Sports Nutrition: I Still Can't Stomach Those Gels
Now that we're running longer distances, it's time for us to use energy chews/gels again. I always get really excited when this happens because WE GET TO EAT WHILE RUNNING! I love eating, so this is a win for me. When we start pushing more than an hour of running, we bring along tasty treats. Jon and I will usually decide ahead of time at what mile we'll eat, so I anxiously await my Garmin ticking over to that mile and then rip open my snack. I even pre-rip the package just a little bit so it's not a pain in the butt to try to get it open while jogging. (Pro tip!)
I think I found someone else who really likes eating on runs. 😉
We've settled on two types of chews as our favorites: Gu Chomps and Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews. Basically any flavor of those is OK by us. Because we were out of any kind of gel or chew and were heading into our eight-mile run this past weekend, we headed to our local Fleet Feet store to stock up. (Side note: Fleet Feet is a great store with really helpful staff and great training programs if you're looking to run your first race, are looking for a community of people to run with, or are looking to push yourself to the next level. Check them out if you haven't before!)
Apparently it's been a while since we needed to get any sports nutrition. When we walked into the store, the selection of chews and gels had doubled from what I remembered. Not only were there different flavors of brands I already knew, but there were also whole new lines of energy things I'd never seen before! It hasn't been that long since our last distance-training program, has it?!
Since when did this become Pokemon and you gotta catch 'em all? And this isn't even all of the flavors Fleet Feet had on display.
Even though the Gu gels had the most diversity with their flavors, I just can't stomach them. Though I know plenty of people who have no problem with this product, I used one last fall while on a longer run and it was miserable. I had the blueberry pomegranate flavor, and it just sat in my throat, trickling down like molasses. Granted, I didn't have water to wash it down, as is suggested, but I've taken Gu Chomps without water and have felt fine. They definitely didn't get stuck in my throat. So unfortunately, Jon and I completely bypassed the shelf of Gu gels.
The friendly Fleet Feet associate pointed us in the direction of Bonk Breakers, which he said he liked to eat post-run. I grabbed two different flavors to try: peanut butter chocolate chip and espresso chip. We also grabbed some Honey Stinger chews; they had some new flavors out, like grapefruit, so I was all about trying that. We left with a few new things that could be hit or miss and with some we were fairly confident we would like.
Results so far: I can speak only for myself, so Jon will have to chime in with his reviews of the products he ate, but overall, my experience was good. The grapefruit Honey Stinger chews were delicious and I would eat them as fruit snacks in my lunches if I could. The first Bonk Breaker tasted like a typical energy bar: kind of cardboard-y and a little lacking in flavor. It had that "peanut butter" flavor that most peanut butter energy bars have. It wasn't terrible, just typical. But that's why I saved the espresso chip for last! I had high hopes for this one. Sadly, I couldn't get over the espresso flavor. Not to discourage anyone from trying this or other Bonk Breaker flavors, but to me, it tasted like the smell of used coffee grounds. The texture was fine; it wasn't gritty like coffee grounds or anything. And the chocolate chips were good. But the overall, permeating flavor of wet coffee grounds stuck with me. In short, I probably won't buy that flavor again. It won't stop me from trying all the other flavors, though! Next up will be key lime!
If I keep eating Honey Stinger grapefruit chews all the time, can I have this killer race shirt?! PLEASE!
In a nutshell, I am glad we got to try new flavors and brands! As excited as I get for eating on our runs, it's important for me to try these new flavors so I don't get bored. I'm not joking when I say that looking forward to eating at mile 8 will be the thing that gets me to mile 8. Pathetic? I don't think so. We all have our motivations. I think that what motivates me is just taking my mind off of running just for a minute or two while I do something else; it's my little reprieve. It's similar to how, when you see family and friends cheering you on, you get a pep in your step and have renewed energy. (See the images below for proof: This is the Buffalo Half Marathon in 2013 and I was SO EXCITED!!! to see my family. Twice. First I was clapping with joy at mile 6, then I was jumping up and down at mile 9. AND! We had eaten at mile 7. This was a good stretch of the race when normally miles 6 through 8 can be really tough for me.)