Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review Crew: Gu Roctane

_0030_products_roctane_flavors Ok now it’s time. Time for the sweaty sweaty me story. It’s an emotional tale of one young girl’s journey of growth, courage and perseverance as she discovers who she truly is…a powerfully efficient cooling machine.

It all started back in high school. I was about to enter my freshman year and desperately wanted to be on the basketball team which meant only one thing: open gyms in the summer. All the prospective basketball players met at the high school gym for pickup games the coaches would come watch, I’m sure mentally picking their teams before tryouts officially began. Who was on the team and who was not would be fought out on the floor (uh…actually I think they let everybody make the team. I can’t remember for sure, but for sake of the story let’s go with cuts. Lots and lots of young women got cut).

The gym was hot and humid and I gave it all I had hoping I could make up for whatever I lacked in coordination (dribbling and shooting were not my friends) through speed on defense, a serious work ethic, and a whole lot of heart. After the very first open gym, I flopped into the passenger seat of my mom’s car feeling good, accomplished if you will. I had left my best effort on the floor. My mom took one look at me, glanced around at the other girls leaving the gym and asked one question that would drastically change everything.

“Kelly,” she said, then paused briefly. “Did you pour water over yourself or something?” It was at that very moment that I realized I wasn’t like the other girls with their tiny ring around the collar sweat and mildly perspiring hairlines. I was literally dripping. My hair was sopping and there was almost not a dry spot to be found on my shirt. From that day forward, I tried to be pro-active disguising my excessive sweat. The minute I sensed the sweat was getting heavy, I would dump water over myself under the facade of cooling off, although the simple truth is I was embarrassed.

These days, I really don’t care much what people think about the ridiculous amount I sweat. I mean, for crying out loud, I’ve birthed two babies and you can’t put yourself in a much more out there, open, honest, humbling position than that.

I still sweat heavily. In fact, even just thinking hot thoughts (don’t be dirty, I mean as in actual weather temperatures or the result of physical exertion…wait…HEY! I said don’t get dirty) can start me sweating. And on top of this delightful little trait of mine, you should further know that my sweat is particularly salty. I am coated with a fine dusting of tiny white granules when I finish (want some fries with that?).

So who cares right? And what exactly does this have to do with Gu Roctane? Oh my, ladies and gentleman…so so very much. And if you too happen to be a heavy or particularly salty sweater and you’ve had some trouble on long runs, you’re definitely going to want to sit up and take notice.

There’s a little known condition, at least for the average Joe runner, (or Kelly)called hyponatremia, sometimes referred to as water intoxication. Basically, when you sweat you lose sodium (electrolytes), which is important to the body in the proper balance. If you sweat a lot over the course of an endurance event, due extreme weather conditions, because you are a heavy sweater or whatever and you do not replace the sodium you have sweat out, the result is this potentially life threatening condition called hyponatremia. Part of what is so life threatening about this condition is that the symptoms closely mimic dehydration for which the treatment is generally more water. Problem being more water for someone who is hyponatremic only dilutes the electrolytes they have left, worsening the condition which can lead to seizures, coma or even death (though rare).

And how, you might ask, do I know about this? Let’s just say, I’m pretty sure I’ve been hyponatremic on far too many occasions. In fact, at this point, I’m pretty sure I’ve nailed down exactly what I need to do to prevent hyponatremia and in the event that symptoms do start to rear their ugly head, I’ve learned how to respond (here’s where I tell you I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, and everybody’s body is different, do not just take the advice of this little random blogger but check with your doctor if you think you may have an electrolyte problem on runs…or any other health problem for that matter).

