From The Home Office

It’s funny.

Yesterday, after I wrote that whole “I skipped to work and life is rainbows” post, my day went from calm to crazy. Within minutes, I transformed from a nice, smiling girl into a stressed out monster.

My day was busy and insane and not nearly as productive as I would have liked.

Luckily, my boss understood.

So here I am today, working from home. I’m dominating all kinds of To Do lists and enjoying being distraction-free.

Needless to say you don’t get a “cute” office outfit photo today.

What? You don't like my fancy work from home outfit?

But let’s backtrack.

After work I went to the gym to do some cross training, as prescribed by Coach Cane. I took a 45-minute Chisel class and put forth minimal effort. I got the exercises done but I just wasn’t into it. My stomach hurt, I was tired and the techno music was just a few decibels too loud.

That’s how you know something is wrong with me. I never think techno music is too loud!

I normally stick around and chase my Chisel with some Cardio Tai Box, but my stomach and I both agreed that it was unnecessary. Instead I headed home, ran some errands, cooked some dinner, took a hot shower and spent some time with a friend.

People, add this movie to your Netflix queue:

Disney Earth

The shots are all incredible and there are baby elephants and baby polar bears. Seriously. See this movie. It’s great.

I woke up this morning and felt like crap.

Lately I’m afraid of food. I know, who am I?

Every single thing I eat has been upsetting my stomach. I’ve debated starting a food log so I can figure out which foods are really triggering pain and which ones seem to digest OK. I went to the doctor a week or so ago and my bloodwork results came back normal.

In other words, we have no idea what’s going on.

I set my alarm for 5:30 am today — work from home or no work from home, I’m still an early riser — but it took me forever to get going.

Coach Cane wanted me running 5 slow miles, but my Crohnsy belly wasn’t letting me out the door anytime fast. I was having kind of sharp pains in my lower stomach and didn’t actually get out the door until 8:30 am.

Just as I was heading out the door, I checked Twitter…

My message to the Twitter world

Within seconds, I got this response:

Absolutely I do.

Twitter is a fun place.

My first thought was “Heck yeah.”

Susan is an incredible, speedy runner. I love her blog and admire that she’s a nurse, frequently working 12+ hour days and the occasional long night shift, and she still runs marathons like a champion.

So yeah, I want to run with her.

Unfortunately, my body couldn’t keep up at all. I felt bad that we were hovering around a 9-minute mile pace, which is fine for me, but I’m sure a bit slow for her.

Still, running with a new friend made the 5.5 miles go by a bit faster. We talked about running (obviously), marathoning, blogging and New York City.

Thanks for joining me this morning, Susan!

I look scary. Susan looks wicked cute.

So the running company was great, but everything else was…not.

My legs were barely moving. My body felt tired. My stomach was just…off.

Working from home today is exactly what I need, especially since I’m joining Melissa and friends for my first-ever spinning class at Flywheel Sports tonight. Gotta get my legs fresh by 7:30 pm!

At my desk
My other "work area"

Time to get moving.

ADVICE, PLEASE: One thing I’m especially nervous about as my weekend runs get longer is proper fueling. I’ve never used fuel during a race because I’ve never done more than a half marathon distance. I’m terrified of Gu or gel products (the texture completely freaks me out) but am open to trying other things. Do you have a favorite? I’d love some recommendations! (Note: I love chocolate-flavored things.)



51 Responses

  1. The only time I have ever used gus or gels is when they were free, because I am cheap. Very cheap. But I totally swear by natural running fuel — I trained for a marathon using only dates, dried cherries, and coconut water to get me through my long runs. Dried fruit = same nutritional content as gu, only real instead of manmade. Works for me!(

  2. Hi there! Finally getting to reading some of your blog (my sis Jess recommended it!) and LOVE your work from home outfit given that’s mine every day (I work from home as my job is located in Cali and I am in Mass!) hehe 😉 And I love having a running partner too, sometimes it’s all the difference you need to get out there, isn’t it? Hope your tummy issues are figured out soon!

  3. I wish I had some advice on fueling during a long run, but I’ve never hit those distances. I use a chocolate protein smoothie to fuel after a good workout, but I’m not sure if that’s what you’re looking for.

    Sorry that your stomach is dictating your work and workouts right now, I hope that eases up soon! (And, I will have to add that movie to Netflix for the kids. Looks cute!)

  4. I’m so sorry about your stomach issues!! Stomach problems are the worse!! I was dealing with some mighty stomach problems but post run! Phew! I prefer Cliff Shot Blocks. You chew them and therefore can kinda space out eating them so they don’t sit too heavy in the good old stomach. Just make sure you test anything during a training run. I learned the hard way about gu during my marathon.. always test ’em out!

