Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring Training: Week 16

Spring Training posts document my training for my "A" race, the Wisconsin Marathon half, on May 4.

The week, in training:

Monday: 4.5 miles
Tuesday: 3.5 miles (for Boston) +  BODYPUMP (taught)
Wednesday: 6 (birthday) miles
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 6.31 miles
Saturday: BODYPUMP (taught)
Sunday: 11.36 miles

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I don't think it's been a big secret that I've been playing with my fueling these past few months. I've tried Honey Stinger chews (love), Sport Beans (meh) and Clif Shot Bloks in about a million different flavors but all the while I've stuck with chews. I found last year, during Columbus Marathon training, that I couldn't stomach gels. Maybe it was the unbearable heat or changes in my body but my once reliable Gu made me nauseous.

And so it was with great caution that I accepted an invitation from Kevin Sherbourne, the co-founder of Huma Chia Energy Gel, to try his product.

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According to the website:
The idea for Hüma was born in the sands of Iraq. In the summer of 2009 a US Army soldier named 1st Lieutenant McCollum was charged with leading grueling missions throughout Iraq. At the time he was reading a book about the Tarahumara, a tribe of Mexican Indians who regularly compete in epic 100+ mile races as part of their culture. To fuel themselves on these ultramarathons, they use a special chia seed blend. He figured if it worked for them in Mexico, maybe it would work for him in Iraq. Hüma brings together Tarahumara tradition, sports nutrition research, healthy ingredients and great taste as our best shot at helping you enjoy your gel. 
Reading that story and learning about the company made it impossible for me to turn down the chance to sample the gels, which come in two flavors - strawberry and apple cinnamon. After all, if I'm putting work to clean up my diet, shouldn't I do the same for the fuel that powers my runs? The ingredients for Huma include fruit, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup and chia seeds - a far cry from the long list that you see on other products.

I decided to take one of the gels - strawberry, if you are curious - on my long run Sunday at Chain O'Lakes, along with some Shot Bloks to see how it would work for me. As I said in my post about the Indiana Trail 100, even the roads in the park are hilly and I could feel the toll on my legs early on. I normally fuel at miles 5 and 10, and I was more than ready for a gel once the watched turned over from 4.99 to 5.00.

I stopped cold in my tracks, took a drink of nuun and took out the gel. My hands, cold from the blustery April temperatures, seemed to struggle to tear the foil but once I got the right spot, it opened immediately. I took the first bite(?) a bit apprehensively but was pleasantly surprised once the gel hit my tongue. It tasted just like strawberry jam, with a similar texture is well. It went down very easily and was far less goopy than traditional gels. It could very easily be taken mid-stride if fingers aren't frozen together.

People always talk about this jolt of energy that comes from taking a gel or sports fuel but I'll be honest, I'm not sure I've ever felt that way. More than anything, it just makes me feel like not crapping out. And I didn't crap out with Huma. Same as when I took Shot Bloks at mile 9. (Fueled early because I wanted to delay running up a hill.) But the bonus, which is one of the pros of Huma, is no stomach problems. Not a one. So I literally didn't crap out.

While I don't really think one time is enough to warrant a fair review, I look forward to trying the Apple Cinnamon gel on my run this weekend. A good run will earn it a spot in my SPIbelt for Wisconsin otherwise I'll stick with Margarita Shot Bloks and give the gels a second go as I base-build for my fall marathon. But I sincerely feel like the company - and the product - is one worth supporting.

Have you tried any new fuel lately? What do you take on long runs?

Disclosure: Huma provided me with samples of the gels to try at no charge but all opinions and thoughts are my own.


  1. Last weekend, instead of my chocolate gu, I grabbed a handful of pretzels at an aid station and had a bite of banana. I was a bit nervous about how my stomach would accept that, but surprise! Real food worked well for me that day. And was much more satisfying (to my mouth).

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  3. Never tried these but would love to! I'm a gel kind of girl...I do like chews but find them hard to eat while running...

  4. Standard: Shot Bloks, Gu, Gu Roctane for a late-run pick-me-up. I have recently experimented with Picky Bars for long (>3 hr) runs. I'm kinda meh on the flavor, but they cause NO gut problems, so they're coming with me to my 50K.

  5. I've heard of these but haven't found them in stores here anywhere. I love chia in my oatmeal so I'd love to give the gels a try. I've pretty much switched to shot blocks too. I used to love gels and now I can only use them when biking. They make me sick when I run.

  6. I think someone from this company is going to contact me about trying them. I am curious. The ingredient list on GUs doesn't scare me, but it would be fun to try something else with GU consistency since that is what I like! I use those, vegan fig newtons and real food on long runs.

  7. I've seen these before I think in blogland. I checked out there site and was hoping for more info or a place locally to buy.. bummed they aren't offered in my area. Glad you give them a good review so far!