Thursday, August 5, 2010

Attn Power Bar: You are on my list!

I am ticked. So be forewarned. This post is going to be a rant. Pure and simple.

While in the middle of making dinner tonight, somewhere between waiting for the rice to boil and prepping veggies, I found myself with a minute or two to spare and thought I’d take advantage of it. My new Runner’s World had come in the mail and I figured I at least had time flip to the back page and see who the featured celebrity you wouldn’t necessarily expect to run is (first thing I look at every month. I have no idea why this fascinates me so).

But I got distracted. Upon opening the little plastic wrap that housed my magazine, a booklet fell out. Sports Nutrition for Distance Runners. Hmmm…Interesting, especially considering I just did a post yesterday about Gu Roctane. I was intrigued.

Now right on the cover is the Power Bar logo and I’m not a rocket scientist but I’m fully aware that this means the little booklet was paid for and put together by Power Bar as ultimately a way to sell their products. I’ve got no problem with this. Just because they’re selling something doesn’t mean they are not also giving you good information. So I read/skimmed on and all was well until page 3 under the Fueling section where I read this:

“A single long-distance run can wipe out carbohydrate fuel reserves. In addition, back –to-back shorter workouts can also rapidly deplete muscle glycogen reserves if they aren’t promptly replenished after each workout. [Yep. Right. I’m with ya.] When these fuel stores run dry during exercise, you turn to liver glycogen reserves to maintain your blood glucose level. But once liver glycogen stores are tapped, your blood sugar level drops, fatigue sets in, and you hit the wall. [Mmhmm. Still following, but it’s about to get really interesting.]

Imagine running miles 1 through 18 of a marathon at your usual 6-minute-per-mile pace with a steady heart rate [LMAO. Um…ok that’s pretty fast, but I’m game. I do have a four year old after all and a little experience exercising my imagination.] –you’re feeling good. [probably not so much. Maybe I should pretend I’m someone else?] But unfortunately, you’re just about to burn through your muscle glycogen reserves. And as those fuel reserves hit empty, your pace steadily slows to the point where you end up finishing your last mile in a pedestrian 9 minutes!” [emphasis added, but not the exclamation point.]

Uh…EXCUSE ME! Oh no you didn’t just say that. You are really going to describe a 9 minute mile, and one at the end of a 26.2 mile run no less, as “pedestrian!”? Are you kidding me?

**Deep Breath** Ok. I get the point you were making Power Bar. You were only trying to illustrate tanking at a marathon. And someone who drops there pace from 6 minutes per mile to 9 minutes per mile has definitely tanked. I got it. And if one were to look pedestrian up, I suppose technically the word applies if you take it on it’s first definition: “going or performed on foot'” since running is in fact done on foot.

But let’s be honest here, we know what you were getting at. What you were unintentionally (I hope) saying is that a 9 minute mile pace is undesirable, slow, or pedestrian as in it’s second definition “of, relating to, or designed for walking.” (And as a total and utter sidenote, wouldn’t it be funny if the entire pedestrian world DID travel at a 9 minute per mile pace. Think about that for a second. A pregnant mother with two kiddos in tow, an elderly gentleman with his walker, a couple of teenager girls window shopping. All of them moving at a 9 minute per mile pace. Life on fast forward. But shockingly, I digress…)

Perhaps you would do well to note Power Bar, that the average marathon finishing time last year for men was 4:32:17, or a 10:24 min/mile pace, and for women 4:52:31, an 11:10 min/mile pace, (statistics via Let’s see now, your athlete who “hit the wall” at mile 18 would cross the finish at…oh…at about 3:01:48 if we just calculate those last 8.2 miles all at that “pedestrian” 9 min/mile pace although you did suggest a gradual slow down which would more likely have your athlete breaking the 3 hour mark. Had he/she been able to maintain their “usual 6-minute-per-mile” “steady heart rate” pace, which is what you were suggesting would happen if they used your product, they would have finished in 2:37:12. I’m sorry, who exactly did you write your nutrition guide for?

Let’s see here. I do believe the women’s world record is held by Paula Radcliffe at 2:15:25. So I’m gonna go right ahead and call your athlete elite and gamble that someone who is capable of running 2:37:12 probably already has their nutrition plan figured out and wouldn’t need your handy little guide. Just a guess though. I could be wrong.

No Power Bar, you wrote that little guide for the very athletes that you chose to insult. The ones who you hoped would go out and buy your product. You know, the pedestrians who BECAUSE they are out there working it out for a much longer time than the super fasties would potentially buy A LOT MORE OF YOUR STUFF (I’m sorry. I don’t mean to yell. It’s just so very frustrating).

And what’s far worse to me about all this is that Power Bar KNOWS these pedestrian paced runners are the ones who make them profitable. If you flip to the last page of the nutrition guide, you’ll see a picture of a finish line and clock that reads “4:42:45” as they sum up the benefits of their products. One would think they meant 4:42:45 then as a good thing right? I mean why would you sum up your product benefits and illustrate it with a crappy finish time? But then again, one would also think you would not rip on the running pace of your potential customers. So who knows?

Somebody dropped the ball here. Actually, a few somebodies dropped the ball. No way did that guide go to print without at least two or three sets of eyeballs taking a look (and I am really hoping one of those sets of eyeballs did not come from Runner’s World otherwise they’re gonna make my list too). Those somebodies were either completely clueless about distance running OR worse, they’re running snobs and you know how I feel about them.

