Running Nutrition: Gels, Bars, Chews, and Why

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We open on a trio of runners, Bars, Gels, and Chews, ascending a craggy slope with picturesque, tree-lined mountains in the background. All three wear determined, dirt-lined grimaces as they crest the ridge. Their haggard breathing comes in strained wheezes that gradually transition to smooth, controlled inhalations. Rising from their bent positions, the runners gaze upon that which they have conquered as the sun shines upon their faces. However, dark clouds on the horizon let us know that this triumph is only temporary.

Bars: Wheeew, that was a bear!

Chews: I can taste the blood in my throat.

Gels: Gaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Bars: (After chuckling good-naturedly) Who’s down for a snack?

Chews: Definitely.

Gels: Yes please.

Bars: I brought a PowerBars and Picky Bars. Who wants what?

Chews: Yuck.

Gels: Please no.

Bars: For real? Neither of you want a snack?

Chews: I can’t handle heavy foods like that. My stomach would be ruined for the descent.

Gels: Ditto.

Bars: Suit yourself, my hunger shall be sated.

Chews: I brought Honey Singer Energy Chews and Clif Shot Blocks, do you want any?

Gels: Ugh, that’s still too much of a solid for me. I’m going to stick with my GU Energy Gel. This bad boy has 15 servings.

Bars: Blegh, gels are gross. That texture makes me gag.

Chews: (After subduing uncontainable laughter) You carried that entire bag up?

Gel: What? I only want one flavor, and it beats having to carry five individual packets.

Bars: That’s my point! You only need one bar for a run like this. It’s so much more convenient. And both gels and chews hardly curb hunger.

Chews: Better to be a little hungry than cramping as your stomach attempts to digest a full meal mid run.

Gels: Whatever, you brought glorified candy.

Chews: You know what! Let’s test this out! Each of us will eat our preferred snack, and we can race to the bottom.

Gels: Deal!

Bars: (Spitting out his response between aggressive bites) Deal.

We pause for a moment while the three individuals consume in quiet malevolence. The clouds have now moved overhead, casting sinister shadows over the scene. A few moments later, Gels gives a thumbs up and glances at both companions without speaking. Two additional thumbs are raised, and the trio tear off stage into the growing darkness below. The fate of their once strong friendship seems to follow their downhill trajectory.

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Will has been running competitively since high school, and is currently running with the HOKA Aggies, a post-collegiate club here on the central coast of California. With a preference for the humorous and the verbose, he enjoys playing the wordsmith almost as much as his daily runs.

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