Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tailwind Nutrition

For 2016 I have been selected to be a Tailwind Trailblazer! I'm honored to be an ambassador for this product that has done so much to enable my success. What is it?

Very simply it is Endurance Fuel.
How did I come to be a Tailwind zealot?

Nutrition and Hydration is one of the key areas that an endurance athlete needs to master in order to be successful. As a cyclist, I've been pushing my limits for nearly 15 years now. When I entered my first Leadville 100 in 2005, I had been riding big all-day rides but I was still a total novice. I was experimenting and learning with training, recovery, race day tactics, and nutrition/hydration.

Nutrition was a problem for me. Friends would often use plain food like peanut butter and jelly or burritos successfully, but for me that kind of food would sit in my stomach and do more harm than good. I tried some popular sport nutrition products with a certain amount of success. But almost without exception, the philosophy behind those products included the strong assertion that you need to have a source of protein in addition to carbohydrates and electrolytes.

I believed this, and there was science to back it up. But all the sources of protein I tried made me feel lousy. Soy protein was terrible for me, and through my experiments using it during big 8+ hour efforts I learned that my body hates soya in general. So then I tried powdered rice protein. Fail. Eggs cooked and rolled in a tortilla or a mini croissant. Better, but still something I would eat that would set me back until I could finish digesting it.

In the summer of 2012 I was riding in the Durango Dirty Century. It happened that Tailwind was being offered at the aid stations. I filled a bottle and went on my way. The DDC is a huge effort (one that proved to be beyond me that year), and my body was stressed. That bottle of Tailwind tasted great, and while I was drinking it I felt good. When it was gone and I went back to whatever it was I was using then, I missed it. I filed that information away.

Later in 2012 I signed up for a Solo spot at the 2013 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. As I started to ramp up my training in early winter I decided to try a new nutrition/hydration strategy based on a product I had sampled at Durango Dirty Century. I went to the website and read about the product. A little way down the page I came to a section about protein. Here's how it started:

"We researched it. We tested it. We asked experts about it, so you don’t have to. Protein during exercise doesn’t improve endurance, but it does correlate with GI distress."

Holy cow! There it is! Permission to skip the protein, with science to back it up! My experience completely confirmed what I was reading. My most successful endurance achievements to date had happened on days when I (guiltily) skipped the protein. Now I could see that protein had been costing my body during big efforts. My gut tried to break it down into something useful, but the chemistry isn't there. It doesn't get broken down into anything useful, and it takes energy and water for your body to try.

Tailwind Nutrition was offering a deal where if you bought a fairly large lot of product and then named an event that you had signed up for, Tailwind would refund your money if the product let you down. It was a  pretty big buy, but I felt like the refund deal would help me out if it didn't work. And the philosophy behind the product spoke to me. So I took the risk and ordered a bunch of it.

Old Pueblo went really well for me, and I used Tailwind exclusively. Well, full disclosure: I had a Trader Joe's carrot cake cookie at midnight. But it sat in my stomach for the next lap!

That was it, I was officially a Tailwind athlete. I went on in 2013 to have probably my strongest season ever as a 49-year-old. Now, 4 years later Tailwind is a core part of my training and racing. My body loves it. Back in the bad old days I had to carry so many different things to support my nutrition. Among other things, I always had a little film can of sea salt crystals, because no electrolyte source I ever found before Tailwind was enough, especially on a hot day.

So now I'm a Trailblazer. You'll hear me going on about Tailwind on this blog and on social media. Have questions, or would like a sample? Let me know.

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