|Generation UCAN prize pack|
Last July, the McMillan Running company named me their athlete of the month. Along with this honor came a prize pack full of Generation UCAN products. I had known for awhile that Coach Greg McMillan believed strongly in UCAN for fueling, so I was looking forward to trying it out. However, I was in the midst of half marathon training, and my long runs weren't long enough to require fuel. That said, I continued to use gels during my races.
During the Columbus Half Marathon last fall, I took two Honey Stinger gels, as was custom for me. At the finish line, I ended up vomiting. It was not pretty! I had been a victim of stomach distress during races in the past, but I had never vomited.
Why I tried UCAN: Stomach Distress
Aside from the fact that I had a prize package of UCAN and Greg McMillan endorsed it, I had also heard that the product was easier to digest than gels. I had been faithful to Honey Stinger for years because it was the only gel my stomach could tolerate-- but it couldn't always tolerate it. The Columbus Half Marathon is a good example of that, as is the Columbus full marathon from 2014, when I simply wasn't able to get the gel down at mile 16. As a result, I ran the last ten miles of that race with no fuel. The same thing had happened to me at the B & A Trail marathon back in 2013.
During training runs, stomach distress had also been an issue. There was about a 1-in-3 chance that I would end up in a bathroom during a long run because of an upset stomach. Not fun!
So, once I started training for the Boston Marathon, I thought I would give Generation UCAN a shot. Another benefit of the product is that you don't need to fuel as often with it. One serving of UCAN lasts for up to two hours! For long runs of 16 miles or less, I would simply have one serving of UCAN SuperStarch about 30 minutes before the run, and I would have enough energy to get through the run. I also used it before some of my weekday morning workouts if they were long, and I found that I was energized and able to execute the workouts according to plan. And, as advertised, I never once had stomach distress with the product.
Why I stayed with UCAN: Convenience
One of the hardest parts about running a long race is having to fuel. When it's below 40 degrees, my hands go completely numb so taking a gel becomes extremely challenging. Another part of the challenge is that you have to take gels, like Honey Stinger, with water. So not only do you have to open the gel and get it into your mouth, you also have to have enough water at the exact time. Who needs that when you are running at 100% effort?!
In March of this year, I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon. For breakfast, I had my standard bagel with peanut butter two hours beforehand. 30 minutes before the start, I had a packet of UCAN SuperStarch mixed with water. I consumed zero calories during the race, and not needing to take a gel freed my hands from carrying a water bottle. I ended up setting a PR by over a minute and a half, running a 1:33:36! I loved not having to worry about fueling mid-race or carrying a bottle.
As my long runs for Boston increased to over 16 miles, I started to take UCAN on the go. I would still take a serving 30 minutes beforehand, and then about 80-85 minutes into the run, I would take a UCAN gel. This video shows I made the gel:
Given that the UCAN was far more convenient then gels, and that it didn't cause me stomach distress it was a no-brainer to make the switch. But there was another key benefit that I learned about after I had been training with the product for a few months: UCAN helps train your body to burn more fat.
Major Perk: Burn more fat
I used to wonder if taking so many gels on training runs was a bad thing. After all, isn't the point of a long run to teach your body to burn fat as fuel, not all the sugar you give it? I've heard of some runners doing long runs without any fuel at all, but I know that it can be rough to recover from those, making your future workouts suffer.
With traditional gels, the calories are released into your system all at once, overwhelming your body with an abundance of glucose to use. With Generation UCAN, the energy is released gradually, over time. This is why it lasts longer. With this gradual release, your body uses some glycogen as fuel, and also some fat.
When I ran the Boston Marathon, I consumed a full packet of UCAN beforehand, a full packet gel at mile 10, and then I had some honey stinger chews to get me through the last 4 miles. I could have made another UCAN gel, but I didn't want to carry two of them, and having a few chews at the end didn't require me to carry water, and didn't cause stomach distress. I slowed down significantly during that race, but I attribute that to the heat-- not my fueling strategy. This exact fueling strategy was perfect for a 24-mile training run in cooler weather two weeks before Boston.
|Meb and me!|
I received an email from Generation UCAN last March asking for ambassadors in the local area. I did not hesitate to volunteer. Since I'm already pretty active on social media and I love going to running events, I figured I might as well help promote a company I believe in. I already had the opportunity to represent UCAN at an event in Arlington last March, where I met Meb! Yes, Meb uses UCAN too. Once again, UCAN did not pay me to write this blog or even ask me to do it. It just works so well that I wanted to share my success with it.
UCAN also offers recovery drinks, snack bars, and a hydration product. The "UCAN Hydrate" is a powder you simply put in water that turns plain ol' water into electrolyte enhanced water. I use this when it's warm out, and just re-stocked for the summer.
In terms of flavors, my favorite flavor of the SuperStarch is lemonade, followed by blueberry pomegranate. I do not care for the orange or chocolate flavors.
I now drink UCAN SuperStarch 30 minutes prior to every race I run, regardless of the distance. And I've had plenty of energy during my past few races with no stomach distress.
If you want a 10% discount code for the UCAN website, contact me on Twitter and I will send you a direct message with the code, or just be sure to use this link and the discount will apply automatically.
I hope you enjoyed this Generation UCAN review!