Although I have used energy gels a number of times before, I was also keen to see what my body could achieve without them. Not that I personally have anything against them, I just prefer using them as little as possible. The ones I use are the only ones that I’ll use (for now) as I know that they’re vegan/natural based products. During my last marathon, I had wanted to steer clear of energy gels and take a much more natural approach with my energy intake…
Some runners said I was crazy to even THINK about running a full marathon without the help of the easiest form of carb intake; whilst other ‘natural runners’ praised my choices and gave me advice on what to take.
At the time, I was aiming for a sub-four hour PB, which made a lot of people question my reasoning for an organic approach, but I just hadn’t needed energy gels during training, so why would I just start using now for the full marathon event?
My research started a few months before the big day: What would be beneficial for race day? What would be easy to intake? What would keep me going for that length of time?
First off, I was DEFINITELY going to take dark chocolate with me, my go-to for a quick sugar fix without it being too sickly. I found that the small bars in Aldi were handy to pop into my flip belt, plus, dark chocolate takes longer to melt, which means no messy fingers!
Secondly, I took squeezable peanut butter sachets from Pip and Nut as I LOVE peanut butter. It was great for that burst of energy, however if you do choose to have this, also take water with it, otherwise you will have a whole lot of trouble swallowing.
Raisins. Need I say more? Small, handy and easy to eat. These little babies gave me a mini burst of energy and taste amazing… But I would probably need more than one pack next time. It just wasn’t enough to sustain me throughout the 26 mile race.
Next up we have the digestive biscuits; something sugary, salty and a little bit naughty. They were super tasty, especially the natural oat version that I had, but the practicality of having these would deter me from using them again . With a dry mouth, they were hard to swallow and eating the damn thing was more of a chore than an enjoyment. I won’t completely throw the idea out of the window, but I may look at alternatives.
Last but most certainly not least, we have the one and only Wild Power Wheat Grass shot. I bought this from Planet Organic only a couple of weeks prior to my marathon, because there was just something about this product that had me hooked from the get go. On the day of the marathon, I took it in the last 4KM and it gave me that final push to cross the finish line with speed.
Beetroot is great for a natural boost (runners take it especially for performance) and it is full of iron, magnesium and other antioxidants. Whilst wheat grass is rich in vitamins, amino acids and proteins which are the building blocks for recovery and repair. Just what the body needs after a marathon beating!
It gave me a huge burst of energy towards the end, which I believe, helped contribute to my 3:57 finish time. I have since bought the product again and used it during other long runs and it has definitely benefited my personal performance. I will be taking one of these bad boys with me to London Marathon, I can assure you!
3:45 you say?
Do you use energy gels, or are you also a natural runner? What do you intake on your marathons? I would love to see what everyone else uses!