Good morning, friends!
How are you doing today? This week’s new things are all inspired by the North Face Endurance Challenge coming up this weekend. It’s at Blue Mountain Ski Resort, a part of Ontario I’ve never been to before, so I’m really looking forward to checking things out Saturday before racing on Sunday. It’s been a rainy week so far but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for lots of sunshine. For now, let’s talk about snacks and on-the-go hydration!
1. Recipe of the Week. This one is the result of another reader’s recipe request, this time, for an easy to make, portable snack. I’ve experimented a few times in the past with making granola bars, some with protein powder and some without, but they’ve never been quite right. But this weekend, I came across a combination of ingredients that worked really well.
One of the main goals for this recipe was to keep sugar content as low as possible – think more like oatmeal in bar form with dried fruit to sweeten it, rather than really sweet granola bars that you’d buy at a grocery store. I also wanted to see if I could get away with keeping them vegan by not adding any eggs or egg whites, and surprisingly, the combination of mashed banana, apple sauce, chia seeds and ground flax did the trick!
These chewy Trail Mix Bars are vegan, gluten-free (thanks to the use of gluten-free oats), and contain no artificial sweeteners. I’ve used slivered almonds, dried cranberries and dried apricots as my mix-ins of choice, but you could certainly experiment by substituting whatever dried fruit and nuts you have in your kitchen.
The recipe makes enough for 8 bars in a 9×9″ pan. I’m planning to pack a couple to take along with me as snacks for the road on Saturday, and perhaps as post-race food as well… if they don’t disappear before this weekend. 😉
2. A Camelbak Hydration Pack. Meet my latest running accessory:
Two weekends ago, I did a long 3-hour trail run with a local ultra trail running group organized by Runner’s Choice Waterloo. The night before I was laying out all of my gear so I could just get up, get dressed and go. It hit me at that moment that I had no idea how long we’d be out for, and that everyone else would probably be running with water. It had been ages since I’d run with my Camelbak hydration belt (normally I just run with my SPIbelt or nothing at all) and even when I do, I’ll be honest – I’m not the best about drinking water on the run. Normally in half marathons, I’ll take water at a hydration station if it’s really hot, but since I don’t carry gels for that distance, I don’t feel the need to need to carry liquids on me. I wore the belt for that trail run, and as expected, didn’t drink much.
Well… let’s just say I’m not expecting my half marathon trail time to be anywhere near as fast as on the road. And since I’ll be out on the race course for longer, hydration will be more of an issue. It just so happened that I had a gift card for The Running Room and a 30% off coupon, so I managed to snag this little CamelBak Classic 2L model for a whopping total of $9. #winning.
What I like about the hydration pack (in comparison to the belt) is that it doesn’t require any reaching behind to grab bottles, or anything restrictive around my waist. I always feel like I’m going to drop a bottle when I go to clip them back into my belt, but since the Camelbak Classic hydration pack is worn like a backpack and has a nifty blue tube that comes through to the front, there’s no need for reaching.
The tube can be secured in a small clip on the strap (shown above) so that it doesn’t go flying around while you’re running, and the chest strap is supposed to prevent the pack from jiggling around. The mouthpiece has a small slit in it that opens when you suck water out, so there’s no need to worry about water leaking.
I took my new toy for a test run yesterday (because it’s never good to try new things on race day) and filling it up was really easy. The blue water-tight seal twisted off, I filled it with about 500mL (because I know I won’t need a full 2L for the race), sealed it back up, and put on the pack. The chest strap really did help to prevent it from moving around – in fact, aside from the water sloshing noise, I almost forgot it was there. The water tube also didn’t bother me at all and stayed put under the clip. I took more sips than normal for the distance I ran in order to get as much “practice” in as possible, and this much less disruptive than previous hydration strategies. Longer trail runs are something I hope to pursue more next year, so the whole 2L capacity will eventually be appreciated.
My plan is to do a couple more short runs with the CamelBak before this weekend just to ensure I’m comfortable with it, but so far, so good. Bring on the hot weather this Sunday… I’ll be ready!
So tell me…
- What’s your favourite granola bar or road trip snack?
- Have you tried this style of hydration pack before? I know some of you carry water bottles in your hands, around your waist, or not at all. Any thoughts on the pros/cons of the backpack-style ones?