Imagine standing at the starting line of your goal race, filled with nervous energy and fiery anticipation.

Excitement, doubt, adrenaline, all pumping through your veins. There’s nothing like it.

Now imagine standing at the same starting line, feeling those same nerves, only the guy next to you gets to start 38 days early.

You?

You’re forced to sit around, put on “holiday weight,” and ruin all your healthy habits…

And let that other guy get a major head start.

That’s basically what happens every time someone sets a new year’s resolution, only to let weeks go by with no action.

“I’ll get back in shape in the new year.”

“I’ll start training for my dream race once things settle down after Christmas.”

“I’ll wait until I’m less busy to get back into a regular running habit.”

By the time January comes around, you’ve wasted all this time.

What if instead, you started right now? (Actually, on Friday, but more on that later.)

What if you could get a jump-start on everyone else and start building a solid training foundation throughout the remainder of this year?

Well, you’d be the one taking off early.

Introducing the 2.018 Challenge

Last week I proposed a Thanksgiving to New Years challenge to Next Level Runner members and asked them for advice on what type of challenge they would find the most helpful. Several ideas were passed around — from elevation to speed and everything in between — but what stood out most was a need to rebuild or maintain consistency throughout the holidays.

To use the holidays to your advantage. Not your detriment.

I freaking love the holidays. I love seeing friends and family, drinking (lots of) red wine, and sitting beside the tree. But — like many of you — holidays are tough on my training. I get lazy, or busy, and end up skipping more runs than I actually get in.

So here’s the plan:

This year, let’s do something different. Let’s complete a manageable run streak from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, getting a jump-start on our 2018 goals and establishing the routines and habits that will set us up for success.

And just because it’s fun, let’s make the daily mileage minimum 2.018 (or since most GPS watches don’t go to the third decimal, 2.02 miles) miles per day.

38 days of at least 2.018 miles per day.

Of course you can always run farther, but by simply getting out for 15 or 20 minutes each day, you’ll be laying a foundation, establishing habits, and getting a head start on your 2018 goals when most people are sitting around feeling stuck.

What do you say, will you join me in the 2.018 challenge?

Let me know here with #2point018challenge.

See you on the trail,

Doug

Ever feel like you get hit daily by a tsunami of product and gadget promotions?

Me too. All. The. Time.

Product launches from running brands and ambassadors fill my social media feeds, and my inbox receives daily requests to review or promote some new gadget or piece of gear. When I go into a running store, I’m overwhelmed by all the options.

Do I really need a foam roller I can freeze? Or a $200 jacket? Or a head-to-toe compression suit?

They promise to help me run faster and prevent injuries, so… maybe?

Just this week I got a message from a runner friend who heard I use a certain product that helps with running form. He asked,

One runner to the next, is it worth plopping down the $100 on one?”

My answer, of course, was…

“Depends,” and I launched into a long response on his specific needs and what I use it for.

When it comes to running gear, nearly everything falls into that “depends” category. It might be helpful, but it might not.

There are, however, a few things where the answer is almost always a big fat “yes.”

Products Worthy of Your Hard-Earned Cash

1. Trail Shoes ($100-180)

Running shoes are the one thing that runners really need (I know, I know… some people will argue with that), and it’s worth spending money on the perfect pair. Actually, it’s worth spending money on a few perfect pairs if you’re confident in their ability to grip the trail and give you the ride you’re looking for.

I run in Altra Lone Peaks on trail (Altra Ones on road) because they feel great on my feet. Only you can determine which shoe works best for your needs, but make sure you can trust it, mile after mile.

2. GPS Watch ($100-400)

A GPS watch can save a lot of up-front planning time, keep you from getting lost (when you upload and follow a route), and provide priceless information mid-run. If you go home and use that data, it can help you understand your training and make adjustments accordingly.

I use Suunto Ambit 3, mostly because of the battery life, but there are plenty of cheaper options that cover all the basic needs.

3. A Pack ($150-200)

The hydration pack opens up possibilities for routes, races, and adventures, and if it fits your body correctly, it’s a no-brainer investment.

