Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eating While Running.

I know the suspense was killing you, but now I can finally tell you that my hamstring is 1000% fine.

My body experiences strange miraculous healings that end up making me seem like the-girl-who-cried-injury time and time again.

Giants Stadium, 8/27/2011, angry hamstring

Where are you Brian Wilson!?!?

I see you checking me out girlfriend

A reader (hi Nelly) even pointed this out: "it seems like your injuries always get sorted out fine, so I bet you'll be okay."

Indeed, I have been running fine all week after taking all of Sunday easy after the Saturday race.  I will officially call it a hamstring strain, and declare that CHERRY JUICE IS AWESOME.  I still think it is the cure for everything.

Happy Labor Day weekend! I haven't been posting anything about this, but I've been driving to my hometown of Napa most every weekend to visit my niece, now 6 weeks old.

I have a compulsion to visit her, but doing so is a huge time commitment that is unsatisfactory in ways.

People think she looks like me, which reminds me that I must be the CUTEST thing in the world.

I drive 1.5 hours to my sister's home (less than 50 miles away, but traffic is ROUGH in the bay area on nice summer days).  Then I see my niece for anywhere from 10 minutes to 60 minutes, because either she is sleeping the whole time, or my sister is too busy with other friends/family during the weekend to make any more time for me.  I hang out with my parents while waiting for my niece to be available.

Then I drive home for an hour, and it is 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. and my day is gone, all for 10 minutes of baby.  And I can't stop visiting because those 10 minutes are worth it!


This Saturday I ran 17.2 miles.  I had slept in, drove the Gentleman to BART since he had to work, filled my ipod up with good podcasts and then set out for a run.

Know what was missing there?  Breakfast.  I left for the run without eating anything.

For whatever reason (maybe an extra large dinner the night before) I wasn't hungry.  But I grabbed a lemon-flavored GU that has been sitting in my cupboard forever, because I figured I would get hungry, and because I need to practice eating while running.

Before Saturday, I had only three prior experiences with eating while running.

1) During the Napa marathon in 2010, I ate sports beans around mile 19.  They tasted so good I swore I could feel them infusing me with a second wind.  However, it annoyed the crap out of me that they were bouncing around in my pocket for 19 miles.

2) I tried running on my own with regular jelly beans a few times.  I found it kind of pointless; I simply don't get hungry on the average long run, just thirsty.

3) I ate a few Gu Chomps, and some dried cherries, during miles 13-through-20 of the Eugene Marathon.

problem:  I was getting minor side-cramps each time I ate something.  solution: remember to breathe while eating.

When I saw the professional race pictures, I realized I when I was sucking on a Chomp, I wasn't opening my mouth for that minute to get adequate oxygen.

In most running pictures my mouth is open.  Here, sucking on a Chomp.  (Hey look, you can see my real name!)

breathing right, cheeks flapping

 On my Saturday 17-miler, I was unusually fatigued around mile 12 and decided it was because I needed food.  I pulled over to an elementary school water fountain where 7 construction workers ate their sandwiches and stared at me.  Then I pulled out the Gu, teared it open with my teeth, and alternated sips of water with globs of Gu.

As soon as it hit my tongue I felt energized, I swear.  It hit the spot, and the normally disgusting sugary glop tasted beautiful.  I tossed the scraps and continued running up a long hill -- no cramps, and I truly felt less fatigued.

However, I have no clue how to approach this in a race without losing 2 minutes of time.  Normally I grab a cup of water and let 3 driblets get in my mouth while the rest falls all over my shirt, sometimes I choke a little.  It's a mess.

How do I translate my typical  time-saving and sloppy hydration method to fully gulping water while snacking on some Gu?

What do you do in races?  I'm interested in trying dried cherries again since I am such a hardcore cherry juice advocate.  Do you think eating is necessary? Do you just drink the Gatorade-type drinks?


  1. Ok, first.. I am totally jealous of your miraculous healing! Meanwhile, my tibia is being a complete WHORE.

    Second, I have no idea about what to do in races because obviously what I have done in the past makes me have to poop. I have phased out GUs for now because my coach tells me eating during races is unnecessary and that GUs are the reason that there are so many porta potties along race routes (lol). This is coming from a guy who has logged countless sub-3 hour marathons and is still logging 3:30ish marathons at age 72 (google Joe Burgasser). So I want to listen to him, KWIM? But then I feel all the pressure to eat because it's just what everyone does! And they swear by it. At any rate, he only does sports drink during his races.

    Looking forward to seeing what everyone else says.

  2. PS-Your niece is PRESH!!!! What a beautiful little girl.

  3. do you carry a handheld? You can put your Gu in that with water, then sip it as needed.

  4. I love the jelly beans. I've tried to force myself to eat the Gus but they are just to gross blah.....

  5. That happens to me too; one week, some muscle/joint/etc. will have be wringing my hands and feeling like I'll never be healthy again, then the next week it'll be totally gone.

    I'm trying to figure this out too. I've gotten reasonably good at drinking on the run (good enough, anyway), but I suck at eating. I can never manage the entire process of getting something out, opening the wrapper, & getting the contents into my mouth without having to stop and/or making a huge mess. :P

  6. First, and most importantly, YAY for 100% happy hamstring :D I posted today about fuel on long runs as well... I use to be a big fan of Cliff Chomp Bloks, which worked well; but now I am all about DATES!!! You should give them a try.

