Sunday, August 29, 2010

Marathon Fueling and Low Blood Sugar

Warning: This is for anyone out there who has diabetes, hypoglycemia or reactive hypoglycemia. All others, you may be bored.

Since having a few fainting episodes this year, the doctor wisely suggested adding protein to every snack and meal to prevent blood sugar issues. My body has trouble processing sugar at all, and will "crash" a few hours after a meal or after taking in sugar or starch. It will start with trembling, and quickly move to the shakes, disorientation, sweating, blurred vision and eventually fainting. I'm trying to learn to eat something, usually a high fiber carb along with a protein source, about every 2-3 hours. And, eliminate my daily coffee which has become a bigger battle. :(

For long runs, I've normally focused on eating before I leave, and taking in gels or sports drink. But, depending on the day, what I've eaten the week before, stress level, sleep level, etc. it's turned into a crap shoot. For this marathon, I'd like to test myself a little rather than just plodding through to ward off the monster. The solution? Hammer Nutrition to the rescue!

For the record, I have used Hammer Perpetuem. It helped me survive Swan Crest, but I absolutely can't take the sight, smell or taste of it since. Personal issue only. So Brad, a rep from Hammer, suggested Sustained Energy as an alternative. He was also nice enough to send me a whole lot of free samples to try! I'm so glad he did because I have found my solution.

For me, based on my weight and how much I can tolerate (I've learned that 100-150 calories is all I can handle per hour - unlike friends who can do as much as 300 per hour. I've also learned that the calories should be spread out.), I make a mixture of unflavored Sustained Energy and Heed to give me a little over 100 calories per hour. For my 20 mile run yesterday, I mixed two scoops of each with water in a 10 oz. Nathan bottle. This gave me a total of over 400 calories in one nice little container. No mess, no litter, no cramming gels, bars, etc. in a pack.

I set my Garmin to alert me at every mile where I'd take a long swig from my mix. It worked PERFECTLY! I was never hungry. My energy stayed the same throughout the entire run, and I had no post run hangover. Of course, I also had water in a separate bottle. At 10 miles, as I dropped Buddy off at home, I took a Huckleberry gel just for a change in taste. Yummy. I also took 3 Saltsticks during the run - I plan to try Hammer Endurolytes in the future, but will wait until after my marathon to switch that up. Saltsticks seem to do the trick for now.

My favorites for this upcoming race:

Even when mixed thick, this went down easy. I actually looked forward to taking it. Very mild flavor when mixed with the Melon Heed.

Melon is my favorite flavor.

I love that you can buy gel in a bottle to put in a flask, instead of dealing with the once opened gooey packages and litter.

It's not the Nathan Sprint set up I love - it's the race cap. Especially for the SE and Heed mix. I didn't have to worry about getting the darn cap sealed.

And I love, love, love the Nathan Trail Mix belt. Light weight, bottles easy to get in and out, adjustable elastic band, and the pocket has enough room for my cell phone and a couple of just in case gels.

Taper time!


Danni said...

Glad you're getting this figured out. I think I'm going to go to Salmon so that will be fun!

Mechelle said...

Thank you so much for all the information, I've used the Melon Heed but not the other products. I have sugar issues but not nearly as severe as yours. I also have mitochondrial myopathy that at this point is unable to be treated because the origin is unknown and I wonder if some of these products may help with my energy levels at later points on long runs. Best of luck to you in the marathon!

Bill said...

So much of what you say rings true for what happens to me...not quite to the fainting extent tho...just feels like i am going to. I am going to try your mix next time and see how it works. thanks Iris

T.C. said...

Sounds like things are coming together through research and trial. Good for you! There are so many variables to deal with regarding blood sugar levels. I'm sure others with these issues will appreciate your post.

Iris said...

Yay Danni! It will be fun to see you speeding by. :)

Mechelle - I had to read up on Mitochondrial Myopathy. Sounds scary and not really understandable? Hope you find something that works for you.

Bill! When are we going to run???? said...


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