Fuel School

by Jess on August 20, 2015

If you’re training for a fall marathon or half marathon, it’s likely you are upping the mileage and ready to add some mid-run fuel to your routine. Finding a fueling option that works well for you is super easy for some runners and rather complicated for others.

If you are trying mid-run fuel for the first time, go to your local running store and look to see which fuel looks the most appealing to you. Start by trying that gel or chew first, then if it doesn’t work figure out what ingredient might be causing you issues and pick a second fueling option that doesn’t contain the same ingredients.

Most gels and chews are formulated especially for endurance athletes so you don’t have to be too concerned about not getting the right ingredients or combination of ingredients. What’s most important is that you find a product that is both palatable and that your stomach can tolerate.

If all else fails and you can’t find a fuel that works for you, work with a dietician or another qualified professional to figure out what might be causing your issues. If you’re super ambitious you can also make your own fuel, but personally I find it much easier to buy pre-made fuel.

Fuel School for Runners

Below is breakdown of some of the most popular fueling options. My personal favorites are the margarita clif shot blocks, fruit smoothie honey stinger chews, and gu octane sea salt chocolate.


Clif Shot
Nutrient Information: 110 Calories, 22g Carb, 60mg Sodium, 80mg Potassium (Clif Shot Turbo contains caffeine in varying amounts)
Distinguishing Attributes: It has the fewest ingredients of all the gels, and is 90% organic and vegan.

Gu Energy Gel
Nutrient Information: 100 Calories, 25g Carb, 50mg Sodium, 40mg Potassium
Distinguishing Attributes: Contains dual fuels*, maltodextrin and fructose, as well as a blend of amino acids.

Hammer Gel
Nutrient Information: 90 Calories, 21g Carb, 25mg Sodium, 25mg Potassium +/- Caffeine (depends on flavor)
Distinguishing Attributes: Gluten-free, vegan, and kosher options are available. Contains only two grams of sugar— runners who are limited in the amount of sugar they can consume at one time report that they tolerate this product well.

Honey Stinger Gels Classic / Organic
Nutrient Information: 120 /100 Calories, 29g / 24g Carb, 50mg Sodium, 85mg/50mg Potassium
Distinguishing Attributes: Classic gels contain B Vitamins; Ginsting flavor contains both caffeine and Ginseng extract. Organic gels contain 95% Organic Ingredients.

Pacific Health Labs All Natural Accel Gel
Nutrient Information: 100 Calories, 20g Carb, 115mg Sodium, 5g Protein
Distinguishing Attributes: It is the only gel on the market that contains the patented 4:1 carb to protein formula proven to provide more energy, faster.

Nutrient Information:110 Calories, 27g carb, 200mg Sodium, 20mg Potassium, +/- Caffeine (depends on flavor)
Distinguishing Attributes: Contains C2Max, a duel source of fuel (glucose + fructose) which enables you to consume more fuel each hour and therefore keep your system energized.


Clif Shot Bloks
Nutrient Information: 100 calories, 24g carbs, 12g sugar, 70mg sodium, 20mg potassium per 3-piece (30g) serving; two servings per package
Distinguishing Attributes: “Fastpak” packaging- once you rip open the package, you can easily pop the chews into your mouth one by one, with one hand—without breaking your stride.

GU Energy Chews
Nutrient Information: 90 calories, 23g carbs, 11g sugar, 50mg sodium, 40mg potassium per 4-piece (30g) serving; two servings per package
Distinguishing Attributes: Four flavors contain caffeine, which can give you an extra boost. The gluten-free chews also contain amino acids and antioxidants (vitamins C and E) to help fight tissue breakdown. Because they have added amino acids and antioxidants, they can also help you stay focused during your run.

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews
Nutrient Information: 160 calories, 39g carbs, 27g sugar, 80mg sodium, 40mg potassium; one serving per package
Distinguishing Attributes: Certified organic, certified gluten free, sweetened with organic honey and tapioca syrup & provide a natural and sustainable source of energy.

Jelly Belly Sports Beans
Nutrient Information: 100 calories, 25g carbs, 36g sugar, 30mg sodium, 40mg potassium; one serving per package
Distinguishing Attributes: Each bean is loaded with carbs for fuel, electrolytes to help maintain fluid balance and vitamins to optimize energy release and protect cells against oxidative damage. Sport Beans are also kosher & come in a convenient resealable bag.