I currently run in the Ultimate Direction SJ Race Vest (review), and I’m also a big fan of the Nathan VaporKrar.

The Problem With Running Gear

Good gear — like the items listed above — are designed to take your running experience and make it better. Maybe more comfortable, data driven, safer, or fun. These tools really can improve your training.

But here’s the hard truth: they will only take you so far.

I’m a gear guy. Fancy new gear gets me excited, and I can ride that excitement for a few runs. But I have a ton of running stuff, and I still go through my fair share of nasty slumps.

As runners, we too often hide behind the “if only I had this” excuse.

I’m here to tell you, while the things listed above can be a great investment, new gear will never solve your running excuses.

3 Better Things to Invest In

So what should you invest in instead?

1. Time

Training takes a lot of time. It takes time that you could be using to sleep or hang with your family. Trail running along cool routes often means traveling to a distant trailhead on the weekend.

The best thing you can do for your training is to run more, and running more means committing to more time on the trail.

2. A Plan

Running for the love of it with no plan works for some people, but for many it does not. A good training plan will keep you progressing and working towards a specific goal.

It should also provide the structure and motivation you need to get after it.

3. Adventure

After all, adventure is what this trail running thing is all about, isn’t it?

Earlier this week a coaching client who’s been desperately fighting a training slump gave me a ring. He was thrilled to share that a recent trip to the Grand Canyon (not to run but to hike) has completely reinvigorated his training. The adventure sparked new dreams and goals, and you could actually see the motivational boost in his logged runs.

Plan a big, exciting route. Go on a trail running vacation. Engage with your trail community. Sign up for some absurd race.

Invest in What Matters

The friend who asked for my advice ended up buying the $100 product, and I’m glad he did. It’s a great tool for what he needs.

But that’s all it is, a tool. That’s all any new piece of gear or gadget is.

Runners get out what they put in, and it’s the investment you make into your actual training and adventuring that makes a real difference. Not the tools.

Invest in what matters. Invest in your running.

I recently shared a secret:

I don’t love everything about running.

Sure, I absolutely love the adventure, the daily grind, and nearly everything else. But there are a few things I absolutely hate.

And after coming clean to the world (shew, that felt good!), I asked you:

“What’s the one thing you hate about running?”

Some people said “nothing,” and good for those of you who feel that way…

But just about everyone who responded was willing to admit that there are a few things they know they should do in their training, but hate it when it comes up. I heard from people on Facebook and Twitter, via email, and in the comments section. So much so that we even got a hashtag going, #HateToGreat.

What did you share? Two topics made up the overwhelming majority of what you can’t stand when it comes to training.

  1. Speed/track workouts
  2. Strength training

So today, I’m going to lay out a six-week program to conquer each. And I’ll — hopefully — do it in a way that you won’t hate.

Why is it so important to address these challenge areas?

Turning the Thing You Hate into Something Great

As it turns out, we love to hate two of the most beneficial things we can do as runners.

  • Speed work is essential for most runners to get faster and stronger. Even if you’re training for an ultramarathon or other uber-long run, the right kind of speed training will improve both power and running economy.
  • And strength training is just as — if not even more so — important. This is your single greatest tool as a runner to keep running injury free — and improve in speed and endurance on top of that.

So why do we so passionately hate two important elements of becoming a stronger runner?

Because they’re hard.

Yup. That’s pretty much all there is too it. They’re uncomfortable, difficult, and for most of us, they’re not what we love about running.

Most training plans or coaches would tell you to just do it anyway. That’s fine, but if you continue to hate it, chances are you aren’t going to actually complete the task (no matter how mean that couch may be).

Instead, I’m going to try to address the root of the problem. Let’s make those things we hate into something fun, not intimidating, and approachable.

If we’re successful, you could turn that thing you hate into a core element of your training, and maybe even into something great.

So here’s the philosophy:
  • Start small,
  • Make it flexible,
  • Have fun.

Now for the plans.

