Category Archives: hydration

An All New Nuun

Say that 10 times fast…

Nuun announced a change in formula this week AND a new flavor. My order of Mango Orange Energy hasn’t arrived yet but I’m excited to try it and will report back. In terms of the change in formula, I’m excited to see that they have swapped to plant based sweeteners (it was previously a sugar alcohol) and that they are certified gluten-free, dairy free, soy free and most importantly, clean sport certified. In a time when too many athletes are claiming that they didn’t know what they were putting in their body, it’s important for companies to provide this information and for us to take full responsibility for what we ingest. It’s also nicer on our stomachs to digest plant-based sweeteners rather than sugar alcohols.

Finally, Nuun is clearing out some retiring flavors on sale including cherry limeade, Kona Cola and lemon tea. None of these are my true loves (although I like lemon tea) but if you live for them, stock up now before they are gone forever.

Race Report: Craft Brew 5K Stowe 2015

Short Version: It was hot and I ran just fast enough to call it a workout and win a stein.

Long Version

Mike asked me to run this race earlier in the week as part of the brewery team for Frost Brew Works, where he moonlights when he’s not running the Catamount Outdoor Family Center. Races are always a great way to get a good effort in and there’s little I like more than a beer festival, so I happily signed up. I did not anticipate quite as much heat and humidity as we encountered with a noon start time, however.

We didn't realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We didn’t realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We arrived a little after 11 and managed to get the second to last reasonable parking space. Seth and I found our way to the crazy registration line then did our warmup, a bit of a misnomer since we were overheated already. My legs felt horrible on the warmup but I wasn’t expecting much at 86 degrees and 98% humidity plus a week of nights. The race start was a little delayed because they were having some parking issues (1 road in created a problem) but the organizers did a good job of communicating and we were off a little after noon.

And we're off...

And we’re off…

I had no goals for the day except to get a workout effort in and win the giant Stein if I could, while helping my team to a team win. I planned to go out in no faster than 6:20 for the first mile and in hindsight, I wish I’d stuck to that plan. Much like the Champlain Classic, I looked down a bit into the race and saw 5:40 something and had to put the brakes on. I went through the mile in 6:11, which felt totally fine at the time, but was probably the nail in my coffin.

Mile 2 was BAKING hot. We turned onto the bike path at some point and I distinctly remember thinking they’d moved the marker because it seemed so long. Other people started to come back to me during this mile, which was the only consolation. Somewhere in this mile, I stopped checking my watch because it was just so depressing. I resolved to focus on good form and tempo effort and just grind it out. My watch beeped long after the marker at 6:32.

By the third mile, I just wanted to be done. We were on the uphill section of the bikepath, there was no respite from the sun and to make things more miserable, someone was blowing dust to clean out a parking lot, creating a chokingly horrible few meters. Mile 3 was 6:51.

We finally turned onto the final stretch and I just did my best to keep it together to finish, which was about 6:12 pace. 20:30 has to be one of my slowest 5Ks ever, but when I looked around at the other finishers, it was clear that everyone had a similarly exhausting experience. After a few seconds of kneeling and taking an assessment of just how overheated I was, I found Mike, Seth and Will and we headed out on the cooldown. By the end of the cooldown (and 3 full water bottles of Nuun later), I was feeling back to my springy self and much better about the run.

I was first woman overall, but not by nearly as much as I thought, so I’m happy that I didn’t phone it in more than I did! We also won Biggest Team and Fastest Team, which meant that there were plenty of steins to go around.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

Am I thrilled with this race? No. Am I worrying about it? Not one bit. It was hot and miserable and I just plugged along and got it done. I felt amazing by Saturday afternoon and ready to attack another week of training.

A note on the race series: Craft Brew Races is a relatively new race series that brilliantly pairs running and a brewfest in a reasonably priced ($55) package. I don’t usually do events like this because they are chaotic and not generally aimed at creating a good race environment but I was really pleasantly surprised with this production and am guessing that the creators are actually runners first. The course was well thought out (great loop), well marked and had professional timing, which meant that results were accurate and fast. The brewfest was great too; unlimited samples, which meant that you could dump out beers that you just didn’t like and a reasonable sized crowd so you weren’t waiting forever in line. They had a nice combination of local breweries (including some that we had never even heard of) and some better known breweries from Vermont and New England. I didn’t sample any of the food trucks but there were plenty of those too. Two thumbs up from me!

