Monday, August 27, 2012

Let's Talk About Fuel

Last year I completed my first marathon but had some major fueling and stomach issues. I've tried a lot of different things this summer so I thought I'd put together a little summary of the things I've tried, what worked, and what didn't work.

First, let's talk about hydration. Lot's of people can't do Gatorade. I've always been able to handle it in the past. However, when mixing it with other fuels in my stomach, the Gatorade usually  makes a re-appearance. I love it for recovery after I'm done running, but I've learned that I can't use it while running. As a quick note, the handheld I keep referencing is from Fuel Belt and is the 10oz model.

What did work?

1) Gu Roctane Ultra Endurance powder (review found here)
I used this in my handheld for long runs in place of Gatorade. I like that this is in a powder so you can make it as concentrated or as weak as you like. I received this free sample from the folks at Gu for filling out a survey from their Facebook page. The flavors I received were grape and lemon lime. The grape was my preferred flavor and I was sad when I finished the last little bit. Unfortunately, I think it was a promotional product and I haven't been able to find this product at retail stores or at expos. They do have it for sale on their website here. (If you ever find this at a store, let me know!)

2) Gu Brew
Similar to the Roctane powder, Gu Brew is meant to be mixed with water in place of Gatorade. Maggie (who won my Road ID raffle) offered me a sample of Gu Brew Orange to try. It comes in tablet form so you can either break it in half or use the entire tablet, depending on how concentrated you'd like your drink. I used it on a short run and it didn't irritate my stomach. As I only had one sample, I wasn't able to give it a try on a longer run. Either way, it didn't irritate my stomach and I think this is an okay replacement if you can't find the Gu Rocktane Ultra Endurance Powder. This item is also for sale on Gu's website.

3) Nathan Electrolyte Tablet
I received a roll of the orange flavor in my packet from the Southwest Half Marathon packet. I figured since I had luck with the tablets, I should give it a try. For most of the summer, this has been my go-to. It has gotten me through a lot of hot hot days and has kept the stomach monsters at bay. I would mix 1 tablet with a pint glass full of water and then pour what would fit into my handheld. After the run, I'd drink what was left in the pint glass in addition to whatever was left in the handheld. Sometimes I would also break a tablet in half, put it in my handheld, and fill the rest up with water. The tablet package is kind of expensive ($8 at the local running store) but you get a decent amount of tablets inside. I would say it is worth the price. I also recently purchased the lemon lime flavor. I'm a fan but I don't love it as much as I love the orange.

4) ZipFizz
I purchased this for the first time at the RNR Expo. I just recently hosted a Zipfizz giveaway after having their product and really enjoying it. I used on a run for the first time and enjoyed it even more! I don't know if it is the mix of vitamins or the fact that my stomach is now adjusted to the flavor orange, but this didn't give me any stomach rumblings. That is always a positive!

5) Honey Stinger Chews
I really like these guys. Katie at Live Half Full had recommended them to me back at our first Chicago blogger meetup. I tried them and really liked them. They are small and easy to chew while running. They aren't too thick so they are easy going down. They taste delicious and are also organic. A lot of those strange chemicals are not found in these guys which I think is part of the reason my stomach seems to like them. Available at Sports Authority and Dicks Sporting Goods, they are also easily accessible.

6) Gatorade Chews
I first tried these in the packet of the Palos Turkey Trot back in November. I enjoyed their shape (flat and square) and thought they were easy to consume. I bought a few packs at the Shamrock Shuffle expo and enjoyed them on long runs. They helped me to my PR half marathon in April as they didn't upset my stomach along the way! These have become more popular and are now available in running stores. With Gatorade's new marketing, it is confusing to tell which things are for before and which ones are for during a workout. If you're looking to give these a try, make sure you find the ones that say "perform" instead of "prime." (I reached out to Gatorade to see if they would do a giveaway for these guys with no luck.)

What kind of fuel works best for you? Have you tried any of these products before? As you may notice, Gu is not on this list. I just cannot stomach the gels. The taste, the texture, the rock in my stomach. No dice.


