier to work fitness into your life with a new FitPoints system and a smartphone app. It’s an approach that’s about eating good foods you love and getting active.

Ultimately you will feel better, so make the change.

After all, Oprah Winfrey backs Weight Watchers. She raves this has given her the “tools” to have accountability to herself. So if someone like Oprah gives it the green light then you can believe in Weight Watchers being able to help you to be the best version of you. Go on; you’ll feel great if you do.

Rachel Grunwell is a wellbeing columnist for two NZ magazines and seven newspaper titles nationwide. She’s the director of Inspired Health.

Follow Inspired Health on Facebook. (You can go in the draw to win Julia and Libby’s cookbook ‘Wholefood Kitchen’ at the moment! 

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What is Biodynamics? And how a beauty company gets the best products

edible flowers

By Rachel Grunwell 
Making great natural beauty products with quality ingredients is key.
But what’s also important for the creators of the Dr.Hauschka products is caring about having holistic, ethical and socially responsible practices.
In essence, Dr.Hauschka cares about everything from the start to the finish: From the soil quality and environment in which they grow their crops – to the sumptuous products you take home and enjoy in your home.

Dr Hauschka
The scientific term for this is called “biodynamics”. Essentially the term means all of the above, but so much more.
Biodynamics is similar to organic farming. It was first developed in the early 1920s thanks to the Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner, whose philosophy is called “anthroposophy”. This philosophy centres on things like using natural means and holistic methods to optimise wellbeing. He believes in a natural relationship between natural science, modern science and spiritual science, nurturing the soul of individuals, but also society, along the way.
Steiner believes everything is interlinked including soil fertility, the way you grow plants using non-chemical means and self-made compost, to how the environment is nurtured to attract insects into the garden. His beliefs extend to using the astrological sowing and planting calendar and using ecologically-sustainable and socially-responsible business practices. So any workers involved too are treated with integrity.
Biodynamics is at the heart of why Dr.Hauschka has their very own gardens of about 4.5 hectares in Eckwalden, Germany, where around 150 different high-grade medicinal plants are grown. Here they can control what goes into the soil and manage it naturally including having more than 25 composts where all the residue plant debris and things like grass clippings can be returned back into high-quality soil that revitalises and rebalances the land.
Dr.Hauschka focus on renewable resources and works around natural cycles.
On the land, they nurture what they can grow successfully and what thrives in this environment. For example, they cultivate noble roses and common daisies because this is where they thrive and they are rewarded with bumper crops. They also obtain almost all of the seeds for the next year’s crops from these plants.
Here they can also control a natural ecosystem so they know they have the best environment to produce the best quality natural raw materials. This is why the Dr.Hauschka products that contain lavender for example, smell like a field of lavender when you open a bottle. It’s real lavender and it’s of the highest quality. 

Meanwhile, the Dr.Hauschka company knows that to get the best crops of some plants that they must be grown in other habitats. So they partner with other like-minded suppliers. An example is gathering shea butter from a producer in West Africa, castor oil from India and some roses from Turkey and Afghanistan.
A plant example which can not be grown optimally in the Dr.Hauschka gardens is Eyebright, which is used in some Dr. Hauschka products like Eye Solace, mascara and eyeliner.So the company commissions a wild collector, with a relevant collection permit, to harvest these plants in Vosges Mountains in France – at an altitude of 1,200metres. This collector never harvests the entire meadow and regularly changes the collection sites. This ensures that the plants are never depleted.
Meanwhile biodynamics is growing globally. Thousands of farms, gardens, vineyards and agricultural businesses now follow the inspirational business and holistic model. Perhaps this is a result of customers increasingly asking questions about how products are made and what exactly is in them.
So next time you open one of the Dr. Hauschka products, don’t just savour the sensational smells and incredible benefits of these beautiful products, celebrate the fact you are using a great brand that also cares about doing good.
Rachel is a professional wellbeing writer and columnist, marathoner and yoga teacher. She’s the director of Inspired Health.
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Where else you can find Rachel’s work:

Rachel’s writes: She’s a wellness columnist & creates a healthy recipe page each issue of Good magazine 

She’s a wellbeing columnist and healthy recipe food creator every issue for  Juno Investing magazine (including boutique stays/events/healthy food/wellbeing inspiration)

Rachel writes a weekly wellbeing column (on anything health, fitness, events, food or wellbeing related) for the NZ Herald, which goes in newspapers throughout New Zealand.

