In my recap of racing the White Lake Half Ironman, I mentioned my energy management strategy. Having a strategy is really important for any distance event, whether it be running, biking, swimming, kayaking, rollerblading, boogie boarding, well, you get the picture 😉 My rule (which just corroborates what most experts would say) is just that any exercise that takes you past an hour and a half requires some sort of energy replenishment.
Obviously a marathon requires a completely different strategy than a half marathon and a sprint triathlon a different plan than a half ironman. It all comes down to basic science: 1) how much glycogen our bodies are able to store, tap into, and utilize, and 2) how hydrated we stay (while also balancing our electrolytes, sodium, etc). Most people are only able to store and use enough glycogen for about 3 hours of vigorous exercise (which is why most people hit the “wall” at mile 20 in a marathon). How you pace yourself and replenish the glycogen all determines how quickly you will run out. Anyone who has started a race too quickly–or has not trained their bodies to efficiently use their fuel properly–knows all too well what it feels like to run out of fuel and “hit the wall”.
Luckily, we can train our bodies to tap into our fuel reserves slowly and efficiently so we can make it last as long as possible. We can also supplement with Gus, Chomps, bars, Gatorade, etc. It’s important to train with the supplement you’ll use in your chosen race so that your body gets used to digesting it. Trying something new the day of the race can mean digestive disaster. You’ll also figure out with works for you and what doesn’t (for instance, I absolutely can not take Gus with Gatorade; it is too much sugar and I will inevitably feel nauseous!) I’ve referred to some of my favorite Gu flavors before, but I stumbled upon an amazing flavor during the half ironman this past weekend: Jet Blackberry.
I kid you not, it tasted like fresh blackberries smothered in chocolate. And with 2x the caffeine it really helped me get through the 56 mile bike. Now I know what you’re thinking…”didn’t you just say to train with whatever you’ll be taking and NOT try anything new the day of the race?”. Yep, I broke my own rule but this time it worked in my favor. I’m definitely going to be adding this flavor to my faves (which also include mint chocolate and vanilla orange).
Not everything I took during the race this past weekend was new, though. I decided to get out a tried and true Gatorade flavor that has always come through for me in the past: Lemonade.
Now, while this flavor looks like the Lemon-Lime stuff you get at almost every race (it’s the most popular flavor that Gatorade mass produces for such races), Lemonade is different! It actually tastes like lemonade…just not as sweet or sour. A perfect, refreshing choice to et some electrolytes and combine with sugary Gus and such. While I usually get the lower-calorie G2 Gatorades, this one only comes in the full calorie variety. But that’s ok! It’s totally worth it 🙂 For some reason, I can only ever find it at the grocery store. I can never find it at a convenient store, so I have to stock up ahead of time.
While I know that these options work for me, I also know that a lot of people out there also rely on whole food or more “natural” options. I’m open to anything, so if you use anything else that works, let me know!! 🙂