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A few of my favorite things

Although I’m not a dedicated Oprah watcher, I did always tune into her annual (or sometimes bi-annual) “Favorite Things” show.  The show would feature the best of the best- apparel, electronics, foods, you name it.  Well, here are a few of the things and places that I love;

  • GU Vanilla Bean Energy Gel:  Ever since my first GU while training for my first marathon, I’ve thought I was a Chocolate kind of girl.  I’m you’re average chocaholic, but ever since trying this flavor at the Oakland Half Marathon in March, I’m hooked.  It’s the perfect amount of sweet, not overwhelming, and has a small amount of caffeine.  Everyone has their preference, but I’ve found my match in Vanilla Bean- yum!
  • Superfeet GREEN insoles– I suffered from knee pain on and off for a good portion of my running.  My dad finally got me to try Superfeet to add stability to my shoe and provide more support for my feet and legs.  The Green line is actually for hiking, but after a careful trial of both Green and Pink (Pink is more for female runners), I had to stick with the firmer Green pair.  They last for about 2 pairs of shoes, and add SO much value to any shoes I’ve run in.  My aches and pains have been healed!
  • Nook– This is a favorite little cafe of our staff.  We love their salads, but most of the menu is yummy.  They have free wi-fi, outdoor seating, and a nice space.  They use all fresh ingredients and have lots of healthy options.  I’m borderline salivating just thinking about it.
  • Fort Mason Hill– This is my favorite place to run hill repeats- it is a steep climb, but short and sweet.  I chase up or down the steep or less steep side over and over, looking up at the trees, waterfront, bridge, and beach beneath.
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10– I’ve run in almost every top shoe brand out there, Asics, Nike, Saucony, you name it.  I ran in Brooks Adrenalines for my first marathon back in 2008, and was sad to part with them when they’d worn down.  When they were updated, I wasn’t as impressed, but with this most recent update, the GTS 10’s are phenomenal.  These are the best shoes I’ve run in yet- to prove it, I just finished up on my 2nd pair and ordered 2 more online.  If you don’t believe me- Runner’s World gave this shoe a “Best Update” award.  5 Stars!
  • Lilly’s Frozen Yogurt– Recently renovated, this place has self-serve low fat (or fat free) frozen yogurt and all the toppings you could ever want.  I love the “tart” yogurt flavors- pomegranate, original, raspberry, etc.  Then I usually top it with fresh berries, mochi, and fruity pebbles! It’s tasty and a lot less guilt than other desserts.
  • Headsweats Race Hat– These hats are the best for endurance athletes.  The material is lightweight, they are lined with a thin sweatband on the front, and they are machine washable for after a long run.  It clips in the back for a pony tail, and is super comfortable.  We also have headsweats Race Hats in our online store!
  • Udi’s Hawaiian Granola– I found this stuff at Real Foods on Polk Street and have been hooked ever since.  It’s all natural and only 120 calories per serving (not bad for Granola!).  It has macadamia nuts, dried pineapple, and coconut for the tropical flavor.  I put this on top of Fage Greek Yogurt for extra protein.
  • The Athlete’s Palate Cookbook: Ever since “Dublin” gave me this cookbook for my birthday, I’ve been smitten.  So far I’ve loved the Asparagus Omelet Tart with Polenta Crust, the Salmon Lettuce Gyros, Pancetta Wrapped Chicken, and the Naan Pizza with Canadian Bacon, Asparagus and Fontina Cheese.  My favorite part is that it’s written by athletes, for athletes and it tells you which recipes are best for recovery, training, etc. And since athletes understand limited schedules, they’re all really easy to make.
