The other day I was standing in line at a sporting goods store, enjoying a quiet moment away from the kids and actually shopping ALONE (you parents know what I am talking about!). In addition to drooling over the new Brooks Ghosts in the hands of the woman in line ahead of me, to my right I noticed a massive display of energy gels, bars, bites, gum, chews, beans, shots… I was instantly overwhelmed. Umm… when did this happen? I couldn’t believe the options!
Not only flavors, but textures and brands and types and price ranges… My head was spinning with excitement! My last full marathon was about a year and a half ago and my last half was 4 months ago, and although I don’t usually use a lot of energy supplements for halfs, I don’t remember having this many choices when I was training for my last full!
This got me thinking about what to choose this fall, when I run the IMT DMM half. Although I won’t need to plan as many energy stops throughout my run, since I am not running the full 26.2 this time, I will likely need at least one, maybe two stops, to keep me running my best and feeling great. I have some experience with various types, but I apparently haven’t tried them all.
My favorite gel is not one you can buy at most sporting goods stores but is available through AdvoCare. If you know a rep or visit the company online, you can get your hands on these tasty gels. I LOVE these because unlike the thick, almost chewy texture of many “gels” like GU, Advocare Rehydrate gels are nearly a liquid that actually taste good. I like Lemon but they have many flavors to choose from. I like how they are easy to “drink” while running yet they still come in a very small individual packet for easy storage in a running belt. The best part though is that they have a very easy consistency to swallow (important during a very long run!) if you have a dry mouth.
As far as more solid energy supplements, I have two that I really like.
First, Shot Bloks by Clif Bar are really easy to eat while running, taste good and have a nice texture. I prefer Tropical Punch flavor but all of them are decent. They seem more like a soft fruit snack than an energy supplement. If you have kids, mine actually like to eat these too so they are a great option if your kid has back-to-back baseball games and he or she needs a quick blast of energy or rehydration in between. The down-side is since these do come in a large packet (about the size of a candy bar) so you have to really think about how to store Bloks while you run. I usually cut the package in half and just pop in a couple as needed or planned.
My other go-to supplements are Sport Beans by Jelly Belly (so you know they taste amazing!). These are just like they sound, delicious energy jelly beans that come in a very small packet. There are many flavors to choose from, but Orange is my favorite. These are great because they are small to store in a running belt and are easy to chew while tasting just like regular Jelly Belly beans. The down-side is you have to eat several to get the full effect and opening the little packet is hard to do while running and I usually drop a few. Oh, and if your kids find these they will eat them like candy so them store in a high place!
I don’t usually use actual food during a race, like bananas or orange slices that some races have along the route, or homemade peanut butter and honey concoctions that some of my fellow running and biking friends swear by. I just find that for me the premade, store bought energy supplements are more convenient.
Back to the beginning of my story… There are apparently many, many more options than just my favorite three supplements so it might be time for me to start experimenting. I’d like to try out something new.
What do you use? What do you like? Why? What have you tried that you don’t like? Comment below, I’d love to try out some of you favorites!