Powerbar Energy Blasts
Nutrient Information: 200 calories, 46g carbs, 17g sugar, 80mg sodium, 3g protein; one serving per package
Distinguishing Attributes: Can be used before or during exercise. Formulated with PowerBar C2MAX dual source energy blend: a 2:1 glucose to fructose blend found to deliver 20–50% more energy to muscles than glucose alone.

Skratch Labs Fruit Drops
Nutrient Information: 80 calories, 20g carbs, 14g sugar, 80mg sodium; two servings per package
Distinguishing Attributes: Fruit Drops are all natural. Each chew has been lightly powdered with cane sugar, so the chews don’t stick together. No waxes or excess materials are used to keep the chews soft and ready to eat.


2015 NYRR R-U-N 5k Recap: PR, Maybe?

by Jess on August 11, 2015

How long ago did races begin posting race results online? However long ago that began was the last time I ran a 5k as fast as I did last Thursday night.

I have mixed feelings about this race and these results. For one, I didn’t run a smart race. For two, I haven’t truly raced a 5k in many years. For three, I ran almost the exact same splits I’ve been running for the last three miles of the past few four mile races (you can see I ran almost identical splits at the Retro 4-miler) I’ve ran. Therefore, I essentially didn’t do anything new, the race distance was just shorter. 😉

RUN 5k bib

Before the race:

I was super nervous all day for this race. Running at night doesn’t normally go that well for me and I was nervous about how much racing a 5k would hurt.

To try to avoid having stomach cramps and feeling like crap, I really focused on eating foods that I thought would be easy to digest. I ate a slightly later lunch than normal and had a smoothie around 2:00pm and nothing else before the race.

Rick and I did a two mile warm-up that included about 5 strides. Then we both went to our corrals about 20 minutes before the race started. That was probably about 10 minutes too early (you have to be in your corral 10 minutes before NYRR races or you get sent to the back of the race). We both felt like we stood around way to long before the gun went off.

RUN 5k Course

The race:

New York Road Runners couldn’t have picked a better Central Park route for the race. The first mile included some downhills and a little bit of an uphill. Mile 2 included Cat Hill (a medium sized hill). Mile three was flat and fast, though I was dying by the time I reached this normally fast feeling section of the park.

My race strategy was the same as it’s been for the 4-milers, which makes it even more interesting to see how similar my splits are for these races. At least I’m consistent?

I ran mile one too fast. During mile two I tried to catch my breath a bit. For mile three I totally misjudged how hard to run the first half of mile 3, crashed hard at 2.5 miles and almost gave up at one point. However, I was able to rally and sprint the last .1!

My horrible splits:

RUN 5k splits

Average pace: 7:09


I’ve ran three races this year with two miles under 7:00, and if I want to be able to squeak out a third mile at that pace I have to do some serious speed work. I’ve just started to incorporate true speed work for the first time this year, so I’ll see how that contributes to these shorter races. I can’t possibly run three miles under 7:00 by simply suffering through the race.

My fitness level has been pretty crappy this year overall, but my pain tolerance has increased over the past few years so I’ve been able to squeak out some decent times (for me). I’ve obviously reached my limit in that area and can only get better with more speed work (duh!).

Regardless of these things I’m pretty happy to have ran my fastest paced NYRR race ever (aside from the 5th Avenue mile) at the ripe old age of 39. I’ve been a NYRR member for 12 years, so I can’t be upset about not being able to squeeze out a faster pace.

Thank you to NYRR for putting on an great evening race and giving us the opportunity to race a 5k in Central Park.


My Summer Training Credo

by Jess on July 28, 2015

Run in the heat.

Run up the biggest hill.

Run with a faster friend.

Run in the rain.

Summer Running Credo

Run when you don’t want to.

Run when the going gets tough.

Run faster even when you feel like you can’t.

Run without attachment to the outcome.

Run without limits.

Do the hard thing now so that come race day, you’ll have conquered every challenge in your path and nothing can stop you.

See ya out there on the pavement!



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