  • Bumble and Bumble Seaweed Shampoo– I used to buy my shampoo and conditioner at Whole Foods, or Trader Joes, nothing fancy.  But recently my hairdresser Dana at Backstage Salon SF (another favorite- it’s a salon and art gallery in one! Awesome place) recommended this stuff because I wash my hair so often.  Daily running= Daily shampooing and that’s a lot of hair damage.  This stuff has changed my life- the soft smell is amazing, my hair is healthy and soft, and it repairs all the damage I’m doing with my ponytails, runs, time in the sun, and hard water in my old apartment building.
  • Garmin Forerunner– You can’t get much more accurate than GPS.  When I started working at The SF Marathon, I tried my first watch on, and now I rarely run without it.  My roommates have nicknames my watch “Gary Garmin”, because they think I’m a bit attached, but it’s nice to be able to leave my apartment to go out for a run and be able to run in any direction without mapping it ahead of time.  That way I can enjoy my run and know when it’s time to turn around and go home.
  • Green Layer Arm Warmers– When our friends at Green Layer sent a pair of these over to me, I was really excited to try them out.  I’d tried running with other arm warmers before, but fit is key.  I took my first run in them, and I was immediately obsessed.  They didn’t slip or slide, and they were a nice sleek black color, and great design.  Stay tuned, we will soon be selling SF Marathon Arm Warmers (by Green Layer) in our online store.
  • Synergy Grape Kombucha– Michelle and Francis brought the Kombucha trend to The SF Marathon office, and slowly but surely we all became hooked.  We all have our favorites, but mine is Grape.  Awesome health benefits, unique flavor, and low calorie.
  • Finally, my favorite PLACES in San Francisco: Crissy Field and The Coastal Trail.  Nothing calms me more than the water.  Crissy Field is great for the long stretch of beach property, people walking their dogs along, and the unmatched view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The Coastal Trail is a bit more remote, a higher viewpoint, and windy trail with trees and cliffs.  When I first ran here, I could not believe I was in a big city, it feels so “naturey”.  I love to run in both spots, and fondly refer to them as “My Happy Places”.
  • GLEE Cast Soundtrack– Total guilty pleasure- but I haven’t found someone yet who has watched Glee and doesn’t love it.  I downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes, and a lot of the songs are great to run to.  The show’s star Lea Michelle has an fantastic voice, fun to sing-a-long to.
  • Restorative Yoga– With my training schedule ramping up as I train to *hopefully* qualify for Boston, and the stress of Race Day of The SF Marathon approaching in only 83 short days, this style of yoga centers and rejuvenates me.  It is more effective than any nap I’ve ever taken, and really allows me to unwind.  The props (straps, bolsters, blocks, blankets, sand bags) all help achieve the ultimate relaxation.  Namaste!
  • Inner Sunset Farmer’s Market– After living in this neighborhood for a short stint when I first moved here, this is still my favorite farmer’s market.  The location (right near Arizmendi Cooperative Bakery, The Beanery Coffeeshop), this is a one stop shop.  This farmer’s market is a pretty new one, just this year opened to year round shopping.  Buy local!
  • Lemon Zest Luna Bars– They’re sweet and tart- and although I thought they’d be on the more “sugary” end of bars, when label checking in Trader Joe’s last week, I noticed that this kind is one of the best on the sugar spectrum.  Perfect for my 4PM lull to give me some energy before Track, a run, or a yoga class.

