Ewwey GUs

After the umpteen races I’ve done since 2007, you’d think I’d know a thing or two about sports nutrition and what my body needs to get through a race, right?

The truth of the matter is that every time I think I have things figured out, I manage to get some sort of negative reaction from what I’m using from horrible cramps to… yeah, I’ll spare you the details.

Given that I’m four weeks into marathon training and the mileage is ramping up pretty quickly, I NEED to get this shizz figured out. Like yesterday. And that means revisiting the Gus, Shots, Gels, etc. that I’ve been afraid of since the first time I ran the Toronto Half.

The funny thing is, that was my fastest half marathon time. I made sure to use both Gatorade and had a PowerBar gel on the course. It was a great run and I felt great throughout it. After was another story.

So I’ve been scared into solids ever since.

I had a dependence on sharkies for two years but was getting frustrated with them constantly getting stuck in my teeth that I abandoned them. I was still afraid to go near the gels, though.

For Around the Bay, I chose to use plain ol’ water and Clif Shot Bloks. They worked well in training runs,  but gave me horrible side stiches/cramps a few minutes after ingesting them during the race, making it quite difficult to run on the back half.

I then switched to GU chomps but had the same result as the Bloks. After awhile I just gave up and stuck to using Nuun tablets in my water and nothing else.

But I can’t rely on that for the entire 42k and need a new strategy. So I’ll be back to trying everything and anything, and seeing what hurts the least. The last thing I want is to be curled up at the side of the road in the fetal position, trapped in a portapotty and having a big, fat DNF next to my name on Sport Stats.

So the ewwy gu-ey, gely, shot-y experiment starts this weekend!

Help a mouse out – what do you suggest I start with? Any tips to making gels/GUs/Shots more bearable? Any tricks or suggestions?
Hit me with your best shot!


Theresa @ActiveEggplant said...

I just recently switched to the GU gels & they seem to be much easier on my stomach than Power Bar gels. I still get some very slight stomach issues after my run, but not nearly as bad as with the PB brand. I've heard that not drinking enough fluids when you eat (?) the gel can cause stomach issues, so make sure you're drinking enough water when you take them. At least that's what has been working for me anyway!

marie said...

I have always taken them with liquid, but it's that subjective "enough" that I guess eludes me. I have 14 weeks to figure it out, though :)


Tara said...

Have you tried any of the carb-boom products?

I actually started thinking about this too, even though I'm not sure I need to anytime soon.

I've never tried anything before, but when I went looking I tended to lean toward the carb-boom products because they say they're a more "natural" alternative to other fuel.

mouse said...

Are you having stomach problems during the race with gels, or was it just afterwards? If it was a delayed reaction, it may have been something other than the gel that made that happen. I used to have the same problem, regardless of what I used. I tend to find that if I drink a lot of water (not gatorade or beer... learned those the hard way) right away after a marathon my tummy is MUCH happier than if I drink something sugary. Gatorade KILLS me.

The Carb-Boom products are supposed to be gentler on your tummy than all of the others, but I didn't notice a difference between those and the gus that I currently use. Good luck with your experiment!

nevermindkim.com said...

Ive never been able to stomache any of those things :(

I always stuck with dried fruit though and that did the trick for me. I never ran super long distances though so I'm not sure how helpful this is.

nevermindkim.com said...

Ive never been able to stomache any of those things :(

I always stuck with dried fruit though and that did the trick for me. I never ran super long distances though so I'm not sure how helpful this is.

marie said...

@NK - every comment is helpful :)

I love that another mouse commented :)

hez said...

I use infinit nutrition. You can customize it based on a quiz on their website. They also have pre-mixed stuff. Put it this way: I drank it for almost 19 hours in my Haliburton hell and I didn't have any stomach problems (which I am prone to). I have some packets of the pre-mixed stuff that I could send you to try first before you invest in the custom stuff.

Anonymous said...

My Ironman husband and my ironman brother use infinite for their races - done entire races only using Infinite sports drink.

marie said...

hmm... good to know. Thanks H & anonymouse!

Anonymous said...

Hey mouse,

I have had lots of stomach issues with gels too and prefer sharkies or bloks but find i never eat enough of them in the long races. i just find i dont want to eat, which is bad of course because then i bonk. most types of gels turn my stomach just thinking of them and i have nearly puked after eating a hot gel on a long race. =P

I have found the best gel for my stomach (and gag reflex) is just the PB vanilla. you can also get ones with no flavour i think but i haven't tried those. the mild vanilla doesnt make me gag and i got my best marathon time using that one.

something else you can try is having is a really concentrated sports drink. I have found cytomax to be pretty good and easy on the stomach. i don't use it in longer races tho because i don't wear my fuel felt when in a race, too worried about things around my stomach. Instead, i wear cycling shirts in races because the pocket space is awesome.

Sam said...

All I have to say is, You and me both, sister.

I have to try out the Gu/Gel/Shot bid-ness this weekend as well, and I am not looking forward to it at all.

I got a variety of types to try over the next few weeks, and have also heard that the Gu "Just Plain" and Carb-Boom apple cinnamon are pretty good from trusted sources at CCRR.

If anything, we'll be sisters in gastro-intestinal solidarity on Sunday. I'll bring the Gravol. No joke.

Boris Terzic said...

I like the GU gels, actually I like almost all kinds of gels. But then again I got a stomach like a garbage bin, it'll take anything.

Amy said...

I use Sport beans and diluted gatorade.

Also, and this probably isn't that great for me, but I take immodium before my long runs!

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