EFuel by CrankSports

#NotASponsor but willing to accept

Background I’ve tried everything as fuel for long runs, Clif, Gu, Stinger, Huma, Hammer, UCann, a couple of more brands I can’t remember the name of and in all the forms each brand offers, gels, waffles, chews, bloks etc.  I’ve DIY’d my own fuel of various recipes.  Honey based, Brown Rice based, Malto based, Chia based.  I’ve done ‘real’ foods like Picky bars, DIY energy bars, Lara bars, Clif bars, pretzels with PB, Oreos, Trail Mix, Nutter Butters, PBandJ, Bananas, Candied Ginger, some others.

Drink mixes I’ve used Skratch, Tailwind and one other brand I forget.

Long story slightly shorter is I have a ‘little’ bit of experience with a pretty good chunk of what’s available and in common usage.

So in Q4 2017 I picked up a couple of “eGel” gels.  They were being offered as freebies by someone at a race.  I took a couple and used one on a long run to validate no ‘issues’ but so far I can eat, drink anything without a problem.  After all the crap I’ve put in my belly over the last few decades both natural and unnatural I would be surprised, barring an infection, to find something I couldn’t digest.

But still they sat easy on me.

I can say that after 20 months as of right now of fueling for running that eGel by CrankSports and their drink mix eFuel has made a very apparent difference in me in my ability to stay energetic over the course of long runs.  I don’t know if their science is real or not, I’m not a food anthropologist as they say.  But I can say that I’m willing to given them the benefit of the doubt.  And valid or not they make a good argument for their stuff.

So I didn’t need to check the local shoe stores because I know exactly what they sell and this isn’t one of them. I popped over to Amazon and nothing.  A google later and I found out their website and then found out they don’t sell on amazon preferring to bypass the fee amazon charges as savings to direct customers.  There is one store in the state that sells them but it’s a 4 hour round trip to do it and just not worth it.

I ordered a sampler pack of gel and drink mix.  And got a shipped notice same day I place the order.   Each time I’ve placed an order it ships same day.  Today it literally shipped 34 minutes after I placed the order at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday.  This just put them over the top in my book s and prompted me to finally write this review.  And after using them for 4 months give or take with the same results every time is also another reason to review them.

On long runs I take a gel 30 to 45 minutes pre run and then one gel every hour or so after that.   I also alternate water and sips of the eFuel on the run.

And I have no highs or lows during our long runs, just steady sustained energy.    Last Saturday we did a pretty long 30K trail run and energy level I was up and level for the entire 19.5 miles.

Flavor wise for the gels, honestly they’re all pretty close to the same to me.   I can taste slight differences but not enough to have a favorite, they’re all acceptable.  They’re also not as thick as Gu’s which I find hard to ingest as a result but not as thin as Huma.   To me the Huma’s texture is just a bit offputting, not bad, just not preferred by me.

For the drink mix, Citrus Punch is hands down my favorite.  The orange is just awful to me.  No offense to Crank Sports or anyone who likes it but it’s just blech.  The Raspberry is not bad, if you like raspberry as a drink.  I don’t but I can say it’s okay.  The Mountain flavor which might be supposed to be kind of like Mountain Dew maybe but it’s… I’m not sure.  I got a sampler pack of the four flavors and the only one I enjoyed is the Citrus Punch.   It’s super tart which I like and citrus punchy.

So now I carry 3 or 4 eGels with me on long Sunday’s and 2 500ml bottles of eFuel and then a bladder of water. I don’t use it all but I’d rather have it and not use it than vice versa.  If it’s more than 2 hours I will also typically swap one of the eGel’s out with a Vanilla or Chocolate Gu or Huma just to have the variety of flavor.   The eGels, again to me, you might have a different experience, are just too similar so having something that’s completely different in flavor is nice to have.

Lately I’ve also been bringing a vacuum sealed pack with some pb filled pretzels from Costco, a individual pack of oreos with 6 oreos in it and some candied ginger.   Me and Bunny share those typically.

DIY Energy Bars

DIY Energy Bars for Runners (And #NotRunners)

I’ve been having some decent luck with these fruit and nut bars that are pretty easy to make and freeze at home.  Nutritionally each bar will match your basic gel type energy source and also bring proteins and fats to the table.

