The last few weeks I’ve struggled with my pre-long run fueling. I’ve been veering away from my usual carb base, and trying new things, and they’ve just been too heavy. I end up having to wait longer before going out so that I don’t end up with side cramps for my entire run.
Image from Runner’s World
Enter Picky Bars.
The bars are the brainchild of Lauren Fleshman for her husband Jesse, who needed a gluten and dairy-free way to fuel up. With marathon times like those of their entire staff, I’m pretty sure I should try only eating Picky Bars to see if it makes me faster. But, in reality, the bars are known for the significant amount of nutritional science that went into them.
With only a few runs left before Rock & Roll Chicago next weekend, I thought I’d do some testing for the shorter ones, while planning to use my tried and true half fuel for my last long run tomorrow morning, and for race day.
I chose the Smooth Caffeinator flavor, which is described on the packaging as Hazelnut Mocha Madness. In addition to being full of whole ingredients, many of which are organic, this bar has 25mg of caffeine.
At first taste, I could tell it had coffee in it, and loved it! I love coffee, having a bar that tastes like coffee is pretty fantastic. Once I moved past that taste the hazelnut flavor jumped out. The chocolate was subtle, which was nice. It was clearly the base flavor, but didn’t overwhelm you. I didn’t feel like I was eating a brownie. For once, that felt like a good thing!
Image from sodahead.com
The texture is a good combination of smooth, baked goodness with chunks of nuts and fruit. It’s not overly sweet, I’d say just sweet enough. But it did have a slightly dryness to the texture. Keeping with the contrast to a brownie, its like a slightly overbaked brownie rather than a fudgy one. Given I was drinking water with it, it wasn’t a big deal, but if you tried to eat it during a race, it might bother you.
Even though the bar has 200 calories, it didn’t immediately make me feel like I had a ball of brain my stomach, as I sometimes do with energy bars. It didn’t sit heavy during my run, either. I ate it about 90 minutes before I ran (packaging suggests an hour before a run), but I drank my coffee after rather than before eating it. Personal fail.
My run this morning felt really good. Although I started to overheat a bit when the sun broke through the clouds, so my pace slowed a bit, but I set out with a goal (well technically 2 but, they’re close, so its just one):
#2: Finish with a final pace of less than 11 min/mile, which is 45 sec/mile faster than my PR race pace.
For comparison’s sake, here are Lauren’s stats from her website:
To literally be 1/2 as fast as her (using her 10k pace, I know, not quite the same) I’d need to finish 6 miles in 1:06
Boom! 10:54 pace for a total of 1:05:26
Was it my Picky Bar? Possibly. But even if it wasn’t, I felt energized and powered through 6 miles with only a few sips of Nuun along the way. And it was pretty delicious.
I was not compensated or provided my Picky Bar to test. I purchased it at my local running store and wanted to share my opinions, which are completely my own. I would however, appreciate if they could actually make me 3/4 as fast as Lauren next time.