Toilet Gags - Part 2

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Toilet Gags - Part 2

03rd Nov 2014

In Part 1 I talked about practising nutrition for long events such as the marathon. In this part I'm going to talk about some of the nutrition options that you can use on the move.

Gels/Gel Cubes
This products have been engineered to provide a combination of energy either directly via sugars or via energy releasing B vitamins as well as (depending on the product), electrolytes (salts to help electrical impulses to the muscles), vitamins, mineral and even caffeine.

If you are sensitive to caffeine take care to read the labels, in fact read the label carefully anyway before you choose a product to try. Check to see how many of the item you need for the length of your event as well as any allergens.

Gels come as a viscous liquid product or in cubes like the jelly used in trifles. Which you choose can be down to personal preference for texture and taste as well as what your system can handle. Most gels need to be taken with water so you need to take this into account as well.

Carbohydrate drinks
These come ready made or as powders to mix with water. Products such as Lucozade are often handed out at intervals by the race organisers in UK races. If you plan to carry your own product you'll need to find a method that you are comfortable with, perhaps a water reservoir in a small backpack or a bottle belt, make sure you test the exact one you are planning to use in the race on your long runs.

Some carbohydrate drinks may also contain electrolytes – read the label carefully. If you have chosen to use a carbohydrate drink it is best not to use gels as well, both contain the same ingredients so it's one or the other.

Electrolyte drinks
As carbohydrate drinks these can come ready made or as a powder. These may also be part of a carbohydrate product as above. Electrolytes help to send the electrical impulses to your muscle to make them contract. If you are taking a lot of water onboard during your race it may be advisable to include electrolytes in your regime as that extra water may be diluting the salt in your blood stream.

'Real' Food
This will be much harder to carry with you but sometimes can be a good option for longer events (longer than marathon and where you will be using a backpack so you can carry light items). The items often chosen here are bananas and jelly babies. Bananas are a good source of fuel and also can help prevent cramps via their potassium content but they bruise easily and you've got to dispose of the skins. Some races do give them out in the later stages but this is not very common in my experience.

Jelly babies are a substitute for gels but contain only sugars not the extra vitamins/minerals/caffeine that has been engineered into the gels. Spectators regularly provide these to runners in marathons and half marathons I have completed!

Oranges will provide a little sugar and can help your mouth feel less dry if you are suffering that way but are hard to carry and again there is the skin to get rid of. I mention them mostly as they've been offered by spectators on a few races I've attended.

The most unusual thing that has been offered to me on race was a a cup of tea. The gesture although kind was not particularly helpful on a warm day at mile 7 of the Great North Run but you've got to love the hospitality of the spectators!

In part 3 I'll talk about pre and post race nutrition and what to do if you are worried that the worst will happen