  • 10 Dates
  • 10 dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup of dried cherries unsweetened (optional but good for anti-inflammatories)
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • 1/2 cup of almonds
  • 1/3 cup of dried coconut (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons of honey (raw preferred) or 3 tablespoons of brown rice syrup
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds.

Put your nuts into a food processor first by themselves and pulse a few times to get them mostly broken up.  Rough chop your dried fruits and then add them and the rest of the ingredients in with the nuts and pulse and scrape the sides several times to get a fairly rough but homogeneous mixture.

Line a 8×8 or 9×9 pan with foil or parchment paper and dump your mixture into it.  Wet your hands slightly and then press everything firmly down.  Put into the refridgerator for an hour or two until firmed up.  Remove from pan by lifting the foil/paper and slice into 24 pieces, a 6×4 grid works well, they will be small.

Each 1×2 inch (roughly) piece will be have somewhere in the neighborhood of 110-130 calories depending on the size of your dried fruits, have the salt, magnesium, potassium (critical electrolytes) you need and have a blend of quick and slow energy in the form of multiple sugars, fats and proteins.

They freeze well and unfreeze during the run without a problem.

Take 2-3 bars an hour depending on your effort, the heat and etc.



So I’ve missed my second scheduled training day in the last 10 months. I ran a 10K race on Saturday (setting a new PR by 6 minutes; go #notarunner). I’ve felt a couple of twinges in my left knee on a few of my last runs, nothing major, just enough to make you go “hmm I don’t care for that”.

putting a cold pack on it twice a day trying to encourage shrinkage”

Then Sunday I had a 10K training session. Now leading up to the training run my knee was doing okay after the 10k, no major ouchies. But from the very first running stride on Sunday my knee went straight from a 0 to a level 3 pain (out of 10). I of course being me did the run and if I hadn’t already set a PR for my 10K the day before I’d of set it on Sunday just not as fast.

But not being totally dumb I decided to give my Tuesday run, a 45minute Z3 run, a pass. One could say I’d already done it and then some between Sat and Sun’s runs. And then some. But I don’t want to risk doing greater damage because honestly if I’m out for any significant length of time I don’t know that I’ll start up again. I don’t enjoy it, it’s taken me 9 months to get from the couch and 2 minute runs to being able run for 2+ hours. Not sure I have the enthusiasm and energy to fall very far and have to climb back up.

In regards to the injury I’ve gone so far as to putting a cold pack on it twice a day trying to encourage shrinkage and increasing my intake of turmeric and tart cherry extract/juice as well as nsaids. All anti-inflammatory. I also now own KT tape and use it as directed on the off chance it does what it says. There’s no science that I could find to back up their claims and their benefits could easily fall under the psychosomatic category but for a few bucks I’m willing to give it a shot.

The pain site and symptoms all say ‘runner’s knee’ which is inflammation of the attachment points of the tendons. Not sure if there’s a specific cause, we’ve added more mileage, more hills and on top of that trail running. I don’t ‘think’ it’s shoes since I’ve worn three different pairs of shoes during this time frame, Nimbus 19’s, Topo Terraventure and Hoka Clifton 3’s.

I think I’m going to add a pair of Altra Torin 2.5 or Paradigm 2.0 to my line up. Luckily with 3 kids, ages 14, 12 and 12 who are all over 6′-2″ any shoes that don’t work out for me I simply give to them as daily shoes.

Tomorrow is another training day. I may either due Tuesdays run 45m z3 or Thursday’s run of 7 minute sprints followed by 90 second recoveries x 3. With a 10 minute warm up. Not sure which is going to be least stressful.

Sunday is 105 minute z2 run. We’ll see how it goes.

Racing all 10 of the k’s

Ran my first real 10k race today.   By real I mean one that I was able to run it at my pace, as slow as that pace is.

I guess mine suffered from shrinkage as it has been cold”

I ended up with 1:08:00 for my 10K time.  This shaved 6+ minutes off my last 10K PR time so that’s not bad.    I was also able to get negative splits on almost every mile.  Only mile 2 was a few seconds slower than the preceding mile.   Average pace was 10:54.  My last mile was at a 10:12 pace.