Rachel is a wellbeing ambassador for Cigna and does wellbeing blogs and video content for the company.



The Tussock Traverse – one of NZ’s most scenic courses

Tussock Traverse

By Rachel Grunwell

It’s a New Year and so it’s time for new adventures. Training for an “adventure” is a top way to keep fit.

It can also scare you out of bed in the morning to train!

A unique event (for walkers and runners) is the Tussock Traverse, one of the most scenic courses in New Zealand (on January 30). 

It’s an off-road adventure like no other.

The event showcases the eastern area of the World Heritage Tongariro National Park encompassing Tukino and the Round the Mountain and Waihohonu tracks before finishing at the majestic Chateau Tongariro in Whakapapa. 

Victory Events director Jason Cameron says most Kiwis can take part in the event. “Unlike its near neighbour the Goat, the Tussock Traverse is not highly-technical and is very achievable with its range of distance options”.

He says there’s an event option for most ages and abilities (6.5km, 13km and 26km). “It’s not highly-technical; it’s achievable”.

In the 26k expect some rock hopping through a lava field before negotiating the rolling lunar like landscape with volcanic sands through native vegetation before reaching formed tracks in the last 10km.

He says at one point in the race, entrants are “dwarfed by Mt Ngauruhoe on the right whilst capturing stunning views of Mt Ruapehu out to the left”.

Project Tongariro (formerly known as Tongariro Natural History Society) is the event’s charity partner and so entrants help give back, and conserve, the area too.

craig kirkwood

Pictured: Craig Kirkwood running in the 2015 Ironman NZ event.

One participant this year will be Craig Kirkwood, 41, an elite runner and coach from Tauranga. He “runs” Craig Kirkwood Coaching. He says this event will be “a training run” for the Tarawera Ultra 100km event on February 6.

His tips for doing the Tussock Traverse (which he came second in last year): Expect the course to feel 10% longer than running on-road, take a good quality raincoat in case the weather turns and “smile” and “enjoy it!”

* For more info check out: www.tussocktraverse.co.nz

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Rachel is the director of inspiredhealth.co.nz/ 

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Where to get the best advice on run technique

Kelly & Rachel

By Rachel Grunwell

Obviously I’m not likely to ever run like some light-footed Kenyan athlete. They’re long-legged; I’m vertically challenged. They’ve got lightening speed genes; My ancestors preferred pints at the pub.
I ain’t a gazelle. I know that.
But even everyday runners (like me) love to strive for personal bests.
I’ve run 11 marathons, but I’d like to improve my run style. After all, I’ve only been running for a few years.
So I visit Kelly Sheerin at AUT Millennium’s running and cycling clinic on Auckland’s North Shore (pictured above). A physiotherapist and biomechanist, he analyses the science behind optimum run technique and injuries. Some top athletes seek out his advice, but also “weekend warriors” like me.
He assesses my run efficiency by putting 20 reflective markers on my lower body to measure joint angles. I’ve got 9 infrared 3D cameras watching my every move – and my form (or lack of it).

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I run at different speeds on a treadmill which measures the force, and angle, at which I strike the treadmill.

Rachel running on treadmill
I then do some strength tests and he analyses all the data. The camera doesn’t lie so Kellly gets a full “picture” of my weaknesses. He tells me about things like my stride width and rate, heel whip, peak knee velocity and reveals that my gluteus medius muscles need strengthening and gives me “homework” (ie strength exercises). His technique advice is around how to optimally strike the pavement and how to position my trunk, hips and knees when I’m in motion.
It was fun being a “lab rat”. I learnt some new things about my body and what I need to do to work on running better. Information is power. Hopefully I’ll power through my next marathon. Maybe there’s a gazelle within that’s screaming to get out ha ha ha!