Those are just a FEW of my favorite things, what are yours?


Silverlake and Slayer

After conquering the ability to run a mile, running for me became what most new additions to my life become: an excuse and justification to consume products relating (no matter how slightly) to that new addition. A few years back, when I decided to take up swimming, I bolted to the sporting goods store and reveled in the joy of discussing goggles, nose plugs and swimming caps. It didn’t matter that I had swum once for 20 minutes in the pool at my gym, it especially didn’t matter that I had next to ZERO knowledge about proper swimming form and no grace. The fact was that I was swimming and that was excuse enough to compile a bunch of S-T-U-F-F. The swimming hobby didn’t take, and for years I had a drawer filled with practically brand new swimming paraphernalia.

For running, I bought a pair of comfortable running shorts with built in underwear. This was one of the most exciting parts, as “all in one” products make me feel as if I am some kind of a superhero ready for battle.

I bought a pair of Nike shoes to fit my new Nike + gadget. The day before I bought the shoes, I had seen on the website that, under the insole, was a pocket for the Nike + receiver. When I used the Nike + gadget for hiking, I had, using a knife, carved a hole in the bottom of my shoe, under the insole to fit the receiver. I then covered it with a thick sheet of Duct Tape. The idea of fitting my receiver into a premade secret compartment satisfied me to no end.

I bought runner’s socks, anti-chafing glide, a water bottle, and a lot of Strawberry flavored Energy Drink, which I later learned tastes like Willy Wonka’s vomit, and never used again.

I decided that I wanted to be the kind of guy who ran in rock and roll t-shirts with the sleeves torn off. A sort of homemade muscle shirt. I found this hilariously ironic. Rummaging through my old T-shirts, I found a black Slayer shirt from the concert I had attended a few years back when they came to the Warfield. The concert, for me, was ten percent nostalgia, and ninety percent anthropological experiment. On the front of the Slayer shirt, was a large red eagle holding a pentagram. On the back was a list of all of their tour dates. I also found an old Guns and Roses shirt and, in apparent shortage of metal T-shirts, a blue Wilco shirt.

I tore the sleeves off, leaving frayed ends of strings and jagged seams. All of my shirts were cotton despite the advice from the Bostonian lady at the sporting good store who said that I should get sweat wicking shirts because, as she proclaimed, “cotton is rotten,” which came out sounding like “Catton is Ratten.” For a hat, I used a simple black baseball hat.

For Auggie, my 80 pound chocolate lab, I bought him a red handkerchief, and a new red leash with reflectors on the handle. The label said it was especially for running. It was, in reality, was just a leash with reflectors.

I set my sights on the Silverlake Reservoir, a (roughly) 2.5-mile, roadside loop in LA’s Silverlake district. The course took the runner around a park, a dog park, the reservoir and through a suburban neighborhood. In terms of scenery: actually pretty boring. However, the promise of maybe seeing a celebrity heightened the anticipation, making it tolerable at its worst.

Decked in my new shoes, and my Slayer shirt, and running gear, I felt like I was ready for my close up.

The first two minutes, my breath was even and paced. I put the music on my headphones, providing a heroic, introspective soundtrack to my run. The music in my headphones, by the way, did not match my shirt, as I had stopped listening to Slayer directly after the listening of it had stopped pissing off my dad (at age 15) and I decided that I was much less prone to violence and mosh-pits, and much more attuned to shoe gazing, independent rock bands, or sad-bastard-acoustic-guitar-guy rock.

Auggie trotted along, prancing like a show horse. He was so distracted by the new scents that he was constantly in danger of barreling into an old women or tying up a celebrity in his leash. From time to time, Auggie would stop suddenly in front of me to sniff a discarded burger wrapper, lamppost or flower bush. I found myself at constant risk of tripping over him, and launching myself, skidding onto the concrete. I yelled “Auggie, NO” every five minutes, and yanked on his leash. This all made it hard to keep an even breath and I found myself panting and anxious.

I shuffled past the dog park, and hit the small incline. I slowed down a little, feeling the burn in my legs and lungs. After the hill the course flattens out, and the scenery turns from a row of cool shops to a row of flat-roofed houses. Having just conquered the hill, my blood was pumping and I began to sweat a little. For a few minutes, I was sucking in air in hard, labored bursts.

A guy passed me who I thought might have been Jason Lee, but I realized that it was just a guy with brown hair.

I ran along for about another half mile, my pace picking up, my feet kicking higher, and shuffling less. Coming to the curve before the big hill, I knew that I had hit the halfway point. I had already gone a mile. The novelty of the new route had apparently passed for Auggie, and he kept an even pace ahead of me, dragging his tongue happily out of the side of his mouth. I had stopped breathing heavy, and my lungs felt like they were settling into place.