 

How I Use Nuun and Discounts for Everyone!

Discount Code at the bottom!

As many of you know, I became a member of Team Nuun at the beginning of the year. Since then, I’ve been furiously working to test out as many of the Nuun products as I can so that I could do another product review for everyone and share how I’ve incorporated all the Nuun products into my running (and studying) life. Prior to being sponsored, I’d only used the Active as it was available in my local running store. Now that I have run of the farm, however, I’ve tried Natural, Energy and All Day.

Typical order in our house.

Typical order in our house.

Not as many people know why hydration is so critical for me personally. I have a heart…feature (hate the word condition) where even moderate dehydration can cause a significant rise in my heart rate, colloquially known as “holiday heart.” It is among the worst feelings in the world. For me, my heart hammers against my chest wall, I struggle to breathe and I can’t even hold my head up. I struggled with it a lot at the end of college when I was coaching sailing on Lake George (sun + long hours = disaster) but really hadn’t had a problem with it again until second year when my schedule got crazy and my hydration stopped being a major focus. During the fall, including one race, I had six runs where my heart went nuts and I had to pray I’d make it home. It’s always terrifying because I’m never totally sure whether it’s the inevitable time when it goes from tachycardia to arrhythmia. Because I’ve struggled with it recently, one of my quiet New Years Resolutions was to refocus on always being as hydrated as possible. With the exception of one or two skipped beats, I’ve been doing really well. So here’s how I use Nuun to support my running, prevent my holiday heart** and generally keep my life on track.

First Thing in the Morning

Nuun All Day: 95% of the time, I start the day with an All Day tab in my regular water bottle. It tastes great but doesn’t have the salt of the Active tabs so it’s an easy way to get 20 ounces of water down before you can even open your eyes.

Flavors: Blueberry Pomegranate and Tangerine Lime are my favorites, Grape Raspberry is good (and I usually never like Grape flavor), and Grapefruit Orange doesn’t work for me. I was bummed to find out that I don’t like the Grapefruit because I generally love that flavor.

Recommendation: Buy the Mixed 4 Pack first (60 tabs) to see what you like the best.

Lunch Time

Natural Hydration: This product appears to be missing right now from the Shop (I’ll ask about it), but this is the clear favorite in our house. In fact, now that I know it’s sold out, I just hid the last tube from Will. Tangerine Ginger is my flavor of choice and it is DELICIOUS. It’s made with Stevia so is a little sweeter, perfect to go with lunch and (try) to avoid diet soda with my sandwich.

3 PM Slump

Energy: This is where Nuun really started to shine for me. I started replacing my 3 pm cup of coffee with a Nuun energy instead and used this exclusively when I took Step 1 because it helped to quench my thirst AND keep me awake without the diuretic effect of coffee. The myth about coffee dehydrating you has been debunked (here and here, for example) but I still prefer to avoid the jitters that happen after a few cups or lay awake all night. One tablet contains 40 mg of caffeine, about half a cup of coffee and for me, it’s enough to get me through 3 pm with 20 ounces of fluid instead of 8.

Flavors: I love the Wild Berry, which also appears to be sold out right now. Lemon Lime is pretty good and I couldn’t do the Cherry Limeade; tasted like baby aspirin to me.

Recommendation: Buy the sampler pack and find out what you like, then try to sub out a cup of coffee for a bottle of Nuun. I haven’t been doing long enough runs to need hydration recently, but I’m also looking forward to using the Energy during long runs and races in lieu of caffeinated gels and to mixing it into Sarah-ade.

Post Workout

Active: The original and the one with lots of flavor choices! I have a Nuun Active after every run and sometimes two after hard workouts or between workouts. When you break down the electrolytes, it is isotonic with sweat (fancy word for same) so it satisfies the cardinal rule of fluid management: replace what you lost.

