Eating on the run

When I was in high school my dad called me the product queen. I think the nickname had something to do with the twenty-five pounds of eye shadow and ten brands of facial cleanser that swamped my bathroom counter. By the age of sixteen he had to have the floor under my sink reinforced just to carry the load.

My attraction to ‘products’ has never disappeared; instead it merely switches focus every couple of years. Right now it’s staring right at the million dollar industry of running products. The MP3 players, types of headphones, water bottle belts, and different sorts of socks (At current count I own ten different types: arch-supporting, sweat-wicking, blister-preventing, extra cushioning, extra fast etc.), are all just the beginning. Now that the marathon is less than three weeks away it’s time to research yet another running product line – gels and energy drinks.

I’ve been instructed to try these out now so that I know what agrees with my stomach while my feet are pounding the pavement. At current count there are approximately 1,000 brands of energy drinks, all claiming different, hard to pronounce, miracle ingredients. And not to confuse things, but you can buy each of them in four different sizes, twenty different flavors, two bottle shapes, or you can reconstitute your own. Decisions, decisions! Do you go for ease, ecology, or do you just choose it by the color that it turns your tongue? Personally, I like orange for no other reason than orange is my favorite color, so it looks good swishing around in my clear water bottles.

Then there’s the more solid category: energy gels. I tried GU, a tiny plastic packet of goop claiming to taste like chocolate brownie yummy-ness, or something like that. Running is painful enough; do we really have to make it worse with slime that should have the title, ‘old, burnt, chocolate tofu’?

Alright, so I nixed the gels, but every cool runner has to snack on some high-tech food substitute while they’re running, so I searched the internet for alternatives. Someone with a PhD said that graham crackers are a palatable choice, but there’s nothing very high-tech about graham crackers. Could I really hold my head up high on race day if I was munching on pre-school fare? Someone else told me the key to success was gummy bears. After all, that’s what her sister’s dog’s former owner’s houseplant does, and it’s been running marathons for years. Does anyone else smell something fishy?

These runners weren’t eating things that make them faster; they’re just using the race to excuse their favorite junk foods. So, following their lead (I’ll be following it on race day so why not start now?)

I’ve packed my little running pouch with chocolate cake, Oreos, and Reeses peanut butter cups. I’m itching to get out there, after all, I’ve got to practice eating these ‘power foods’ while I’m on the run.

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