  5. I swear by eLoad for fueling and eLoad Fly for an extra boost. I could never eat gels and/or Gatorade during races and my Ironman friend introduced me to this. My stomach feels great with this product and I never had issues and have tons of energy. I never used anything for half-marathons either until I got this and it helped! I did find a gel I can keep down and its HammerGel Raspeberry! Not as thick and great flavor!
    Hope your stomach settles down 🙂

  6. I used Clif bars my last training cycle, they worked like a charm! Everyone is different though. I tend to eat everything and anything carb wise prior to a long run, but most people tend to stay more on the healthy side.

  7. Sorry about your stomach troubles 🙁 how frustrating for you! I hope you can figure out what’s causing it soon.

    Hmm as far as fueling – have you ever just used some gatorade (watered down) during longer runs? Maybe that’s a good first step. My favorite for really long runs is vanilla bean power gel – it’s kind of delicious and tastes like frosting.

  8. You so don’t look scary in your running photo! You look energized and happy 🙂
    As for energy options: if you don’t like gels, I’d recommend Clif Shot Bloks (I like the orange, lemon-lime, and cola flavors) or Gu Chomps. You can also fuel up with liquids – Gatorade, Hammer Heed, or GU Brew are all tasty options.
    Whatever you use, you’ll want to take them during training exactly as you will during the race. See how your body reacts to them, especially on a sensitive stomach. You might even want to taste test a few while not on a run – nothing’s worse than being out on a long run and discovering that all the fuel you brought is downright nasty.

  9. Hey Ali –

    I really like the energy jelly beans, but they can make my stomach hurt so you may want to be careful. I usually down 1-2 every once and a while instead of the whole pack at once, that helps. If you have space to carry it, I’m also a fan of trail mix of sorts – nuts, raisons and cereal (I usually only take that one to the treadmill though).

  10. I hate those “blah” days. At least you got the miles in though.

    I like Gu but my wife tried it once and almost barfed. Now she just takes a baggie of candy on long runs.

  11. Jelly beans! Jelly Belly are my favorite (and I’ll buy a multi-flavor pack, pick out my favorites, and re-bag them for the race). I’ve gotten awful stomach cramps after using the Sport Beans if I’m even slightly dehydrated, so I usually stay away from those unless I’m *really* confident about my water situation. And I hate the texture of all Gu/goo/gel products *except* the mint chocolate Gu, which is just like chocolate sauce to me. The rest tastes like boogers, but that one’s dang good.

    Aaaand what a ridiculous comment to de-lurk with, eh?

  12. Paragon Sports sells a huge selection of running fuel. I highly recommend the Jelly Belly Powerade beans. They are awesome. They work great and taste delish. PS- Only you would still manage to look cute in your comfortable sweats!!! xoxo

  13. Sorry you’re not feeling so great! I think a food diary is a great idea. Sometimes it takes putting it on paper to spot the patterns and understand what is going on.

    My co-workers drive me to drink, I would love to work from home more often. Don’t bother me during my 4pm meeting with Judge Judy.

    Gu and bloks and other fuels scare me, but I feel like I am going to need to give these a try soon, too. I’ve known people who used more real food type stuff — pretzel sticks, jelly beans, Jolly Ranchers. I think you just have to experiment and see what works.

    I think you and Susan both look adorable in that pic!

  14. i do love shotblocks!! but my nutritionist said u can do anything that your stomach will handle – granola bar i have tried, chocolate, challah i heard! gummy bears..i ahve not tried all of these but have heard people use them…

  15. I love Susan’s blog! Hoping to finally meet her in person when I’m back for the NYC Marathon. 🙂

    Ugh, I hear you on the gels. I took one during a race last year after not training with them (BIG mistake– I can’t even stomach Gatorade mid-run!) and felt like I was going to hurl during the last seven miles. Never again. I am curious about the shot blocks, gummies, etc., though. ‘m going to try them during long training runs this year and hope they’ll end up working as mid-race fuel.

  16. The idea of GU used to totally gross me out, too. But when you reach the 2+ hour mark in any run, you’ll really be thankful for fueling. I like the GU Pineapple Rocktane, but play around with all the different brands and flavors to see what works for you. Because you have such a sensitive stomach, maybe you should try using them in the first mile of an easy 4-5 mile run to begin with, just in case.

  17. Clif Shot Bloks. The black cherry with caffeine is amazing. It’s like gummy bears with electrolytes and 25-50mg of caffeine! Definitely great energy for long run/longer distance race.

  18. The only Gu or gel I can handle is the PowerBar brand Vanilla….not sure if you have ever tried that one. I also like shot blocks….but since they taste so much like candy…..they don’t always make it to the run! Hope you feel better soon!