What follows after the halfway point is a steep hill about the length of a city block. I put my head down and headed up the hill. Auggie sprinted in front of me, pulling and panting as the leash tightened in the distance between us. I pumped my arms and bent my head toward the top of the hill, struggling with each step.

Half way up the hill, I felt as if my leg muscles would fail, and my lungs felt as if they filled with sand. I walked the rest with my hands on my hips taking deep, desperate breaths and saying “Whoo.” Any gust of wind sent a cold shiver through me as it mixed with my now soaking wet shirt. My black hat had also sweat through, and, as I picked up running, began to drip sweat from the brim on the concrete in front of me.

The psychology of seeing so much sweat convinced me that I was fatigued when I hit the top of the hill. My ears began to pound in time with my heart, and I had an unnerving thirsty feeling drying out my mouth.

After the hill, the path passes a children’s playground, and a narrow side street heading back to the car. Despite the growing tightening in my muscles, I shuffled my feet in an impersonation of a jogger, and finished the run.

My foray into my first 2.5 miles took me over 40 minutes. I practically tore the door off of my car clutching for my water bottle, and Auggie’s water bowl. I poured water in his bowl, and watched him bury his tongue in long, uncontrolled laps of drinking, breathing hard and splashing water everywhere.

I pretty much did the same thing, but without all of the licking. From a distance, it must have looked like I was trying to eat my water bottle. Once I got water in me, my desperation turned to a sort of calm. My burning muscles rested in to place. I was done. I felt like I had accomplished something. My blood seemed to flow happily in multicolor bursts through my beating heart and veins.

Driving home, the music in my car stereo sounded different, like I was hearing it inside out, and for the first time. It was wonderful. The wind whipping through the windows felt like a vacation, and sounded like applause. I felt positively post-coital.

At first, I ran three days a week, hiking on my off days. After two weeks, I began to notice that my watch hung looser on my arm throughout the day, the first sign that I am losing weight. My jeans needed a belt, my shirts hung on me awkwardly. When I went to visit my Mom, she said, “Honey, you look like you’re losing weight.” I did not take this to heart, because even at my fattest moments, my mother tells me what an Adonis I look like. However, when a female friend of mine, who I hadn’t seen in a while, told me that I looked thinner. I calmly said, “Oh, thanks,” but inside my head, “We are the Champions” by Queen echoed loudly.

With the advent of this new recognition, I felt even more inclined to run. I noticed that I began talking about running during conversations.  I used running as a metaphor even when it was awkward, and barely appropriate: “You see, “ I’d interject into a conversation, “the debate about the Iraq war is like jogging…”

Regardless of my shallow intentions, I actually began to look forward to running. I started running four days per week, running the reservoir twice around each time.

With the Nike + pedometer, when you run a mile faster than the day before, or if you burned a lot of calories, the voice of a famous athlete comes over your headphones and congratulates you. Lance Armstrong’s voice, for instance, comes on and says, “This is Lance Armstrong. Congratulations, you just ran your fastest mile.” In his voice, there is real excitement, he sounds very impressed. I understood the insincerity in this, yet I silently brimmed with pride every time I heard his voice. After each run, I paced nervously, secretly hoping to hear Lance tell me how great I am.

By this point, I had replaced my rock and roll shirts with sweat wicking shirts. While I missed the style aspect of running in a torn Slayer shirt, cotton truly is rotten and the function of sweat wicking shirts replaced the form of metal shirts.

In the mornings, my tibia and calves were sore, making it difficult to walk for about the first two hours of the day. Looking online, it was recommended that I buy a tibia band and a Styrofoam roller. I immediately (and excitedly) went to the sporting good store, buying both.

