Sunday, June 2, 2013

I Gu, Do You?

The topic of the week at the Turtle run was fuel.  The Turtles have hit their seven-mile mark (Yay, Turtles!), and they now know that the mileage is going to keep increasing, so everyone needs a plan for re-fueling during a run.

Let me first say that I resisted any form of fuel for the longest time.  My thought was that I'm carrying at least thirty extra pounds, and that (plus lots of water) should sustain me on any run, no matter how long.  
It took two bonks for me to change my mind (I'm a slow learner, I guess).

The first time happened at the track during a Wednesday night speed workout.   I hadn't eaten since breakfast that day, but it had been an enormous breakfast, and I wasn't hungry.  Within half an hour, I had decided that I was NEVER going to do speed work again.  I just couldn't continue.  When I confessed to Sheila (our coach) that I hadn't eaten, she looked at me as if I were insane, but Sheila knows how I operate (my motto is Don't F--ing Tell Me What to Do), so she just shook her head and let me figure it out myself.

Who needs food for the rest of the day when you start with this?

The second time, I was running in the evening with Deidre, and I hadn't eaten since lunch, but I knew I was going to eat dinner when I got back.  Big mistake.  Both of us bonked around mile 2, and it scared me because I thought this meant that I would never be able to complete a run again.

I finally figured out that fuel is necessary for me.  I experimented with Chomps (nasty), and Beans (just candy, right?), and then I tried Gu power gels.  I went with the Gu brand because the Akron Marathon supplies Gu during the race, so I wanted to make sure it worked for me.

Yummy!  Well, more like mmm. . .tolerable!

Gu has a frosting-like consistency, which, frankly, is not a pleasant mouthfeel, but it's perfect for me for the following reasons:

1.  It has about 100 calories per pouch, just enough to carry me for an hour or so.
2.  It's small and easy to carry.
3.  It's easy to tear open and easy to squeeze into your mouth as you walk.  No chewing involved!
4.  Many of the flavors have added caffeine--bonus!
5.  It doesn't upset my stomach in any way.

If I am racing, I take a gel at the sixth mile and another at the tenth mile.  Sometimes, if I ate breakfast two or three hours before a race, I take a gel fifteen minutes before the race starts.  It's easy to time my fuel breaks with water stops, and I don't worry about choking because. . .no chewing!

I have to admit that I have an iron stomach; if I could, I'd fuel with burritos, but I haven't figured out how to make that happen.  You need to find what type of fuel works for you.  Experiment well-ahead of your race; it would be awful to decide during Mile 9 that gels just don't feel good in your stomach.

I'm gellin' like a felon!