Screw High-Dollar Trailrunning Chow

Trail-dining at The Lounge, Boney at Chamberlain Trail jct. Boney Mt Wilderness. All better with the Eat-n-Tool.
I’m having recovered ultra-memories of what I ate and trained with before there were gels. Its only a matter of time before you discover that energy bars and gels are expensive and taste pretty bad. Since I’m not sponsored, I’m on my own for making this happen.

Running nutrition is Big Business. In 2012 alone, energy drinks and shots market sales totaled $12.5Bn. Energy bar sales jumped 71% between 2006-2011, hitting $1.7Bn by 2011.

We're seeing stuff that didn't exist ten years ago. Energy gels and
drink mixes make claims of absorbability, energy, and with all the sub-variants of vegan, gluten-free, etc. Taste ranges from OK to poisonous. As to the whole gluten-free thing: if you have celiac disease, its legit. Otherwise you’re an unpaid test-subject in a mass epidemiological study with unknown outcomes.
Go ahead, enjoy your gel. No, really!
You can pay high dollar for niche-market products, or you can walk into any supermarket in the US and get your calories cheaper, faster, and easier. The manufacturing infrastructure that supports the niche has been making consumer goods at a far greater quantity, more affordable, and available instantly—which is useful when you’re trail-bound at 0430 and Pricey Runner Boutique is closed.

Another problem in training and racing can be runaway salt-loading. Salt is important, period. But hidden salts in gels etc can pile up and cause gut problems. Getting back to basics can lighten that load.

Let’s go back to the future here.

  • DE-FIZZED COKE: Sugar, salt, caffeine in 2 oz jolts. Pack a 20oz bottle and hit on it at your leisure.
  • BEEF JERKY: Protein and salt in a chewy entertainment nugget. Trader Joe's varieties are tasty.
  • DRIED FRUIT: Dried mango and papaya are my current faves for their dense calories, again chewy. Look for the non-sulfur cured.
  • PUDDING CUPS: Vanilla, chocolate, tapioca. Applesauce works too.
  • CANNED FRUIT: Wet carbs that go down easy on those miserable hot days.
  • GRANOLA BARS: Mild taste, crunchy, with no pretense at protein etc.
  • GORP: Gorp, the acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts”. Make your own to suit. The fats and protein in nuts are good long burn, as opposed to the flameout tinder of simple carbs.

The Calorie-Counters out there are gonna be all “Dawg, gels have 25 more cals than X fruits etc per shot”. Probably. The margins are slight. If you’ve got the coin for it, go for it. The calories carried are to keep the engine ticking over until you get back to the car and can hit the refresh button. 

Here’s my go-to: in a huge-ass mixie-container:
  • 20+oz of cold horchata [Mexican rice drink, flavored with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg]
  • 2 scoops of whey protein powder
  • 1 scoop unsweetened chocolate powder
  • Shake it up!

Drink it up. Recovery starts at the finish line. Now you can smart calorie-load. Sorry, beer doesn’t count either. But WTF, that’s your call.

Bottom line: you get to figure out what works for you. I’ve trained with a variety of methods: Newbie Ignorant, CarboPlex w Mango nectar, CarboPlex w Gatorade, CarboPlex w water & salt caps for electrolytes. Now in my golden years I’m finding that a mix of wets and dry seems to work well.

Life just got a little better.


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