Speed Workouts You Can Get Behind

Week 1:
  • Two weekday runs with 2 x 2 min speed surges sprinkled into your typical run.
Week 2:
  • Two weekday runs with 3 x 2 min speed surges sprinkled into your typical run.
Week 3:
  • One dedicated fartlek run with at least 4 x speed surges of 3-5 minutes in length.
Week 4:
  • One dedicated tempo run. Here are a few suggestions:
    • 45 minute run with 2 x 8 min. tempo, 4 min. recovery
    • 80 minute run with 3 x 12 min. tempo, 6 min. recovery
    • 90 minute run with 3 x 15 min. tempo, 8 min. recovery
Week 5:
  • One weekday track workout. Suggestions include:
    • 15 minute warm-up, 3-5 x 800m with 60 seconds recovery, 15 minute cool-down
    • 15 minute warm-up, 1 x 1,600 with 90 seconds recovery, 2 x 800m with 60 seconds, 3 x 400m with 45 seconds recovery, 15 minute cool-down
  • One tempo run.
    • Either during a weekday or pas part of your long run.
Week 6:
  • One weekday track workout.
  • One tempo run.
    • Either during a weekday or as part of your long run.

A Strength Training Plan That You Just May Enjoy

Week 1:
  • Add just one strength exercise after each weekday run. It could be pushups, planks, lunges, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Aim for roughly one minute of completing the exercise.
Week 2:
  • Two exercises after each weekday run. Runner’s choice on the exercise, each lasting no more than two minutes.
Week 3:
  • Two exercises after every run. Runner’s choice on the exercise, each lasting no more than two minutes.
Week 4:
  • One day of our 7-minute routine. Stick with the two exercises after every other run.
Week 5:
  • Two days of our 7-minute routine. Stick with the two exercises after other runs.
Week 6:
  • Three days of our 7-minute routine. Option to stick with the two exercises after other runs or simplify to just three strength days per week.

Start Small and Make it Great

Now those don’t sound too bad, do they?

By the end of week six you’ll be crushing your hate in a way you may never have before. And with a little discipline, it will stick.

Hearing your stories got me fired up to do this myself, so I’ll be going through the six week speed plan starting next week.

Ready to join me?

Share your journey with #HateToGreat for additional accountability and support.

I love running. I love long runs, group runs, trail runs, and yes, even road runs.

And if you’re reading this post, it’s pretty safe to assume you do too.

We runners are a dedicated bunch. Our go-to activity is something most of the world avoids at all cost. I mean come on, we all have that uncle who loves sharing that he, “only runs when being chased!”

We know Uncle Andrew. We know.

But if I’m being real with myself (and you), then I have to admit that I don’t love everything about running.

And I’m sure you don’t either.

All of us have that one workout, technique, or thing we know we really should do to get stronger or faster, but we avoid it like the plague.

Maybe it’s a,

It could be anything, really.

A few weeks ago, while out mowing the lawn, I got to thinking about the part of running I hate the most — half and full mile repeats. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve set speed goals for myself and written specific workouts into a plan, only to skip right over them when the day came.

Sure, I may find a boost of motivation now and then to log several laps around a track, but that drive fades in about as much time as it takes Bolt to run 100 meters.

Somewhere around halfway through the back yard, it occurred to me that if I could just focus on this one area of my training — the area of training I HATE — on a regular basis in just a minor way, I’d probably be a much better runner for it.

And maybe, just maybe, I’d learn to not hate it anymore. Maybe I could reframe the thing I hate most about running and turn it into a strength.

And that, you beautiful Pack members, is exactly what we’re going to do over the coming weeks.

What Do You Hate Most About Running?

I know there’s something, and there’s no shame in admitting it.

Go ahead, leave a comment on this post or share it with me on social (Facebook, Twitter).

What do you hate most about running?

Next week, after reading through your responses, I’ll pick the three most popular answers and put together a 6-week training program for each.

The programs will be simple, fun, and ease into whatever dreaded training task it may be.

All with the goal of reframing the thing you hate, and making it something great.

Actually, that’s pretty good… Let’s turn this thing into a hashtagged movement!

#hatetogreat

Are you with me? Let me know your answer, and hashtag it #hatetogreat when you do.

 

While there’s no question each runner has unique needs, the vast majority of advice and tips can apply to just about everyone.

