During the summer of 2009 I trained for my first marathon and at that time I learned the importance of eating while running. You mean my body can actually handle that? Amazingly yes! I so looked forward to the moment during long training runs when it was time to have a quick snack. Talk about not having any guilt while snacking here. You burn it off soon enough, after all. And your whole psyche changes as your energy and drive to keep going climbs again after a quick bite.
But it took some time to navigate the energy sports industry and determine what worked best for me. My first stop was REI (now I’ve learned I can get many of the same snacks for cheaper at places like Target and probably even online should I ever decide to buy items in bulk).
Here’s a quick rundown of my favorites and others that you may want to try:
1.) Cliff Bars–chocolate chip, chocolate brownie, and crunchy peanut butter are my favorites; try the minis which come in a box (they are the perfect size snack for on the go runs)
2.) Cliff Shot Blok–Cran Razz and Strawberry are the only flavors I’ve tried, but I’m sure the rest are great too. They are basically a chewable, gummy square (6 in a pack, each one 33 calories)
3.) Gels–I still have not determined what brand is best: Cliff, Gu or PowerBar. I know that I do not like chocolate flavored gels or the overly sweet ones like apple pie. I stick to the fruit flavored ones when taking a gel on the road.
4.) Water or Sports Drink? That’s a good question–both! My rule of thumb is that for runs upward of 10 miles I’ll incorporate a sports drink. My favorite is to buy the Propel packets that I just mix into my water bottle. I do like Gatorade but try to limit my intake to only really humid days of intense exercise. Why? I saw on the packaging that there is high fructose corn syrup (except for the G2 series). However, I did check Gatorade’s web site which tells me that in 2010 they did change all its products from a carbohydrate of source of high fructose corn syrup to a sucrose-dextrose blend. I’ll have to check the packaging next time I buy Gatorade.
This is just a handful of ideas…there are so many more (jelly beans turned into energy beans, other types of energy bars, etc.). I even suggest creating your own energy source. I made peanut butter crackers and took them on a run once. There are also homemade recipes for energy bars and trail mixes.
So have fun experimenting but don’t wait until race day to try something for the first time. Your stomach won’t be thanking you!