  19. Ah, I’m sorry you had “one of those days” yesterday Ali — I can relate. I hate it when I’m in a really positive, calm mood and then I go to work and it all goes downhill. But yay for having running buddies and working from home in sweats today!!
    In terms of fueling during runs, if gels aren’t your thing you might want to try chopping up powerbars (or any high-carb bar that you like) into bites and putting them in a plastic baggie, or there are lots of non-gel fueling products out there (bites, chews, etc.) Don’t be discourage if the first thing you try doesn’t work for you…it takes time to figure that out!

  20. I do use GU sometimes but they can give me stomach cramps (I have an extremely sensitive stomach when I run). However, used ShotBlox during my last half-marathon a few weeks ago and I loved them and I didn’t have any stomach problems. I didn’t chew them at first, I put one in my cheek and let it dissolve a little (yes, I looked a little like a chipmunk) but it kept my mouth from drying out too.

    Hope your stomach issues work their way out. I’ve been having stomach issues (solid food has been a challenge for me and I can’t eat a lot) since February and I’ve had all sorts of blood work done with no answers.

  21. I love skittles on long runs. Or mike and ikes. Seriously, I know they’re all sugar but they give me a good boost 🙂 I find that when I eat gu’s or gels that I have to choke them down and they slow me down.

    good luck with your tummy troubles, are you anxious about something? is that why your belly is hurting so much?

  22. Shot bloks cran razz are my favorite–I have been known to eat them like candy sometimes when I’m not running 🙂 I’m with you on the Gu…it grosses me out especially when it gets warm during a run-no thanks!

  23. The idea of gu and sports gels completely grosses me out too! But I love gummie candies!! Gummie bears, gummie worms, Sweedish fish are my fave long run foods. If you want to be more healthy, dried fruits (cherries, berries, apricots) are great, portable options. I’ve also tried JellyBelly sports beans- the flavors are good (not too sugary!) and they’re smaller than other candies for the same amount of calories. They dont melt, plus you feel like youre eating candy – always a plus. Clif blocks are pretty good, the texture is slightly weird but tolerable. They melt in your mouth and they’re thirst-quenching and easy to carry & eat. Gu Chomps flavors are sickeningly sweet (in my opinion) and have a not-so pleasant artficial flavor aftertaste. Not sure what you can get that’s chocolate flavored without tasting gross and/or melting… Let me know if you find something good!

  24. I personally think it is really hard to chew things while running. Gus and gels you can take much quicker and you do get used to them. The chocolate GU reminds me a bit of frosting and that is what I started out with although now I prefer the berry flavors a lot more. Also I am not sure what your thoughts are on honey, but I also really like Honey Stingers. They are basically honey with some added things, but since it is the natural consistency of honey maybe that wouldn’t be as gross and it might digest better? some people find them too sweet though…

    Hope you have a productive work from home day!! 🙂

  25. Hey Ali! I, too, have been navigating tenuously through the world of food as I try to find the balance between fueling for long runs and colitis. Since loading up the before makes my mid-long run bathroom visits double, I need fuel for runs over 8 miles or I peter out. I usually rely on liquid fuel for shorter runs (7-13) because they seem to do the trick and don’t cause bathroom fever. For over 13 mies, I love Clif Shot Bloks and I get them by the boxload on Amazon. They go down easy, aren’t nearly as sticky and give me the boost I need during my runs. They also don’t seem to activate anything down below, which allows for me to complete my runs without getting the runs. Hahahaha! Little IBD joke for ya 🙂 Anyway, keep going. Listen to your body and make sure you heed all of the “rest day” rules. See you out in the park!

  26. I’m a big texture person too. I will say I really don’t care for the texture of Gu, but a chocolate flavored Clif Shot gel? Has the taste and consistency of frosting. Seriously. Find one and give it a try.

  27. I would LOVE to work from home one day a week.. it would totally be doable but that’s slightly frowned up when you work for the govt.

    So, I’m training for my first half- do you not need to use gu/gel shots/etc. during that long of a race??? I assumed I would, even though they sound nasty..

    1. It’s totally a personal call. I never fuel during half marathons but I know a LOT of runners who do. It’s definitely whatever works for you — there’s no right or wrong answer there.

    2. Actually, I think people tend to OVER fuel rather than under. There really shouldn’t be any reason to refuel for a 10K. If you really want to be an efficient runner, you need to give your body a chance to deplete it’s glycogen stores and get accustomed to using fat stores as a source of energy as well. If you’re able to do that, you have less of a chance of hitting the proverbial wall. Having run several marathons, I’ve found that works best for me (yes, I know everyone is different) is to hold off until mile 12 or 13 to start refueling. I have a REALLY sensitive stomach so I totally get your stomach issues! I’ve found that Chomps along with plenty of water work best for me. They’re a little easier to chew than some of the other options, they don’t taste gross and most importantly they agree with my stomach (no mile 18 dash to the nearest restroom in Central Park). NY Running Company sells Chomps by the box. You really do have to drink with them though because too much sugar and not enough water WILL mean stomach issues!

