You’ve heard me say it before on this blog and Twitter, but I’ve been feeling really depleted on long and/or hard efforts. A big part of it is running 50+ miles per week while nursing my 6 month old cutie. But, I’ve always had problems with energy levels plummeting on long runs and during marathons.
Here’s a crazy little tidbit about my marathon journey. My first 4 marathons (during both training and racing) I took in NO FUEL ever. I would occasionally stop by a water fountain on a 20 miler and would take a few sips of water out on the marathon course, but in general, I didn’t think I needed fuel. I thought it would just slow me down. I know, it sounds silly and is very embarrassing to admit this!
When I finally realized fueling both in training (occasionally) and during races could substantially impact the quality of my running, I jumped on the fuel bandwagon. Still, I’ve only done 4 more marathons since I started fueling and am still trying to figure the whole process out. What works for me? How can I take in enough, but not too much, since I also have a really sensitive stomach?
When I heard about Fuelstrip, I knew I wanted to try it out. I read “Fuelstrip is able to detect the metabolites in your sweat to allow you to refuel to your body’s exact needs.” and “As your glycogen reserve tanks are depleted from full to empty, the Fuelstrips react to form a series of colors that approximate a full tank (orange), 3/4 tank (yellow), 1/2 tank (green), 1/4 tank (blue). The periodic testing of your sweat will allow you to refuel to your body’s exact needs at the moment.” Testing involves swiping the end of the fuelstrip across your sweat and checking the results (color of the Fuelstrip) 20-30 seconds later.
My first impression was, “Sounds cool, but does it work?” and then “Will I really want to carry these strips around with me and test during a hard, long workout?“.
To put the first question to the test, I did a few easy runs, 30-40 minutes, and tested my sweat. These were runs where I felt great from start to finish and was hoping to see an “orange, full tank” reading on the test strip. These were my baseline runs and the strips tested exactly as I anticipated.
Next, I decided to run a normal longer workout, 80 minutes with warmup and cooldown, and use a Fuelstrip at the end to see how my glycogen levels tested. I did not fuel during the run, just tested with a Fuelstrip at the end. I was feeling really depleted when finished and wasn’t surprised to see the Fuelstrip test green, indicating I was depleted “1/2 tank”.
My next test was going to help answer my second question as well. Will I really want to carry these Fuelstrips around with me on a long, hard workout? My run for the day was a slightly longer workout, just over 90 minutes with warmup and cooldown and I decided to take a vial of the Fuelstrips and the Fuelchews with me. I planned to test and use a Fuelstrip every 30 minutes, then use the Fuelchews as directed. I was a little nervous about carrying the vial of Fuelstrips and the Fuelchews since I don’t like taking anything with me on a run.
The vial is super light and surprisingly very easy to open, even when running fast.
I tested every 30 minutes and took the chews as directed. I have to say, I felt better on this run than I had on any postpartum run to date. The chews were larger than I expected but I was used to the size of them after the 3rd chew. I have no complaints about the taste. They were fruity and sweet but not so sweet that I wanted to gag. I have to admit that I finished the remaining chew after the workout was over “just because” and crave them even when not working out… oh boy… They are dairy free, gluten free and kosher (and like I said, pretty darn tasty!) They were easy on my stomach and gave me sustained energy. I never felt like I had too much or too little. It really seemed like the perfect amount of fuel for my run. All of this being said, this was also the only run postpartum run in which I’ve taken in fuel so I’d expect to feel better than usual.
Overall, I found the Fuelstrips very easy to use and access while running. The Fuelchews kept my energy levels steady during my long, hard effort. They taste great and are dairy and gluten free. I still don’t love carrying anything with me on a run and the Fuelchews felt bulky in my pocket. If you are used to carrying chews of another brand, these are a very similar size to others I’ve seen (package is more square than rectangular). I would use Fuelstrip and Fuelchews a few times each training cycle, but not for every long or hard effort.