Flavors: I LOVE Lemonade and Strawberry Lemonade, like Lemon Lime and Orange, tolerated Fruit Punch and BLECH NEVER AGAIN to Kona Cola. That being said, Will almost exclusively drinks Kona Cola, so I’d recommend trying it if you can because it seems to be polarizing. I cannot wait until Lemon Tea and Watermelon are back in season, because I suspect I’ll love both.

Recommendation: Pick a flavor you typically like and order one to try. The only one I’ve hated was Kona Cola, the rest were fine even if I didn’t love them. Flavors are introduced fairly regularly too, so keep an eye on the site for new ones.

Bonus

Nuun also has some cute gear, my favorite item of which is the Trucker Hat. My original one disappeared only to end up on my brother-in-laws head, so I had to buy a second one. Fits great, great color and perfect for wearing to the gym or up on the Podium after a race.

Discount for Everyone!

Finally, the only reason you read all these words, is that from now until March 26th, everyone who shops with Nuun and uses the code “LuckyNuunFriends” gets 20% off almost all the products on the site! This is a great way to try out Nuun for the first time or stock back up before the temps climb again. If you shop between now and March 17th, you also get a free St. Patrick’s day pint glass. Your call on whether you use it for beer or Nuun…

**Although I am halfway to being a Doctor, this is not intended to be medical advice nor should it be interpreted as such. If you have a similar or any medical condition, please seek the care of your physician.

Team Nuun 2015!

If you follow me on Twitter or watch this blog really, creepily closely, you already know the following: I will be running for Team Nuun in 2015! As you know, I tried Nuun last year and it got me through a very hot, humid summer of high mileage. I’m looking forward to using it year round, especially as I head into the crazy clinical months and to sharing new products with you on a regular basis as Nuun expands its offerings. Also to driving my team crazy with my trucker hat.

Nuun Badge

A few months ago, Will, Joe (my running shoe guru and manager-type) and I decided that it was time for me to begin pursuing some sponsorships to help support my running and Nuun is the first company to announce it’s 2015 plans. I know many readers have never done the sponsorship thing, and I’m hopeful this won’t be my last announcement for 2015, so I thought I’d give a little education on the process, the commitment and my commitment to you to be transparent about products.

As you’ll see around the internet in the coming weeks, many companies are announcing their sponsorships. Just yesterday at practice, Wylie found out he’ll be on Giant’s pro team and Eric got picked up by Rossignol for the season. For those of us who spend our athletic lives somewhere between weekend warrior and elite, these sponsorships allow us to continue to compete at a high level when we don’t make more than a few thousand a year from races. Most semi-elites look for support with shoes, apparel and nutrition/hydration. In picking up Nuun, I’ve covered the hydration component of my training.

Applications for sponsorship are a lot like a mini job application; you send in your performance information, your social media contacts and answer a few questions on why you like the company, what unique qualities you bring and usually, how you’ll make sure to create an inclusive running (or active) community. It’s this last piece that really attracts me to the sponsors I’ve reached out to this year. I carefully selected companies with products that I currently use that also have demonstrated that they care about every runner, from the winner to the last person to cross the line. That philosophy is important to me as a coach and as a runner, and I want to be paired with companies who feel the same way.

So what’s the commitment? Basically, I talk about Nuun in the context of how I use it in training and racing. I’m required to wear a Nuun logo while racing (I’ll probably do an arm tattoo, unless it’s an IAAF race then…I’ll figure it out) and to help out at events where Nuun is involved. Since they have great Trucker Caps, I’ll plan to wear that when I go up on the podium to accept awards.

One of my biggest concerns in blogging is transparency. I’m not one for many sponsored posts or affiliate links and nothing makes me unfollow a blog faster than when I get the sense that someone is just shilling a product just to shill. There are actually very strict rules about what bloggers have to say when a post is sponsored or a product is provided but these rules aren’t always followed. Here’s what you can expect from me with the Nuun sponsorship and any other sponsorships/affiliate relationships going forward:

  • Clear announcement (just like this one). When the email came in yesterday, I did a little jump and squeak in the kitchen because this is really, really, really exciting for me. I work so hard at running and something like this helps me out enormously. In announcements, you can expect information on why I went after that company, what I like about them and what my commitment to them is.
  • Disclosures, always. I will be getting product to test out over the coming year and as always, I will let you know who paid for it and tell the honest truth, even if it’s not positive.

