This is my brief evaluation of gus, gels, bars and running food.
This will probably not be helpful to anyone but myself seeing as everyone I have discussed this with has wildly different things to say. Regardless, I am going to tell you my discoveries from my past three months of training.
Gu Energy Gel:
They taste like frosting. No matter the flavor, they taste like red-lidded Betty Crocker frosting tubs that you find a month later in the fridge and scoop out with your finger. Every flavor instantly reminds me of sneaking frosting from friends’ refrigerators. They are a little much on the tummy and they can be messy and they are kind of a lot to eat all at once. Personally, I like the ones with caffeine, frosting taste or not, I will only do the caffeinated ones. I’m thinking 2 maybe 3 tops on marathon day. Favorite flavors:
Clif Shot Bloks:
They are square gummy bears. Seriously. One of the women in our training group had her son steal these thinking they were gummy candies. And he was totally right; they are gummy candies for active grown-ups. They also have caffeinated ones (do you see the trend? I like caffeine and there is no way I’m drinking a cup of coffee before I go running, thank you for understanding Gu & Clif!). I also like that I can tuck them into the side of my cheek and slowly eat/have them dissolve. I like alternating the caffeinated and non-caffeinated ones. I have yet to eat a whole package in one run but they keep well for 2 or so weeks. Favorite flavors: Tropical Punch, Citrus, Black Cherry, Margarita (3x sodium to prevent cramps)
Say what?!? I did, I said real food. I’m not talking a steak dinner or anything, just whole foods like nuts and dried fruits. Euri, our training coach eats an Egg McMuffin. Lisa, our Executive Director, eats dried apricots dipped in chocolate gu. Last week someone mentioned a guy who eats bean burritos and hummus. Everyone’s got his or her own thing going on. I like to eat roasted salted almonds, dried apricots and Smyrna figs. The salty almonds are a nice change from Gatorade and the fried fruit helps to ensure little almond bits aren’t stuck in my teeth. I only eat these during my walk breaks. It really helps my stomach digest all the gu and gummies to have some actual food. But like I’ve said, you have to try it out for yourself and see what works for your body.
I started out training with these, specifically mini Lara Bars, my fave being Coconut Cream Pie and Cashew Cookie. These are just not for me. I felt like I had way too much food in my mouth and that I had to chew eat bite 10,000 times before I could swallow. Personal problem, I know. Others in the training team swear by Clif Bars and wont run without them. To each their own.
What are your favorite running supplements? Any suggestions on which foods we should try on our next run? Happy snack testing!
February 11th Run Update:
So we did a 10 mile “recovery” run but added some hills (thanks for having hills LA Marathon!) and tested out some new snacks along the way. I realize maybe the term “snack” is not the most appropriate but neither are food, treats, goodies, bites, nosh, nibbles or refreshments. So snacks it is.
Clif Shot Energy Gel:
This stuff is gross! Sorry Clif, you make great Shot Bloks and wine to take on hikes but the Shots are a dud. It tastes nothing like the wonderful frosting flavor of Gu. It felt chalky and the second it hit my tongue I could feel it making my tummy upset. I did have the Mocha flavor with caffeine which might have been the mistake. I gave it the 3 taste trial just to ensure that I truly hated it and I did. Again, this is my personal opinion. Clif Shots may be your favorite thing in the entire world, you may eat them while watching TV or instead of meals because you love them so much. Rock on you lovers of Clif Shots you. I will not be joining you but we can still run the marathon together. Of note: they do have a fancy little “litter leash” which I love since my pet peeve is finding running snack wrappers along the beach. I mean, really runners? We all train along the same stretch sand every weekend, let’s just keep it clean and beautiful, Heal the Bay already has enough beach clean up days on their calendar.
Justine’s Honey Almond Butter:
Or any other one of their nut butter packets are my new favorite food, in the world, EVER. They are amazing. All natural nut butters that are tons of protein and have a bit of sugar with a touch of salt. In a word, delightful! They have chocolate, honey, maple and plain almond butter; chocolate, honey and plain peanut butter; and chocolate hazelnut butter. I know, let’s repeat that slowly, cho-co-la-te ha-zel-nut butter. In a pouch, to take on your run. I will direct you to my new favorite blogger for further expounding on the joy of the chocolate-hazelnut combination, take it away Joy the Baker. But let’s go back to the fact that all these treats (Justine’s deserves the term treats) fit perfectly into whatever pocket, pouch, contraption you carry your other snacks in. Honestly if I could carry an apple in my running pants to use as a vehicle for consuming greater amounts of Justine’s nut butters I would. Maybe Doug and I can work out a leisurely wine & dine marathon similar to the Bordeaux Marathon post-race “Balade,” which is a 10K walk through the vineyards. The verdict is in, I <3 Justine’s. You don’t have to, but you should probably go try it, just to make sure you aren’t missing out on your new favorite food.