  7. I'm glad the hammy problem seems to have resolved itself! I really wish my hip would do the same. :(

    Because I'm more of a Type B or C kind of runner, I usually walk through the water stops. I don't think it slows down my overall time, and I manage to get the water in my mouth rather than on my shirt that way. I usually only take my GUs at water stops because I find they don't sit very well if I don't follow them up with some agua.

  8. Your niece is adorable! And great news about the hammy, must have been all of our well wishes..

    I eat on anything longer than a 10 mile run. I also run slower than you, so I'm out there longer and usually find myself getting hungry after 1 1/2 hours of exercise. Once I learned how to properly eat GU gels (take it like a shot, not like a gummy bear) I swear by them for energy halfway through a race. I can still maintain a running pace while ingesting and don't lose time. Chomps or Blocks or whatever they are called require more water and it does screw with my breathing because I have to chew. And I carry a water bottle, as annoying as it seems, because I can't handle choking down water from a cup. Does this help? I can talk more about myself if you want!

    Happy GU-ing!

  9. What works for one person is very different than the next when it comes to eating, but...practice taking your GU and drinking while moving. You'll get the hang of it. I think it's worth it if you've found what works for your stomach!

    And can you please send me some of that miracle cure stuff? Thanks!

  10. Glad the Gu works for you--but yeah, obviously my times are much slower than yours so the time it takes me to eat/chew is worth it. I saw someone suggested mixing the Gu in your water bottle--could that work? Assuming, of course, that you run with water.

  11. I've never mastered drinking from a cup at a water station so I finally switched to a hand held and I love that. Water when I want it. So then it is fairly easy to eat a Gu and drink what it needed to get it down. I've tried chomps and other chewy stuff and that whole breathing and eating and running just doesn't seem to work for me. The Gu just goes down and I've never had any trouble with it and my stomach (well, we won't count yesterday because I really think that was just an anomaly).

  12. i use a handheld water bottle for races and ask volunteers to actually fill up my bottle. when i try to just use the cups i inevitably only get one sip per cup and i sweat a LOT, so i get super dehydrated and almost pass out (see: The Giant Race. same damn thing). I try to gu a a couple times durng a long run and for me the key is to hold the gu in your hand and take little sips (?) of it over 5 or so minutes. i used to just like, down the gu and then my stomach would feel a little weird if it all goes down at once. also, don't chase gu with gatorade. poor choice.

  13. I say you wear a fanny pack filled with grilled cheese sandwiches. What's that you say? That might be a bit bulky? But mmmmm think of all those grilled cheese sandwiches.... ;)

    Gemma is getting so big already! She looks like she's halfway to being an adult! She needs to slow down the aging before I can see her again!

  14. Your niece is perfection! I bet you love all 10 minutes of her awakeness :)

    I agree with the past people to just practice until you figure out what works. I try to rip it open right before a water stop so that I have somewhere to throw the empty packet and know that it will get cleaned up.

  15. LOL at your caption for the 3rd pic. You bet your tail that volunteer was checking you out!

    I read about the benefits of cherry juice in Women's Running magazine and thought of you! I need to go out and get a carton, my right knee gas been acting up.

    Re: eating and running. In my last race I ate some Gus while running with a handheld, it wasn't too hard (that is, until my stomach problems flared up). But usually I don't carry a handheld water bottle and just walk through the water stations. I figure I'm getting a bit of rest (only a few seconds, but enough to take a few deep breaths) and will be able to make up for the lost time.

  16. Your niece is adorable! :)

    I haven't completely got the art of eating while running down. The only gel I like are the hammer apple-cinnamon ones. I recently discovered that I like chomps so, I'll try those for my next race. I run with a hydration belt because I like to take a drink when I want and to ensure that I get fluids in my mouth instead of on me! :)

  17. Thanks for the shoutout on your hamstring strain! I just noticed that it seems like your body always seems to get injured right around race time, and then everything seems to be fine during and after the race. I remember that you did a post about your hamstring strain before the Giants race and I was thinking - no worries, she will be fine. I didn't even bother posting about it because I thought you'd be fine, haha

    As for eating/drinking on the run, during training runs I try to take a quick swig of water/cytomax every .50 miles or so to ensure that I'm drinking at regular intervals. I use amphipod fuel belt - each bottle is 10 oz I think, and put 1 bottle of water, 1 bottle of cytomax. Then I eat a gu every 4 miles or so, as well as a endurolyte salt tablet.

    During races, I don't wear my water bottles, only the fuel belt with gus and salt tablets in them. I still eat a gu and salt tablet every 4 miles or so. I try to only slow down a little bit, I definitely can't eat going full speed.

    During races I usually have 1 glass of water, and 1 glass of cytomax at each water station. As a rule I generally walk through each water stop, to get a breather, and to ensure I actually get the liquid into my mouth!

  18. I stick my GUs and Chomps down my bra (seriously). This makes them squishier and easier eat. I find that it takes just one squeeze to get all of the Gu out which I rinse and swallow with 1 gulp of water. I've tried handhelds but not a fan. I prefer the packages.

    I am a total slob and end up covered in sticky carbohydrates which I try to rinse off with sweat. Though I love all things pink and an a totally girly girl, I run like a man, snot, sweat and all.

  19. I hate GU and it returns the favor and hates me right back..
    For me the only thing I can take
    Sports Beans: Watermelon
    NUUN fruit punch
    Salt Tablets
    and Gum..I know I know...BAD but I also know you do it as well!!! :)


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