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Fitness Skating and Training Forum Discussions about on-skate and off-skate training, hydration, sports nutrition, weight loss, injuries, sports medicine, and other topics related to training and physical fitness for skaters.

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Old July 25th, 2007, 03:05 PM   #1
tdellaringa
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Default About gels, types, uses etc.

Yesterday I tried a gel for the first time on my training skate - I figured if I was gonna hork, better to do it during training than a race!

Luckily, I didn't hork. It was quite the sensation though, and I did wash it down with a good draft of water. I'm not sure of the brand but it was given out at the Chicagoland Inline Marathon in the bags, might have been powerbar? Strawberry banana was the flavor (although mostly what I tasted was just all around sweet slimy saltness).

The main question is, this one happened to have caffeine in it. Is that really necessary? I tend to try and avoid caffeine as much as possible. I assume you can buy other brands without it?

What are your favorite gels? How well do you think they really help? My training skate yesterday was 10 miles, half of which was intervals (or attempted intervals) I took it after the intervals, I'm not sure how much it helped.

Any comments appreciated!

Thanks

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Old July 25th, 2007, 09:03 PM   #2
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Tom, interesting thread, I've never tried a gel, but have been wondering if a homemade concoction isn't a viable alternative. Easier to tailor to your taste, too.

During Finline, the bananas and salty crackers worked well for me, so maybe I could simply add some honey and fluid, mix it all, and fill it into a small drinking bottle... Ew. Maybe dispense with the crackers and just add some salt.
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Old July 25th, 2007, 09:16 PM   #3
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Hm.. I would thinking making your own would be too much trouble, to be honest. These companies spend a lot of time on the formulas, then they are in very convenient packages and easy to use, lots of em out there, too.
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Old July 25th, 2007, 10:33 PM   #4
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I've used the PowerBar gels, but more when I'm running or hiking. Embarrassingly, the only reason I tried them in the first place is for the taste--I like sweet stuff. My favorite is Vanilla flavor. When you dillute them in your mouth with plenty of water, they are not so sweet though. Some flavors are less sweet, but they are all a bit slimy!

Like you, I'm not so much into caffeine while I'm exercising (I don't mind it when I'm drinking a Pepsi or something, but I just get a bit suspicious about it having any benefit for working out. Seems to me it might even be a detriment for the body during a workout). Luckily, PowerBar makes several flavors without any caffeine. They are a bit hard to find, so sometimes I just get the caffeine-laced flavors.

As for their helpfulness. You know, it's hard to say about any of these sports drinks, power bars, etc. Who's to say it's not just psychology? You can get a "lift" out of a chunk of chocolate!
But that said, they do seem to give a bit of a pick up--especially when I'm getting really whacked out during a longer run or long hike (as I said, I haven't used them for skating). For that reason, I like them. They seem to take effect faster than the solid versions, plus they are much easier to carry along with me. They fit well into just a little running short key-pouch. So... I think they are worth the sliminess...

Here's more info on the flavors... and some propaganda:

Those Slimy Gels


...
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Old July 25th, 2007, 11:47 PM   #5
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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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Old July 26th, 2007, 12:25 AM   #6
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Hey More Cowbell: do you still run marathons? If so, how do you handle training for both running and skating?

I've decided to run a marathon next month. I haven't run that long a distance in many years (I skated it the other day, but that's totally a different matter). I have been doing an average of about 7 miles running per day, along with a lot of skating. But, I think I still have some serious training to do over the next month. and to top it off, I'd like to try some local skate races too. I think I'm insane... and that I'll be very busy.
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Old July 26th, 2007, 12:12 PM   #7
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I've tried quite a few brands (Gu, Clif Shots, Carb-Boom, and Power Gel) and quite a few flavors. I'd say about 50% make my gak. My favorite is any of the mocha flavors.

But as Cowbell states, they're invaluable for training and events lasting long periods of time where the body depletes its calorie store.

Has anyone tried the Accel Gel? How does it compare, since it has the 4:1 ratio that includes protein. For that matter, how does Accelerade with the 4:1 ration compare to other drinks like Cytomax?
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Old July 26th, 2007, 02:08 PM   #8
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www.cranksports.com egels are my poison of choice.

They include not only the calories, but also electrolites.

That way I only need to find water, not sports drinks during the really long events.


I know they work because of the salt on my skinsuit after A2A...

No caffiene, though. (And I'm an addict)
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Old July 26th, 2007, 02:16 PM   #9
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Thanks Dev, I ordered some to try.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 12:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HVSkater View Post
Hey More Cowbell: do you still run marathons? If so, how do you handle training for both running and skating?

