Running Essentials: Fuel

I see and hear a lot of questions about fueling for runners. I can’t really tell you what the best strategy for you will be, but I can tell you about my own experience. This fuel strategy has come from a lot of trial and error, and I really do believe that is what it takes to find it.

About 20 minutes before I run, I will have a carbohydrate snack. For me, it needs to be something very mild and easy to digest. If I have a race, which requires me to get up very early in the morning, I’ll start with toast or half of a bagel and peanut butter. I will then eat a pack of belVita Breakfast Biscuits spread out over the time before the race. If it’s just a training run, I will eat a banana or just two of the belVitas. This seems to work for me for any kind of workout, not just running.

If I am running for more than an hour, I need a steady source of carbohydrates to keep my energy up. I have tried a lot of things and have not had a bad experience with any of them. Through my trial and error, I have determined what works best for me, and is the easiest for me to carry and eat. Honey Stingers makes a lot of good products, which are easy on my sensitive stomach. My favorites are the chews and the waffles. They work really well, but are harder to carry in my belt. The chews are sticky and take up a lot of space, and the waffles crumble easily. I just continued trying things until I found something that worked for me on all fronts.

My current fuel of choice is Jelly Belly Sport Beans. According to their website (www.sportbeans.com), “Sport Beans jelly beans are a first-of-its-kind carbohydrate replenishment for sports performance from the makers of Jelly Belly®. They have been specially formulated to fuel and replenish the body during exercise. As glycogen stores in the muscles become depleted during prolonged exercise, a carbohydrate source helps maintain blood sugar levels to keep you going.” They come in Lemon Lime, Orange, Berry and Fruit Punch. There are also “Extreme Sport Beans” that have caffeine, but I have never used those. Sport Beans are easy to eat, and carry, and they are basically candy. Who doesn’t want to eat candy?

I know there are some who can run on an empty stomach, but I am not one of those people! As I said, the right fuel is different for everyone, and takes a lot of experimentation. I hope this has given you some ideas for different things you can try. For those of you who are runners, what do you use to fuel? Feel free to reach out to me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and let me know if there are any other running or fitness questions you would like to see me cover. I am by no means an expert, but I would be happy to share my experience!

Note: All products mentioned here were purchased by me and all opinions are my own, and just that…opinions!

Running/Fitness Essentials: Hydration

Summer has not yet begun, but hydration is important any time of the year. Besides, if you live in the kind of climate I do, it’s going to be summer from now until October! No matter what the weather is like, if you’re like me, you sweat a lot when you run. I see and hear questions all the time about what to use for hydration, so I thought I would share what works for me. What I use might be overkill, but I like it!

During my run, I start with Smart Water, then add a Nuun Active tablet. Smart Water is purified water with added electrolytes. I’m sure you can use any kind of water, but I figure I can use all of the electrolytes I can get and I like how it tastes. Nuun comes in four varieties: Active, Energy, Plus for Nuun, and All Day. I use Nuun Active for my hydration. According to their website (nuun.com), “packed with electrolytes, light flavor, clean ingredients, nuun active hydration is the perfect sports drink.” I sweat a lot when I run and I feel like adding the Nuun to my hydration strategy has made a big difference.

Post run, I like to drink Vita Coco coconut water. According to their website (http://vitacoco.com), “Coconut water is the clear, fat-free liquid inside young, green coconuts. It’s naturally rich in minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes. ..” You can get it in many different brands, but this one is my favorite. They make coconut water in original, pineapple (my favorite), peach & mango, lemonade, orange, lemon tea, and chocolate. It makes a big difference in how I feel after a run.

This is the hydration plan that works for me, but everyone is different. You have to play with different products and find out what works the best for you. If you’re still trying to find the sweet spot with your hydration, I hope this has been helpful for you. Stay tuned and I will be sharing my other run/fitness essentials! What do you use for hydration during/after a run or workout? I’d love to hear about it in the comments, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Please let me know if there are any essentials you’d like to know about, or if you have any other questions about running and/or fitness. I am by no means an expert, but I love sharing what works for me.

A quick update on Beginner Shred: I just started level 2. It gets a lot easier, within just a few days’ time. I progressed more quickly than I expected to, and I’m already starting to notice muscle definition in my arms. I did have to skip a day unexpectedly for back pain (not related to this workout), but other than that, it went really well. Other than my injury-related rest day, I have been doing it 5-6 days per week, first thing in the morning. It really gets my day off to a good start. Onward and upward! I will check back in when I am finished with level 2. What workouts are you doing? How do you hydrate when you work out or run? I’d love to hear about it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments!

Note: All products mentioned here were purchased by me and all opinions and reviews are my own.