The road to the Marine Corps Marathon is becoming more real with every passing day. And though registration has yet to open for civilians like myself, I’ve still remained true to my training and optimistic that I will be able to register to achieve my goal . I’ve mentioned before how intimidated I’ve been by these longer runs I have to do. The idea of going that far just weirds me out for some reason. It’s definitely unchartered territory for me. Over the past couple of years I’ve tried to keep an eye on how my body seems to handle the various distances I run. I’ve even gotten to the point where I could guess, depending on how far and fast I plan on running, how much I would need to eat to remain energized. For the most part, I’ve been able to get by on pretty light pre-run fare…some days in the past I could run on an empty stomach – not far, but just for shorter runs (3 mi and under).
Well…now that I’ve stepped up into the big leagues of Marathon Training, running on zero or next to nothing will do me no good. After the way I felt at the end of a 14 mile run, I thought it would be quite necessary and timely to being my search for an energy supplement that would assist in my long distance dreams. When looking for the right energy supplement, I read up on a couple of runner’s websites, articles, and talked to a few runners to get their point of view.
In my search for the right kind of energy supplement I am taking several factors into account…Taste & Texture, Portability, and Effectiveness. Immediately, I decided that GUs, gels, and bars would not be the way for me. The texture of them just weirds me out…I think it’s kinda gross really, lol. Though I’m a runner, I’m also a BIG foodie, so taste and texture are HUGE factors in what kind of supplements I’d use. With that said, I purchased Jelly Belly’s Sports Beans, Cliff Shot Blocks, and Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews. Thus far I’ve only tried the Sports Beans and the Shot Blocks, and their ratings are as follows:
Taste & Texture – I tried the fruit punch kind, and they were pretty good. On first bite, you could tell you weren’t eating a regular jelly bean…I think I could taste the caffeine (?), but after awhile I got used to it.The texture was like that of a jelly bean, so I loved that.
Portability – They came in these little resealable bags,which was great for me as I didn’t eat them all at once. The bags were also pretty small so that I could fit them into the little pocket of my running pants. BIG plus.
Effectiveness – Due to the size of the beans, which are normal jelly bean size, I wan’t really sure how many I should have ingested at once. The recommended serving size was one packet for every hour of activity, but that didn’t really go over that well with me, since that would mean I’d need to carry two packages when I really just wanted to carry one. I ate about 3 beans at a time while on a 10k, and I feel like they definitely did help to keep me energized, though I wonder how I would have felt if I ate more beans at once versus rationing them out over the last 1.5 miles of the run.
Overall – I like them, and would use them on some of the shorter distance runs, though I need to experiment with them a bit more to figure out the proper bean to running ratio that will maximize my energy and performance.
Taste & Texture – Got them in tropical punch, and they were good! They didn’t have that same kinda aftertaste that the Jelly Belly Sports Beans had, which was a big plus. They were gooey and chewy – kinda like a gummy bear…a large gummy bear. The size of one Shot Blok is a little large, which made it a little awkward to chew at first, but I got used to it before long.
Portability – The Shot Bloks come in a wrapper kinda like a candy bar (6 bloks per package), so while there is no option to reseal the package once it’s been opened, you can twist the open part to close it. Also, you needn’t worry about the bloks falling out of the open package – they are kinda stuck together (again, just like gummy bears), so they aren’t really going anywhere.
Effectiveness – I tried these out on a 16 mile run (yea, I did 16 MILES!!! *woot*), and they definitely helped out. The size of the bloks wound up being a huge plus, since I didn’t have to count any beans or chews…I just bit one blok off and kept going until I needed/wanted another. The recommended serving was 3 bloks for every hour of activity, but I ended up eating 6 bloks for the 4 hours I was out there on my 16 mile run, which suited me just fine.
Overall – Definitely my front runner. I will be purchasing more bloks to try their different flavors, and I feel like these are probably going to be the supplement for me on my 13+ mile runs.
I have yet to take these for a test drive, so stay tuned for my thoughts on them. The general consensus among the runners I’ve spoken with is that they are great, but we shall see 🙂
Till next time! 🙂