I've decided to run a marathon next month. I haven't run that long a distance in many years (I skated it the other day, but that's totally a different matter). I have been doing an average of about 7 miles running per day, along with a lot of skating. But, I think I still have some serious training to do over the next month. and to top it off, I'd like to try some local skate races too. I think I'm insane... and that I'll be very busy.
No, I'm not running marathons anymore, although I might get back into it someday. These days I run for fun and cross-training.

Is there a reason to run a marathon next month? If you're in good shape and you've run marathons before, you could probably stumble through it, but it won't be as much fun as if you trained adequately. Skating -- even lots of it -- won't prepare you for the specific stress and impact a marathon will exact on your body. Why not aim for a fall marathon? Best of luck to you if you decide to run, though.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 01:02 AM   #11
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No, I'm not running marathons anymore, although I might get back into it someday. These days I run for fun and cross-training.

Is there a reason to run a marathon next month? If you're in good shape and you've run marathons before, you could probably stumble through it, but it won't be as much fun as if you trained adequately. Skating -- even lots of it -- won't prepare you for the specific stress and impact a marathon will exact on your body. Why not aim for a fall marathon? Best of luck to you if you decide to run, though.
Yeah, it's a local marathon that I've been itching to do the last couple of years but have had schedule conflicts every time (I'm a musician, so weekends are booked up in many cases). This year I'm free... so if I can get my act together, I'll go for it. I'm not expecting to kick butt in it anyway--just an average time works for me. I run a lot, but then a marathon is another matter. I did do 18 miles with no problems the other day, so after a couple days of shorter distance runs, I'm going to see what happens with 20 miles. If that doesn't whack me out too badly, I figure I should be close enough to make it worth training for over the next few weeks... along with the skating of course! Can't neglect the skating.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 07:48 AM   #12
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Gels are a staple of most speedskaters i know and they absolutely work to combat the offset of bonking. I can swear to that fact. If you've ever bonked, it ain't pretty, and it isn't something i'd care to do again.

Look up cycling sites for lengthy discussions of various brands, and in them, they have no qualms about saying this or that brand does not add up to what i get from brand X. From that research, i found that most cyclists tended to prefer Hammer Gel more than any other. And from talking with my local partners in crime, i found that many didn't have a strong preference except that more than a few felt that Power Bar gel caused cramping. I tried it and it didn't for me, but i have a digestive system of a billygoat.

I use Hammer Gel most often, but also use Gu brand frequently as well. Since i use a lot of this stuff, and recovery drinks as well, i keep the cost down by buying Hammer Gel in bulk, and get it in quart (or liter) bottles over the internet, from whihc i re-fill a small plastic bottle made for this purpose. Both Gu and Hammer Gel make the refillable flask, and i like the one by Gu becuase it is smaller and pulls on my cycling jersey less.

I only use gels when my workout exceeds 40 minutes. I always take a slug of recovery drink about 10 minutes before i roll, and immediately upon finishing.

Caffeine- some of the studies i read seemed to suggest that caffeine aided performance a small amount (about 5% to 10%) but i seem to recollect that the caffeine was consumed just prior to the event. Gels are usually used during, so i don't know if you would see the same performance boost- try and see for yourself. I use both caffenated gels and non-caffeninated, and most brands of gels offer both. Gu, for instance, even offers some flavors that boast double caffeine, like the "Espresso Love", which i am also currently using. I tend to use caffeinated gels on days when i'm actually competing with others, and use non-caffeinated when i'm merely training. This is in keeping more in line with my overall strategy to keep the more intense caffeine use for times of competitions only.

Also, i prefer to use the gel packs for races rather than the flask because they are lighter and less bulky than the flask. Refillable gel put into the flask, however, is less expensive.

As for brands, the ones i've tried all seemed to work okay, and with the exception of Powerbar (which reputedly causes cramping), i'll pick up whatever is on sale. Otherwise Hammer Gel is my prefered brand.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 01:02 PM   #13
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There have been a ton of studies in the use of caffeine in cycling and they absolutely use it. Watching the Tour de France over the last two weeks, they get a Pepsi or Coke in the middle of long rides. Yesterday one camera motorcycle got too close to a rider on the wrong side and he doused the camera with the Pepsi.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 04:51 PM   #14
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Caffeine- some of the studies i read seemed to suggest that caffeine aided performance a small amount (about 5% to 10%)...
I hate to get into semantics, but a 5-10% increase in performance is HUGE. Just a 5% boost in speed reduces a 1:30:00 marathon by 4:17 -- even a 2% boost gives a 1:46 improvement! Not bad for a supplement that is cheap, easy to take, widely available, and legal in moderate dosages.

