Gear Review: PowerBar Performance Blends

To start off, let’s make it clear that I hate gels. HATE. My last two marathons (in November and January) have had me nearly barfing them back up EVERY 45 minutes of EVERY single run – true story.  So when I received a wonderful treat of race fuel in the mail thanks to the Canada Running Series Toronto Yonge Street 10K and Power Bar Canada, my first thought was who could I pass these along to? But as I am beginning to pick up my mileage, having this box on my counter made it a very easy decision as to what to fuel with on Saturday during my 90 minute Tribe run. And guess what, to my very pleasant on route surprise, my package of PowerBar® Performance Blends isn’t actually a gel, or even close to it – it’s applesauce and guess what else I LOVE APPLESAUCE.

powerbarThe Details:
PowerBar® Performance Blends are a before and during activity fuel source that should be eaten 30minutes prior to activity and then throughout as per your training plan (for me, every 45minutes). It is a gluten- free fruit-based blend “formulated with PowerBar’s C2MAX, a 2:1 glucose to fructose blend found to deliver 20-50% more energy to muscles than glucose alone” which according to PowerBar, can help improve endurance performance by 8%. The Performance Blends contain no artificial flavouring and they’re a “good source” of vitamin C.

My Experience:
The individual packages of the PowerBar Performance Blends are huge – it has a giant knob on the end and makes it challenging to fit more than two into a pouch. When my 45 minute watch chime went off I dreaded how my body was going to respond. I filled my mouth with water unscrewed the cap and squeezed preparing to down it all in one quick swallow. The fact that this wasn’t a gel but was actually applesauce was the most amazing run discovery. I immediately ate more and then thought about how I could take some in my lunch to work the next week. If I hadn’t eaten it all that large but handy screw cap would’ve allowed me to save some for my next walk break, but since it was totally delicious I ate it all.

An Area to Grow:
As I wrote above the individual packaging is huge for on route fuel. For my long marathon training runs I would need to bring along at least 6 of these and there is no way they would all fit into my current fuel belt pouches. That being said, they are delicious and very easy to swallow – so for that reason alone, I will figure out a way to make them work!

Conclusion:
If you are an endurance athlete who has challenges fueling mid event, I highly suggest you check these out. You can buy them online in two different flavours or from your local running store.

Fueling with Vega for the Long Haul

Fueling is a critical process when participating in endurance sports. Your body only has so much energy stored and not refilling those used stores can mean poor performance or “hitting the wall.”

As my spring marathon is quickly approaching my focus is beginning to shift towards training for my summer challenge of GranFondo Niagara Falls. This ride will be 125km and by far the longest ride of my life (to date). One thing that I do look forward to doing is transferring my knowledge from this spring’s running goals of fueling clean to my riding and seeing how that impacts my performance…it should transfer without a hitch!granfondo

With the goal of using clean fuel – healthy and natural – I found myself training with Vega (this recommendation came from a variety of credible sources – nutritionists and run coaches, and I was happy to test them out). Vega states that when endurance training, “your primary endurance fuel should be based on clean burning, simple carbohydrates, weighted more heavily on glucose than sucrose or fructose.” They identify that using “high quality raw fat, like coconut oil (processed as pure energy in your liver), can help your body burn fat more effectively” And that small amounts of “protein can extend the burning time of carbs.” This is the recipe that they transfer to their Sport Performance System, of which pieces I have been training with and will highlight below.vega

Pre Ride:

I know from running that it is vital to provide yourself with pre-workout fuel in order to get your energy stores up to high functioning order. Fueling with the right products can provide the body with both immediate and sustained energy as well as help to increase endurance, and both aerobic and anaerobic capacity. For this season my clean fuel of choice has been the Vega Pre-Workout Energizer (lemon-lime flavour). The powdered drink is easy to mix and I like being able to control my level of powder to water. While I’m gathering my gear I slowly sip on about half a bottles worth, being sure to finish drinking at least an hour before I head out. Because the product is natural it doesn’t always dissolve, so expect some little pieces left in the bottom.

During:

While fueling during a ride you’re looking for something to provide instant and sustained energy. Hydration is key, and something that works to replenish needed electrolytes and minerals storage is a must. My bottle is filled with Vega Pom-Berry Electrolyte Hydrator. It’s zero calories (not that that really matters when out for a long haul), but it also tastes great, and being natural is VERY easy on your stomach – actually all Vega products are (which is why I started using them!). I also fuel with the Vega Acai-Berry Endurance Bar. I have NEVER enjoyed eating any sort of bars before Vega products, but like that they are packed with everything you need in a small bar – small is key – remember I didn’t like bars! The Vega Sport Endurance Bar contains what Vega call “an ideal combination” of complex carbohydrates and protein to give longer-burning energy. It’s the perfect blend, perfect size and easy to transport on long efforts.

Post Ride:

Confession: I never really used to fuel post effort (insert gasp of horror). I’d go to brunch and try to eat some protein with my giant stack of pancakes, or I’d go home and sleep, and that was about all I did to prepare for my next effort. As it turns out, leaving a meal up to chance doesn’t really help to replenish your system, repair muscle tissue, and reduce inflammation. So enter the Vega Sport Protein Bar (chocolate coconut flavor). This bar, and remember I hated bars, is the perfect post run tie over until you can have a quality meal. It’s 15g of protein in a tiny bar (I’m talking maybe 10 bites). What I love is that it is easy to handle post effort – no blending or mixing, it tastes great, and it’s covered in a dark chocolate coating!

These are the products that work for me based on my tastes and very picky eating habits. Vega does have a guide to support which fuel is right for you – it can be viewed here!

Any fueling tips you’d like to share? What products do you use for the long haul?