Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fuel Hardy

I am a big fan of the status quo.  Change is not good in my book.  I am very suspicious of new things (okay, everything).  If I could have my way, I'd still be living at my parents' house on the north shore (sans parents, of course), riding my brother's Schwinn 10 speed bike from the mid-'80s, and listening to my new wave mixed tapes on my Sony walkman.  So switching running fuel and starting protein shakes is kind of big deal in my world.

I only fuel for runs longer than 14 miles.  I used to eat one gel during half marathons at the ten mile mark until one day I forgot it.  Forgetting made no difference whatsoever in my performance.  When I do a 20 miler, I'll have a gel at 10 miles and then one at 16. During a full marathon, I'll carry four: 1st at 10, 2nd at 14, 3rd at 18, 4th at 22.

I have been using Gu gels as fuel for long runs since my first marathon in 2004.  Originally, I started with chocolate (yum!) until I developed a full blown migraine during the Philadelphia Marathon, my first.  I had four gels in the first 13 miles (way too many), not realizing they contained caffeine.  Caffeine is a huge headache trigger for me.  I couldn't see and was one gag away from hurling on the half marathon marker.  Luckily, I was able to find Pete after being separated from him since Mile 6.  We then found a nearby ambulance.  The EMT gave me an ounce of aspirin and poof!  I was cured.  (Even with this emergency interruption, I still finished in 4:18.  Oh yeah!)  Since then, I made sure I only ate the caffeine free flavored Gus.  There aren't that many:  lemon lime and strawberry banana.  I carry the gels in a pocket on my shorts or pants or in my fuel belt.  To say a warm gel is gross is an understatement.  It's so gross, you almost would rather trudge through your run exhausted than have to suck down this warm, sugary, sticky, oozy substance.

In my search for alternatives, I found energy blocks.  I went to The Vitamin Shoppe and saw FRS Healthy Energy soft chews.  For about $15 you get a bag of 30 squares, a little larger than a Starburst.  The Vitamin Shoppe employee told me there was no caffeine in the chews.  I looked on the bag and I couldn't find caffeine in the nutritional information.  Only when I got home and searched on the internet did I see that there is naturally occurring caffeine from the green tea extract.  Hmmm, do I take the chance on tomorrow's 15 mile run?  Maybe I'll just take one.



My other Vitamin Shoppe purchase was the Designer Whey protein powder (Gourmet chocolate flavored, of course).  I keep reading that after a hard workout, you should consume protein within 20-30 minutes for muscle repair.  I never really did this.  Many times I would scarf down a bowl of Grape Nuts, only because I would be starving.  Other times, however, I wouldn't eat for at least an hour because I had been gone for so long, I would need to take care of whatever business needed taking care of.  The DesignerWhey powder has 18 grams of protein in each serving, 100 calories, and 3 grams of fiber.  I'm not looking to get Schwarzenegger big.  I just want to preserve what muscle I do have for my best performance.


I ran 4 miles on Thursday, 10 Friday at 4:30pm in the 40 degree mist, and took today off.

What kind of fuel do you use?  Do you drink protein shakes?


10 comments:

  1. I've been bouncing around trying new fuels as well. For me the big issue is sugar - it's really messed with my digestive system, so I'm trying to find new low sugar or sugar free alternatives. I tried shot blocks but I almost choked to death trying to eat them while running!

    I've never done protein but I'm considering it - I always mean to eat something when I get home but I'm tired, smelly, and just want a shower and to lay down. Having a quick protein shake might be a good alternative. Curious to hear your thoughts on these items!

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    1. Ah, yes the digestive system. That's a whole other ball of wax for me, as well. That's good to know the shot blocks are potentially life threatening. I would totally choke during a run. Those are the ones I wanted, but the store didn't carry. I will let you know how it all goes down, literally and figuratively :)

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    2. I've been curious about whey protein for recovery and I will be interested in your experience with it. When I finish a run, I usually have little appetite, but force myself to choke down a small granola bar or a banana. I've read the best choice is a mix of protein, carbs and fat within 30 minutes of finishing.

      I also use GU gels on long runs and in races (just bought GU salted caramel flavor but haven't had he guts to try it). Fortunately I can tolerate caffeine. That must have been a horrible experience ending up in an ambulance after your marathon.

      The Cliff Shot Blocks reminded me of Jello shots from my college days so I abandoned them quickly. FRS makes good quality stuff (I've used their energy drink). I hope you are able to use the chews. You can always stop for 30 seconds when you take them, as if you were stopping at a water stain.

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    3. Now I will definitely get hte Cliff Shot Blocks! Injecting them with vodka is a great idea! Thanks!

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  2. I used Gu (vanilla) for the first time when running my second half last month. I thought it helped on my last couple of long runs, but I can't be certain. If I start training for a fall marathon, I plan on experimenting with more natural fuel sources such as raisins and fig newtons. My thinking is that simce i run for health, putting processed crap into my body to fuel my runs seems contradictory.

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    1. Unfortunately, I usually have bathroom issues while running. Fruit during a long run could possibly end my running career permanently.

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  3. I swear by Energybits. There is nothing out there quite like them. It's the first fuel I can use that doesn't cause me stomach distress.

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    1. A little birdie gave me a sample of Energy Bits. I keep forgetting to use them. I'll have to remember for my next short run.

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  4. My sister gave me these once.. http://store.humagel.com/Huma-Gel.html
    and they were not as sweet and actually worked quite well for me.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion! I will look into them!

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