I felt okay at the end of the race and now which means I could have shaved a another minute or two off my total time.   At no time was I huffing although the last 3 miles saw my HR creep from a low Zone 3 and into Zone 4.   That’s telling me that my upcoming half (April 28th) I’ll have to slow it down.

Using the Race Predictor in Pace+ for Android it’s showing me at a 2:30 for a half.    Which is IMO far more realistic than the Garmin race predictor which has me running a half in 1:51:19.    The Garmin’s predictions in my opinion are more than a little jacked up.   I can’t do a mile in 8 flat much less the 5K Garmin says I can do in 24:12.   I’m honestly not sure what Garmin uses to get these numbers but they’re far more enthusiastic for everyone I know who has them than is possible.

Anyway the Pace+ at 2:30:00 is right where I think I may land.  If I can do a half in 2:30 I’ll be fairly okay with that.   I’m still 120lbs heavier than the average distance runner.  That’s a LOT of dead weight to be carrying over long distances.  It’s better than the almost 200lbs over the average runner I did have.

This race I ran with a Nathan hand held, I really like the strap on those, super soft materials.   In it I had 150calories worth of Tailwind Orange, basically a scoop and a half.   I went through almost all of the 15oz of it over the course of the race.  The bottle supposedly holds 16 oz but I guess mine suffered from shrinkage as it has been cold.  Or the fact that it’s double shelled for insulation is consuming some of the internal space.

For the Golden Driller Half I’ll be wearing my Jurek FKT vest with the one 20oz bottles of plain water and one with a 2 scoop Tailwind mix. I’ll also put probably 20oz or so in my bladder, not so much because I may need it all but to just balance things out.

Tomorrow is a 10K training run and I’m going to try the Green Tea Tailwind, I ordered a sampler pack to find out if I like one of the other flavors better.   The Green Tea version appeals as it has caffeine in it which on early morning runs I can use to keep a caffeine headache at bay.   I also picked up a bottle of SaltStick Plus tabs which have caffeine in them that I can also use to offset a headache.

I found the Tailwind to be better for me than any of the gels.  I still prefer Stinger Waffles for taste, texture, enjoyment, but Tailwind is likely to become my primary fuel source for longer runs and I’ll reserve chewables for pre-race carb hits.

My Hoka Clifton 3’s held up well during the race, no complaints with them at all.   I believe this is the first >4 mile run I’ve done in them.  If I don’t find anything better I’ll probably order a couple or three pairs when the Clifton 4’s come out and the 3’s take a price cut.   They’re not OMFG good but they’re good enough to invest in if there’s nothing better.   I’m hoping the Topo road shoes get an upgrade this year, I’d love to give them another shot.

Hand Holding

I’ve added a couple of hand helds to my inventory and have been using one lately.   On 2+ hour runs my arms, especially my left one has been bothering me so I thought adding hand helds would help in conditioning my arms to be bent at an L shape for hours on end.   And it lets me not use my belt which can be annoying if I have anything more than keys and my phone on it.

having the most cushion you can get will make it more comfortable for all concerned.”

The jury is still out on if I care for the handhelds.   For trail runs they restrict my ability to catch myself on a fall or use trees as hand holds when the trails get really technical.   Also since I carry my phone with me so that my wife can track me using Garmin Live Track it puts my phone at risk; if I have to catch myself the phone is going to take the hit first.

I read a study that had data that indicated hand held water is the least efficient way to carry water if you carry water at all.   A vest is best followed by a belt or pack and then hand helds.   This is due to the fact that it takes more energy/effort when your water is at the end of levers, aka your arms, as opposed to just riding passively at your back or waist.

This coming weekend is my first 10K race on Saturday and I think I’m going to wear my Hoka Clifton 3’s.   The last few runs I’ve used my Nimbus 19’s, Topo Terraventures and Clifton 3’s with a mix of distances, 11 miles to 3 miles, and road to trails and my left knee on the outside has been bothering me.  Nothing ‘major’ but enough to make me shorten my stride and slow down my pace.  But I think having the most cushion you can get will make it more comfortable for all concerned.

Tomorrow is an hour run at zed 3 pacing, for me that’s going to be around an 10:30 to 11:00 mile pace.   We’ll see how the knee fares with that, I’ll be using some compression sleeves on my calves to see if it makes a difference.

