Monday, March 26, 2012

Our Favorite Trail Snacks


Pictured: Vanilla Honey Stinger Waffle, Justin's Honey/PB Blend, Swinging Bridge


Back into spring, into heavy training mode, that time when so many thoughts inevitably turn toward one of my favorite subjects: food.

Mmmm ... food.

In addition to the nutritional decisions we make for breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, snack, after school snack, tapas, dinner, and dessert (Um, you have these decisions too, right?), we endurance athletes also have to put some thought into what sustains us out on the trail.

When running for 6-10 hours in a day, I have a few qualities I look for in my trail food:

Calories, taste, and palatability (does it sit well on the stomach?). I want a lot of calories for very little mass, I want it to be yummy, and I definitely do not want it to make me nauseous. I tend to fluctuate in various stages as to what I think qualifies as yummy, and I also have some old standbys that never wane. (For instance, back in 2009 I was in love with Berries-Go-Mega Odwalla Bars. Now? The very idea makes me want to throw up. I'm feeling a little queasy just typing this.)

I am one of those few runners who doesn't really love to talk gear. I think it's a result of having worked in gear stores for so long. (And plus, you know what? You really don't need most of that stuff! Shhhh!) But I can talk food forever! Especially while on trail.

So, I thought I'd share some of my trail food loves in the hopes that it will give you all some new ideas of what to try. I'm hoping, of course, for some of your brilliance in return.


Classic Standby: PBJ -Tastes good. Sits well. Always have it at home. Always available at aid stations.

Standard Race Fare: GU -Any flavor. Immediate rescue from an "inevitable" bonk.

Latest Favorite: Strawberry Honey Stinger Waffle with Justin's Chocolate/PB blend spread on top. OMG SO AWESOME! (Also amazing - Vanilla waffle with Nutella.)

Thirst Quenching: Honey Stinger Pink Lemonade Chews. Seriously, these taste like "cool and refreshing on a hot summer day." I don't know how they do it.

When I'm Feeling Pukey: GU Chomps. Calories that never come back up.

Early in a Run: banana, Mountain Mix Mojo Bar

Late in a Race: avocado with salt 

Post Run: Black Butte Porter (with a strawberry/watermelon GU Brew Recovery chaser)


So? Lay it on me friends. What do you love before, during, and after those long runs and races?




20 comments:

  1. I'm still in the trial stages...I had some major fueling problems at the LA Marathon, and I'm going to try eating some more real food while on longer runs. Avocados with salt sound great! But I'm going to try out some of the Honey Stinger products too.

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    1. Well, it's all experimentation to find out what works, that's for sure. I find that to be part of the fun, except when something doesn't work of course! I don't do too much real food in a marathon, just GU, but the longer the race, the more "real" I want my food to be. I can only do GU for so long, you know?

      Also, btw, I see on your blog that you are a John Green fan. Awesome. Clearly you have excellent taste. Thanks for hanging out at Daily Adventures! :)

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  2. During effort long runs and races - power-gels. When the night comes - broth of any kind. Every 20 miles or so, as well as when feeling puke-y - tomato or V8 juice. To full the stomach to fill full - potato chips. On occasions - a piece (small) of banana. If available - avocado and sausage. After long hard run or race - anything with lots of fat, like eggs/sausage/cheese combination. A sip of beer, and I am sleep:)

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    1. Oh, I totally forgot about V8 juice! I love that during a long run or a race. Especially when it's hot out and the V8 is cold! Definitely grease for post-run, if the tummy isn't upset.

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  3. Whoa, this just blew my mind...PB on a Honey Stinger Waffle? How did I not think of this already?! Pure genius! This I shall try. Love me some Justin's.

    We are very similar in that my yummy scale changes frequently. Currently, I'm also on a Honey Stinger kick. Going on one year now (a record!). I love both the original and vanilla waffles on the run, and I just found out this winter that their yummy factor goes WAY up in cold temps: frozen waffles = incredibly delicious and satisfying!

    The pink lemonade chews are also my current thirst quenching chews. I need to try these out frozen, too. I bet they are downright sinfully yummy that way.

    When I'm pukey, I have found that Coke does wonders. Not sure if it's the sugars or the fizzies, but whatever it is it's miraculous.

