Homemade Sweet Potato "Gu"

If you've been following along with me the past few months, either by the blog, Facebook, or Insta, you know I am training for something huge. 

A bucket list item. 

The New York City Marathon!!

Ahh, I still can't believe it. The big day is less than 6 weeks away! 

This is going to be my 4th marathon and I am pumped. I've tried to approach this race in a whole different light and training strategy. I've tried to get into this race for the past 3 years so now I really want this to be my best race ever. My goal is, to of course, finish, but also to feel really post-race because we are spending a few days in the city and I don't want to be sore or crabby because I am hurting.  

I was pretty proactive prior to actually starting my training schedule. I did about 2 months of conditioning and strength training, revamped my diet and started lifting more weights. I am feeling really great. I think the majority has to do with my food choices and the strength training. 

Needless to say the food things has been been trial and error. I've read a ton of articles of runner's nutrition, clean eating, eating more protein, paleo for athletes, and more. The stuff out there is endless. I just decide one day I needed to start trying things to see how my body would react. Finally I feel like I've found a few tips, tricks, and recipes that have worked for me and I just feel the need to share it with the world!

Let me back up to the revamping of my diet thing. Since about February, I've really honed in on "eating clean." Which means I've been eating more higher protein meals, some complex carbs, lots of starchy veggies and sweet potatoes with a ton of fresh fruits and veggies. I've cut way back on all things processed and packaged and when I do eat something packaged, I read the ENTIRE label. If I don't know how to pronounce something, I don't eat it. Also, I am always eating something now; about 4-5 smaller meals at day, which has helped me not stuff myself for each meal and I have way less "hanger" moments. You know what hanger means right? If now, click here.

So, as I was revamping my diet and getting ready to start upping my mileage, I thought to myself, "if I am cutting out processed foods, why would I try and eat those packaged gu's and chomps when I have no idea what is put into them." And this might be TMI, but I totally puked the first time I had "Gu." But you know what, I kept on using them because as a runner, that's how you are told to fuel. Well, I decided I didn't want to do that any more. I did hours and hours of reading on health forums, running forums, websites, and blogs, and decided I was going to switch to eating real food for fuel during my training. Ultra marathoners are big into eating real food and energy gels haven't been around forever, so I knew there was another way to do this. 

I came up with this combination because it is simple. It is easy. And it is yummy. I can't for the life of me, find the article that inspired me to make it, but once I do, I will put a link up. But, this has been way easier on my stomach and I don't dread eating it like I did Gu. I've tried it now on 4 long runs; a 12 miler, 16 miler, an 18 miler, and another 12 miler and it's been working for me! The big thing I've noticed is I am eating a bit more than I was taking in Gu, but over all, it has been such a positive change and I don't mind it at all. 

Homemade Sweet Potato "Gu"
makes 3-4 packets
1 medium sweet potato, cooked and mashed (about 4.5-5 oz of puree)
1 medium, very ripe banana, mashed
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
a generous pinch of salt

Cook your sweet potato to you liking. This can be done in the mircowave or in the oven like you do a baked potato. Once cooked, mash or puree the sweet potato and banana together in a bowl. Mix in the chia, cinnamon, and salt into the sweet potato puree until evenly combined. Add more cinnamon and salt to your tasting. Add a bit of maple syrup if your banana isn't ripe enough for some sweetness. 

Use a scale and measure out 2.5-3oz of puree and place each serving in a snack size zip lock baggie. This comes out to be about a 1/2 cup (maybe a bit less) if you don't have a scale. Store in the fridge if you run is within a day or two. If not, store them in the freezer and take it out the night before your run. When running, bite the side of the baggie off and squeeze the same as you would any other energy gel.

You might get some funny looks and "what the heck is that..." Just be warned. :)

I tend to use it around mile 6-7, then again at 11-12 and so on as needed. 

Now I am working on pre and post run nutrition. Last week I had grilled chicken and left over butternut squash after my long run. It worked out pretty well. Anyway, wish me luck!



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