Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nuun Review: The Good and the Annoying

One of the biggest variables I have yet to dial in for racing/training is my hydration strategy. As a result I'm always looking for new products to try on my runs. My tummy is pretty tolerant of foods while I'm running, so gels, blocks, and even solid foods seem to go down okay. So carbs are okay, and water is good, but I still seem to be missing electrolytes in the equation. Some have advised that the electrolytes in gels etc. should be enough, but I have not found this to be the case. I actually sweat out a lot of salt and I routinely come back from longer runs with salt encrusting my face, on hot days cramping usually results if I am not taking some sort of electrolyte replacement.

I was intrigued by the concept of Nuun, a flavored electrolyte replacement with no calories. In other words Nuun leaves the nutrition up to gels and other sources and just amps up the salt. As a bonus it comes in tablet form, so you can turn any water source into electrolytes on the go. I tried a tube (12 tablets) of the Lemon flavor and am pretty impressed with the taste. It is not sweet, just mildly lemony and a little salty (the salt taste is enough to be not so pleasant if you are not thirsty). It also dissolves very well in my water bottles, which has been a problem for other products I have tried. I have not had any problems with cramping even on the hottest days, plus I can drink this with energy gels without having to worry about a carb overload. In all I think this is a great product and best of all it feels a lot better than popping electrolyte pills.

Now for the annoying. When you drop the tablet into water it bubbles a lot like an antacid. This would not be a big deal, but unfortunately a lot of gas remains dissolved even after the fizzing stops. When I close up my water bottles this builds up inside resulting in a blast of gas the first few times I open the bottles on the run. Also, it can force the water out of the bottle as it shakes, dripping all over my hands. For my Ultimate Direction bottle, which can remain open without spilling, this is not such a problem, but for my Nathan bottle it is a pain. Is it annoying enough for me to stop using Nuun? Frankly, yes, if I really need a portable electrolyte replacement e-caps are really much less hassle, and probably a lot cheaper. But that doesn't mean they won't work for everyone, especially if you have an aversion to pills!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bad Blogger

I know, it's been more than a month since my last post. There are no excuses for that lack of activity, but frankly I haven't even been feeling like running lately, let alone writing about running. It's not that I'm not training, I've been able to run most days and fit in speedwork and long runs on a semi-regular basis. Honestly, I'm probably in better shape now than at any other point this year. But I think I'm really bored with the training routine.

That's not to say I haven't done anything interesting. I have a new shoe that I have been trying to incorporate into my running, the Brooks Launch. I've put almost 100 miles in on these shoes and I have to say I am really happy with the results. Primarily I bought these as a "lightweight" trainer, to train speedwork and to race in. Honestly, these weigh in closer to the middleweight class, but as I have only run in the Adrenaline series and the Cascadia trail shoe I thought these would be a good starting point for me. The transition on these shoes is really smooth and the cushioning is soft enough to let my foot move the way it wants to. The end result is that I feel like I am running on little clouds. With less stability I definitely feel the difference in my legs, I tend to land a little closer to my midfoot with these on and the first few long runs I felt sore in my calves. That soreness has long gone now and I do not hesitate to take them out on 14-16 mile runs. I think in the end that the Launch will be my permanent marathon trainer/racer with the extra cushioning for longer mileage. They are probably a little heavy to race a 5k or 10k in though, so eventually I may try to move down the racer line a little more.

With the end of my Team Gangels crewing duties it is time for me to focus on the next race at hand. The Indian Summer Half Marathon on September 13! At one point I was thinking I could PR at this event, but this week I have been feeling under the weather and with just a few training weeks left I may not have enough to pull out another sub-1:30 effort. So my plan is to go out and have fun, if I'm feeling good it will happen. Even if I crash and burn out there I will still get the pint glass!