    I'm kinda rigid in my on-the-run eating. I have a plan and I generally stick to it. But, I'd like to get my stomach to be happy with a wider variety of things so that I can travel a little lighter :) Though it's hard to imagine not having my stash of Honey Stingers with me everywhere I run :)

    Nothing beats broth late in a run. Well, except for maybe a nap, but we're talking food right now :)

    Perpetuem makes me gag a little thinking about it as it used to be my go-to nutrition. That, and Tri Berry Gu...just looking at a packet of it reminds me of chucking it back up at RDL 100. Grody.

    I love a good Belgian white ale after long runs/races. Ice cold and plentiful :)

    This was fun!

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    1. Ditto on Coke, how did I forget this:)

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    2. Sounds like Honey Stinger is all the rage these days! For good reason. Yep, PB is super good on any waffle flavor, as is nutella. I actually prefer them defrosted rather than frozen, but alas, sometimes there is no choice!

      I totally recall your Perpetuem thing during RDL because I was impressed you could take in so much of it. I am not a fan! I am looking for more sources of liquid calories though since I'm thinking after 30 hours of running that's all my stomach may be able to take, and I will still need to run many miles. I mean, at that race in July.

      Coke - yes! For me, it's the fizzies.

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    3. You have a race in July? ;)

      Geof has been digging this First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot stuff. It's a little too sicky sweet for me, but he has really liked it. It comes in these handy sized (and reusable!!) gel containers.

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  4. I agree about the fizzy beverages--I always forget they'll be there, but then am so excited to see Sprite or Ginger Ale on the table. I usually go for the clear stuff, just because I like it better.

    On favorite foods, I'm hesitant to list a favorite, as it'll end up being something I gag on in a future race, and will no longer be a favorite. I've had many favorites go by the way-side after a gagging incident or two.

    Gels usually go down well for me (until I start gagging late in a 100) and I like Clif Shot in citrus. But I usually mix up the flavors to not get sick of one. I used to love chocolate until I overdid it, and now I use them sparingly.

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    1. Yes, every favorite has the potential to become something that makes you gag just thinking about it. I think that's a side effect of running 100-milers.

      Funny, although I am a huge fan of real chocolate, and real coffee, I have never been a fan of chocolate or coffee flavored gels. They're okay, but almost always my last choice.

      Ginger Ale - YUM!

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  5. Stinger waffles are my new favorite run fuel. So yummy and they go down easy. I've never tried the chews but I think I need to now. Also recently discovered Trader Joe's dark chocolate covered ginger. :D

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    1. Okay, I was just at TJ's today and did not see the chocolate covered ginger! Hmm ... I am on a mission now!

      And yes, try the chews!

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  6. oh me gotta try some of them Lemonade chews! I also have Panetone and Fig Newmans in my arsenal!

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    1. What is Panetone? I am intrigued!

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  7. I really need to try those stinger waffles -they look awesome. My fueling has been very boring on the road running - just chocolate gu-s. I'm hoping to start doing a lot more trails, where, for some reason, real food is much more appetizing. My favorites used to be trail mix and payday bars :).

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    1. I should totally get a commission on Honey Stinger sales, don't you think? ;) I also find I don't eat much real food on the road. I think trail running is just more of a casual pace, so real food is easily digested. Plus, often we're out there for longer.

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  8. I usually don't run long enough for real food during races(marathons mostly), but post race I've found the only thing that sits well with my stomach is a big vat of rice pudding. And once the stomach has settled, a good IPA. I can't wait to try some of the things mentioned once I start running farther. Fun.

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    1. I definitely only take in GU during marathons. Those hard efforts make digestion a challenge, but they seem to be enough. Ooh - rice pudding! That sounds awesome!

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  9. I wish Honey Stinger made a gluten free waffle. I love Vans GF waffles pre-run (or pre-swim, as the case is more likely to be these days). I always go for the salted potatoes at the aid stations. That's the only option that consistently stays down for me. And I kind of nurse one Honey Stinger chew after another (any flavor) to keep a steady drip of sugar flowing.

    Coke is gold late in a race.

    I'll be facing a new nutrition challenge this summer. I'm planning to do some long open water swim races. I need to find something that my kayaker can toss to me in the water and I can chew-n-swallow quickly. I'm afraid I'll choke on Honey Stingers or Clif Bloks. Maybe tiny pieces of Clif bar? I don't know.....

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    1. Ooh - interesting problem, how to fuel during a long swim! Do you know what most people do for those? I never even thought about that. Also, how do you drink water during those events?? Good luck, Pam! I'll definitely be interested to hear how your swimming goes.

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