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Old July 26th, 2007, 12:47 AM   #5
More Cowbell
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: The Mile High City
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Gels are sticky and gross, but I find them indispensable for long (2+ hours) training skates or races for their convenience and ease of digestion. I discovered them in 1997 when I was training to run my first marathon. When I ran more than 15 miles, I was having terrible difficulty with muscle tightness and fatigue. Then, during one training run I tried a PowerGel and the effect was almost immediate -- my muscles loosened and I could run faster and longer. Nowadays I use ClifShots because they have a "litter leash" so you don't have to throw the tearoff tab on the ground. There are lots of brands and flavors (mostly uncaffeinated), so experiment and find what works best for you.

The beneficial effect of taking calories during exercise is not an illusion, by the way. Your body can only store a certain number of calories -- roughly 2000 -- and once you spend those calories you will hit the wall unless you eat something.

On the subject of caffeine, you might want to rethink your opposition to it (for races at least), because it is a proven performance enhancer -- it helps you burn plentiful fat for energy instead of scarce glycogen. You would actually get an extra benefit because you don't use caffeine in your daily life and so you haven't developed a tolerance for its effects.
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