Anyone else hear on sponsorships this week? New Team Nuun-ers checking out the blog?

Product Review: Nuun Active Hydration

I finally did it. After listening to everyone rant and rave about how Nuun changed their lives and made them look younger and run faster, I had to temporarily get on board with the Angry Birds and try it out. Because it comes in many different varieties, I took my time testing it out. I used it on runs. I used it after runs. I even used it after a night where I had one too many craft beers and acquired a serious morning headache.

Most recent trial flavors, Orange and Pink Lemonade

Most recent trial flavors, Orange and Pink Lemonade

The Claims: Nuun is an “electrolyte enhanced drink” that promises to “alleviate cramps, help muscles function, communicate and burn energy efficiently.” Unless I failed biochemistry (which I didn’t), that’s a enhanced interpretation of the role of electrolytes. In general, we think of electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Chloride and Bicarb) as being critical mediators of the electrical function of our cells. Of the above claims, alleviation of cramps and muscle function are the most scientifically supported. Also in general, it’s difficult to deplete these to the point of loss of function without an underlying medical condition. Most of us on normal runs, in normal temperatures are at a very low risk of depleting electrolytes. The environments where electrolyte depletion is likely are long events or events in extreme heat or humidity.

Each Nuun Tablet has 360 mg Sodium, 50 mg Potassium, 25 mg Magnesium and 13 mg Calcium.

So if I’m skeptical, why did I try Nuun? First, because everyone else is and I like to know what’s on the market. Second, because I don’t drink enough water and welcome things that help me increase my intake daily. Third, because it’s summer and I regularly do 90+ minute runs in hot conditions. Because I’m asking a lot of my body over the summer months, it’s worth it to make sure the electrolyte gas tank is topped off before my next big effort.

What I Found: I tried four flavors of Nuun Active Hydration: TriBerry, Lemon Lime, Orange and Pink Lemonade. I’m waiting on a tube of Watermelon Nuun to arrive. Once I got used to the flavor (a little chalky, despite being a fluid) and the waiting (you need 2 minutes for the tab to dissolve), I found that I really liked drinking Nuun after my runs. It is more interesting than water and I found it easier to get 20 ounces down than I usually do. As for the flavors…

TriBerry: Blech, my first trial and not for me. Reminded me of medicine as a kid.

Lemon Lime: Okay. Not a strong flavor, a lot like watered down Yellow Gatorade.

Orange: Good, subtle flavor but totally palatable.

Pink Lemonade: My favorite and one I will definitely use again.

In conclusion, although Nuun didn’t make me younger, it does make my post-run routine more exciting and I’m more willing to drink water and generally rehydrate myself. It doesn’t have sufficient carbohydrates for use alone during a marathon, but could be combined with gels or other food items.

Have you tried Nuun? What’s your favorite flavor?

Day 5: Scottsdale to Coronado

This was a hard fought state.

This was a hard fought state.

There aren’t many times in your life when you actually think that death is imminent. Without being dramatic, I can say that yesterday was the most frightening near-death experience that I’ve ever had. As Suzanne and I were walking on the beach this morning, we both admitted that we didn’t think we were going to make it. When we left Phoenix yesterday, our AC quit as we headed into a 5 hour trek across the desert to San Diego. It was 113 degrees and under unyielding sun. Even though we stopped every hour and bought 30 pounds of ice over the trip to keep our cores cooled, we were dangerously hot by Yuma, Arizona. Unfortunately they couldn’t fix the AC, so after a short break, we pressed on to San Diego. Needless to say, I didn’t run when we got to San Diego yesterday. We’re working on rehydrating today, however, and feeling much better in the temperate Coronado climate.

