Friday Five: What’s in My Gym Bag

I’m loving DC Trifecta’s Friday Five linkup. Thanks Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia for hosting this fun linkup!

Today, a sneak peak into the inner lives of our gym bags! Without further ado, here are Five Things in My Gym Bag:

1. My iPod. Can’t do without this for treadmill runs. It has the magic power to make time on dreadmill go by much more (but not entirely) painlessly. I like Metallica, Pink, Drowning Pool, Beastie Boys, DevilDriver, In This Moment, Excision, et al. for workouts and speedwork; audiobooks for long runs.

2. Snacks. What can I say? This girl likes to eat. I’m typically packing a homemade energy bar or a banana. Or nuts. Or blackberries. Or a peanut butter and bacon sandwich.

3. Water. I have the hydration needs of a camel when I work out. No lie. I need a liter to get me though a 5k. My favorite water bottle is the Camelbak Chute.

4. My heart-rate monitor. For HIIT workouts at the gym, not for running. I don’t love the feeling of it around my ribs (ICAN’TBREATHEITELLYOU), so I wear it only when I’m doing something unpleasant/difficult enough to be distracted: box jumps, Jacob’s ladder, mountain climbers–I’m looking at you. I link up with the Polar app.

5. Lip balm. Because I can’t have a good workout if my lips are uncomfortable, not because I’m vain. (I’m a little vain, but not vain/ambitious enough to wear makeup to the gym.) I like Aquaphor’s spf 30 lip balm for outside runs; Burt’s Bees (any flavor) for inside workouts.

What’s in your gym bag? Do tell!

How much fun is this!?

Filed under: At the Gym, Friday Five Tagged: Friday five, gym, Running, workouts

Review: Energems


In every ultramarathon, there is that moment–the cris de fois, the “dark night of the soul,” whatever you want to call it–when everything collapses and you feel you just can’t take one. more. step. If the marathon has a “wall,” then the ultramarathon has an abyss.

There is a fatigue that goes beyond anything we might experience anywhere else in our lives (except perhaps one of those nightmarish protracted labor-and-delivery experiences). It’s physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual.20140528_150948

A good percentage of runners who go on to complete the race will do so by turning to caffeine to help build a (tenuous) bridge across that chasm of exhaustion. It’s amazing what a little caffeine can do for the human spirit–and central nervous system.

I haven’t experimented much with caffeine pills (since college, anyway), but what I recall is that a pleasant little buzz can suddenly escalate to heart-thumping, eye-popping, jittery mayhem. And I can say that coffee just doesn’t do it for me. I can shoot a double espresso and be in dreamland thirty minutes later. That being the case, I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to sample and review Energems. And I was even more excited to find that they actually work for me!

Energems are essentially over-sized M&M-type candies boosted with caffeine and B vitamins. They come in three flavors–milk chocolate, mint, and peanut butter–and there are 3 servings in each little box.m-and-ms-and-energems

Each serving of 3 Energems contains 75mg of caffeine, comparable to what you’d get from a shot of espresso. I don’t know whether it’s the sugar or the vitamins or the “proprietary energy blend” of D-glucuronolactone, taurine, caffeine, and Suntheanine, but these turbo-charged candies are an effective pick-me-up. And they get bonus points for being a lot easier to carry and consume on the run than either coffee or energy drinks.

The flavors are pretty enjoyable, definitely palatable, although there is a subtle bitterness that regular candy-coated chocolate pieces don’t have. To me, this is no big deal because the bitterness dissipates quickly and doesn’t linger in your mouth.

My next race will be a 12-hour overnight ultra, and I’ll definitely be packing Energems (mint!).

Where to get them: 

You can purchase Energems in packs of 3, 6, 12, and 36 from the Energems Web site, here, or find them on Amazon.

You can also find them in convenience stores and gas station shops like 7-Eleven, Pilot, and Circle K. Click here to find a retail location near you.

Have you tried Energems? If so, what did you think of them?


Filed under: Races, Reviews, Runner Fuel, Supplements and Caffeine, Ultramarathons, Uncategorized Tagged: caffeine supplements, Energems, Running, ultramarathons

5 Foods That Changed the Way I Think About Food

We all have them–foods that flicked the switch for our personal culinary lightbulb and made us suddenly contemplate the possibility of food. They made us see food not just for nourishment or convenience, but for enjoyment, edification, and maybe even art. Here are mine, and it’s not an all-inclusive list.

  1. Butter. I grew up spreading my toast with a variety of synthetic butter spreads that came in plastic tubs and melted down to a watery mess that ruined popcorn. Not to blame my mom; we were led to believe that butter was the devil and margarine was the angel of light that would save us from heart disease. Now we know better. And I’ve fallen hard for butter–the lemon-yellow sunshine of Kerrygold melting on an English muffin; the unapologetically unctuous, superfatted Plugra for baking; the dizzying heaven of browned butter in anything.
  2. Roasted vegetables.

    From kale chips to cauliflower, roasting has changed my relationship with vegetables. I’ve always loved my veggies, but when I discovered the alchemy a little olive oil and some time in the oven can create, my love turned to obsession. Broccoli, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach…I can’t get enough. 

  3. Olives. I’ve always been a salt-over-sweet girl, so it’s not surprising that I prefer the concentrated saltiness of briny olives. I can happily consume alarming amounts of even the humblest of olives–pimento-stuffed Manzanillas, I’m looking at you–but I’m simply transported by Kalamatas, Picholines, Cerignolas, Arbequinas, Bitettos…. A dish of olives, a piece of good bread, and a glass of wine and I’m good.
  4. Fresh raspberries.

    Eaten sunwarmed, straight from the canes…or crushed and stirred into plain Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey…or bubbling beneath a perfect golden cap of buttery pastry…perfection.

  5. Artisan bread. Loaves, batards, boules, or baguettes, there is little that can comfort and satisfy as well as a piece of quality artisan-style bread. Cheap, simple, elegant. With cold salted butter; bitter, fruity olive oil and kosher salt; or the drippings from a broiled steak, good bread is practically a meal unto itself. 
Which 5 foods brought about a culinary epiphany for you?