Last weekend I ran the Nago Half Marathon and despite pre-race nervousness and a prior week of disappointing training runs, I managed to maintain a relatively comfortable pace and finish with a 2nd place age-group win.
One of the most difficult challenges for me over the years, with regards to endurance races, has had to do with race nutrition and finding out what works for me and what doesn’t. With an exceptionally sensitive stomach, it’s been through lots of trial and error (and some rather unfortunate experiences), that I have learned what my body can tolerate while running. Several months ago, I started experimenting with HammerNutrition products and I am beginning to see significant improvements in both my overall performance and also in how my body (specifically, my stomach) feels during the more intense and longer runs.
Here is how I fueled for the Nago Half Marathon last weekend:
1.Approximately ten to twenty minutes before the race: one Hammer vanilla gel, diluted in water.
A couple of points to note here: a) I typically don’t fare well when I consume any type of gel, but I’ve discovered that my stomach can easily digest gels if I mix them first in a small flask of water and take small sips at a time; b) Dr. Bill Misner, an authority on sports nutrition, suggests that pre-race meals be consumed at least 3 hours prior to an endurance event, in order to effectively raise blood glucose levels and improve performance. However, a small and easily-digested snack (100-200 calories), consumed about 5 to 10 minutes before the start time shouldn’t hurt. “By the time these calories are digested and blood sugar levels are elevated, you’ll be well into your workout or race, and glycogen depletion will not be negatively affected.” – for a more complete explanation, click here.
2. During the race I ran with a 20 oz. Amphipod hand-held bottle, filled with water, Hammer Sustained Energy (measured out according to my weight), and a Hammer Endurolytes Fizz tablet (both of these products were “unflavored”).
Let me first say that Hammer Sustained Energy was created for the purpose of providing energy for events lasting longer than two hours (Hammer gels and Hammer Heed will do the job for events in the 60 to 90 minute category). I had to go with Sustained Energy however, after I realized that I had depleted my supply of Heed. The good news is that it seemed to provide me with just the right amount of energy and it did not cause any intestinal distress at all. The Endurolytes Fizz was added to ensure that my electrolyte needs were met.
3. For recovery, I took a mini shaker and a single serve packet of Hammer Recoverite (Citrus is my favorite flavor).
For optimal recovery after a race, it’s ideal to nourish depleted glycogen stores and promote muscle rebuilding by eating a quality meal soon after racing, preferably within the first 15 minutes and at least within the first hour. Since I hardly ever have much of an appetite after a hard race, I like that I can get the proper ratio of carbohydrates to protein in a quick and easy shake.
I also ate a Hammer Vegan Recovery bar about an hour and a half later; by this time I was starting to feel slightly hungry, but not enough to want an actual meal. Hammer Recovery bars provide plenty of protein as well as “healthy” fats, and they taste great!
All of these products contributed to a satisfactory race experience, and it seems that at least one other person thought so too. As I was pushing hard to reach the finish line, I was motivated by an American runner who yelled out as I passed him, “Get it Hammer!”
Footnote: While it’s true that my sponsorship agreement with Hammer Nutrition requires that I endorse and promote their products, I would like to add that I truly would not do so if I did not believe in them. Those who know me well can attest to my struggles with running-related intestinal distress, and my vigilant pursuit of a diet and/or products that might help to eliminate all or some of the symptoms. I can honestly say, that my testings so far of Hammer Nutrition products, have resulted in significant improvements all around – easy on the stomach and great results in terms of performance output!