  1. I do a combo of gels and shot bloks. I do one shot blok every other mile after 5, then a gel around the midway point.

  2. I didn't know Gatorade made chews! And I do agree that their marketing of when to use what is a bit confusing!

    I just do GUs and real food during my runs. I have not had luck with drinking anything other than water, although I remember I took some sports drink at the NYC Marathon last year in the last few miles. I should try some of these!

  3. For a marathon, I have to admit that I staple a couple of gu packs to my shorts with every intention of eating them during the race. But then the race happens and there are so many people handing out sugar/electrolytes/fruits along the course that I end up eating most of the stuff extended to me. In fact, I eat so much random sugar, that I might never use the fuel I carried along with me. Great strategy (not), but it seems to get me to the finish line. We'll see how that works in October!

  4. I was so wary of anything with caffeine in it that I avoided a lot of products in the past. Now, though, I've found that the caffeine in most bloks and gels doesn't really bother me! Hooray!

    I can do Gatorade, thankfully, but I prefer Clif Shot Bloks or Clif Shots Gels (those are my favorites!). I tried a Gu gel once and thought it was horrible!

    Basically, as long as it doesn't have fake sugar in it, I'm okay. But aspartame, sucralose, or anything like that and it's no way, Jose for me.

  5. You did a ton of experimenting! Good for you. Over the years, through trial and error, I've found that GU gels work best for me. In a race, or a long run in big humidity, I'll also throw in some sips of Gatorade. My latest fueling strategy, however, has been none at all as I try glycogen depletion runs--not lots of fun, but I'm adapting. I'll add fuel back in as I get closer to my marathon.

  6. I just won a bunch of the gatorade chews - I'm excited to try them out!

  7. I haven't had much luck with Shot Bloks in the past, but I'm interested to give them a try again, especially the ones with extra sodium. Although, I might cut them up beforehand. Those giant blocks are just too hard to chew!

  8. Yeah, I don't know why Gatorade makes things confusing. I've seen some chews at Target and Walgreens but they are "prime" and not for "perform."

    I'm also going to start trying some "real food" like raisins and nuts. I've known some folks have told me that works. What types of "real food" do you use while you run?

  9. Oh man, I could never do that! My stomach would be a mess! Best of luck in Chicago this fall!

  10. Considering how easily accessible Gu gels are, I wish they could work for me. I've tried and tried and tried and my stomach just constantly rejects them. All flavors, all the time. Best of luck on the glycogen depletion runs! Those sound very difficult...

  11. Congrats! I'm excited to see what you think of them.

  12. I like products that have caffeine. I think it helps give me that extra "boost" :)

    It sounds like you've found out what works well for you! I haven't tried the Clif Shot Gels. How are they compared to Gu?

  13. I really like the Clif Shot Gels. They’re a little more runny than the Gu ones so they don’t feel like you need to chew them or like you have a big wad of pudding in your mouth. I used to be really, really sensitive to caffeine and it would mess my stomach up bad. Apparently it’s getting better!

  14. I like the sound of it. Maybe I'll give them a try sometime on a shorter run? :)

  15. Strawberry is my favorite but the Mocha one is good if you like the taste of coffee!

  16. Lately I have been eating off-brand vegan fig newtons. I have also done pretzels, homemade granola bars, sandwiches, bagels... nom nom nom. I am excited there will be so much food at my 50K!

  17. Well, I haven't tried many of those items above! I'm typically a water, gatorade and gu person but I'm lucky...I don't tend to have some of the same stomach problems many others do. Although I was having some small problems this training season too...but I've cut back slightly on the gatorade stops and kept my normal amount of gu's.

    I'd like to try other things but since I know the "normal" stuff works for me (and it's getting close to the marathon), I can't see myself changing up much right now anyway!

  18. Amanda - TooTallFritzAugust 28, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    I can't do GU or most gels but can do the AdvoCare Rehydrate gels that are much thinner and easier to digest. I can also use Hammer Gels for the same reason. I don't want to talk about G Series gummies, I got horribly sick but fortunately it was at the end of my run and even better, I had access to indoor bathrooms!

  19. Thanks. I'll need it!

  20. I'm a GU and a cliff shot block kind of girl. Only 1 GU though....anymore than that is a nightmare for my stomach too! I haven't tried any of the drink powders, I usually stick with alternating gatorade and water...not too fancy here...

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