We’re all striving to get faster, run further, and feel stronger. And we all want to optimize our training.

So last week, instead of answering individual questions privately, I asked Next Level Runner members to submit questions for a new video series I’m calling Ask Doug.

For this first episode, I chose four, which (1) were fun to answer, and (2) apply to almost all runners.

Watch the video here:

Back in 2015, during the Black Mountain Monster 24 hour race, I ran the Thomas Jefferson 100K in Virginia. It was a relatively straightforward course, consisting of seven, nine-mile singletrack loops.

Piece of cake, right?

Everything went as planned for the first three loops. Runners enjoyed a deceptively cool light rain, and I gracefully moved down the trail as the sun rose over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

About fifteen minutes in to loop four, I pull off the side of the trail to quickly relieve myself for the first time.

Ahhh…

Wait…

Blood?! What the…

I panic. I’d heard horror stories of ultrarunners peeing blood, and know that it can be an early sign of kidney issues. Immediately, I think my day is over.

Not knowing what to do, I start to walk. I walk forward, then turn around and walk backwards toward the Start. Then I turn around and walk forward again. AHHH!

I’m literally walking in circles instead of towards the finish of a loop.

Finally, after about thirty minutes of no real progress, I decide I should jog out the rest of the loop and then call it quits.

I’m devastated.

It would be my first DNF, and a tough mental blow just a few weeks out from the Monster. After miles of sulking to the point of tears, I approach the medic at the end of the loop.

“I’m peeing blood and think I should drop,” I say.

“Yikes,” he responds, and goes on to ask me a series of questions while poking at my kidneys. “Well, that can’t be comfortable, but I think you’re fine. Drink a lot of water and get back out there.”

“What?!” I exclaim. “You’re not pulling me form the race?!”

“Nah, you’re just dehydrated and maybe have a UTI.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

“But I thought…”

“You’re fine.”

“Oh. Well then.” I walk off with a flood of emotions.

On one hand I’m thrilled I can keep running. On the other hand I had just spent the last 90 minutes convinced my day was over aannnnd… I was kind of looking forward to that shower and burrito.

Crap. No burrito.

I was cleared by the medic with no excuse to drop. I had to keep running. So I did.

Now I have no idea if that was good medical protocol. Since then I’ve read varying advice on what to do if you start peeing blood, from start hydrating to head straight to the ER. But that isn’t the point of this story.

The point of this story is that running an ultramarathon never goes as planned.

Never.

I was well trained, had all the right gear, and felt great for the first half of the race. Then the unexpected happened and everything flipped upside down.

It happens.

Earlier this week I read that Michael Wardian, one of the most well-raced elites out there, had to stop FOURTEEN times for diarrhea issues during Saturday’s Leadville 100. Something I’m sure he wasn’t expecting.

(BTW, Mike went on to finish 10th, and just six hours later, raced the Pikes Peak Marathon with 7,800 feet of vert. Beast.)

During that same race, eventual winner Ian Sharman got lost.

And just a few days ago, while debriefing a recent 100 miler with a coaching client, he told me it was the downhills that caused the toughest mental challenge.

“They were so steep you couldn’t run them! I couldn’t believe it.”

In ultra running, we train for the things we can expect:

But what sets a successful race apart from a failure isn’t what we train for. It’s our ability to adapt to what we couldn’t.

It took a long time for me to bounce back mentally during that 100K, and I never really got into the groove I had in the beginning. But I did learn an important lesson:

Expect the unexpected, and deal with it when it comes.

That’s how you succeed in an ultramarathon running.

Most training plans for endurance events include training or practice races of a shorter distance ahead of your main goal race.

In my opinion, these are the most important runs on your schedule.

But how do you attack a race… that isn’t a goal race? That’s what we cover in today’s episode of Trail Talk.

Listen to the episode here:

Click here to download the file.

Or subscribe and download on:

PodcastiTunesButton copystitcher

Support for Today’s Episode

This episode of Trail Talk was brought to you by Discover Your Ultramarathon, the eBook system with training plans, audio interviews, and a 129-page guide to get you through your first 50K or 50 mile ultra.

Pick yours up now at rockcreekrunner.com/ultramarathon.