Two days of rest did wonders for my running, however! I headed out on the Silver Strand bike path this morning and did the fastest, most effortless run I’ve had since before Philly. After a warm up (and mix up that landed me at the gate of the North Naval Base) to shake off yesterday’s horrific trip, I started clicking off 7:20s like it was a jog. It gives me incredible hope that once I taper, I’m going to feel amazing.

The best kind of ice baths are the kinds with tides!

The best kind of ice baths are the kinds with tides!

I’m so excited to be settled for a few days now and to get back to my regular schedule of running. There’s a track a few blocks from my sister’s new house, a million miles of bike path and of course, all of San Diego to explore. I’m also hoping to rent an Elliptigo while I’m out here. No word on whether I’ll get to roll along with Meb, however…

Day 4: Amarillo to Scottsdale

700 miles.

1 Sonic Stop in Winslow, Arizona. Yes, the Eagles song is still stuck in my head.

No calls to dad.

Texas –> New Mexico –> Arizona

We did this day right; we planned stops and took our time, which was aided by gaining two hours through time changes. It was a day of transitions in fact; we went from the plains of Texas to the mesas and buttes of New Mexico and Arizona and from 2000 feet in Amarillo to 7000 feet in Flagstaff. We got lunch at a local brewery in Albuquerque and went to Petrified Forest National Park. Our descent from Flagstaff to Scottsdale was downright terrifying but we survived. This morning, we’re a little confused by the time and altitude changes (headache anyone?) but excited to pull into San Diego this afternoon.

I’ll run this afternoon since Scottsdale is already under an “excessive heat advisory,” with temperatures climbing towards 115.

Pictures don’t do yesterday’s journey justice but they are incredible nonetheless.

Painted Desert in Petrified Forest National Park

Painted Desert in Petrified Forest National Park

Elevation training? Even jumping jacks were hard up here!

Elevation training? Even jumping jacks were hard up here!

The Teepees, from mineral deposition over centuries

The Teepees, from mineral deposition over centuries

Oh beautiful for spacious skies indeed.

Oh beautiful for spacious skies indeed.

I Thought “Dog Days of Summer” Referred to August…

 

It’s getting hot. Like my previous life in Biloxi, Austin and North Carolina hot. I’m lucky in that heat and humidity doesn’t bother me as much as other people but it’s still pretty miserable.

Always a good sign when the forecast includes a cactus in Vermont.

Always a good sign when the forecast includes a cactus in Vermont.

In an effort to get my sh*t back together, I decided that I had to attempt my workout yesterday, despite cactus-friendly temperature. I had a firm talk with myself on the way down to the bike path about focusing on tempo EFFORT and form, no matter what the pace turned out to be. It worked. I did 30 minutes at tempo effort, which turned out to be 6:51 pace and not all that far off my continuous effort goal right now. The cool down was gruesome and I required a nap but I’m glad I got this in and looking forward to my second workout this week.

A rare sports bra only run. Somehow managed to coordinate it with my headband, so style points for that.

A rare sports bra only run. Somehow managed to coordinate it with my headband, so style points for that.

Finally, to help out a fellow runner in keeping her hair off her face until the heat breaks, the winner of the Sweaty Bands giveaway is Laurel who is already a Sweaty Bands devotee. In her comment, Laurel said she never runs without them and shared this great photo on Instagram as well.

Rocking a wide Sweaty Band in her winning entry

Rocking a wide Sweaty Band in her winning entry

How are you staying cool this week? What’s your tactic for talking yourself through workouts in tough weather conditions?

Product Review: Gatorade Prime

My relationship with Gatorade is simple. I drink it in races and occasionally after a hot run but generally don’t have it around. Gatorade now has three lines: Prime, Hydrate (sort of the traditional Gatorade line) and Recover. When I saw Gatorade Prime products on sale for $1 at the grocery store, I took the opportunity to try them out. Not my best bargain hunting.

