Friday, June 24, 2011

Gels and energy bars and sports drinks, OH MY!

What’s the difference between Enhanced water and sports drinks. Enhanced water has vitamins; sports drinks have electrolytes. What does that even mean? I found this web page that talks about what is in sports drinks and why people need them but it started talking about ingredients and using words I can’t pronounce, let alone try to remember as I’m reading a label, so how am I supposed to know what’s good for me and what’s just extra unneeded calories. I mean at this point most calories in my life are unnecessary. Sports drinks will only add to that right?

I’ve seen a lot of talk about sodium and salt tablets too. I realize that sweat will release a lot of salt and just drinking water can be dangerous if salt levels get too low, but as an overweight person, I find it odd that adding more salt to my body will keep me on track for training. Right now in the training process, I’m not trying to lose weight. I know it will most likely happen, since I’m actually moving my body and not lazing around. But up until now I really haven’t seen a change in my weight.

Well, that’s a lie. Technically since January, I’ve lost about 30 pounds. It doesn’t seem significant to me though, because I haven’t seen huge leaps and bounds. I’ve been within the same 5 pounds for 2 or 3 months. I guess it’s slowly slipping down the scale without me really noticing though, because I was seeing the same 5 pounds back and forth 30 pounds ago. It’s a lose 5 then gain 4 type of game. Seeing the same numbers over and over, you don’t think you’re losing anything. It’s just back and forth.

Back to training: I’m trying to get to the point where I can race in my upcoming triathlon and not die not come in last finish. Somewhere in the back of my mind though, I’m always thinking about how professional athletes and people who run and are already stick figures would definitely need to replace sodium and carbohydrates and the other stuff you lose while swimming/biking/running. I don’t need that right? I have enough of that stuff and I could stand to lose a bit of it, right? I don’t get this stuff. Should I use it? How will it help me? And don’t even get me started on Gels. WHAT ARE THEY!! Is it like a meal in gel form? Do the astronauts eat it? What does it taste like? Will I gag? I don’t like gagging. Especially while trying to race. I have enough trouble staying upright and going in a forward motion. I don’t need to be gagging on something that’s not a liquid, yet not a solid. That freaks me out a little bit. Can’t I just eat a Kit Kat? I like Kit Kats. They've got sugar, salt and crispy stuff. It probably has enough extra things to keep me going in a race, should I lose anything (salt, electrolytes, carbs) in the process, and I won’t gag. It’s chocolate. No way can you gag on chocolate!

Oh god, and then there are the bars. Balance, CLIF, Power, Lara etc, etc, etc. What do THEY do? Meal replacement? Give energy? Do I eat a bar or gag on a gel, or is it the time for a sports drink, or should I just go with water?

See there are way too many things to keep track of and do I really need any of it? Can I just drink water and stop thinking about all these things? I need to hunt someone down who has done a lot of crazy races and knows what they are talking about with this stuff and take them out to dinner or something to I can pick their brain. (Don’t worry, the meal will be real food, not gels and bars). All this talk right here proves that even though I’ve been training for a triathlon for 6 months already and have done four 5Ks with another one coming up in a few weeks, I’m still a complete newbie at this stuff. Is there a hotline for people like me?

I'm going on a fairly long bike ride tomorrow. I'm filling my hydration pack with water. I'm going to buy Gatorade to put in my water bottle (or is Gatorade too 1980? what's the new sports drink these days?) and I'm bringing a CLIF bar. It has chocolate in it, so we're good there. Even if I have no idea what I'm doing, I can fake it until I make it. Booyah.

And now that I’ve said it out loud and actually realized it, somebody give me a bleeping high five for losing 30 pounds in 6 months. It may not be a  “lot”, but it’s a pretty damn good number for someone who’s not really trying. 


  1. I will give you not only a high-five but a huge "Atta boy" and a tremendous "Wow, way to go!" I know what an accomplishment that is, even if you're *trying*, never mind if you're NOT trying! You're also far braver than I am to go biking in this weather... I'll take a run around the block if it clears for a bit, but other than that, I'll be indoors.

  2. i bought the book, "Run Your Butt Off". it has everything you need to know. i have slacked off on my running and this book was suggested to me to help me get up off of my way too big butt!!!!!!
    i think you may enjoy reading it also!
    congrats on losing some weight - i am on the same yo-yo affect. it comes off and comes back on! i recently found out i have a sensitivity to gluten. i have to give up my pasta and breads - could be a good thing but i miss them soooo....
    anywho, glad to hear you are doing well. i just looove your sense of humor.
    let me know if you should pick up the book and what you think of it!

  3. Thank you!!

    I will definitely check out the book!

  4. There are so many different gels and bars and sports drinks out there that it can make your head spin. The trick is to find those things that work for you.

    I'll just mention a few of the things that I like. I eat a Clif bar with a banana for breakfast before a race. I don't like gels that much, but most raspberry or strawberry flavored ones are alright. I like Clif Shots (gels) better than Gu because I think Gu has a funny aftertaste. I'm a big fan of the Clif Shot Bloks, esp. the margarita flavored ones. Yum!

    If you're looking for a "sports drink" that will replace electrolytes without a lot of calories, try Nuun or Powerade Zero.


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