Auggie and I soon synced up. I had gotten to the point where I could calculate the exact amount of space between the people coming toward us, and Auggie’s nose Mathematically, I knew exactly how much give to give to the leash, how many times, and at what speed I had to wrap his leash around my hand in order to keep the other runners out of danger. Together, we telepathically moved in unison like a six legged, two headed running machine. His breathing was my breathing. After our runs, if somebody complimented him, and in what good shape he was, I knew they were talking about me. We were the same beast.

I soon realized that I preferred New Balance shoes. This realization came after realizing that I preferred Asics to Brooks.

It was after I began running five days per week that I finally called myself a runner. I remember it well; I was at dinner with friends in LA. Somebody at the table who I hadn’t seen in a while asked me how I had managed to lose weight. I’d lost ten pounds by this point. I responded by saying, “I run.”

“What?” he replied.

“I run.” I repeated. The restaurant was very loud.

“One more time, sorry man, I can’t hear in here.”

“ I said I’m a runner.” I yelled. “I run.”

“Oh, all right” was all he replied with, but I was stung by my words. They were true. And for once, I realized that, what began as an attempt to garner attention and oogling by women had quickly turned into something that I truly enjoyed. The next day I ran the reservoir three times at a record speed, and Lance Armstrong told me that I was a stud.

Top 3 Tips for New Runners

Top 3 Tips for New Runners
Karl, SF Marathon Training Coach and Runner

I love the smell of Cytomax in the morning……….it smells like victory. However on this morning all I can smell is fear, uncertainty, and nervousness. No, I’m not on the field of battle or amongst my fellow runners in a corral waiting for the starting gun. I’m standing in front of the SFM training class of 2010.

As I walk around to meet my newbies I can’t help to think of my introduction to running……  Ah yes, a cool autumn morning the sun is just starting rise and there is a cool nip in the air. As I take a moment to enjoy the fog dancing in the trees my world is shattered.  “Private! Private!! Just what do you think you are doing?!?! Shut up and drop!”  20 pushups later I’m heading down a narrow trail freaked and stressed, soon a sense of calm took over, my pace picked up, then I was hooked. Though I won’t be yelling at anyone today I hope I can inspire them and ease their minds a bit. There is a good feeling in knowing that in the next 18 weeks I’ll get to help people push themselves to the limit, reach a huge goal, and find strength that they never know they had.

Running involves a bit more than slapping on some shoes and putting one foot in front of the other in rapid succession; granted for some it comes that easy. For the rest of us we need to learn how to run efficiently, what shoes, clothes to wear, and when to drink water.

The three most common things I have to tell new runners are:

1.       Get your shoes properly fitted. Don’t buy shoes because they look cool and will look good while you are strolling about town. Go to a running specialty store or sporting goods store that has a properly trained staff. They will put you in a shoe that will work best for your running style. Sports Basement, Road Runner Sports, Fleet Feet, and Metro Sport are a few of the several places in the bay area that can take care of you.

2.       Don’t run in cotton. Well you can if you like chafing and the feeling of wearing a wet towel while you’re running. Synthetic blends with the ability to wick sweat work best; check the tag to be sure the product wicks moisture.

3.       Don’t forget to fuel and hydrate yourself before and after your runs. Fuel, Food, water, and sports drinks are your friend, get to know them. You don’t start a road trip without filling your car with gas. So why would you set out on a two hour run on an empty tank? It doesn’t have to be a big meal, peanut butter and toast will do the trick. Personally my pre-run fuel of choice is Slim Fast; I’m not drinking it for diet reasons. I like it because it doesn’t sit heavy in my stomach, it hydrates, and it’s a good source of carbs and protein. In the end you just need to provide your body with fuel so you can break the fasting cycle……breakfast. After a long run (60+ min) you need to refuel with carbs and protein (4:1 ratio). This meal is needed to replenish glycogen stores and should happen within 30 minutes but don’t go over an hour; doing this will help to speed up post run recovery by preventing you body from looking to your muscles as a source of fuel.

In the end most  listen and those that don’t come to me and ask why they are constantly tired, sore, and “Why is my skin burning?” I just smile and remind them of the big three.

