Running Nutrition Review

As you all have heard, I am running my first half marathon on Feb. 15 (wow…that is so soon). When I first started my training, I was really unsure about using gels and if they’d work for me in the race. So, I started trying a bunch of stuff out. I typically have a very weak stomach. I get sick from really sugary things like soda and candy, which was one reason I was so hesitant about the gels. During my long runs, I would try something new and see how I liked it. I probably shouldn’t have tried so much stuff, but you know, new things are fun. But, I have settled on a winner, and I’ll let you know how it does in the race in my recap. For now, I’m going to go ahead and tell you what I’ve learned, what I liked and what I didn’t about each product.

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 Citrus Flavored Cliff Shot BlocksI really like gummy bears, so I figured that I’d really like gummy blocks. I picked them up at my local running store, and they were a little on the pricey side. I assumed I could use the pack for two uses, so that didn’t bother me too much. I took them on a 7 mile trail run, and honestly, I wasn’t too into them. I took them at around mile 3 to try them out, but I didn’t feel any more energized. They were really just OK. The chewy-ness was a little difficult while I was on the run, and I noticed that they really stuck to my teeth. Needless to say, they were not my favs. The citrus taste was pretty good though, even if I wasn’t a fan of the consistency. I think they are good for backpackers or long hikes, but I didn’t like them for my runs.

Rating (1-5): 3

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Citrus Flavored Clif Shot GelAs I was saying before, I liked the citrus taste of the Clif Blocks, so I figured I’d like the taste of the citrus Clif Gels. I was also looking for something with caffeine, since I do get a really big boost from coffee before my runs. I took this gel on an 8 mile trail run and I definitely felt the boost after eating it. However, I was not really a big fan of the taste. It was really overly sweet and tasted almost like icing, which made me gag a little while I ran. I drank a ton of water with it (after a running partner warned me that I could get stomach cramps with the gels if I don’t drink enough water), but really, I needed the water to wash out the taste. I thought the gel worked great and did exactly what it was supposed to do. I just needed something a little less sweet.

Rating (1-5): 4

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Albanese Gummi Bears: I really do like gummy bears a lot. So much so that my husband brought me to a gummy bear factory for my birthday. My roommate took these with her when running the Dawn of the Dunes Marathon (this is her race recap for that) and they seemed to work. I decided to try them out. I took them on a 7 mile run. I figured they would be fine since I sometimes eat a hand full of them before I leave for a run. The results were not too good. These really upset my stomach a lot and kinda derailed my run a little. They are also rather big and bulky. They taste really really good though!!

Rating (1-5): 2

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Gu Salted Watermelon GelYou know, I never would have thought to pair salt and watermelon, but the good people at GU seriously know where it’s at. This flavor rocked. When I’m on a long run, I generally feel like I need some salt and I crave it. Because of this, the sugary flavors tend to taste a little over-the-top to me. However, I doubt I would actually want a gu that tasted super salty. This one had the perfect amount of both. I took it on a 9 mile run and had it at the half way point with some water. I certainly felt the effects of the carbs on my way back home and I was less hungry than usual when I got there (I don’t know about you, but I get crazy hungry on long runs). I was pretty happy with this flavor and have decided to stick with this for my race.

Rating (1-5): 5

So I have settled on a winner. I’ll be bringing a pack of salted watermelon for my race on Feb. 15. Before the race I’ll also be eating a luna bar, which are my go to energy bar.

What are your go to race foods? Have you tried this awesome salted watermelon? 

Race Recap: Muddy Monk 10K

The race on Sunday wasn’t quite what I expected. The Muddy Monk 10k was less of a trail run and more of a mud run. Although I was not really ready for that, I still had a ton of fun. Did I hit my goal time? Nope. I ran it in 1:01:20, so I guess if I had done one of the six river crossings a bit faster and maybe didn’t get my shoe stuck in the mud so many times, I would have hit my time. Oh well though. It was pretty freaking fun, regardless.

The day was beautiful with blue skies and crisp 40 F air. We got there quite a bit early to pick up our bibs and chill out a bit before the race. People were dressed in tutus and santa gear, which gave the race a bit of a relaxed feel. I had a cup of coffee and a Luna energy bar for breakfast and was ready to go. My stomach felt good. I was pumped. I was ready. I figured I finally got my race day meal right and might not have to deal with mid-run stomach problems. However, as we were standing at the starting corral, the announcer warned us of river crossings and climbs where we would need to use our hands. My stomach started to flip and I had trouble until about mile 4.

Kelly and I before the race. We were ready for some serious trails to run and boy did we get it. We were pretty covered in mud by the end.
Kelly and I before the race. We were ready for some serious trails to run and boy did we get it. We were pretty covered in mud by the end.

After the race had begun, it didn’t take me more than two minutes to realize that my stomach cramps would plague me in this race too. So far, in every race I have run, my stomach has cramped up on me and I can’t quite take full breaths. It slows me down a lot, and I race about a minute slower per mile than I expect to run based on my training. My intention for this race was to finally beat it so I could confidently go into the A1A Half Marathon, knowing that I could get through a race without the cramps. I guess I’ll just have to wing it and hope it doesn’t happen again.

The race was pretty muddy from the start. My shoes were covered and I had quite a few river crossings (six total, I think) to contend with. The course was an out and back, so as I ran through the mud on the way out, I knew I would be seeing a worse version of it on the way back. For the first few rivers, people hesitantly jumped across. By the end of the race, people were just running through, full blast. It was pretty great to see people getting so dirty. Some seemed to be enjoying it and others… well not so much.

Rivers and downed trees were no strangers to this course.
Rivers and downed trees were no strangers to this course.

The course eventually lead to a long paved path out into a field. I was starting to see the fastest runners coming back, so I figured the turn around was close. At the end there was just a single dude standing there with a beer telling people to turn around. Like I said before, the race was pretty chill. The way back was nice, and I was hoping to run negative splits, but my stomach wouldn’t really give me a break. The course was muddier, just as I had suspected, but I cared much less about mud and water, since I knew the end was near.

There I am, jumping across a river like a real champ. This part was probably the most fun.
There I am, jumping across a river like a real champ. This part was probably the most fun.

This was my trail run before the A1A Half in February and it didn’t quite go to plan. I was pretty disappointed about my stomach problems and time. I had not followed through on either goal, but that’s ok. I am going to continue to train after eating what I plan to at the A1A Half Marathon, in hopes that I can figure it out before then. After the race, I got my vegan hotdog (what do you think is in a vegan hotdog? I have no idea.) and we took off to hike a bit and get some more food. Overall, I had a great day and a fun race, even if things didn’t really go as planned.

Post race vegan hotdog!
Post race vegan hotdog!