So here’s the thing, in training you practice your nutrition.. after all you never want to try something new on race day!
I’ve tried gels in the past. Each to their own but to me they were like oddly flavoured warm snot and they disagreed with my tummy! The thought of using them to get me through a marathon was not one I could entertain!
Research suggested I would probably have more success with shot blocks. For the uninitiated, these are similar to gel in content but they are much more dense. Kind of like cubes of jelly only a little bit bigger.
This caused me a slight problem as I found chewing them a bit of an issue. At first I cut them into smaller chunks. It did the trick but meant I needed to eat them more often.
So I practised eating them whole. I got to the point where I could eat them but needed to walk whilst doing so as chewing, running, breathing and not choking was a step too far!
Fast forward to marathon day…. the heat meant I needed to take more fuel than I had in training. And I’d been relying on the water stations having water to wash down the shot blocks. When it became clear this was not a reliable approach I resorted to using more of the tailwind drink in my camelbak. Which meant that it ran out by 16 miles… in training it had got me to 20 still with a little left.
Fortunately, I spotted a lady opening a brand new 2L water bottle at one of the stations that had water but no cups. Knowing nobody had swigged it first I enlisted her assistance in refilling my camelbak.
Periodically throughout the second half of the run I started swinging from feeling sick to feeling utterly starving. I think I was popping a couple of shot blocks every hour or so (this wasn’t a science as I wasn’t thinking entirely clearly due to tiredness, heat and dehydration).
Suffice to say that the longer I was out there, the more I was struggling with shot blocks. Running past people having BBQ’s on the seafront was really not fun! I was SO sick of fucking shot blocks!
That said, they clearly did their job and I made it, eventually, to the finish.
Bursting into full-on sobs on Jenna’s shoulder I loudly declared, amongst other things… that I FUCKING HATE SHOT BLOCKS…. My poor 6 year old, around whom I am generally not bad at controlling my potty mouth, looked shocked at my outburst…
Whilst I often declare that “every day’s a school day” I have to say this wasn’t entirely the lesson I had in mind for last Sunday!! 🙊
But there it is, one of the main lessons from marathon day… shot blocks do their job but it will take days to stop feeling sick from the vast quantities of jelly and it may be some time before I’m tempted by the kids Haribo!