I have it. The next great idea to revolutionize distance running. Something that will bring an instant, mid-effort reward to those intrepid road warriors experiencing the pain of a 15-20 mile run on a cold, dreary Saturday morning.
The doughnut bar.
I’ll never forget the first time I tried a peanut butter PowerBar during a marathon. Conventional wisdom dictates that you experiment with your choice of refueling options prior to race day. I did that. But not during an actual run. Instead, I ate a few bars while I was sitting at my desk at work, just to make sure they would sit well on my stomach. They did. A bit tough to bite into, but manageable.
Trying to eat one at mile 16 while maintaining race pace, with sweaty hands and tiring muscles, was an entirely different story. After spending some time bouncing around in the pocket of my hydration belt on a warm morning, it had become soft and rubbery, making taking a bite out of it the equivalent of pulling a chew off a stick of taffy.
Once in my mouth, it became an adventure in mastication. It took forever to break that one bite down into something small enough to swallow. Again, all while maintaining goal pace. When I considered taking another bite of that peanut butter and God-knows-what-else mess in my hand, I couldn’t face it. It was exhausting my energy reserves. So I held onto it until the next water stop, then dropped it on the ground with my empty Gatorade cup as I cruised past the aid station.
(Note: I’ve found Sport Beans to be a great companion on long runs. Putting half the package in my mouth, and casually consuming them over the course of a mile or so makes them work in an almost time-release fashion, without the burst-and-crash I’ve experienced with gels. That’s my experience. Yours may differ.)
So here’s my thinking. Someone with a more scientific pedigree than my own needs to invent a doughnut bar. Raspberry filled, lemon filled, whatever. Because when you’re on a long run, there’s nothing needed more than simple-to-open, enjoyable-to-consume instant gratification. You’re doing the work. It’s time for a reward! 400 calories of hardened sugar coating, soft doughnut, and high fructose corn syrup-laced filling…
Why does everything in bar form have to be some arcane combination of sawgrass, pine cones, sunflower seeds and chocolate chips? It doesn’t. That’s why I’m pushing for this next great thing. The doughnut bar. *sigh*
Filling your hydration system with complementary coffee might be problematic, though. Especially on hot days…