Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tailwind Nutrition Review

First of all full disclose.  Unlike the big companies Tailwind (Link) did not go out and pay professional athletes to speak for them.  Instead they asked a few of us early customers to share our stories and how our training has gone after using the product.  I am so proud of promoting this product because it works for me and they are good people.  I am an average guy doing extraordinary things because my friends and family support me and help me through the rough patches.  I consider the folks at Tailwind Nutrition my friends.

The Other Products
I have tried the gamut of endurance products: GU, Hammer, PowerGEL, Cliff Shots, Vitargo, s-caps, etc.  As a rookie researching different approaches to nutrition became a part time job.  As race day arrives every athlete faces the same nutritional dilemma : (1) train with the stuff they have on course or (2) plan drop bags to use my own.

Some companies focused on carbohydrate/protein combos while others focused on electrolyte balance.  The third type of company is straight business.  This one invests heavily in research and then divide and conquer.  Athletes, convinced by studies and research need to purchase multiple products to cover every facet of their race day needs.  The endurance fuel, performance fuel, salt and mineral replacement, amino acids, etc.  The divide and conquer approach is not only expensive but if you forget one part of your nutrition your head is out of it and there goes the race plan. 

24 Pack of GU - $ 30 
24 Pack of GU Roctane - $ 50
24 Pack of Clif Shots - $ 26
24 Pack of Hammer Gel - $ 30

32 Servings of Perpetuem - $ 50
35 Servings of GU BREW - $25
Vitargo s2 (1.7 lbs. per label 10 servings per container) - $ 30

GU Brew Electrolyte Tube (12) - $ 6.60
Hammer Endurolytes Fizz (13) - $ 5

S-Caps (100) - $ 18
Hammer Endurolytes (120) - $ 20
Saltstick (100) - $ 20

50 servings of Tailwind Nutrition - $ 35

(Note: not an exhaustive list but just a few of the more popular ones)

Racing is one of the most exciting times for me.  I love the feeling of lining up with my friends and suffering with them.  We each have our personal demons to battle and choose to engage them out there…wherever “there” may be that weekend.  But, racing comes second to law school.  Books and supplies are significantly higher on the priority chart than nutrition and race day no matter how much I love it.  As the song goes, if it doesn’t make dollars it doesn’t make sense.

During an ultra-marathon runners consume 250-300 calories per hour; gels translate to $2.50 - $ 4.00 per hour!  Figure is not including salt pills, gummy chews or anything else.  

I was listening to a podcast a few years ago and the hosts raved about a new product.  The company was small but focused on customer service and delivered on their promises…a product thats inexpensive, easy and works.  

Those magic words...the most beautiful aria to my ears.  I was skeptical but their site assured me.  If you take the “Tailwind Challenge” and it doesn't make you stronger, happier, and less stressed during training and at your next event we’ll reimburse you up to $150 of your entry fee (link).  I signed up right away because I figured if the training and race go south I want to be first in line to collect.

The package arrived with a personalized note wishing me well at the Headlands 100. (Race Report Link)  I received 4 bags of powder and the promise it would remove the “GI” issues and keep me out there longer.  Each bag is 50 servings ($ 0.70 per serving) each serving equivalent to 100 calories (same as a gel).  The idea was combine hydration and nutrition into an easily digestible practical solution.  You simply mix the product with the water and thats it.  Further it already included electrolytes in the serving so literally all you need is already there.

I am not knocking other companies nor their products.  I appreciate the marketing and information that other companies put out there because it lets athletes know we are not alone.  There are companies that are working hard to keep us strong and fit while we engage in our chosen sport.  

While using other products I did get faster and more in tune with my body.  I actually still carry spare gels because Tailwind is a white powder when I run in downtown Los Angeles. (no one wants to explain to a police officer why you are busting out a plastic bag full of a white powder).

Here are some of the major differences I found…

Other Products:
- Expensive
- More trash (wrappers)
- Energy Spikes 5-10 minutes after consumption (gels)
- Energy Lows once the spike wears off
- Difficult to remember when to take them (gels)
- Difficulty stomaching them after a few hours 
- Texture, some felt like peanut butter and running in the heat that’s gross
- No Electrolytes, needed additional pills to cover that
- Pills get sweaty or lost on the trails, or you run out (see Bulldog 50k Report)
- Salt pills must be taken with plenty of water or your are pretty much killing yourself
- stomach issues (you know what I mean)
- Some Gels, if not consumed with water = cramping ensues b/c body is trying to digest
- Timing - needed to consume nutrients while I had water so hot days were especially troubling

- Dissolves into water leaving no clunky stuff
- easy, cheap
- thoughtless (2 scoops for every 24 oz)
- includes electrolytes
- Able to consume in the heat and cold
- Have made it into Tea (yeah thats right TEA !!!)
- Proven - 2 sunrises, 33+ hours and i could still drink it (link)

Tailwind works for me.  For a lot of athletes the gels and other products work so stick to them.  The standard products are efficient, easily available and time tested by professional athletes so its a safe bet.  Arguments can be made for sticking to them and never changing it up, but I experiment especially after having problems and a DNF due to nutrition. (LINK - AR50 DNF)

Anyone who has suffered from stomach issues during a race and is looking for an easily digested fuel source would be doing themselves a disservice by not trying Tailwind.  The company is nice and personalize your order, not to mention sending you a good luck email a few days before your race.  The little things can change a season and for me this product has earned its keep.  Good luck in your racing.

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