I’m not much of a fan of energy drinks, nor am I a fan of using electrolytes in water for racing: I prefer to control precisely when and how much nutrition I get during a race.
However, as Nuun is an official sponsor of The San Francisco Marathon, Nuun was kind enough to send me a tube of their new energy tab, Nuun Energy (and they also generously contributed to our sweepstakes!).
After Ironman 70.3 St. George, I have less than 4.5 weeks to prepare for Ironman 70.3 Boise. Both triathlons are considered some of the toughest on the circuit, so I don’t have any time to waste in my training between races. Today, when I was getting ready for my 3hour 45 mile bike ride, I was beginning to feel a bit tired and lacking motivation to get the ride done.
There couldn’t be a better time to try Nuun Energy.
I hate the taste of most powders (except FRS), energy drinks, and in particular Gatorade. So it was with a bit of trepidation I added the Nuun table to my water bottle and took a drink after waiting for it to fizzle away.
I was surprised.
It didn’t taste bad. It didn’t taste awesome, as I’m a big fan of the non-taste of water, but as far as adding something to my water, it wasn’t bad at all and the last thing you want on a long run is something that’s too sweet.
So while prepping the bike and myself for the ride, I consumed the entire 16oz bottle in about 30 minutes before heading out the door.
Did I feel an increase in energy? It definitely seemed like it! However, as an aging athlete, it did seem to have one downside for my system that I’ve encountered before: Drinking energy drinks has the same results with my bladder as drinking a couple of beers. (My wife says that’s TMI, but I remind her I can’t be the only one out there who has this result).
Consequently, I found myself making an additional stop during my ride that I normally don’t make. This isn’t a knock against Nuun: It’s just my system and another reason I try to avoid taking too many electrolytes (it’s not unique to Nuun in my case).
Following any strenuous endurance event, your immune system is decimated. With only 5 weeks between Ironman 70.3 St. George and Ironman 70.3 Boise, I don’t have time to get sick. I’ve been dragging ever since, but just before every workout I’ve been drinking Nuun Energy. I’ve also been drinking Nuun Energy when I’ve started to drag, and the caffeine and combination of ingredients has kept me going so far. Vitamins are never a bad thing when recoverying.
To Drink or Gel
I fall into the “Take a Gel” versus “Drink Electrolyte” camp of athlete. However, Nuun’s tablets have a serious advantage over their competitors. If you’re an athlete who likes to drink electrolytes or wants to add energy during the last part of a run, the Nuun tablet is probably the lightest, most versatile method of carrying it with you. Finding a place to mix powder, plus carrying it on a run, doesn’t work as simply and easily as a tablet. Nuun has nailed the portability/usability of drinking electrolytes, and if I did need to supplement my waffles/gels/chews, their product would be the way I would go. In fact, studies seem to show that if you vary your intake, the body will absorb more good stuff: So I would definitely consider taking some Nuun with me on a multi-day hike or trail run as an excellent type of variable intake. Additionally, I’m spoiled by the excellent filtered water from my house. Some of the provided water during trail races tastes just plain nasty – Nuun would definitely make it much more palatable.
Sugar-Free Plus Sorbitol
Nuun Energy has a plus: None of the sugar you might find in most energy drinks… On the downside.. it also contains sorbitol. Although you have to ingest over 20mg to have a laxative effect, during a long ultra-race this isn’t going to be a good choice since any possible side-effect might effect you (try it first!). But as a substitute for coffee? Winner!
A Surprise Bonus
When I first started triathlon, I was very sensitive to cold water. I started looking for a natural way to boost my resistance to temperature, and discovered if you started taking a supplement of one thing in particular, it should help. And what did I find in the Nuun Energy ingredient list?
Pantothenic Acid. Sure enough, when I started supplementing my diet and making sure I got enough, my resistance to temperature seemed to increase. Who knew?
Nuun Energy has been growing on me. I don’t tend to like drinking fizzy drinks, but adding a little flavor to my water (particularly on layovers where the water tastes awful) has been a good thing. In fact, the Nuun Energy has helped keep my training on schedule. So even if at first it might not seem your thing, if you keep trying Nuun… you might just find yourself buying more!
Nuun and the San Francisco Marathon
As an ambassador for the San Francisco Marathon, I would be remiss if I did not remind everyone that Nuun will be provided during the San Francisco Marathon and is the official hydration sponsor of the race.
Consequently, if you are planning on running the San Francisco marathon, pick up some tubes of Nuun today and start training with it!
You will not regret it.