My quest to find the right race nutrition continues, I really like the chia gels but wanted to see what was available in a more traditional gel form. A quick Google and I came across MuleBar who position themselves as the natural gels with no synthetic or artificial ingredients. Which all sounds very nice doesn’t it? So I of course ordered a taster pack to get a nice selection of flavours to try out.
Eating something natural and not full of weird additives fits with my approach to eating and in principle these looked like a good solution as ultimately they are a gel in the form we all know. As an added bonus the ingredients are organic and fair-trade where possible which is another tick for me and finally they’re based just over the hills from me in Wiltshire.
The box I ordered had 6 gels and 4 energy bars of different flavours which I’ve been taking out with me on my long runs for the last few weeks. You can really tell that these are made with ‘real’ ingredients as the gels taste like really concentrated fruit juice which when I had the first one was great but after a couple on a 2.5 hour long run actually started to get a bit much. Really rich and also sweet even if not in the normal sugary way.
Flavours are good though, the Lemon Zinger would get my vote I think. The cherry was quite rich and intense and a bit much to take while running. Certainly the one that felt the least nice in my stomach!
Also a word of warning, if you go out on a cold morning like I did the gels go pretty thick, so thick in fact that you almost needed to chew them and it was hard getting them out of the tubes. On subsequent runs that were warmer there was no issue but something that’s worth keeping in mind depending on when you might use them.
The bars are also tasty, I really like the summer pudding one that has berries in it. Really easy to eat and nice to take a bite out of every so often on a long run to keep something more solid in your stomach with the gels. Personally for my running on a 2-3 hour long run I don’t need more than half a bar so would be tempted to cut one up before carrying it with me for those distances.
On the subject of quantity of consumption I was reading the marketing material that came with the pack and MuleBar recommend you eat 1 gel and 1 bar in the hour before a race, then 1-2 bars and 1-2 gels per hour during the race. Which is quite a staggering amount of energy to take on. Not sure I could ever force myself to eat that and if I did I’d probably have to stop to eat it!
It reminds me of a quote from Bill Adcocks on the Marathon Talk podcast, Tom asked him what he used to eat during a marathon to which Bill replied “nothing, it’s a race not a picnic”. Worth remembering!
So conclusion? If I wanted to buy some gels these would probably be the ones I go for, I like the natural element to them and the philosophy behind the company. But I’m still leaning towards the chia gels or something similar, the sweetness of normal gels is too much for me and I do struggle with it when running.
If anyone has any suggestions for other products to try do let me know.