Saturday, 31 May 2014

The taste test

Recently I was contacted and asked if I would try some products made by Chia Charge and review them on my blog.  Having often struggled with my racing/running nutrition in the past I thought, 'why not?'  Plus, I love food ;-)  So I was naturally rather excited when my sample pack arrived in the post.

Chia Charge sample pack

The Chia Charge products are becoming increasingly popular, especially in the ultra running community so I was keen to give them a try and see what all the fuss was about. My other half has used the Chia Charge flapjacks in races before so I knew they must be pretty good.

At the moment I can't really comment on how they work over the ultra distance as I can't test them at such distances (it's only 3 months since I had my 2nd baby) but I can still see how they work on my 'long' runs which to be honest, feel like ultras! Maybe the exhaustion I feel at the moment with the sleep deprivation and chaos that comes with 2 children under 3 can imitate (a little) what it feels like running an ultra.  Certainly every days feels like a bit of an ultra just now.
Banana flapjack
Flapjack with sea salt

Energy is key for my running nutrition just now as I have very little of it to spare and every run is a slog.  The day I chose to try the sea salt flapjack I had only had 3 hours of sleep during the night and the thought of running anywhere was really not appealing.  But, I need to try and keep getting out there at the times I have available to do so.  The Chia Charge flapjack was tasked with the very difficult feat of getting me through my long run.  
I ate half of it 15 minutes before I set off of my run and the second half at the halfway point of my run.  I have tried to eat natural products before when I have been trying to be more healthy with my running nutrition (ie. fewer jelly babies!) and they are usually not to my taste.  Usually I find the ingredients they use to sweeten products really unpleasant. So it was a very nice surprise to find the flapjack so palatable.  I daresay I would even eat it when I wasn't running as it tasted so good.  You wouldn't get me saying that about a gel! ha ha.  It was so moist that it was really easy to chew, which is key when running as the longer you run the less saliva you have to spare, so moist foods are always a bonus.  And the sea salt flakes? What a touch of genius! It's like salted caramel but for running.  It sounds like it shouldn't work but it really, really does. I absolutely loved the saltiness of the flapjack.  This will be brilliant later in an ultra when you just can't face any more sweet food.  It is my new favourite running food.
Unfortunately I wasn't so keen on the banana flapjack, but that's just a personal thing - I don't like anything banana-flavoured except banana bread or bananas. 

On another run I tested the raspberry hydration sachet. You mix the sachet into 500ml of water.  You may be a little taken aback to see the chia seeds floating in your drink and if you don't like your orange juice 'with bits' then you may struggle to adjust to this drink.  Once you get used to the seeds and the fact that you may need to help your drink out the bottle (with a little squeeze) it's actually a very pleasant taste.  It's not sickly sweet like many sports drinks so it will be an easy drink to stomach later on in a run.  I only needed 250ml of the drink on my long run and I felt quite happy with my hydration levels.  

I don't think I would use the drink in a hydration pack however as the seeds tend to become jelly-like once they've been in the water for a while and I suspect this may cause blockage issues.  This jelly-like quality does have one bonus however - it seems to stop the drink from sloshing around the way other drinks tend to.  The constant sloshing of your drink can get so annoying when you are running long.  I'm really not a fan of having my food or drink causing a lot of background noise when I'm out on my run.

Noise was a bit of a problem to start with when I ran with the packet of trail mix.  The seeds were bouncing around in their packet 'really noisily' in the first mile but I bit a wee hole in the packet, squeezed out the air and squashed the packet back into my bag -  silence. I was unsure about running with seeds as my energy source.  There is a first time for everything and I was willing to give them a try.  It was a bit of a faff trying to get them out of the packet but eating them was much easier than I expected.  They were really creamy to eat and the soy sauce coating increased the savoury flavour of the seeds.  Once I can figure out a better way of dispensing them I think they will make a great addition to my running food list, especially as I am trying to increase my protein fuel base and lower my dependency on just sugar.  

Overall I am really pleased with the Chia Charge products I tried and I will certainly be using them again in my running and racing, and hopefully some ultra-racing if I can ever fit the training in.  Thank you to the kind folks at Chia Charge for sending me such yummy food.

The stats

The ultra running celebrity endorsement