Do you feel nauseous simply at the thought of lemon-lime Gatorade and GU gel mid-run? For whatever reason, these are the fuel stations of choice at nearly every race. However, I know I’m not alone when I say that these two particular products do not sit well with me when my runner’s stomach is all jumbled up and my body is focusing its energy elsewhere (AKA not on digestion).
In fact, anything but water sends my stomach into knots for the remaining miles. Oranges, bananas, raisins, pretzels, Dunkin Donuts munchkins (served at a stop during the Marine Corps Marathon- I was desperate, don’t judge me): you name it, I’ve tried it…and it’s been unsuccessful.
Of course, you need to practice your fueling strategy on long runs to make sure everything sits well with you prior to race day. But who wants to ruin their long runs on the reg, trying to continually force down GU or other suggested fueling strategies until your body learns to accept them? Not me! Fortunately, after lots of trial and error and long runs cut short, I’ve discovered the only 3 products that work with my super-sensitive runner’s stomach: Nuun, Clif Shot Bloks, and Jelly Belly Sport Beans.
Nuun tablets are a Gatorade alternative. Drop one in a bottle of water and get the flavor, hydration, and electrolytes you would get from Gatorade, minus the added sugars and extra calories. [Note: while I don’t believe in cutting calories while you’re training, especially for long distances, I personally would rather budget my calories towards sustenance of the edible variety. Samoas > Gatorade. Clearly.]. Since Nuun is lower in sugars and other unnecessary additives, it’s much more gentle on your stomach during a run. And you can’t beat the convenience: pop a tablet or two in a ziploc in your pocket/super-cool fanny pack & just toss them in your water bottle when you refill at a fountain. Way less baggage than toting around Gatorade bottles. Buy Nuun at running specialty stores or online here (I recommend the 4-flavor variety pack).
Clif Shot Bloks are a GU alternative, providing necessary nutrients to help keep your body energized and your mind focused, avoiding that foggy, sluggish feeling that starts to take over. These are way more desirable, in my opinion, because they’ve got the taste and texture of a fruit snack, rather than a packet of slimy, not-quite-solid, not-quite-liquid goo. They’re also easier on my stomach (and I have no proper explanation as to why, other than assuming they just feel less gross to me). Shot Bloks come in packages of 6, so you can eat them as gradually as you’d like (2 for every 3ish miles works for moi). If you’re prone to stomach problems like I am, I would definitely suggest sipping water every time you eat a few- this helps digestion go a bit more smoothly. Buy Clif Shot Bloks, again, at specialty running stores or your race expo (usually with special deals), or online here. Jelly Belly Sport Beans are another GU alternative, but in the form of tiny, electrolyte-packed jelly beans. And who doesn’t love jelly beans? Again, these have worked super well with my sensitive stomach, giving me no problems whatsoever. The little sugar boosts are energizing enough to help you push through, but in small enough doses that you can spread out the fueling love over a few miles and avoid overdoing it. And no one said you can’t use fuel as bribery. One Sport Bean for every mile you run? Hey, if that’s what it takes to get you across the finish line…I’ve seen these offered as samples at many an expo- scope it out and score some for free! Or, order your Jelly Belly Sport Beans here.