Not Running on Empty – Bars, Gels, Drinks, etc

Some thoughts on the running side of things this week.  I’ve been spending some time trying different energy bars, gels, drinks to see what I want to have with me on the big day.  From what I’ve read, I’m looking for something to keep me going and not crash towards the end, so something that will keep me even.  I also don’t need a protein focused bar.

Drinks was easiest – the sponsors are Poland Spring and Gatorade.  There will be stations serving both at each mile (except for 2 where they each get their own mega booth dedicated to their product and I presume will be offering specialty stuff too).  Advice is to get used to what the race serves since that’s what you’ll be getting.  As to what thoughts are spotty – they say hydrate for sure, but you’ll also need sodium and electrolyte recharges, but not much in terms of suggestions of balancing them.

I’m not a huge fan of Gatorade (or any of the energy drinks) but since I’ll need to have some, I’ve been mixing it in for my medium and long runs.  Right now tending to a 1/3rd gatorade and 2/3rds water mix which seems to work for me.  Since I don’t know which exact version/flaovr of gatorade, been trying to mix it up (ick to that original yellowy/green one).  I’ve been tending to take a 90 second break around the 25%, 50% and 75% marks to suck down some water/gatorade mix and catch my breath.  I figure roughly on the 3’s I’ll do the same during the marathon and grab a drink while I’m there, focusing on getting more of the water down.

On the food front, again people suggest having some snacks on hand – either bars or nuts or some sort of light, portable sustenance.  The only real guidance was to focus on not needing protein bars, but to focus on balanced products.  Some also suggested the energy gels and / or gel shots (kind of like healthy gummy bears – or maybe just like gummy bears in a bag that says healthy for all I know).  So back in Jan/Feb I rocked up to the REI bar section and grabbed one of a fair few.  I also supplemented with some purchases from 7-11 (bad choice) and a coupon from the grocery store.

And I’ve been slowly nibbling away at them on my long runs and races.  I quickly eliminated the gels – for something claiming convenience I found them no easier to eat (i.e. I still had to stop and suck them out) and I didn’t feel very satisfied or boosted. That left bars. Typically, on race days I ate it afterwards (instead of the hundreds of calories on offer from the race) and during long runs I’ve eaten 1/3 to 1/2 at the halfway mark and the rest at the finish line.

For what it’s worth, I’m going with Hammer Bars from:

(No, not a paid endorsement, and I’m not getting anything from them – though they could feel free to send me some!)

Were they the best tasting? Nope – that probably goes to Luna Bar, but they were too sweet. I expect to eat 2-3 of these on the big day and I could see feeling a little sickly eating 2 or 3 of those even with a break. Hammer Bars were pretty reasonable tasting tho. Better than others for sure.

Were they the nicest texture? Nope. Honestly the texture is odd, but it is soft and not a stodge bar like some of the others (power bar).

Were they the least sticky/icky to handle? Nope, but they were not overly sticky (nature’s valley) either.

Were they the most natural ingredients? I have no clue. I said this is a meal mashed up into a bar – it’s unlikely to contain lots of good stuff. I do note that they have almost no sodium. Some of the others are shockingly high in this area.

So overall, the Hammer Bars represented the best overall choice, even if they weren’t necessarily tops in most categories.

For the record I tried – Balance Bars, Cliff Bars, Hammer Bars, Luna Bars, Nature’s Valley, Odwalla’s and Powerbar.

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About J.

40 year old IT guy on a health and fitness kick.

Posted on May 9, 2012, in Food, Marathon and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Wow, very helpful, thank you for the write-up! I’ll have to give those a try.

  2. Marcia Stehouwer

    Thanks. I haven’t thought this far through my walk – but I”ll need some nourishment too!

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