I’ve been wanting to do more running related posts on here for a while now, especially since it’s becoming an increasingly larger part of our lives now that we’re training for our first full marathons. In the inaugural “hk runs” column, I thought I would talk about a few of our favorite fuels to use before, during, and after our runs. There are endless options on the market for endurance activities, and fueling is definitely not a “one size fits all” approach – what works for us might not work for you, and it can take a lot of trial and error to find what you like best. However, I always like getting other runners’ opinions on products before buying them, so I can make an educated guess as to whether it’s something I might like to try out. All that said, here are a few products that we have tried, liked, and currently use in our training:
honey stinger waffles | We bought a couple of these at our local running store on a whim and were instantly hooked. I usually wake up hungry, and when we run in the mornings, I don’t like to go on a totally empty stomach. These waffles are easy to eat and digest in the early morning and make a great pre-run snack — they are about 150 calories, so oftentimes Kevin and I will split one, and it provides the perfect amount of fuel to get through a 3-5 mile run. There are several different flavors of these – I like the original honey the best, but the chocolate and caramel are great, too.
KIND bars | I like to keep some granola bars around for healthy snacks, and KIND bars are one of our favorites. We don’t typically eat these before morning runs; we’re more likely to have these as an afternoon snack a couple of hours before an evening run to get some good protein and carbs to sustain our workout. I really love these because the ingredients are minimal and the sugar content is relatively low. Again, tons of flavors to choose from, but I like the cranberry almond, almond & apricot, and dark chocolate cherry cashew.
salted caramel GU energy gels | People seem to really love or hate gels in general. The consistency does take some getting used to, and I tried a lot of brands/flavors before finding one that wasn’t overly sweet, actually tasted good, and didn’t make me want to vom. Salted caramel is the winner for me. I would legit eat this over ice cream. These are not organic and have a few more ingredients than I’d like, but they are great for races in particular because they’re easy to open and eat on the run. I typically open one and eat a little bit at a time over a couple of miles so I don’t upset my stomach. Although these are by far our favorite gel, we’ve also tried and liked these and these.
nuun active | A coworker of mine has used nuun for awhile and I was intrigued, so we decided to check it out. These are electrolyte-enhanced tablets that you add to your water and allow to dissolve. I find that replacing at least some of my water with an electrolyte-enhanced drink, especially on long runs, helps keep my energy up and makes me less likely to get that dreaded post-workout headache. Although nuun doesn’t taste as great as Gatorade (I would equate it to an unsweetened, flavored sparkling water, but less fizzy), I love that there’s no sugar and very few calories. They also have an “all day” product line that they market as a multivitamin and that you can mix into your water for the workday.
honey stinger energy chews | Same brand as the waffles above, and also organic with a pretty short ingredient list. These come in one-serving packages that typically have about 10 chews in them, for a total of around 150 calories, and provide just the right amount of carbs and sugars to keep you going. Some of the flavors have caffeine added, which I like. Basically, these guys are an excuse to eat (the world’s most expensive) fruit snacks and call it healthy. I’ve loved every flavor of these I’ve tried, but especially like the grapefruit and pink lemonade varieties.
gatorade endurance carb energy chews | I decided to buy a box of these after reading that they’d be available on the Chicago Marathon course. (I’ll probably bring my own as backup, but it’s always nice at races to grab an unwrapped version that’s ready to go instead of having to slow down and fiddle with getting stuff out of your pocket). Aside from the fact that the packaging on these is kind of hard to open, we love these. The flavor is good, they are super easy to chew (i.e., don’t feel like you’re going to choke on it), and feel pretty light in your stomach. They come four to a package and are 120 calories. Because these are part of the ‘endurance’ line, they can be harder to find in regular stores — Amazon is the best bet.
gatorade endurance formula powder | This is going to be the sports drinks available on both the Chicago and Des Moines courses, so again, we figured we would try training with it. Ideally, I’d like to alternate drinking water and gatorade, but carrying one water bottle on a run is annoying enough, so usually we’ll start off with our bottles filled with gatorade and then refill with water somewhere along the way. This tastes pretty similar to regular gatorade, but has more carbs and electrolytes, and is designed for longer distance activities. I despise carrying a water bottle while running, but for marathon training in the summer, it’s a necessary evil. We recently got these, and it’s the first thing I’ve tried and haven’t totally hated – easy to hold onto, doesn’t leak, and stays cold.
krave jerky | I first discovered this product after reading Meb Keflezighi’s book, Meb for Mortals, when he talks about his nutrition. If it’s good enough for Meb, it’s good enough for me. I’ve always liked jerky, but it wasn’t ever something we bought a lot of. Now we keep a couple bags of this stuff around for afternoon or weekend protein-packed snacks. It’s a little pricey, but they carry most of the flavors (there are turkey, beef, and pork options) at Target which is convenient, and I especially love that it’s easy to chew and not super tough like more conventional jerkies.
Any favorite products you like for before, during, and after workouts? Share in the comments — we’re always looking to try new things!