Another thing I tell my new runners is that they will get a lot of information of the coming weeks and it’s up to them to pick and choose what will work for them in the end, what works for me may not work for you……. You can lead a runner to the water stop but you can’t make them drink.

Sand in the yoga toes

One of the best fringe benefits to working in the running industry is that working out during the day is pretty much a given. In the marathon office the staff typically runs, goes to the gym, walks or takes a yoga class some point each day. Yesterday was on a fast downhill slide, so Sabrina and I decided to break free of the confines of small office space, continually ringing phones and the “count down to race day” tally I have on the white board (88 days in case you are wondering) and head to a yoga class in Cow Hollow. Stretching and relaxing would make the rest of the day enjoyable and productive.

We signed up on line for the killer first visit package, grabbed some mats and headed to what would be a new class for us both. After spending 20 minutes to find parking we arrived with only minutes to spare and realized:

1. We must not be the only people with accommodating “do as you please” work benefits and;

2. Getting to this class early is mandatory if you actually want to be able to place your mat on the floor.

I told Sabrina to get in line to sign us in and that I would do what the rest of those searching for inner peace were doing: try to snag some hardwood floor real estate. I quickly found a spot for Sabrina’s mat and then turned to look for my own space. It was packed! Meditative music was playing loudly and the room was warm- almost stuffy. A few lit candles released the scent of jasmine.  I scanned the room wondering if there was at least one fellow yoga-ister who would move a few inches to one side or the other so that I too could enjoy this setting.  I was met with blank stares by those who were bold enough to actually make eye contact with me.

Typically I’m bold. If it were a new running class I was joining I would have no problem making small talk with fellow runners, asking about how they like their shoes, what they were training for or if I could join their group that was stretching out. I’ve been known to make running friends by asking people what to do about black toe nails or how to best stretch my It band. Runners are welcoming like that.

This class, however, was not about warm and fuzzy. Everyone seemed to be in search of enlightenment, but they wanted it all for themselves. These people were not going to move. They watched me struggling to sort out where I could make this work and no one would budge. It was almost as if they were challenging me to ask them to move. What has happened to common courtesy? What happened to embracing life and goodwill and peace that Yoga inspires? Not this group.

Taking a deep restorative breath I headed out the door muttering about how rude people can be and met Sabrina at the front desk. I explained the situation with my voice reaching a frantic stressed out pitch. I told her where her mat was and asked the gal at the desk to make sure I wasn’t docked for the class that that I clearly wasn’t going to partake in.

Sabrina gave me the look she gives me when she’s thinking that I remind her of her mother and made her own attempt at getting me some downward dog space. Moments later she returned with a wide smile. “I found you a spot! Come on!” She had gotten someone to move and had placed my mat on the floor.

Between the time she had left the room and brought me back in (oh, about 45 seconds) someone had MOVED MY MAT and placed theirs in its spot! Are you kidding me??!? I am still in shock at the audacity. And it wasn’t moved into a nice wide place, but pushed off to the side where I wouldn’t be able to stand on it, let alone find the peace I was intending for this practice.

Infuriated and not wanting to make a scene (okay, I did actually want to make a scene, but did not want to embarrass Sabrina) I grabbed my mat not waiting to hear the reason why this person chose to be so brazen.  I asked for my money back as I was not intending to come to this studio again. Sabrina was suddenly behind me asking for the same thing. The girl insisted it wasn’t this crowded at the 8:00pm class and that we should come back. No Thanks!

Back out on the street I pondered what to do. I promised Sabrina (and my husband) I would go to Yoga and it was looking as if this wasn’t going to happen.  Now, in some ways, Sabrina is the child of our office. She’s a young pup, 20 years my junior. But she is often times more resourceful, more balanced, more pro-active than I. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, she joked with a smile.

