The original. Highly imitated, never duplicated Gu. Well, at least that’s the way I look at it. It could very well be that Gu was not the first ever created energy boosting performance enhancing electrolyte replenishing gel for runners, but it was the first I had ever heard of when I started going out for the long haul training for my first marathon. So, that’s the way it stands in my book.
It was a friend of mine from high school, also training for her first marathon at the time, that introduced me to Gu. She just mentioned something about vanilla bean gu in casual conversation as if it was something I was supposed to know about to which I simply nodded in agreement all the while wondering what the heck “gu” was. Considering my previous experiences with gulike substances would not be something I’d call edible (“hmmm…look what I just found under the back seat of my car in the middle of a hot hot summer?” Lift lid. Sniff. “Ewww…what exactly is this gu?”) much less described as a delightful little flavor like “vanilla bean,” I did what any aspiring runner would do, I googled it.
And lo and behold this is what I discovered: in short, a teeny tiny little packet of gel you suck down during a run to give you an energy boost. For the long version, what exactly is in Gu and why it works, visit the Gu website here.
Now for me, Gu gel is similar to Gu Chomps. It doesn’t pack quite enough punch. I am a tremendously heavy sweater and because of this I need to consume more electrolytes on a run than the average bear. I do use Gu on shorter long runs (is that an oxymoron?) of say 7-10 miles, but anything longer than that and I am opting for Gu Roctane or E-Gel instead with the higher sodium content (more on both of those in an upcoming review). I will also use Gu, similar to the Gu Chomps, pre-run if I haven’t eaten in awhile and I don’t have time to eat a real meal, wait for digestion, then run. And then there’s Gu for dessert, but that’s really an entirely different story (which happens to be located here if you’re interested. Yes, I do believe vanilla bean is just that good.)
Gu comes in a variety of flavors and over time I’ve pretty much had them all except espresso love as I just can’t quite bring myself to like coffee no matter how hard I try (oh wait…I have also never tried mint chocolate or jet blackberry. It seems they do not carry these lovely flavors at my running store. Hmmm…how to get my hands on some? Wonder if anybody I know at my favorite PR company, Outside PR, could come to my rescue and save me from the virtually desperate situation that is my mint chocolate/jet blackberryless short long runs? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? )
My personal favorite is yes, vanilla bean with plain a close second, but really all the rest are pretty good too and there’s no funky after taste like power gels or some of the others. So I keep a mixed bunch in my repertoire in order to be fully prepared for whatever my taste buds might be craving for on any particular day.
I should also mention, that in the smattering of flavors Scott from Outside PR sent me to give a shot, he included the newly developed mandarin orange flavor. I’m not a huge orange fan and in particular when I think mandarin orange, I think strong flavor, but not so much here. It’s more of a soft subtle orange flavor, not overpowering or super sweet (super sweet = not good while running. Trust me). Very tasty. Definitely keep an eye out for that one when it hits your running store and give it a try.
As for The Crew, here’s their take on Gu:
“When I first started running, I couldn't run and drink so my first try with gu went horribly wrong. Now that I'm a more "seasoned" runner and can proudly drink and run (PSA: never drink and drive), I gave Gu another shot. It went down a lot easier than my first attempt. I tried lemon sublime and it tasted good, a little on the sweet side and left a sweet aftertaste that I eventually chased away with Gatorade endurance. I don't think I'm ready to make the switch from chomps to Gu, but I'm not afraid anymore to experiment with Gu.”
Flavor: Espresso Love
“What can I say, I felt the love. Espresso Love contains 2x the caffeine as regular gels and it truly packs a punch. As a coffee drinker I loved the flavor and the energy boost. I took one before a 5 am run of 4 ½ miles and felt peppy and alert the entire time. However, I would suggest skipping the 2x caffeine of Espresso Love and opting for regular strength for caffeine sensitive runners.”
Flavor: Chocolate Outrage
"This is my all-time favorite Gu flavor. I purchase this stuff by the case.
Chocolate Outrage has the regular/lighter level of caffeine, and a smooth chocolate flavor. If you are not a big fan of the taste of Gu I suggest trying this one. The chocolate flavor isn’t very different than a melted Hershey’s Bar.”
Flavor: Strawberry Banana
"I also enjoyed this flavor. Strawberry Banana does not contain any caffeine, so it is a good substitute for caffeine sensitive runners or for mixing up between caffeinated gels and non-caffeinated gels.”
"I love the gu. It gets me thru the long rides."
(Told you. He's a man of many words.)
Next up on the review agenda: Gu Roctane and finally, what you’ve all been waiting for…the sweaty sweaty me story (what? Did you all think I was going to say Gu giveaway. Yeah, yeah that’s coming too, but really my sweat. What could possibly be more interesting?) Stay tuned.
P.S. While you’re still hanging around, try to score yourself a running headband or some super sweatproof sunscreen. Click here for details.