Since I had my daughter last June, my appetite and taste for things have completely changed, and now Shot Bloks and gels make me gag. Can’t even look at them. I’m running back-to-back marathons this fall, and am not sure what else I can use to fuel that will be easy to carry with me on the race?
Great question Lauren, because I know a lot of people can’t stand the texture or taste of gels.
In “serious” marathons I do gels – one at mile 8.5, 13.5, 18 and 22 for a total of 4. You can read more about my fueling routine and tips here, but I take gels because they’re easy to get down and digest (no chewing) and when I take them at the same intervals, I don’t even have to think about it. It’s a no brainer and I don’t worry about getting enough calories. <-And in life that is never a concern.
But if you can’t stand the taste of gels, try sports chews like Clif ShotBloks or Powerbar Blasts. Obviously this isn’t going to work for you Lauren, since you said Shotblocks are gag-inducing… kinda like my jokes.
I like the berry flavors and the tropical punch; certain flavors have caffeine or added sodium and they all have carbs and electrolytes for energy. I take 3 at a time (100 calories worth) and cut a pack into two before a run to make it easier to grab.
If you have trouble swallowing while running, take a knife and cut each block in half and put them in a sandwich baggie.
A pouch has 6-7 blasts and 200 calories from their “optimized carb blend” of fructose and glucose. The Cola flavor has added caffeine but other flavors don’t.
A tip: if you’re running in cold weather, any sort of chomp/bite/block is going to harden a little and be harder to chew so you might have to suck on it, swallow it whole or take something softer like a gel.
So if you want to go the traditional “sports nutrition” route, I would encourage you to try multiple brands of gels and bites out: you might find that while you can’t stand gels, you might like a chewier chomp from a specific company.
You might just need to try a different brand, flavor or product to find something you can tolerate.
Now if you’re still like, “Barf no, that ain’t happening”, then it’s time to start looking at regular foods for fuel. My favorite: CANDY.
My opinion is that unless you’re a semi or elite athlete, you just need to get carbs (calories) in regardless of whether they come from candy sugar or fructose. It’s better to run on calories from Coca Cola than to run completely depleted because you can’t stand another gosh dang gel.
Swedish Fish are probably my favorite race candy, but I also like cinnamon bears… gummi bears… Alaskan Grizzly bears. I portion them out in a little baggie beforehand so I have a good idea of how many to eat at what mile markers. The other option is to sit at the start line, eat all your candy and cry.
Other things besides candy to try:
*Jelly Beans (my brain’s still on candy) are an easy-to-eat source of carbs or you can buy Sports Beans. The nice thing about candy is that it’s really affordable and you can figure out what/how much you want to take when.
*Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into fourths and wrapped up in little baggies. You might want to go with white bread or lower fiber bread and cut the crusts off.
*Honey packets – honey is a great all natural, cheap source of fuel. Runner’s World has an article on its’ benefits.
*Dried fruit like little boxes of raisins or other fruits are high in sugar and easy to get in calories without eating an entire watermelon. Maybe try chocolate covered or yogurt covered raisins if you wanna get wild and cray.
*Fig Newtons or soft breakfast bars like Nutri Grain bars
*Snickers… deliciousness in bar form! Cut one in thirds or halves.
*Plain granola bars
*Gatorade, Nuun, sports drinks with electrolytes and calories
A couple important things:
*Stay away from anything high fat or high fiber – neither is going to sit well on your stomach unless you want a blowout and I ain’t talking tires.
*TRY IT BEFORE YOUR RACE. This is really important that you play around and try different things in training so that when your races comes, you’re not going to be play Diarrhea Roulette or starve to death out on the course. Even if you have to fuel for a marathon on a 10 mile run, at least you will gain knowledge from it.
*Read labels especially if you have a sensitive stomach. Don’t want to take in caffeine? Then make sure that sports chomp doesn’t have added caffeine. Brown rice syrup make you vom-face? A lot of the organic or natural gels have it in them so check it out.
*Last thing: HYDRATE. So so so important but you already know that. You know that your performance suffers by even a small amount (2%) of dehydration. Practice drinking during your runs with both water and a sports drink.