 

 

Most runners, at some point or another, come face to face with the seemingly monstrous task of rebuilding their base after a break.

Whether that break was planned, unintended, or forced by a nagging injury, the uphill struggle to regain fitness can feel both daunting and discouraging.

I’ve kept it no secret that for the past several months I’ve personally been struggling with my running routine. And while the past few weeks have been better, I’m still only averaging about 15-20 miles per week — significantly lower than what I’m used to.

That ends this week. And here’s how I’m going to do it.

Rebuilding Running Fitness Starts With a Plan

As with most things in running, rebuilding your fitness after a break should start with building a plan. Without some sort of roadmap for how to move forward, staying on track becomes it’s own unnecessary obstacle.

Throughout this post I’ll share my strategy for creating a six week plan to get back on track, and each week moving froward I’ll keep you updated with how things are going and the next week’s objective.

First, we start with a goal.

Step 1. Set a Goal

At the “comeback” phase for any runner, it’s best to start with two goals: a goal for my base-building period (1), and a long-term running goal to keep me motivated and on schedule (2). Here are mine:

  1. Short-term 6-week goal: Rebuild base fitness, consistency, and speed.
  2. Long-term goal: Prepare for and complete the 67 mile Pitchell run in October and Hellbender Hundo 100 miler in April.

I’ll use the short-term goal to position myself for successful long-term training.

Step 2. Set a Base-Building Timeline

A timeline gives a start and end date to your base-building period, which helps to focus and structure your plan. It’s also important mentally, because (I’ll just come out and say it…) coming back after a break is hard. It’s discouraging not to hit splits or distances with the same ease as before, and can often feel too big a task to keep going. A timeline helps keep you motivated, knowing that you’ll be back to your old self soon.

I’ve chosen six weeks for my base-building period because that is generally the amount of time I believe runners need to both regain fitness and resolidify a routine. It also happens to work pretty well with my long-term goals, allowing about five weeks for more focused, dedicated training before the Pitchell attempt.

Depending on how long you’ve been out, you may need more time — eight, ten, twelve weeks — or if you haven’t lost that much time, maybe four weeks will do the trick. What’s important is to be honest with yourself about where you are and how far you need to go.

Step 3. Write a Plan

Once I settled on six weeks, I started putting together a plan. For a base-building training block, keep in mind that you:

  • May not need a strict training plan detailing each run. That could be useful if you’re someone who needs structure, or it could get in the way. I fall somewhere in the middle and have a rough plan for certain key workouts, but am leaving some days open to what feels right.
  • Don’t have to go all-in on day one. Build gradually over the course of the training block.
  • Don’t want to start too hard or you’ll get discouraged and struggle to keep up.
  • Should allow for some flexibility. Distance, speed, endurance, they may all take longer to regain than you envisioned. Allow for some leeway when making your plan.

With those rules in mind, I assigned a focus to each week:

Week 1: Consistency — Distance/time take a back seat to getting out and running 5-6 times this week.

Week 2: Elevation — Each run will focus on vertical gain over distance.

Week 3: Distance — It’s not until this week that I really focus on rebuilding mileage.

Week 4: Distance — Continuing to build off last week’s progress.

Week 5: Speed — Reintroducing speed-focused workouts.

Week 6: Well Rounded — Put it all together with a well-rounded training week to transition into focused training.

My 6-Week Base-Building Plan

This may or may not look impressive, but I’ve got nothing to hide. Below I share my actual training plan for the next six weeks.

Note: Info in black are actuals, while numbers in blue are my planned runs. I’ve only schedule runs through the first three weeks so I can check in and adjust as needed. At the end of each week I plan to write another week’s plan, so I’m always two weeks ahead. 

Week 1: Consistency

This week my only objective is consistency, or getting back into the habit of running 5-6 times per week. I set no expectations of distance, time, routes, or elevation gain. If I go for a run, it counts.

As you can see, some of these runs are nothing to brag about, but they’re logged nonetheless.

