Nothing is worse when out on the trails for a long snowshoe hike or run than bonking. Bonking comes as a result of running out of fuel to your working muscles by not taking in enough calories during endurance events. This can range from a simple inconvenience that makes your snowshoe outing a little less fun all the way to being downright dangerous in extreme cases if caught a long distance out on the trail in cold conditions. If your body starts shutting down and quits operating as efficiently as normal, you can also become more prone to hypothermia or frostbite by not being able to generate as much heat.
Fortunately, this is something that can be easily avoided with proper planning. The best way to avoid the ‘bonk’ is by taking in calories at regular intervals. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using gels like GU Energy Gels at regular intervals throughout your outing.
I first discovered these little packages of liquid gold when I started doing longer snowshoe running races and ultra marathons. My stomach doesn’t agree with solid food during long and hard efforts of running, so I had to rely on liquid forms to get the proper amount of calories I needed. I’ve tried many different brands of gels and I must say that I’ve always come back to GU.
Personally I have found that GU gels were a little easier on my stomach than other brands. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that they are relatively low in sugar and have a less sweet taste. The flavors offered are quite palatable, even when tired and your body may not want to consume anything.
GU effectively provides fuel in three ways. First off, GU uses a natural fructose to offer a quick blast of energy. Maltodextrin (a 70-80% complex/simple carbohydrate blend) is quickly absorbed and sent to muscles to help you maintain a glucose levels over a long period of time. GU also utilizes antioxidants such as C & E, to aid in recovery.
As with any gels, you want to be sure to take them with water to aid in absorption. One winter tip to consider when using gels is to keep them close to your body, inside inner pockets or inside your mitts to prevent them from freezing.
So next time you’re planning on spending a long winter day on the trails, take along some GU Energy gels to help you avoid bonking.
For race day or extremely intense training day, you may want to consider GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gels. It has many of the same great features and benefits of regular GU Energy Gels, but with more amino acids to reduce muscle damage over the long haul.
One word of caution when using GU or any other type of gel is that certain flavors come with caffeine added. If you are sensitive to caffeine or have never tried caffeinated products during a race, be sure to test it out in training first. Caffeine has been shown to act as an aide in endurance events; however race day is not the time to experiment with this.