Meanwhile, the AUT Millennium is a very cool place. It has incredible gym and pool facilities, does some exciting research and attracts some big name athletes. While I was there I spied champion shot putter Valerie Adams pumping iron. So if you go to the gym here you can say “I work out with Valerie Adams!!” Well, you won’t quite be “training buddies”, but you do get to see her in the flesh and she’s a pretty super mighty fine cool Kiwi. A Kiwi hero.

Upstairs, is the research testing area where it’s clinically-clean (and hospital-like with all the white). There are lots of weird testing machines. There’s one room (Environmental Chamber) where athletes can practice training in hot or freezing temperatures (acclimation for overseas events). There are stationary bikes, enormous treadmills (Endurance Performance Clinic) and some weights (Strength and Conditioning Clinic). They also can do exercise testing for people at risk or living with medical conditions (Human Potential Clinic) and body composition testing (Body Composition Clinic).
Another test is lactate testing (where pin-pricks of blood are taken to measure lactic acid in the blood) as a predictor of endurance performance in events like cycling, rowing, running and triathlon style events. Plus there’s an anaerobic peak power test (a sprint test) on measuring anaerobic ability.
There’s a VO2max test too, which can reveal aerobic fitness and performance potential (or not). In other words, your ability to utilise oxygen.  For this, you run on a treadmill, while attached to a mask (which measures the volume and composition of the air breathed out) and also a heart-rate monitor.

I’ve tried this in the past. I was asked to run at progressively increasing speeds until exhaustion (think: rat on a wheel). During this, a bloke asked when I found the test fine, hard, very hard, and when I needed to stop (or I might pass out).

Through doing this I pinpointed my best training zones i.e. how fast I can run comfortably and approximate indicators of what my heart-rate should be doing during different types of training drills like interval training to endurance runs. So it’s a science-based guide to follow.

With this information, you can better tailor a training programme to suit you best.

So is this worth it? I reckon sports-mad folk will love getting science-based data to improve their performance. I want to do the lactate testing next time here – for even more accurate results. And I’m keen to try a deep water running session with Kiri Price. This is a full-body workout, I hear. It’s biomechanically the closest cross-training method to actual running (without the impact on the body).

Try it: AUT Sports Performance Clinics at AUT Millennium, 17 Antares Place, Mairangi Bay, North Shore, Auckland, www.autmillennium.org.nz

Rachel is a wellbeing columnist and healthy recipe creator for Good Magazine & Juno Investing Magazine. She writes a weekly column (on health/fitness/wellbeing etc) too for the Herald group of newspapers.

She is a marathoner, yoga teacher and director of Inspired Health

Follow Rachel on Inspired Health via Facebook and Instagram 

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6 Essential yoga poses for runners

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By Rachel Grunwell

“I can’t do yoga”. This is what lots of people tell me.

“But anyone can do yoga”, I reply.

Many people reckon they need to be “flexible” or a circus-star to stretch. But that’s not what yoga is about. It’s about just feeling a stretch where it benefits “you”. And if you are in a class with an experienced yoga teacher then they will give different options with each yoga move. This is so you can tap into the level that best benefits your body.

I work with lots of runners (I take ‘yoga for runners’ classes in Auckland) and so I tell my yogi students that they would never expect to run a marathon overnight; So why expect to nail the first yoga class you try? We’re so hard on ourselves!

Like all things, it takes time to improve.

No matter what age or ability, anyone can tap into the benefits of this ancient practice. It’s especially useful for runners and athletes to help re-balance the body, but the mind benefits are as big as the body benefits too.

I use yoga to strengthen, stretch and tone my body for marathon running, but I also use it to calm my mind, de-stress, detox and to reach my “bliss place”.

But it wasn’t always like that. I used to wobble on every balance pose and strength work would frustrate me, while inversions would infuriate me.

But now I love it and it helps to keep my life a bit more “balanced”and fuels my happiness. So stop, drop and yoga sometime. Give it a go.

Here’s a column I had published on how to do 6 essential yoga poses for runners. Read it by clicking here.


* Rachel is the director of inspiredhealth.co.nz/ (which offers health, fitness, food and lifestyle inspiration). Follow Inspired Health on Instagram (@inspiredhealthandfitness) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/InspiredHealthNZ/)

  • If you are interested in joining one of Rachel’s yoga classes email: [email protected]
  • Pic  taken by Rebecca Grunwell