I prefer my caffeine in tablet form. I took Jet-Alert pills during my recent 24-hour jaunt. Impossible to say if/how much they improved my performance, but I didn't get sleepy and my mind was always sharp. I spaced the pills evenly and never got jittery, never crashed.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 06:04 PM   #15
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Good info guys, thanks. Yesterday I ordered some of the crank, and on my skate (which was an hour 10 minutes) I used one of the Clif gels. I liked it less than the powerbar one I think - more slimy. I think I downed it at like the 35 minute mark. I didn't drink any gatorade prior to the skate though, which I guess I should.

Yesterday I felt crappy all around, so not sure if it helped. But I will keep trying out the various brands. It felt like it helped the first time. You have to realize too, that I don't have my legs under me yet, I'm really struggling to skate during that hour and doing a lot of coasting or slow skating (and fighting back pain because I'm too tired to be in the proper position).
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Old July 27th, 2007, 09:54 PM   #16
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There have been a ton of studies in the use of caffeine in cycling and they absolutely use it. Watching the Tour de France over the last two weeks, they get a Pepsi or Coke in the middle of long rides. Yesterday one camera motorcycle got too close to a rider on the wrong side and he doused the camera with the Pepsi.

They are not drinking Coke and Pepsi for the caffeine so much. It is for the calories, sugar and the the fact that they are probably the best electrolyte drinks you can buy. The one down side is the carbonation which robs oxygen. You can use the coke/pepsi syrup & water or di-fizzed coke/pepsi.
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Old July 28th, 2007, 12:36 AM   #17
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Good info guys, thanks. Yesterday I ordered some of the crank, and on my skate (which was an hour 10 minutes) I used one of the Clif gels. I liked it less than the powerbar one I think - more slimy. I think I downed it at like the 35 minute mark. I didn't drink any gatorade prior to the skate though, which I guess I should.

Yesterday I felt crappy all around, so not sure if it helped. But I will keep trying out the various brands. It felt like it helped the first time. You have to realize too, that I don't have my legs under me yet, I'm really struggling to skate during that hour and doing a lot of coasting or slow skating (and fighting back pain because I'm too tired to be in the proper position).
unless you're really cranking, you probably just need a drink of water. Don't sweat the small stuff, focus on getting your form down.
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Old July 28th, 2007, 02:33 AM   #18
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If you are are bonking after 35 minutes, you are not properly hydrated or nourished to start. You are properly hydrated when your urine is clear and you're running to the bathroom every 5 minutes. This is BEFORE you start the workout or race.
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Old July 31st, 2007, 09:06 PM   #19
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If you are are bonking after 35 minutes, you are not properly hydrated or nourished to start. You are properly hydrated when your urine is clear and you're running to the bathroom every 5 minutes. This is BEFORE you start the workout or race.
That's a good point and easy to forget. I drink water all day long, but sometimes I forget to drink to clear. That may be what I faced the other day. I am going as hard as I can actually (which by many standards is not hard at all to some) so about halfway through I am pretty tired.

I don't think the gel hurts at that point, even if my body doesn't quite need it. I figure I'll figure it out with more experience.

Agree on getting form down, OI - I purchased Barry Publow's book and it is great. After reading very little, I found a lot of things to work on and realized many ways in which I was wasting energy!
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Old July 31st, 2007, 10:21 PM   #20
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Quote:
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If you are are bonking after 35 minutes, you are not properly hydrated or nourished to start. You are properly hydrated when your urine is clear and you're running to the bathroom every 5 minutes. This is BEFORE you start the workout or race.
Every 5 minutes??? That seems extreme to me. If you're urinating that often, you're either overhydrated or you need to get your prostate checked. I don't believe in pre-race superhydration -- what's the point of filling my body with water that goes straight to my bladder? I drink normally beforehand, void my bladder just before the start, and replenish as needed during the workout or race. No problem.

(While I'm at it, neither Coke nor Pepsi seem like terribly good electrolyte drinks. Coke has 33 mg of sodium and no potassium in an 8-oz. serving, while 8 oz.of Pepsi has 25 mg sodium and 10 mg potassium. Compare to the same volume of Gatorade at 110 mg sodium and 30 mg potassium.)

If you're bonking sooner than you'd like, tdellaringa, I suspect underconditioning, not a lack of hydration or calories (barring extraordinary circumstances). Proposed solution: keep training. Easy does it, though -- no need to push yourself to exhaustion every day you train. Take plenty of easy days, enjoy yourself, and keep asking questions!
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