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Archives for the day Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Ted has participated in numerous running, cycling and triathlon events over the years, and understands the importance of volunteers.  I’ve participated in a couple of different events this year, and have volunteered several times in the past, so I’ve noticed the importance volunteers have during events.

I recently chatted with organizers of the California International Marathon (CIM), a major running event that draws thousands to the Sacramento area each fall.

“Important is not the word for volunteers,” Alameda Runners was told, “vital is.”  Without them, there would be no CIM or other marathons around the country.  There are about 2,000 volunteers who help with all of the preparation for the race, the expo, and all of those out on the course.  Thousands of hours of volunteer work and all they get tangibly is a T-shirt.  But of course, it is much more than that.  Many come back year after year and are part of the CIM as much as the paid staff.  Also, the board which puts in a great deal of time all year round, in addition to the monthly (and special) meetings, is all volunteer.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Thank the volunteers!  When it’s cold and miserable during a race, it’s likely the volunteers are freezing the entire time they’re working.  If it’s hot and muggy, they’re suffering as they help set up the events, hand out drinks and other tasks during the event, and clean up the race after everyone is finished.

Ted and I volunteered to run the Oakland Half Marathon carrying the 2:15 pace sign (the only half marathon pace group), which was a lot of fun for both of us.  It was a blast to help so many people cross the finish line, especially the participants who were suffering and needed just an extra boost of support to cross the finish line.

During a run last week in Coyote Hills with the Mission Peak Striders running group, I had a brief conversation about the benefits of energy gels and other products many athletes enjoy while running.  I wanted to discuss some of the benefits of energy gels and other fuels here on Alameda Runners.

GU, Clif, and other companies market their gels and goodies by promising an energy boost that most of us crave while out on the road.

I’m not qualified to go into specific details regarding the nutritional needs or the physiological benefit of these gels, but most companies are extremely helpful if you have any specific questions.  (They’ll likely ask you about your level of activity, nutrition, and similar questions to try and help you as much as possible.)

The elevated blood sugar can lead to better athletic performance — and you hopefully won’t bonk.  For example, the GU Roctane product line is marketed as a product that reportedly reduces muscle damage, acid build-up, and other natural benefits.

Most companies normally recommend eating an energy gel every 30-45 minutes, but I don’t usually eat one until I’ve been out on the road for at least an hour.  If I know I’ll be out for a couple of hours, I’ll have one after about every 30 minutes of exercise.  You need to try and figure out what works best for you.  Work on this during training, and not on race days (the results could be disastrous).

The official GU website has some useful information about how to use GU energy products here.  Clif also is more than happy to explain the recommended use of Clif Shot energy gels and other products.  Accelerade also has an excellent page that discusses the use of various Accelerade products during exercise.

Honey Stinger also offers basic recommendations regarding the use of its products, and invites you to call or get in touch if you have questions.

If in doubt, it’s best to try and contact the company directly — they usually are very good about answering back.  Ted actually contacted Clif (without mentioning he writes for Alameda Runners) and received a quick response warning him not to consume the product the way he was because it can be very bad for you.

I am not the most scientific guy around. I only care about how edible it is and how well it works. I ate a cashew coconut chocolate chip Hammer Bar yesterday before a 2 hour bike ride. The bar tasted good, I did not feel sick, and had enough energy for the whole ride. I did not go hard. It was just a cruise around Alameda, but it was still good.

The Hammer Bar passed the first test before I took a bite. It is organic. I am not a vegan or health food zealot, but I have been switching to organic foods because of quality and taste. The company managed to come up with good quality and taste. The bar is loaded with calories from good sources. When I go out on my Saturday workouts, I burn 2,000 to 3,000 calories. I need all of the good calories I can get to help replace that.

The Hammer Bar gets a strong buy from me. That is saying a lot since I am so fond of GU and Clif. We are not professionals at this site. We are just typical athletes who happen to run a website.  We managed to get a lot of products from Hammer. The bar is so good, I am looking forward to trying the electrolyte and recovery drinks.