And with that, I give you my plan:

It’s Time to Rebuild… Let’s do This

Over the next six weeks I’ll update this tracking chart in real time — both so you can see how I’m structuring my comeback and to help hold myself accountable. Each week I’ll check back in to discuss that week’s focus, and share what I’ve learned.

In the same boat as me, ready to finally start training again?

Join me. I’d love the company.

When it comes to running nutrition, I’m slow to try anything new. If it works, it works… and I typically stick to what works.

But there’s a lot going on in the endurance nutrition world. New and old companies are re-inventing (and redefining) what that nutrition looks like.

So when I was sent samples of Muir Energy, a new company with a unique approach, I thought it was worth a shot.

How do they compare to the leaders in the space like GU Energy, CLIF, and (my go-to) Huma? Let’s find out.

Ed Note: While the gels were supplied for free to review, the opinions below are completely those of Rock Creek Runner. Muir Energy had no influence over this post and did not pay for its publication.

The Muir Energy Philosophy

Energy gel companies spend years formulating ingredients to find what they believe to be the ideal endurance product. The result — for most companies — is a long list of ingredients you’d never find on their own.

Ian McNally, the founder of Muir Energy, wanted something different. As he puts it, “something that tasted really good and was made with real organic ingredients – derived from nature, not in a lab.”

The result really is something unique.

Each gel contains only 4-6 ingredients (about 1/4th of a product like GU), and each of those ingredients will be familiar — fruits, salt, black molasses, nut butter, or cacao, for example. Plus they’re all 100% organic, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and non-GMO.

Using just a handful of natural plant-based ingredients to create an effective energy gel?

Sounds right up my ally. But the real question is, how does it stack up, and how will it impact my training and racing?

Let’s find out.

First Impressions

I’ll get to taste in a minute, but let’s start with my initial thoughts after opening the box.

Size

When it comes to size, my first thought was big. They’re taller than most gel packets, which seemed like it would be a problem. Compared side-by-side to others, however, they’re a lot thinner. Muir has opted for a tall skinny package over a short, compact package.

Which is better? It would depend on your setup, but after stuffing several in the pocket of a handheld, the smaller gels fit a little better.

(I feel like this section is primed for a ‘package’ joke, but I’ll resist the urge.)

Packaging

The packaging itself is pretty standard, with a wide-mouth rip-top. I did notice it’s the only gel I had that’s sealed at the bottom, limiting it’s ability to expand. Maybe that would help with the height.

The one flaw I experienced was that the packaging is stiffer when compared to other brands, making it difficult to roll the bottom up to clear out the gel inside. One of my biggest pet-peeves is when residual gel squirts into your pocket, so it’s important for me to completely clear a packet before stuffing it away.

Price

Muir Energy is an expensive gel. There’s just no way to put it any other way. At $2.50 per gel, they fall in line with premium brands or lines like HUMA and GU Roctane, a full dollar more than your standard gels.

Personally, I’m okay with that. They’re aiming for a premium product and charging premium prices. But it could get rather expensive if you’re fueling a 100-miler and throwing back a few dozen in a single race.

What’s Inside

It’s not until you tear into a Muir Energy gel that you really see the difference.

The first thing you immediately notice is that the consistency is unlike any gel I’ve tasted. It’s thick — more like a paste than a traditional gel. You can see what I mean in the image above.

If fact, they even package most flavors as both a gel and a spread, so you could smear it on a piece of toast or mix it into a bowl of oatmeal before your run.

I’m not going to lie, this caught me off guard at first. It wasn’t the gel consistency I learned to stomach while training for my first marathon many years ago, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. But the more I tried the different varieties, the more I grew to love that texture. It actually feels like you’re eating real food rather than a lab creation.

Something to keep in mind, however, is that I would not recommend eating one without water. They’re so thick that they require water to wash it down, or you’ll be tonguing your teeth until the next aid station.

Slow Burning vs. Fast Burning

Another unique aspect of Muir Energy is the two types of gels the offer:

Slow burning and fast burning.

What they’ve done is create a set of gels with quick burning ingredients, and another set with ingredients that take longer to metabolize and produce more sustained energy. Comparing the nutrition facts between the two, the big differences I see are that slow burning gels contain:

  1. More protein, and
  2. More calories from fat.

In my opinion it’s pretty brilliant, and actually doesn’t feel like a gimmick. Runners need gels for a variety of activities, and having the choice between the two could come in handy.

