GU Part II: Shazam!

After my 2/20 post about GU energy gels, I received a big box of promotional GU products to try out from a company called Outside PR.*

You may recall that the tone of that post was dubious at best. Afterwards, several people commented in defense of GU:
Natalya, triathlon sprinter and marathoner: “Any high endurance sport requires calories to be replenished at a much higher rate and you can’t stop for a pasta meal in the middle of your race.”
Paul, hiker and Eastbound And Down watcher: “I pound those suckers even when I’m not exercising.”

Taking these factors into consideration, I decided to give GU a shot. The other morning, I ripped into a packet of Espresso Love gel when I woke up. My morning run was amazing! The next day, I chewed through a pack of Pomegranite GU Chomps. Amazing! The day after that, I had a handful of plain almonds. Also amazing!

It turns out that eating a pre-run snack is really, really important. Up to this point, I’d been reluctant to have anything before my training runs because I was afraid of two things: cramping and (how can I put this delicately?) Diarrhea. Trust me, it’s real and it only happens when you’re miles from home in a nice neighborhood that’s devoid of bushes.

But guess what happens when you enjoy a low-fiber, high-carb snack about 15 minutes before a run? Amazingness! Like, shedding 20 minutes off your 10K time amazingness. Not feeling shaky and ill during the last mile amazingness.

Lest you think that I’m only saying this because I’ve sold my soul to GU**, I researched a few homemade alternatives to commercial energy products. Some clever do-it-yourselfers have created recipes, like this one, that are surprisingly simple. Since GU consists primarily of carbohydrates, potassium, and sodium, you can just combine honey, blackstrap molasses, and salt and get more or less the same thing. I tried it, and you guessed it. It was amazing.

It’s important to note here that I’m not the most credible gourmand. I’ve lost a lot of ground doing things like announcing that peanut butter goes with absolutely everything and then setting out to prove it. And so, since taste is important and I wish to take my role as GU tester seriously, I asked my more refined coworkers to try unlabeled samples of my homemade honey mixture and Chocolate Outrage GU. Here’s what they said:

Megan: Bleggh! Neither!
Jen: The chocolate one tastes like Nutella. I don’t like that honey stuff.
Arthur: Are you asking me to double-dip? Because that’s unsanitary.
Jocelyn: Chocolate. The honey has a weird aftertaste.
Jenna: The chocolate reminds me of hot fudge. The honey tastes like it’s gone bad.
Maisie (Spits, makes a pukey face): The chocolatey stuff is too chemically. The honey is more like something real.
Nika: The chocolate seems more substantial. I’d rather have that before a workout.

So, folks, there you have it. Four out of the five serious study participants prefer GU. And me, you ask? What do I prefer? I’m not about to start spreading GU on my deli sandwiches, but it does provide lasting energy ideal for endurance training. Also, a free box of promotional samples is even cheaper than honey. I’ll definitely use all of the samples, and I may even buy more when I’m done.***

*Since I’m not unkind enough to reject free promotional products, here is a convenient list of brand names for other companies’ analytic software to pick up: Patagonia, Puffins Cereal, iMac, Ray Ban, Rolex, Lexus, European Bike Tour.
**Note that my name has changed to MariGU™.
***Stay posted for photos of my new GU™ logo tattoo!

Mari Zagarins

When Mari isn't running, biking, hiking, or jumping-jacking in and around her home in Montpelier, she is practicing her facial expressions in the mirror and contemplating whether she should learn to swim.