I teased Keith after a run the other day that his breakfast waffle gave him an advantage over me on our return. Later his wife Susan challenged me on my seemingly cavalier nutritional preparedness on runs – particularly in races. I don’t deny some of my poor performances are due to nutritional imbalances. I’m not sure why I haven’t focused on this more. Actually I have at times but I have yet to develop any consistency or discipline with it. I intend to give it more focus going forward. Like the focus I gave to developing speed this spring, now is the time to turn my attention to hydration, supplements and electrolytes.
Part of my resistance to this stems from my fundamental belief that people should simply eat real food. Vitamins should not be necessary if one eats a balanced diet. I do buy vitamins occasionally but I never take them. I throw them away a few years after their expiration date. Yet I do understand vitamins might have a place in the diet depending on other medical or nutritional factors. But it’s not something I have any real knowledge in. Then another reason I don’t go in for supplements is that I can’t help but get the feeling they are modern day snake oil. I understand approximately half of all Americans take vitamins or supplements, and that it’s a $27B industry. Still, you have to admit some of the advertising is over the top.
Regardless, I’m committing to a supplements plan. I like plans in general and it’s now time to focus on running nutrition. To keep it simple, I have selected Hammer Nutrition for all my products. I forget where I read this, but I was drawn to their web site for their electrolyte products. I ordered their Endurolytes which come in a pill form factor. They sent me samples of all their products along with significant reading material. This was smart marketing.
Whenever I buy stuff like this online, I’m reminded of ordering kitschy toys with saved up bubble gum wrappers as a kid. I’m going to try and take this seriously though and track my performance improvement. My primary objective is to be able to avoid muscle cramps in marathons and other long events. I actually find – weather depending – that I can run an entire half marathon without taking any drink or fuels at the aid stations and not suffer any negative effects on performance. There is something though about running over two hours where my body becomes depleted and replenishment is necessary to avoid bonking.
Hammer makes a point that it is unwise to try to replenish water and electrolytes at the rate they are depleted. They suggest the body can only absorb new fuel at about 30% of the rate it burns energy. I’m going to trust them and follow their plan. I don’t have very many events to test this but I started yesterday on their products as part of my training run. Felt good. If this focus on nutrition goes well for me, maybe I’ll start stretching for my next plan.