But does it work?

All signs point to yes.

For the past several weeks I’ve tested Muir Energy gels on a variety of runs, including early sunrise runs where I only had a gel before hitting the trail, long runs where I fueled with multiple gels, and evening runs when I need a quick snack.

For best results, I’ve landed on spreading the slow burning on a piece of toast about an hour before a long run, and relying on fast burning gels mid-run to give me the mid-run boost I’m looking for.

But I’m just one guy with unscientific opinions. So let’s look at the numbers.

Energy Gel Comparison Chart

To help make comparisons as easy as possible, I’ve put together what I’m calling, “The Great Rock Creek Runner Energy Gel Comparison Chart.” I pulled the top brands from the recent RCR Pack poll and added them to the chart below.

Important Note

Due to variety between flavors, some of these numbers are not exact. For each brand I looked at several different flavors and pulled the most common number, or an average if they varied greatly between flavors. If a certain metric (calories, for example) is really important to you, always check the specific flavor before purchasing.

I selected the metrics that I believe to be the most useful, but note that caffeine is missing. For many brands, certain flavors are caffeinated while others aren’t, so it seemed more relevant to leave it off completely.

Links to REI and Amazon are affiliate links, so any purchase helps support RCR at no charge to you. Thank you.

BrandPrice (per gel)CaloriesSodiumPotassiumCarbs.ProteinFiber
Muir Energy (Fast)$2.50120100mg250mg25g1g1g
Muir Energy (Slow)$2.50150 (60 from fat)100mg300mg20g5g1g
Accel Gel$1.50100115mgN/A20g5g0g
CLIF Shot$1.5010090mg50mg24g0g0g
GU Energy$1.50100100mg40mg22g0g0g
GU Roctane$2.50100150mg55mg21g0g0g
Hammer Gel$1.509035mg35mg20g1g0g
Honey Stinger$1.5010050mg85mg27g0g0g
Huma Gel$2.25100110mg50mg22g1g2g
Huma Plus$2.50100250mg65mg23g1g1g
PowerGel$1.20110200mg20mg27g0g0g
Vega Sport$2.0010060mg400mg22g0.5g2g
VFuel$1.6510010mg15mg23g0g0g

How They Taste

Now for the part you’ve been waiting for… how do they taste?

I saved this for last because while it feels important at first, taste is much less important than effectiveness. I can force down just about anything if it helps me perform better. Plus, this is completely subjective. To know for sure, you’ll have to try them yourself.

But my opinion?

They taste great.

They’re fruity, or nutty, or chocolaty. They go down easy and feel almost like a treat.

(Yesterday, while photographing for this post, I found myself cleaning the Muir Energy off the plate with my finger. Something I most certainly didn’t do for the other gels…).

As long as I have something to wash it down, I could eat these all day.

Why I’ll Continue Using Muir Energy Gels

I pay a lot of attention to what I put in my body while not running, but tend to ignore those standards when it comes to mid-run nutrition. Now I don’t have to.

Muir Energy uses real, simple ingredients, and still packs the energy punch I look for in endurance nutrition. I will definitely continue to incorporate these gels into my fueling strategy — mixing them in with the other gels I’ve come to rely on, real foods, and liquids, and I believe they’ll sit well in my stomach for hours on the trail.

If you’re looking for a more natural energy gel, Muir Energy is definitely worth a taste.

 

I have no time to run.

Or at least that’s the excuse I tried to pull on my wife the other day. In today’s episode I share her response, and what a never-ending busy schedule means for us runners.

Plus, results from the RCR Pack survey.

Listen to the episode here:

Click here to download the file.

Or subscribe and download on:

PodcastiTunesButton copystitcher

Support for Today’s Episode

This episode of Trail Talk was brought to you by Discover Your Ultramarathon, the eBook system with training plans, audio interviews, and a 129-page guide to get you through your first 50K or 50 mile ultra.

Pick yours up now at rockcreekrunner.com/ultramarathon.