I have noticed that compression sleeves have helped me with calf pain when I run with slower runners; yes Virginia there are slower runners than me.

Last long run I used some DIY Huma chia gels.  Even making my own I’m just not a fan of chia based gels.   It was chia seeds ground to a flour in a spice grinder, a mix of complex sugars, tart cherry juice and strawberry puree.  With some sea salt and salt substitute for sodium and potassium.  But in general I find the gels to be barely tolerable at best and downright eww at worst.

My preferred supplements are still the Stinger waffles and the Stinger chews.  I’m probably never going to be a high fat low carb non-runner in spite of my normal diet consisting of high protein, moderate fat and low carbs.

One month give or take and I’ll do my first half marathon.  I don’t see me not finishing.  I would like to finish in in a 2:30 or less but we’ll see how it goes.   Remember I’m carrying 120lbs more than the average runner’s weight, it takes a lot of energy to move that much mass and the energy costs aren’t linear.


Long one…

Today was the longest run yet for us.  Two and a half hours broken up into a 10,60,10,60,10 session.   10 minute walks, 60 minute runs.   The idea being of course to get us used to beatnig our feet on the pavement for hours at a time.

I can eat anything and I mean almost anything to be polite or on request”

It’s all well and good, even necessary based on conventional training wisdom, to do HIIT and tempo and fartleks for speed and VO2 max and lactate acidifying and all that but to prepare your body for running distance requires running distance.  Shorter length and time segments do not simulate the pounding you take over the long haul.

We covered 11 miles in our 2 hour 30 minute session.  Not very impressive but then again… #NOTARUNNER.  This session was also a Z2 heart rate zone session and my average BPM was barely 117.  Not quite full training for me. But when you run with someone you run with someone.  This is something I’ve already covered.

My current running partner has matched me for speed but I have 6+ months on her in terms of training so conditioning she still working on.   She’s come a long way in the 3ish months she’s been training, far faster and longer than myself.    She pushes herself hard, possibly too hard to keep up with me showing an order of magnitude greater spirit and dedication than I have myself.

Our first half is coming up in roughly 7 weeks, April 28th.   I’ll be okay if we finish in 2.5 hours.  Hell I’ll be okay if we finish in under 3h.   I may have mentioned (once or twice) but I’m not built like a runner and at the moment with 270lbs I’m pushing a little more weight up those hills than your average actual runner.   So honestly just finishing each new length race as I do them for the first time is a step in the right direction for me.

Today for nutrition I tried Gu’s Stroopwafel, the chocolate one and I was very not impressed.  It wasn’t bad but it was even more bland than the Stinger Waffles if that’s possible.   I won’t be purchasing a box.

I also tried Gu’s Chocolate Fudge gel.  Not a fan and I’m not sure if it was the distance or the gel but right around the 10 mile mark I started feeling slightly nauseous.  It also could have been lack of caffeine.   But overall the Gu chocolate was like eating the cheapest uncooked brownie fudge batter, the  2 for a $1 kind.    I can eat anything and I mean almost anything to be polite or on request that doesn’t mean I don’t have preferences.

My strong preference is still the Stinger Chews followed by Stinger Waffles in commercial solid nutrition.   Runner up is Clif Bloks.

I’m going to be taking a look at Topo shoes in a couple of weeks when one of the FLSS’s gets a shipment in.   Both the road and trail shoes.   I wore my Altra Lone Peak 2.5’s yesterday for about an hour walking and the 0 drop does really promote toe/mid foot striking which I need to try to shift to.   The Altra’s are very comfortable, probably the most comfortable shoe I have in terms of feel.   But an hour of walking in 0 drop left my calves just starting to take notice of the lack of heel.

The Topo’s at 3 to 5mm drop are a reasonable alternative to 0 drop I think and they have some pretty good reviews.   They’re foot shaped like the Altras which means they might possibly fit me.

When I was at one of the FLSS’s one of the worker/runners there who’s a ultrarunner and does 350 miles of trails a month was wearing Topo’s and was pretty enthusiast about them.   Since I still haven’t found ‘my’ shoe I’m willing to investigate further.   Once I find ‘my’ shoes I’m buying 20 pairs of them as one thing I’ve learned is every year the shoe companies change each shoe up and the changes mean you may be looking for another ‘your’ shoe as a result.