Why the heck do we need to eat during long-distance runs or races?
Because—> our muscles need carbohydrates big time to keep working hard, our blood sugar levels need to remain stable to avoid crashing and we need electrolytes to avoid cramping/to help to stay hydrated/for other important functions in our bodies. Let’s take a look at some of the options out there!
**Sports Beans. I have only tried these during a run a handful of times but they have always tasted really good. I’ll talk more later on about my feelings with chewing while running but these beans are so small that you don’t feel like you are having to chew like crazy before swallowing them. They come with caffeine (Watermelon, Cherry, Pomegranate) or without caffeine (Lemon Lime, Orange, Fruit Punch, Berry). Per serving—> 100 calories, 80mg Sodium, 40mg Potassium, 25g Carb, 21g Sugar…10% Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Thiamin and Niacin.
You can find a 24 pack HERE for $22.60 ($0.94 per pack).
**GU. I feel like GU is probably the most talked about running fuel out there and I couldn’t get myself to get on board with it until I tried the Salted Caramel (would love to know what your favorite flavors are) about two years ago. I actually really like this flavor and I love the added caffeine that comes along with it. The beauty of gels is that it takes little effort to ingest. No chewing involved (well, at least I don’t;). Just rip it open and go for it (along with some water too). I usually start sipping on one a few minutes before an aid station, grab a cup of water at the aid station and then finish off the gel. For me I take gels about 15 minutes before the race and then every 45-50 minutes during the race. The thing I love about gels in general is that I feel the boost of energy pretty dang quick after I take one. I feel like the glucose goes straight to my blood stream which is pretty great when you are running.
You can get a 24 count of the Salted Caramel Gu HERE for $26.91 ($1.12 per gel).
I just noticed the plain flavor and I am interested in trying this because let’s be honest… there are a lot of times that eating/flavor sounds absolutely awful during a long run/hard run/race and this might just might do the job for those instances.
Another Gel that you will see at most running stores and at a lot of races—> Hammer Gel! As part of their description “We use long-chain complex carbohydrates for smooth, consistent energy release. There’s only a trace of sugar, so Hammer Gel doesn’t set off wild insulin spikes causing ‘sugar high’ and ‘sugar crash.’ You won’t find our products saturated with cheap, ineffective, commercial-grade sugars, which can ruin health and performance.” These ones have more of a syrup like consistency to me and water is definitely needed when taking these (or add them to your water bottle and get your water and energy all together). The peanut butter/peanut butter-chocolate flavors do have some fat in it (some stomachs really can’t handle much fat at all when running) but the others do not.
You can get a mixed 12 pack for $21.11 ($1.75 per gel) HERE!
How often Hammer Gel recommends taking them:
**Honey Stinger Chews. The limeade and cherry cola contain caffeine and the grapefruit, cherry lime protein, raspberry protein and juneberry protein do not contain caffeine. They are sweetened with organic honey and tapioca syrup. A weird thing that I noticed one time with these during winter running… they froze up and got hard during the first half of my run and I was worried I was going to have to chew on them for a long time before swallowing because they were frozen but they actually warmed up really quick and I was able to eat them pretty quickly.
You can get a 12 pack HERE for $20.52 ($1.71 per pack).
**Cliff Shot Bloks—> the first running fuel I ever used. I personally love their flavors and think that they taste great. They were with me on my PR marathon (ummm… like 6 years ago) BUT I stopped using them for races because of the chewing factor. I have used them for training runs over the years because I don’t mind slowing down or taking a break at the water fountain to eat them during a casual long run but for me they are tough to eat if you are going full out in a race or faster paced long run. I also don’t feel as much of an instant surge of energy compared to the gels but they do give me the nice boost shortly after eating them.
3 pieces per serving and they recommend eating an entire packet each hour of running. They offer caffeine and non-caffeinated versions.
Black Cherry are my favorite and you can find them HERE… 18 for $34.95 ($1.94 per pack)
Clif also offers their Shot energy gel. These have more of a thin consistency compared to the other gels that I have tried and they offer 8 different flavors. Easily-digested and something fun about these is that it has a litter leash—> aka when you tear the tab it stays attached to the packet unlike the other gels when you tear it open the top part comes completely off making it hard to hold onto all of the pieces of trash. If the thicker consistency of gels isn’t your favorite then this one might be the one for you!
24 pack HERE for $25.64 ($1.07 per gel).
**The fuel that I am excited to use again once I am running long enough to need fuel—> Vi Fuel. I used them for awhile and then somehow switched over to GU but I am thinking that Vi will be perfect for all of my silly stomach issues. Vanilla (they use real vanilla… nothing fake) is my favorite of the flavors but I also like chocolate and peach cobbler. You can read my full review on Vi HERE! You can get a 24 pack HERE for $39.50 ($1.64 per gel). They recommend taking one 15 minutes before your workout or race and then another one every 30-45 minutes according to your needs—> and to ALWAYS take with water. They are all about using real ingredients in their products which I have heard from many different athletes that it really helps them with stomach issues.
Stats for Vi Vanilla:
**Candy. I haven’t used candy as fuel in a while but I sure used to—> skittles, gummy bears, licorice, swedish fish, candy corn, gummy lifesavers…. now you aren’t getting in the electrolytes/caffeine/amino acids that you will find in the above running fuels but they sure taste good. It’s cheap, easy to grab if you run out of your normal fuel for your long run/race and delicious.
***REAL FOOD (seen a lot more in the ultra world)—> I’ve heard of runners using things like frozen grapes, dates, pretzels, raisins, baby food, homemade energy gels, bananas, oranges, fig newtons, a whole pizza folded up and eaten like a taco (Dean Karnazes I’m looking at you..) or a cookie after your race:)
I guess the key is to find what works best for you. Experiment around and make sure to write down after a run how the fuel you used worked with you so that you can compare and contrast easily when trying to figure out the best fuel for YOU and YOUR RUNNING!!! Record the times you took the fuel to so you can also figure out how often/when to get those calories in!
PS as far as fuel belts go—> this one is my favorite because it is waterproof so I can put my phone in there (and not stress if it is raining or I dump water on my head) and a few gels and then I am ready to go!
I didn’t hear her come in to my room Sunday morning but woke up to her sitting on the window seat serenading me with her guitar and keyboard.
I made s’mores bars for the super bowl party and bought some veggie trays too… balance.
Super Bowl with my girls.
The highlights for me were this fruit/toffee dip (the fruit was perfect), guacamole, s’mores bars and BRUNO MARS DANCING.
Taking his first steps like it ain’t no thang.
I hope you get to start your week off with a great run!
What fuel works best for you?? How often do you take it while running?
Any fuel that I have left out that you can include a review on in the comments (pretty please… we want to know what is out there)!!
Weirdest thing that you have eaten while running or right after a run?
Highlight of your weekend?! Best Super Bowl food that you ate?