For sweaty sweaty me, preventing hyponatremia means using a higher than your average sodium content drink and gel on my runs. When I go out for the long haul, Gatorade and Power Gel doesn’t cut it. Now enter Gu Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gel (and an electrolyte replacement drink to be named later ;-)). Same little easy to open package of yummy gooey goodness BUT with a higher sodium content than regular Gu. (Plus a whole bunch of other added stuff, that I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I don’t totally understand. Something about aiding in recovery, reducing fatigue, and some blah blah scientific sounding talk of amino acids that immediately sends me reading in skim mode, in a Charlie Brown school teacher voice no less. But for those of you who are more detail oriented or scientifically inclined, you can read about it here. Go ahead. You can go read it. I promise not to hold it against you and I won’t continue until you get back. Promise.)

(Ok. Now that you’re back…) So, I love this stuff. Gu Roctane coupled with that high sodium electrolyte drink have taken me from having not only major trouble on any runs over 15 miles, but even trouble for HOURS afterwards to virtually zip zilch nada problems on my long runs. And rather than walking around like night of the living dead for the rest of the day following my big runs, I’m pretty much back to myself (although I’ll admit, my pillow calls a little early on those days, but that could also be from a 4:30AM alarm clock). I pretty much don’t long run without it anymore.

About my only beef with Gu Roctane is that there is no vanilla bean flavor (please Gu people I beg you. Is vanilla bean Roctane too much to ask?). Don’t get me wrong. The Roctane flavors are tasty, they’re just not vanilla bean. **SIGH** My dear sweet vanilla bean. Out of the Roctane flavors, I’m a toss up between blueberry pomegranate and vanilla orange. Both are good. Pineapple…well…let me just say, if you REALLY like pineapple, you are going to LOVE this flavor. Too sweet for my liking.

Now, I know you’d love to hear what The Crew has to say about Roctane, but…um…I’ve sort of been stealing the Roctane back from them to use on my own runs. (Hey, they snooze, they lose!). Sorry about that guys. I tried hard to resist. Sadly, I could not. But I did get you The Spazz’s review. I don’t see her as often as the rest of The Crew, so her Roctane was safe from my evil clutches…muwhahaha.

marie The Spazz Says:

Flavor: Vanilla Orange/ Roctane
Roctane contains many of the other ingredients found in other gels however they add an amino acid blend to help with muscle fatigue. Proteins are thought to help combat acid accumulation in the muscles to help you run longer. I took this before a 10 mile run last Saturday, and I must say I felt pretty good. I have never tried Roctane before but the science behind it makes sense. I think I will have to add a box of this to my stash.

Thank-you very much to Outside Pr and Gu for the samples of Roctane to review and in the future, should you come up with a new flavor of Roctane (vanilla bean, vanilla bean, vanilla bean) and you need someone to give it a go. You know who to call…

'Til next time...

P.S. Some of you may or may not have noticed that I did a comparison between Gu and E-Gel about a year or so ago. I am still a fan of E-Gel also, but I do believe a re-match is in order since Roctane is a much more comparable product. So Gu Roctane v. E-Gel will be coming soon!

P.P.S. Tomorrow’s the last day to get in on the Scape Sunscreen giveaway. If you haven’t already, be sure to enter so you don’t miss out!


Maura said...

I have tried GU Roctane twice and although it tastes GREAT (so much yummier and smoother than plain old GU), both times I have gotten stomach discomfort and bloating! So, I am done with Roctane :-(

RunMom said...

Yeesh! That is not good Maura!

Everybody's different and maybe something in the formula just doesn't sit well with you. But I'm glad you brought this up, because I failed to mention in the post that gels should be taken with water not an electrolyte replacement drink and this is especially true for Roctane because of the higher concentration of electrolytes. Gels are concentrated and need to be diluted by drinking water and for some people A LOT of water. Otherwise you can throw your electrolytes out of wack in the opposite direction and have too many which can definitely cause some stomach problems and bloating (think having too much salt just before your period...not good). So basically, I drink a little of an electrolyte replacement drink every two miles and take a Roctane with water every 5 (unless it's super hot and I'm sweating even more).

It's a delicate balance we weave on these long runs, finding what works for us which is why it's a good thing that marathon training takes so long. We've got time to figure it out :-)