Tuesday, 30 April 2013

I wanna be a hippy!

So I've already told you I've converted to Beetroot juice for the extra energy it can provide a runner with its secret hidden red powers! But know it was time to take my natural adventure that stage further!

Secret ingredient X!
 History - Born to Eat?

I'd been thinking about it for a while since Born to Run introduced me to the mystery of all things Chia! These little seeds are huge abroad especially in the U.S. where health fanatics have been raving about their qualities for some time but over here, they are still relatively known (so climb aboard the bandwagon now to say you were here first!)

Well what do they do?

Good question! To look at them you'd be tempted to say "not a lot!" They look like poppy seeds but actually taste of..... wait for it......... errrrr nothing! "But we don't care about that Ian" I hear you say, in fact the worst it tastes the better surely as that means everyone won't be using it? What it does pack inside its tiny capsule is loads and loads of nice things like Omega 3 and 6, Protein and Fibre.

No it doesn't contain fish!
 OK, but what does that actually mean?

Well we've all heard of Omega 3... The material that we normally associate with fish. Well this in comparison has more of that good stuff than Salmon! As for Protein, this means it will provide you with fuel to replace what you'll burn during play time! Finally Fibre.... this prevents general disease and helps weight control along with other benefits.

So what can I use it for?

Well a lot of people simply use it as a diet supplement and add a little to their food intake every day. This will act as an appetite suppressant and slow down the amount of actual food taken in and resulting in weight loss (errr ok!). I'd be happy with this but I'll be looking for how much energy it can provide during exercise and how it works with other things?

Do I have to snort it?

Thankfully, no! if you walk into Holland & Barrett they will tell you to bake a cake out of it but relax and step away from the mixing bowl as that isn't going to be happening here! I'll be starting things simple and doing things like adding it to water to create what they call a "gel like mixture" and we'll see how that goes first.

Day 1

I start the experiment by pouring a Chia shot (approx. 1 table spoon) into a small bottle of water and giving it a good shake. I left this in the fridge overnight and returned the next morning expecting to see something spectacular! Well actually I wasn't overly impressed. The chia seed had sunk to the bottom and after giving it another good shake discovered that it liked to stay put in one large "lump".

I took the bottle to work and gave it one last hammering to shake up the contents before consuming the bottle. So what did it taste like? Again, not a lot really. The seed isn't supposed to have any taste itself but I actually thought it did have more of a "texture or feel" if that makes sense?

To look at I can only describe it looking like frog spawn and actually when you drink it, it actually feels a little like that (not that I've drunk frog spawn before anyone thinks that). The seeds do actually expand slightly and end up with a light clear coating which is what people describe as the gel.

The liquid can be easily consumed and texture is ok, what I did find was that there was a slight after taste but nothing sinister. This was early in the morning and I decided to skip my usual breakfast and see how long I could last before giving in, this would kind of test the "meal replacement powers" of the seeds.

Well I lasted about 2 and a half hours before I gave in and ate something else but I was sitting at my desk so you could say I was sitting there waiting for my next meal. My honest opinion would be they do supress hunger slightly but I didn't feel full after drinking them. Maybe I could take them with a shake or something a little more bulky.

Day 2

I know decided to play my trump card today! I'd been told by a couple of people previously that Coconut water contains lots of natural electrolytes and can help you keep hydrated longer than plain water. Well at the London marathon expo there was a Coconut Water stand showcasing this and it was here I sampled it for the first time.

Well I had no adverse effects from expo so I ordered some Pineapple flavoured Coconut Water from my local supermarket and today filled by water bottle with this and the chia seeds for double power!

Coconut Water with Chia
 As you can see from the image above, the seeds still want to sink to the bottom of the bottle but I did find that they didn't stay like that so much if shaken hard. (thanks to London marathon for the water bottles).

Today instead of drinking in the morning, I saved it until just before lunch when I drunk it just before my lunch time 4 mile run. This time the flavoured water actually took away any after taste from the seeds and the whole drink tasted good and felt fine.

I did my run and felt good during it but to be honest I couldn't really tell anything from this apart from I enjoyed my run on a fairly warm day and that I shouldn't drink the whole bottle just before running unless you have somewhere decent to make a pit stop!

Day 3

Today I did the same as day 2 but this time the day was even warmer (mad I know remember this is April in the UK and should be snowing). Today though I saved the bottle until after my 4 mile run. I'm not sure if it was just because it was hot but the Coconut Water with seeds tasted really refreshing post-event but watch this space.

Day 4

By now I'd run out of Coconut Water so I replaced this with plain water again but also added some fresh orange juice.

This isn't a urine sample!
This wasn't actually that bad despite how it looks. Again taste fine and refreshing and I also felt decent on my run.

The Long Run

Today was Saturday and I planning to run down to my local Park Run in Central Park Chelmsford (big shout out to the Race Director Gerry!). I'd then run the course with my daughter and then run home covering approx. 15 miles in total.

I'd by now replenished my Pinnapple flavoured Coconut Water supplies and I filled a 750ml handheld bottle with this and one helping of chia seeds. This time is was using the black seeds which are no different apparently apart from look and I have to admit they don't look as "appealing" as the lighter seeds making the drink a lot darker.

So I started the run down to Park Run as after a little while thought I'd sample the mixture for the first time "on the run". Well this was where I'd noticed a school boy error. I tried to drink from the sports bottle but nothing! The seeds were too large to pass through the spout so I had to remove the lid every time I wanted to drink which meant walking. Not an issue when training or even on an ultra but a little frustrating. Mental note: look for a bottle with a wider opening!

I'd not had any breakfast on purpose and also had no drinks of any kind pre-run so I could see the full effects of the drink. I got to the park and felt fine, I than preceded to run the Park Run course with daughter Katie (nice PB BTW!) and said my goodbyes and run home via a nice route passing through a large country park so covered, paths, roads, and technical trails (anyone that hasn't run the small section of the Centenary Walk in Chelmsford that runs long the top of Hylands Park is seriously missing out). I then followed the Centenary Walk route up towards Gallywood Common up a reasonably steep hill and finally to home in around 16 miles.

So how did I feel?

Not bad actually. The runs overall pace was steady so not fast but I was still active for over 2.5 hours and some sections were run faster and I felt I could always give it some pace in the tech sections when I wanted. Even as it got warmer and I plodded up the long hill into the common, I realised that I climbed at a steady pace with no issues.

I'd carried a gel and a power bar just in case but actually forgot I had them and despite running on no breakfast and with no drink in the morning from overnight I was ok. I didn't have any headaches and even when I did the "pee test" I was all clear.

I know its hard to say it was the power of Chia that made this possible but the fuelling strategy was ideal and I was ok so it didn't hurt I guess?

What's next?

I'm going keep doing the above on long runs to see what happens and I even think I'll try it on the Halstead Marathon next week.

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