We found ourselves, 10 minutes later, on East Beach next to Crissy Field.  Laying my mat on the soft white sand and kicking off my shoes I stood to feel the wind whip through my hair. I took a deep breath of fresh air as I gazed at a wind surfer under the Golden Gate Bridge. The sun was bouncing off the waves and warming my skin, a shadow was cast on the hills of the Presidio, small black birds were pecking at sand, and a small dog was chasing a ball along the shore. There was no meditative music to be heard, no soothing voice of an instructor telling me how to bend, no candles burning in the room. Instead I found a renewed sense that couldn’t be conjured in a dimly lit studio. I held child’s pose a bit longer that I would have in a teacher led class. I skipped the poses that hurt my knees and I focused on stretching my IT Band. I found that half moon pose is much easier to hold on the sand.

I know I won’t be going back to that particular yoga studio in Cow Hollow. But I will return to the amazing “studio” by the San Francisco Bay, very soon. And, if you want to lay your mat down next to me, I’ll make room for you, running friends.

Training Tips from GU Energy

As you ramp up your training volume here are a few things to keep in mind that the scientific community has learned about endurance nutrition. The team at GU Energy is proud to be the official on-course energy product of the San Francisco Marathon and we have spent nearly 20 years working with professional athletes and leading scientists to formulate and optimize performance energy products for endurance athletes.

Some things to keep in mind for training and racing:

  • On average, athletes need to take in about 200-350 calories an hour during a multi-hour endurance event like the SF Marathon. Anything more than that and you risk decreased performance due to gastric distress.
  • Athletes need a significant amount of those calories to be carbohydrates (anywhere between 40-60 grams) due to the body’s need to use glucose as fuel during endurance exercise.  Endurance events can burn through the body’s stored glycogen pretty quickly. That’s what’s called bonking and that’s why you need to eat DURING the event. Keep the glycogen pilot light burning and stay hydrated and you cross the finish line.  It’s that simple.
  • Humans need at least 15-30 oz of water per hour during endurance events, depending on heat, humidity and pace (among other things). Performance decreases after losing just 2% of body weight from dehydration.
  • Electrolytes help the body retain the fluid you do take in and put it to work in muscle contractions, which means you can go faster and stay out longer.
  • It takes between 24-48 hours to completely recover from a workout and replenish your glycogen stores, which is why taking a  well-formulated recovery drink inside the magic 30 minute “Glycogen window” after training is so important – fail to replenish your fuel stores and you fail to be ready to train again the next day.

You can see how all of these principles require the athlete to practice and customize their nutrition plan before race day. We design GU products with these needs in mind and that is why we recently launched the Performance Energy Sampler and created the first gel way back in 1991.

The original idea behind GU was to find the quickest way to deliver an appropriate amount of calories to an athlete during competition without upsetting his or her stomach.

You’ll notice there is maltodextrin in GU gels and maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate (remember the 40-60g of carbs per hour from above?). Studies have shown that some complex carbs are digested faster than simple sugars like table sugar and honey. There is also fructose in GU gels which your stomach processes much faster than maltodextrin but doesn’t produce a sugar high which you might get from those simple sugars. This matters because the quicker your body can process the carbohydrates the less blood needs to be diverted from your muscles to your stomach to process the sugars. You go faster and stay out longer as a result.

Taking 1 packet of GU Gel and mixing 1 packet of GU Brew Electrolyte in a large water bottle gives you the right calories (240), fluid (20 oz.), electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and carbohydrates (54g) that you need to sustain a winning pace.

And lest we forget recovery, that oh-so-important but often neglected part of training.  You’re probably running multiple times a week now with many back-to-back training days.  You’ll need to recover after each one to train hard the next day so make sure you are taking a recovery drink within 30 minutes after each workout over 90 minutes or so.

Enjoy the time spent training and best of luck on race day!

