Would Amanda Eat It?

With the LA Marathon coming up this Sunday (!), I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to fuel for the race.  Granted, I’ve run four marathons before (Surf City, NIKE Women’s SF, Rock N’ Roll Las Vegas, and Boston, for those who care to know), but I’ve run all of those – meaning, trained, practiced, and spent the entirety of the marathon in a full-on run.

This time around, I’m not trained, I haven’t practiced, and I don’t plan to run the full 26.2 miles without stopping.  I tried a 3/1 (run/walk) interval on Sunday for a quick 12 miles and it worked wonderfully – I was able to complete the distance in less than 10-minute miles but without soreness or fatigue, and felt like I could definitely keep going if I had to.

All of this aside, the main point of this post is fuel – what would Amanda eat on the race course?  In the past I’ve stuck to water and GU, but what’s really in that GU stuff?

They come in all flavors, but my personal favorite (and the one I rely on) is Peanut Butter.  The nutrition facts are simple – 100 calories, no fat, 50mg sodium, 5g sugar.  The ingredients, however, are not so much…which brings me to my (brief) assessment:

The good:

  • a straight shot of glucose and fructose means you are getting instant, easily-processed energy that goes straight to the bloodstream
  • fat-free
  • relatively low sodium compared to other “sports nutrition” products

The bad:

  • guys, it’s sugar syrup in a packet.
  • more than that, it’s processed sugar syrup, which means loads of preservatives and “blends” (fancy names for more chemicals that purport other health benefits)
  • 25g carbs including all that straight sugar

The verdict:

  • would I eat it?  Yes, and I have – in every single marathon I’ve ever done.  But is it the best form of race day nutrition?  Well…

The alternative:

  • Because GU is just convenient, portable, shelf-stable sugar, it’s popular.  But eating straight candy is almost the same thing, if you don’t mind chewing – and low-fiber, high-glucose snacks like, say, a Pop Tart (yes, I’ve actually used these as fuel during long bike rides) are sometimes more appetizing than a packet of gel
  • If you’re going clean(ish), sweet potatoes, yogurt-covered almonds, or raisins can give you the same boost of carbohydrate power without the laundry list of chemicals that even the “cleanest” processed product is destined to have

What do you use to fuel long runs?  Are you a GU fan – or do you eschew the GU?

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8 thoughts on “Would Amanda Eat It?

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