First I tried the Gatorade Prime Sports Fuel Drink in Berry. It comes in a Capri Sun like pouch without a straw, making it a little difficult to open and drink without pouring it all over your car. The flavor and consistency weren’t bad and actually akin to Capri Sun. I drank half before my workout and half after. The workout was a mess but my stomach was totally happy with my experimentation. If you’re someone who needs cajoling to drink before or after a workout, this might work for you but I can’t find a reason to buy this again over the regular old Gatorade powder which offers a similar nutrition profile with more water per serving. Grade: C+

IMG_2843[1]

Some of these ingredients make me nervous.

Some of these ingredients make me nervous.

Second, I tried the Prime Energy Chews. This is where I had high hopes, as I like chewy things and am always looking for pre-run and race fuel that I can tolerate when I’m nervous. Unless I’m having a craving for 8th grade, these will not be my pick. Did you ever chew Bubbalicious, the gum that had fantastic flavor for approximately 13 seconds before turning into a blob of plastic? These have a flavor eerily akin to that plus a bonus granularity that got stuck in my teeth for an hour on my run. There are tons of better chews on the market than this with similar calorie/nutrient profiles. Eat those instead. Grade: D

Nyet, nyet, nyet.

Nyet, nyet, nyet.

Chews Nutrition Facts

Have you tried any of the Gatorade Prime or Recover products? Thoughts?

It’s All About the Science. And Beer.

Admittedly, I didn’t do much outside reading this week. Neural Science is easily the hardest class in medical school thus far (at least for me, I have trouble imagining structures) and keeping up with school and mileage shrunk my average sleep by over an hour this week. Ooops. Regardless, what I did read seems to have centered on some great writing on the things we accept as “truth” in running. I’ve been a competitive runner since I was 14 and even I have seen quite a few trends come and go. I won’t touch the 5 Fingers news from the week because almost everyone else has and I didn’t need longitudinal data to tell me that those weren’t a good idea.

First, a fantastic post by Chris McClung on the Myth of Over-Pronation. I’ve run enough and coached enough to see lots of different kinds of form be successful. I’ve watched enough races to realize that there is no perfect. Why should we expect anything less from our feet and foot strike? I don’t totally agree with McClung that we should throw out everything but our neutral shoes but I do agree that maybe we should focus less on finding a shoe that makes us hit the ground perfectly and more on building a strong kinetic chain.

Second, an interesting culmination to a week-long conversation on training pace from Peter Larson and Caleb Masland. In the series, Larson, Masland and other athletes explore the idea of training pace. All three line up on the idea that faster is not always better for training. I couldn’t agree more. One of the biggest struggles I face as a coach is convincing athletes to slow down. When you are getting back in shape, it’s tempting to push the pace to try to accelerate fitness acquisition. When you are a hair’s length away from a PR, it’s tempting to push the pace to get there. By and large, the only place you’ll get in these scenarios is injured. Last year, Greg McMillan wrote an article on longevity that really resonated with me. For a long time, I wondered if my religiosity towards slow long runs and easy runs was holding me back. Although I’ve had two surgeries due to anatomical freakshow-ness, I’ve never struggled with injuries. I’ve never had a stress fracture. I haven’t had shin splints since 1998. I attribute much of this to the fact that I have no problem running 90 to 120 seconds slower on long runs and even slower on recovery runs. The paces that matter are race paces and workout paces.

As I’m coming back from surgery and dealing with the aches and pains associated from reminding my body that it can run, I’ve been careful to make sure the foundations matches the architect’s plans. This article is a simple but excellent summary of what systems need to be in place before real workouts can begin.

Moving on from science, the Kara Goucher sponsorship train keeps on rolling, this time with Nuun. I’ve never tried Nuun, mostly because I don’t worry about my electrolytes but I am interested in their new energy product. I find myself slumping in the afternoon but work hard not to have another cup of coffee. Adding a little zip to the water that I need to be drinking anyway appeals to me.

Finally, I’m really anxious to find out the date of the Beer Mile World Championships. I’m running a marathon on October 12th but if the Championships are later, I’m giving full thought to going for it. I’m a serviceable miler but I was an excellent beer drinker in college and feel strongly that this might be my event.

What did you read this week? Have you tried Nuun? Anyone done a beer mile and have advice?