  28. I always use Clif Shot Blocks, but when I’m running low, I’ll grab jelly beans and Swedish fish. They work like a charm. I’m not a huge fan of Gus but they do help a lot. Plus, they have a ton of great flavors! The chocolate and the espresso flavors are definitely my favorite!

  29. Boooo on the tummy issues. But YAY on productive work from home days. I LOVE those so much!!
    As for energy, I am testing those waters too – didn’t get too into it with the last half I did but want to feel properly fueled this time so I’m all ears on this one too. I’ll be following these comment replies closely 🙂

  30. Ali, I’m sorry to hear about your tummy troubles. When my husband (who has Chrons) feels like you are feeling, he usually just sticks to super bland food, (white bagels, white rice, cranberry juice), not the healthiest diet but it doesn’t make him have to go 20 times a day, and usually he just eats that for a short period of time. When he was in the hospital, the nutritionist suggested a low fiber/low residue diet. I’m not sure if you heard of that or have tried it, but it definitely helps him when he has flair-ups. Hope you feel better soon!

  31. Ali, have you tried taking a comprehensive food panel (blood test)? im pretty good with avoiding foods that usually trigger my colitis, but i had a food panel test taken and discovered that my body doesnt tolerate foods i thought were fine for me (certain cheeses, garlic, eggs).

    as for race fueling – i stick to Powerbar Strawberry Banana Gels – the consistency is much thinner than Gus (which is like trying to swallow thick molasses) and it doesnt hurt my tummy.

    1. @Kim – I need this comprehensive food panel…..why has no one suggested this to me before…what’s involved, is it a prick test? or just a blood test?

      @ali – being afraid of food is something i am totally dealing with these days, one wrong thing and it can set you off and try to ruin your day. I don’t fuel before marathons, but i can eat the shot blocks, once i get going.

      1. hi ladies – it was an actual blood test (they took about 4 viles worth – but were also testing for vitamin deficincies, etc.) i went to this website and typed in my address and i received an email with practitioners in my area that would do the food panel test. turns out, the guy i saw is actually a primary care physician – so while the appointment was covered by insurance – unfortunately the test was not (i think $85?). i think it was totally worth to find out! good luck!

  32. When I was training for my first marathon last summer, I used Gu products all the time. But it can be tricky, because I always need to drink water immediately after having a gu because it always leaves a sticky feeling in my mouth (which is gross and NOT what you want when you’re trying to run). I liked clif shot-bloks a lot more. Those are probably my favorite because they are kind of like gummy’s and don’t have a weird texture.

  33. Hi Ali! I’m so sorry to hear about your stomach troubles. So, I typically don’t plug NaturaStride when commenting blogs, but we offer lots of great gluten-free organic & natural energy bars & snacks that I personally love pre/post runs. I highly recommend the Picky Bars, especially (gluten-free, dairy-free). And they’re formulated by professional runners, which is awesome. Check ’em out:
    I’m also a fan of Clif Shot Bloks (which are 90% organic) because gel texture also freaks me out!
    Anyways – good luck!

    1. +1 to Kate’s comment about Picky Bars, I’ve only had them before/after runs, but they’re really yummy! I try to avoid gels unless absolutely necessary (runs longer than 13 miles usually require them) – the chocolate power bar gel sort of tastes like pudding. In a good way!

      1. Oooh Picky Bears sound so interesting to me.

        +1 to Shot Bloks. I think they taste yummy (I almost threw up once during the Philly Half Marathon when I gulped down half a gel). They’re like gummy bears, if you like that at all.

        I mean, who doesn’t like gummy bears?

    2. Another +1 to the Picky Bars. I seriously eat 2 per day (one as part of breakfast, one as a snack). I like them so much I blogged about them with my top 10 reasons why I like them.

      Anyways, I like Gu Jet Blackberry the best. Its true, the first 2 times you have them you’re like “this is weird,” but now I’m really used to it. I found at first it was better if they were cold so they were more gummy bear like in consistency. It made it less weird for some reason…not sure why! Shot Bloks are great — like gummy bears — I just don’t like carrying them.

      Sorry your stomach is acting up!

  34. When I worked from home, I never wore a bra. You are far fancier than I.

    I really like Clif Shot Blocks. I think they are tasty and I enjoy the texture. Coconut water is also a really great way to fuel during a run — and the Zico Chocolate flavor is AMAZING.

    And even though you don’t feel great, you are still able to get in more workouts than I ever do on a single day. Do you see how awesome you are?

    See you tonight!

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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