One big concern of mine about my 30 Day Challenge was how I was going to fuel during my long runs. Needless to say, Gatorade, GU, and Sport Beans are not naturally occurring whole foods found here on Earth. What's a girl to do?!
I thought about just making an exception for long runs, especially since I have a stern "don't mess with what's working" mindset regarding my running. However, after reading through the ingredient lists of my beloved artificially created fuel sources, I decided that I could do better than this:
What I needed to concentrate on was what I was getting from my current fuel (calories and electrolytes) and how I could get these from more natural sources...without upsetting my stomach...and in small enough packages that I could carry them with me.
No sweat, right?
First off, I have eaten dried apricots during long runs without any adverse effects. In fact, I really like them for times when I feel hungry during a run. Since dried apricots worked, I figured all dried fruit would be a good bet. It's compact, sturdy, and chock full of natural sugars that my body can turn into energy quickly while I'm running.
These little gems come in individual packages - perfect for carrying on a run. And they fit quite well in my Spibelt. They're actually created from juice concentrates, but I think no artificial sweeteners or flavors still make them a better option.
For drinks (other than water), I usually rely solely on Gatorade. One 20 oz bottle contains 130 calories, 250 mg of sodium, 75 mg of potassium, and 34 g of carbohydrates (all from sugar). I've been hearing a lot about coconut water being a good choice for hydration that naturally contains electrolytes (sodium & potassium), so I thought I'd size it up.
20 ounces (about 2 of these small containers) pack 160 calories, 80 mg sodium, 1360 mg of potassium, and 42 g of carbohydrates (all from sugar). So not as much sodium and way more potassium than Gatorade.
I also picked up a couple juice blends that contain coconut water. First up is Odwalla.
One 12 oz bottle contains 150 calories, 45 mg of sodium, 525 mg of potassium, and 35 g of carbohydrates (23 g from sugar). Fairly close to the Gatorade stats, but still lower on the sodium.
Naked juice also makes a blend with coconut water. (Both Naked & Odwalla use light blue caps for these types of blends...coincidence?)
One 16 oz bottle has 200 calories, 90 mg of sodium, 660 mg potassium, and 46 g of carbohydrates (40 g from sugar).
All of these choices offer both calories and electrolytes, but perhaps I need to add a bit more sodium. Maybe I could bring a few salted nuts to munch on, too?
So after a few grocery store runs, I went from this...
At least for now. I really like Gatorade. And it's so much cheaper (and easier to find) than coconut water.
I tried out some of my purchases during an 18 miler this weekend. (How am I up to just 2 miles from 20 already?!) I've decided that the larger fruit leathers from Trader Joe's (the strawberry and apricot bars in the middle of the picture above) are not great for running. They are too long to fit in a Spibelt, and they take a lot of chewing. The smaller ones from TJ's (far right), the Stretch Island variety, and the Archer Farms strips from Target were all great.
Along with plenty of water, I downed one of the Odwalla juices during my run (tasted great!) and had a coconut water after. I felt fueled and hydrated, and didn't get an upset stomach or heartburn from the juice, like I feared. So far so good!
Any other natural running fuel recommendations for me?