Saturday, February 24, 2007

To GU or Not to GU

Actually, that isn't even really the question. Everybody who's anybody knows you GU.

I had a ten-miler on tap this morning and after a couple of weeks of strong, solid shorter runs, I was quite looking forward to it. I'd mapped out a different route that I hadn't run in a long time, both for the purpose of presenting new scenery, but also to start doing some hill training, which will be useful for my race in April. The weather was not cooperating, unfortunately. Although the temperature was manageable (albeit very cold), it was gusty winds that threatened to make it a miserable run. But that didn't matter. It was to be ten miles today-- wind, rain, snow or shine. I was on a mission and I was stoked because, you see, I was armed with my secret weapon.

Enter the GU.

For long-distance runners and other endurance athletes, GU needs no introduction. It is as readily utilized as a favorite pair of old running socks. But for those not familiar with this magical concoction, allow me to briefly explain:

From its website, "GU gives the most concentrated form of immediate energy with no stomach bulk or distress, is quickly and efficiently absorbed, and will maintain your blood sugar at the optimal level for a great workout start to finish."

As is rightfully claimed, GU is energy.

Now, what the website doesn't mention is that GU isn't the most appealing of culinary delights. Sure, it comes in delectable flavors such as raspberry razzle, chocolate outrage and lemon sublime. But the fact of the matter is GU is as pleasant to consume as, say, a conveniently-packaged two ounces of flavored snot. So, while a two-year old might think it's the cat's meow, a typical adult will find placing GU in his mouth and swallowing it a rather traumatizing experience.

Yet, I'm telling you, this stuff is gold.

I don't GU unless I'm running ten miles or more. Ten miles will take me more than 90 minutes to run and up until that point I can get away with just gummy bears and Gatorade. But if I know I've got to maintain my energy level well past one hour, I'll pack along the GU and prepare myself pyschologically to suck it down. Today, I took it at mile 5... halfway into the run. It's been a few months since I've had the pleasure of consuming GU and if I weren't a runner, I could go the rest of my life without ever doing it again. Yet, sometimes what must be done in life isn't easy nor fun.

Today's GU flavor of choice was strawberry with caffeine included (a necessity in my book). Opening the package usually doesn't require rocket science to accomplish, but it was cold and I was wearing gloves and... well... I'm not exactly a rocket scientist. Finally opened, the necessary evil was at hand. Eating GU is kind of like taking liquid cough medicine... you just have to do it fast without thinking too much about it. Because of the cold temperature, the GU was a little more solid than usual, forcing my face to grimace into even more of a twisted contortion. But down the hatch it went, followed by lots of fluid, and once I resisted the initial urge to wretch it right back up, I settled back in and waited for the kick I knew would surely come.

And come it did. The last half of my run started with an effortless one-mile downhill sprint followed by a grueling four-mile battle against the wind. But through it all, my body was strong and surged forward, carried by legs of steel. Had I not GU'ed, I would surely have dissipated into a pathetic puddle of quivering flesh by the end of ten miles. I even had energy to slowly jog the rest of the way home after hitting the ten mile mark.

Next week is a fallback week, meaning I won't have to GU for at least two weeks. Probably a good thing... it'll take at least that long for my taste buds to recover.


tavox said...

hi!! excellent site


Allen said...

I think e-Gel is a better product, and it tastes good too! I use it on my long runs and will be using it before and during the half on April 21.

Anonymous said...

You should try Stinger Gel. GU is so gu-yyy-eee-yyy. :-/ I think they make one with caffeine...or is (GG) it Ginseng??? Hmmmm..... In the end, whatever it
takes!!! GU get 'em!!!!! :-/

Chad said...

I've never used Gu on a run, I have used it on a bike occassionally and on my hikes across the Grand Canyon. My taste buds turn off on those hikes though and I don't feel like eating anything so Gu works well because it is small.

I think the key is what you wash it down with.

By the way - I think you would be a great coach - you are someone who is learning while doing - and with running most people are looking for someone that can show them they can be successful. Besides, there is no faster way to learn than to try and teach.

robison52 said...

I don't like the consistency nor sharp taste of GU's; I prefer Jelly Belly's "Sport Beans" as it tastes like Jelly Bellys candies. Like Ronald Reagan I could eat Jelly Belly's by the ton! Lately I've been training with not taking any carbs during my longer runs with mixed results. As usual, we're all an experiment of one, what works for me might not work for you.

I like the sound of the title, "Coach Angie!"