-The GU Energy team

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Saving the Planet: One run at a time

Running is a pretty “green” sport right?  We use our legs, feet, and a pair of shoes to travel wherever we choose to go that day.  When I moved to the city back in May of 2009, I ditched my car and decided to bike, run, walk, BART, and Muni around town to save the headache of parking and traffic.  So far, I don’t have a bike, so my daily commute is either a bus or my two feet.  Lately, as the days have gotten longer and sunnier (approaching summer!), I’ve gotten into running home from work.

So for Earth Day, why not run TO work?  It was a pretty simple idea, we packed up gear in our new San Francisco Marathon Backpacks (they’re perfect for commuting- tons of pockets for shoes, laptops, waterbottles, etc) and decided to leave our houses at 8AM sharp.  When I walked out my door, it couldn’t have been a more perfect day.  The sun was shining down as I made my way to Kezar Stadium (where we have our Training Program Track Workouts), through Golden Gate Park, up through the Richmond and Presidio, and then weaving my way through Pacific Heights to the office.   I bumped into a few runners along my way, giving a woman in San Francisco Marathon 2007 Race Shirt a free race registration– she seemed pretty surprised by my offer.   I gave out the rest of the gear to runners who all looked equally as surprised that I was running around with a backpack of free stuff, but I think I had the most fun giving it all away.

The most fun part was seeing our Twitter and Facebook feeds come in on my phone as I ran.  A bunch of our fans/followers were inspired to run to work, saying “Thanks for the Challenge”.  Laura from Sacramento ran 7.5 miles to work and posted these pics of the run:

Blake took the challenge all weekend, biking, running, and conquering all kinds of weather before finally “rescuing the gas guzzler” on Sunday.

Here’s what a few of the staff had to say about the run:

“This year for Earth Day we decided that we would all run to work and share some of the cool stuff we have here in the office with our loyal facebook followers. At first this sounded like a great idea. Then I remembered that I was on Dublin watch and that I live about 5 miles from the office. Dublin and I made this trek home once in the past. It took us almost 3 hours to cover the distance as he ate EVERYTHING in his path. Really, San Francisco residents, we need to put our food garbage in a can of some sort and not toss it in the cross walk, in the gutter or on the sidewalk. Please! A Labrador’s health is at stake!
As flashbacks to this day made me wary, I agreed to get out and run, but decided Dublin and I would need to be dropped off close to the office. Our neighbor dropped us off at Crissy Field and we began our Green Day run along the sunny waters of the SF Bay. What a great way to start the day! Dublin was beside himself running in the grass at Crissy Field (his 2nd favorite thing to do) and then taking a swim at East Beach (his absolute favorite activity!) Typically we take a quick walk in Golden Gate Park, so today felt like Saturday.
There were so many people out running, walking, riding. It’s amazing how health conscience our City is. I love being a part of it. I counted 5 people wearing past San Francisco Marathon t-shirts and 12 dogs (I always count dogs when I run.) While few of the runners that passed me stopped to chat, I was able to pass out a few shirts and some other swag to people who were willling to chat with my wet dog and me. I think we made some people’s day!”

“My Earth Day route took me from Noe Valley through the Castro and down the multi-cultural Market Street Corridor until I reached the elegant Waterfront on the Embarcadero.   I meet all kinds of people: runners, walkers, businessmen and women, and tourists all having great importance on Earth Day.  My goal that day was to reward runners for running either to work or for pleasure by handing out San Francisco Marathon Gear as a thank you for helping save the earth.”

“On Earth Day, I did one of my favorite runs: I started at Pacific Heights, then down to Crissy Field / Marina Green, through Fort Mason, and back up to Russian Hill.  This delightful course gave me the chance to enjoy trees, sand, fields, fresh air and more natural wonders.  I stopped several runners along the way and handed out SF Marathon goodies.  One of the runners was an Entrepreneur who started an eco-friendly company.  We bonded over fitness and going green.  What a wonderful way to celebrate Earth Day!”

Hope you all had as much fun as we had exploring and celebrating the beautiful day!  Keep running and having the planet!