We all know that the best thing about Christmas is stockings. (And family, goodwill, etc.) But stockings are amazing.
Inside your Christmas stocking should appear tiny things that you love. What's even better, it's for stuff that only the people close to you know you love. I have one friend whose stocking I will fill with Swedish Fish. Another friend – I would fill the stocking with Beanitos chips. Another one – CaptaiNn Crunch and Jagermeister. For my dad, Good & Plenties and smoked oysters. Personally, if I found nothing but Lindt Chili Dark Chocolate in my Christmas stocking, I'd be thrilled.
But this is a blog for runners, so I'm guessing you want to know the top tiny little joys a runner would love to find lurking in a Christmas stocking. I know just the things!
So many products sold in the health and fitness industry are bullshit. You know that, I know that, and we know we all know that. Tea can't detox your body in 48 hours. Magical powder can't make you gain ten pounds of muscle in ten days. But Quest bars can fill you up and make you happy and energized. They have a lot of fiber and a lot of protein and very little carbs or sugar, which for me means they're not going to make me hungrier than I already was before I opened the thing. (Funny how some foods do that.)
It's almost hard to narrow down my top flavors, but here are my top three:
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough –super delicious, no fake-sweetener taste, good texture, very filling.
Peanut Butter Supreme – hands down, best flavor. Perfect salt/sweet balance. Perfect Perfect Perfect. It tastes just like the peanut butter cookie you wish you had.
Chocolate Brownie – chocolatey but not sawdusty. Not too sweet. Not too heavy. Perfect for a chocolate dessert after the gym without undoing all your squats.
If you like fruity things, you will probably love Apple Pie or Raspberry Cheesecake. The greatest thing about all of the flavors is that none of them taste like artificial flavoring. Banana Nut Bread tastes exactly like banana nut bread.
Quick facts: Every Quest Bar has less than five grams of net carbs, no gluten, and no added sugar. They're sweetened with Stevia, Sucralose, and Eurythretol. Packed with whey protein and healthy fats from almond and peanut butters, they also have added ISO fiber. Well + Good rates Quest Bars #2 in the top 5 best protein bars. And you know those folks know what they're talking about when it comes to health and fitness. Here's the Quest Website where you can order them directly or find more flavors. They also have protein chips (which are to die for!!!) and might be a good thing to stick at the top of the stocking or just dump directly in your mouth.
One quick note: Steer clear of Quest bars during your taper for a distance race. These bars are extremely high in fiber, and fiber and fats should be limited in the three to four days preceding a marathon or distance race.
2. NUUN HYDRATION
If you've read this blog since the beginning, you know that I've loved Nuun since day one. I'm not a sports drink drinker, so it's water or bust for me while I'm running. But if you spike your water with Nuun, you get magic flavor, electrolytes, and very low sugar all in one. Nuun has sent me free samples several times, because they are amazing, and just recently they sent me a sample of the new Nuun Energy to test out. Nuun Energy is a new creation by Nuun. Containing caffeine and magic electrolytes, these are great staples to use IN THE RACE for a quick pick-me-up. Nuun now makes disposable packets that fit in your pocket, sports bra, shoe, or race belt, so you don't have to carry the tube. These are EXCELLENT for spiking up your water and dosing electrolytes when you need them most – after several hours of sweating.
I used Nuun Energy during the Chicago Marathon, especially when the sun came out and heated things up about mid-way through the race.
I've never had a Nuun flavor I didn't like, and I've never met a runner who doesn't like Nuun. If you haven't tried it yet, you need to get onboard. The tubes are small enough to stash in your purse or gym bag, and definitely stocking-worthy. Don't tell anybody, but Nuun is also pretty awesome if you have a hangover. I've personally never ever had a hangover before, but I hear that if you happen to drink enough alcohol to incapacitate a small horse while dancing to Sir Mix-a-Lot one night in someone's backyard 48 hours before a half marathon, or if you drink a whole bottle of wine on a family trip right before you run a 50k trail race, Nuun tablets will amplify your re-hydration and de-stupification. I heard that once. From somebody.
If you're not yet a Nuun fan on Facebook, you should be because they give away free stuff all the time!
3. L.E.D. LIGHTS
These are the best little thing to have when you want the freedom to run at any time of day -- 4am and 11pm not excluded. You just clip these suckers on your shorts, top, sock, shoe, bra, face, whatever -- and then you run into the wee hours of the morning and late hours of the night. Perfect for law students who can't run during normal hours. Great for insomniacs. EXTREMELY NECESSARY for safety if you're running at night or on a dim trail -- even if you've got reflective gear. You can buy these at any running store, or Dick's or Sports Authority, and they last a while and shine bright like a diamond. Go thee to the store and snag some. I like the ones made by Nathan because I've been using them since April and they don't seem to ever run out of shine.
Ho Ho Ho – enjoy your holiday and be safe, stock the stockings, and run your ass off.
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