Scenic Runs and Fuel Talk

One of my absolute favorite things about living in Knoxville is the close proximity to the Smoky Mountains. I love that within an hour, I can leave the city behind and be hiking, biking, or camping at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As we were lucky enough to have stunning weather this weekend – blue skies and warm temperatures – I vowed to take advantage of it.

My training sets my long runs on Sundays so yesterday morning, we packed up the Swan-mobile and headed to the mountain-ward. I knew I wanted to run around Cades Cove which is a valley in the park surrounded by the mountains. The cove is a paved 11 mile loop with a speed limit of 20 (so no worries about being squished by a car) and is relatively flat-ish. Not to mention the stunning scenery…

One of my favorite ways to beat the redundancy of running is to change up where I run. For my shorter runs (at least twice a week), I typically do the same route outside my apartment – it’s no surprise that it can get pretty boring. Boring runs = runs that seem to last forever. However, running somewhere new, especially with scenery like this, is not only visually appealing but has the added advantage of making the time fly by.

See John Run

Yesterday was also a great time to experiment with race day fuel. I started out with some peanut butter oatmeal and a banana (to ward away those pesky stitches) and made sure to drink lots of water. I once read that some fools don’t like to drink coffee before they run as it acts as a diuretic and doesn’t adequately hydrate you. Well that’s probably true but I can’t live without my morning java – no way, no how – so I choose to ignore that suggestion and always, ALWAYS have at least a cup before my runs.

Also amid my research, I have read that if you plan on running over an hour, you should try to fuel up about 45 minutes into the run with around 100 calories. This is a fickle piece of advice for me so far. I have not yet hit “the wall” (knock on wood) and therefore haven’t really felt the need to re-fuel during my runs. In preparation that it may hit someday (especially when/if I get into marathon territory) I have been experimenting with various sources of energy – so far without much luck. I don’t much care for the gooey texture of Cliff Shot Bloks (I’m quite weird about the textures of my food).  The PowerBar Gel Blasts are delicious on their own (the taste like Gushers!) and as a pre-workout fuel, but when I ate a few during my last run, they made my belly feel a little weird. Yesterday I tried this bad boy…:

Hammer Gel - Montanna Huckleberry Flavor (what the hell is a Montana Huckleberry?)

…and almost spit it out. I’m going to get vulgar here for a bit so bare with me. Have you ever been sick and coughed up a big pile of snotty nonsense? Well imagine, if you will, that this snot is berry flavored and you need to re-swallow it. That is what these gels are like. In other words, I don’t think these gels are for me. Next on the experimental list? GU Chomps (I’ve heard good things) Jelly Belly Sport Beans (love me some jelly beans) and if none of those work, I may go back to my roots and try Swedish Fish.

When my run is over – after downing a bottle of Gatorade – one of the absolute best things to drink is chocolate milk. Word on the street is that protein helps speed muscle repair after a hard workout which in turn leads to happy, not sore, muscles for the days to come. That and chocolate milk is DELICIOUS!

Mayfeild's Lowfat Chocolate Milk is the bees knees

Any other runners out there experimenting with finding the perfect fuel for long runs? I’d love to know what you’ve found that works for you!

Happy Monday crazy kids! I don’t know about you, but this daylight savings time stuff is just not catching this time around…I’m so sleepy…

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8 thoughts on “Scenic Runs and Fuel Talk

  1. It’s sad to say that I use the GU gel packs…and they do have that thick syrup-like taste but the lemon lime doesn’t make me want to gag. Thinking about drinking chocolate milk after a work out on the other hand does make me want to gag BUT I have been drinking Muscle Milk after some intense workouts lately and its been a god send. Let me know how those Jelly Belly’s work, I saw them at REI the other day and was intrigued.

    As far as your run, that scenery looks like heaven! I run primarily in an urban environment and around the Rose Bowl (Pasadena) with a little bit of trails mixed in…don’t get me wrong, I love my route but that trail looks like a much more relaxing environment!

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    • You absolutely should! I would recommend going on a weekday if you can though. Traffic can get pretty backed up during the weekends and an 11 mile loop that should take around a half hour can take 3. Incredibly irritating for a road-rager such as myself 😉

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