Now, I almost just let this go. Poor poor choice of words and an extremely stupid example to use considering who they were marketing to. I haven’t been thrilled with Power Bar products in the past, and their nutrition guide was probably not going to convince me to run out and go buy some now (although I did read some good stuff about their new Energy Bites and I was thinking of giving them a go. Probably gonna pass on that now.) But the more I thought about this, the angrier I got.

And then…I thought of you all and the emails, facebook messages, and comments I get from those of you who are brand spanking new runners, excited and nervous all at once about the running journey you’ve stepped out and begun and…the mamma in me came out. Just in the off chance that one of you all might happen across this nutrition guide, I couldn’t just look the other way without comment.

So listen up my mid to back of the packers and newbie running friends! I am talking specifically to you now. And I want you to know, YOU ROCK! I know you make sacrifices every time you lace up those shoes and there quite frequently are other things you’d rather be doing. I know sometimes it hurts. I know sometimes you feel like you want to quit. I know it’s hard and that life gets in the way from time to time. And I know there are those of you who take the big leap to run a race despite worrying you’ll come in last. BUT YOU RUN ANYWAY! And that, my friends, tells me something about your character. It takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, and discipline to run no matter what your minute per mile pace is and you are a terrific example of healthy living for your children, family and friends who are all (I guarantee it) watching.

So keep it up! And don’t worry about the running snobs and the Power Bars of the world. They’d all do well to note that without the pack running behind them, they’d have no one to fund their races or buy their stuff. Fast is all relative anyway. And ultimately, it really doesn’t matter when you finish, just that you do.

Ok, I’ve got waaaaay more to say on this, but that’s long enough. Rant ended. Ten pedestrian miles for me tomorrow…

'Til next time...


Kayla said...

I haven't seen the new runners world yet, but I guess I'm slower than pedestrian and I'm fine with that :) I realize they were trying to make a point, but you are right it was a bad example on their part.

Zaneta said...

hahaha! can i just say I absolutely LOVED your rant?! especially the end to all the new runners... you totally gave me a renewed confidence! Thank you so much for that! And, i'm sure there are others that needed to hear (or rather, read) your pep talk! Thank you! :D

TinaGirl said...

Oh THANK YOU!!! I wanted to write something up on my blog but I just kept erasing it because it sounded like I was screaming at the morons. No one wanted to hear my side which was a lot less eloquent than yours.

I've been using the Honey Stinger products and LOVE LOVE LOVE Them. Organic and tasty. I'm done with PB.

track coach and adorable wife said...

That was great! I love rants, you can just hear the anger seething off the screen. If I can get to their "pedestrian" pace, I will be happy. Running snobs, and idiots in general, totally bug me too! Way to Speak the Truth!

Claire said...

dude..I've only broken 'pedestrian' pace like...once...HA!

WannabeRunner said...

According to that article I'm aspiring to be a pedestrian, not a runner because I doubt I'll ever be able to run a 6 min mile pace for 18 miles :p

Way to look out for all us slow ones!

bobbi said...

I am SO GLAD that I'm not the only one on the planet who was so offended by that....seriously, I was so pissed off. Now I know I'm slow, but I promise you that insulting me about BEING SLOW is not going to get me to try your product.


Thanks for this!

Tracy said...

Stroking the egoes of a handful of elites - who as you noted probably wouldn't touch a Power Bar with a 10 ft pole - while offending and alienating thousands of 'pedistrians' ...doesn't sound like a good advertising strategy to me.

I certainly won't be purchasing their products!

runsis said...

I just threw that little insert away. That's even worse when someone refered to me as a jogger(oh, no you didn't!!!)

runnanna said...

Rant on! You do it so well! It really made me laugh to think of all the pedestrians moving around town at 9 min pace. Ha, Ha! Thanks for the little "way to go" encouragement for all of us REAL runners who have to battle with ourselves (and the occassional snobs)to get out there and just run the best we can. I'm pretty sure we outnumber the snobs AND the nice speedies too!

Allie said...

I didn't read that nutrition book but I can totally see why you got all worked up over it. It really ticks me off too.
I personally view powerbar like I do Gatoraid, I'll use it if I have to but I'll pretty much use anything else first.
Go Mama Bear!!!

HEATHER @ runfastermommy! said...

wow. So I can run a 6 min/mile 5k, but uhh "tanking" to me at the end of a marathon means those pesky 15 minute miles I painfully walk/trot/suffer. I guess to powerbar, I might as well be sitting on the couch at that pace, LMAO. I'm with you on this one mama!

Courtney said...

So that's what I tore out and threw away before I started reading my magazine? I didn't even look at it, and now I'm glad I didn't.

Love your post. Hilarious, as always =)

Michelle said...

Love your rant!!

I started reading that "guide" the other day and got to that comment about "pedestrian" and thought "well Power Bar you can kiss my money goodbye!" I'm one of those new runners they should have been talking to...but rule number one in marketing - don't diss your target audience!!

RunMom said...

Aww guys...maybe I'm being too harsh? Maybe Power Bar is headquartered in the Twilight Zone where toenails are few and far between, everyone dresses in running clothes, and pedestrians DO travel at a 9 minute per mile pace?

You know, I wouldn't have said anything if they had just given the example...6 min miles through 18 and 9 minutes at the end. I mean, I probably still would've laughed a little, but did we really need a further adjective to understand the dude tanked? Are we not just slow, but also stupid? It's just that one word (ok and the exclamation point) that totally destroyed the whole guide.